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TRUE STORIES OF THE GREAT WAR


TRUE STORIES
OF THE
GREAT WAR

TALES OF ADVENTURE—HEROIC DEEDS—EXPLOITS
TOLD BY THE SOLDIERS, OFFICERS, NURSES,
DIPLOMATS, EYE WITNESSES

Collected in Six Volumes
From Official and Authoritative Sources
(See Introductory to Volume I)

VOLUME V

Editor-in-Chief
FRANCIS TREVELYAN MILLER (Litt. D., LL.D.)
Editor of The Search-Light Library

1917
REVIEW OF REVIEWS COMPANY
NEW YORK


Copyright, 1917, by
REVIEW OF REVIEWS COMPANY

CONTENTS

This group of stories for VOLUME V has been selected by the Board of Editors according to the plan outlined in "Introductory" to Volume I. It includes episodes from thirty-one story-tellers—tales of Dragoons, Marines, Bishops, Foreign Legion, Fleet Surgeon, Scouts, Exiles, Soldiers, Spies and Eye-Witnesses. The selections have been made from the most authoritative sources in Europe and America. Full credit is given in every instance to the original source.

VOLUME V—THIRTY-ONE STORY-TELLERS—142 EPISODES

TALES OF THE DARING RIDES OF A FRENCH TROOPER1
WITH THE TWENTY-SECOND REGIMENT OF DRAGOONS
Told by Lieut. Christian Mallet of the Dragoons
(Permission of E. P. Dutton and Company)
 
"TO RUHLEBEN—AND BACK" LIFE IN A GERMAN PRISON18
WHERE THE BRITISH CIVILIAN PRISONERS ARE HELD IN
    DETENTION CAMP
Told by Geoffrey Pyke, an English Prisoner
(Permission of Houghton, Mifflin and Company)
 
AN AMERICAN AT BATTLE OF THE SOMME WITH FRENCH ARMY36
ARMY LIFE WITH THE SOLDIERS ALONG THE SOMME
Told by Frederick Palmer
(Permission of Dodd, Mead and Company)
 
AN AMERICAN'S EXPERIENCES "INSIDE THE GERMAN EMPIRE"53
Told by Herbert Bayard Swope
(Permission of The Century Company)
 
"DIXMUDE"—AN EPIC OF THE FRENCH MARINES64
STORY OF THE MURDER OF COMMANDER JEANNIOT
Told by Charles Le Goffic of the Fusiliers Marins
(Permission of J. B. Lippincott Company)
 
A BISHOP AT THE FRONT WITH THE BRITISH ARMY75
Told by Right Reverend H. Russell Wakefield, Bishop of Birmingham
(Permission of Longmans, Green and Company)
 
SHORT RATIONS—THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE IN GERMANY83
AN AMERICAN WOMAN IN GERMANY
Told by Madeline Zabriskie Doty
(Permission of The Century Company)
 
FIGHTING "WITH THE RUSSIAN ARMY"—ON THE AUSTRIAN FRONT92
THE COLOSSAL STRUGGLE OF THE SLAVS
Told by Barnard Pares
(Permission of Houghton, Mifflin and Company)
 
THE ROMANCE OF THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION107
THE "GLORIOUS RASCALS"
Told by E. S. and G. F. Lees
(Permission of Wide World)
 
ADVENTURES OF WOMEN WHO FACE DEATH ON BATTLEGROUNDS121
LITTLE STORIES OF WOMAN'S INDOMITABLE COURAGE
Told by Hilda Wynne and Others
(Permission of New York American and New York World)
 
AN AMERICAN WOMAN'S STORY OF THE "ANCONA" TRAGEDY142
Told by Dr. Cecile Greil
(Permission New York Times)
 
THE STRATEGY OF SISTER MADELEINE151
THE STORY OF A FRENCH CAPTAIN'S ESCAPE FROM THE GERMANS  
Told by Himself and Translated by G. Frederic Lees
(Permission of Wide World)
 
TALES OF THE SPIES AND THEIR DANGEROUS MISSIONS169
REVELATIONS OF METHODS AND DARING ADVENTURES
Told by Secret Service Men of Several Countries
(Permission of New York American; New York World; New
York Herald and New York Tribune)
 
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "GLENHOLME"192
ADVENTURES WITH SUBMARINES IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA
Told by Captain Groome to a Friend
(Permission Wide World)
 
WHAT THE KAISER'S SON SAW ON THE BATTLEFIELD203
PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF A GERMAN PRINCE
Told by Prince Oscar of Prussia, Fifth Son of Emperor Wilhelm
(Permission of New York American)
 
A DAY'S WORK WITH A FRENCH SUBMARINE222
AN AMERICAN'S EXPERIENCE UNDER THE SEA
Told by Fred B. Pitney
(Permission of New York Tribune)
 
TALE OF THE CHILD OF TERBEEKE233
HOW IT SAVED A BRITISH BATTALION
Told by Oliver Madox Hueffer
(Permission of Wide World)
 
A HERO TALE OF THE RED CROSS242
Told by G. S. Petroff
(Permission of Current History)
 
LIFE STORY OF "GRANDMOTHER OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION"246
TRIUMPHANT RETURN FROM FORTY-FOUR YEARS IN
    SIBERIAN EXILE
Told by Catherine Breshkovskaya, the Russian Revolutionist
(Permission of New York Tribune)
 
TALE OF AN AMAZING VOYAGE262
GERMAN OFFICERS ESCAPE FROM SPAIN IN A SAILING VESSEL
Told by Frederic Lees
(Permission of Wide World)
 
THE POET'S DEATH IN BATTLE—HOW ALLEN SEEGER DIED278
A YOUNG AMERICAN IN THE FOREIGN LEGION
Told by Bif Bear, a Young Egyptian in the Foreign Legion
 
THE GUARDIAN OF THE LINE—HERO TALE OF LITHUANIA286
Told by G. Frederic Lees
(Permission of Wide World)
 
WITH A FLEET SURGEON ON A BRITISH WARSHIP DURING A BATTLE    295
UNDER FIRE ON HIS MAJESTY'S SHIP, "THE FEARLESS"
Told by Fleet Surgeon Walter K. Hopkins
(Permission New York American)
 
AIRMEN IN THE DESERTS OF EGYPT304
ADVENTURES OF THE ROYAL FLYING CORPS IN SINAI
Told by F. W. Martindale
(Permission of Wide World)
 
HOW SWEENY, OF THE FOREIGN LEGION, GOT HIS "HOT DOGS"312
Told by Private John Joseph Casey
(Permission of New York World)
 
THE DOGS OF WAR ON THE BATTLEGROUNDS316
THE "FOUR-FOOTED SOLDIERS" OF FRANCE
Told by the Soldiers
(Permission of Wide World)
 
TRUE STORY ABOUT KILLING THE WOUNDED328
Told by A. Pankratoff
(Permission of Current History)
 
HOW WE FOILED "U 39"—IN THE SUBMARINE ZONE333
ADVENTURES ABOARD A HORSE TRANSPORT
Told by H. O. Read
(Permission of Wide World)
 
MY WORST EXPERIENCE IN MESOPOTAMIA344
Told by a Man Who Stopped a Bullet
(Permission of Current History)
 
SPIRIT OF YOUNG AMERICA—HOW WE WENT "OVER THE TOP"349
EXPERIENCES OF A NEW YORK BOY WITH THE CANADIANS
Told by (name withheld), wounded in France
 
THE SINKING OF "THE PROVENCE II"358
Told by N. Bokanowski, Deputy of the Department of the Seine

© International Film Service.

THE BALLOON CORPS EXPERIENCE THE SENSATIONS OF THE POLAR EXPLORER


DROPPING A BOMB FROM A DIRIGIBLE

It is Pleasanter to See This in a Volume Than Overhead!


A FEW MINUTES BEFORE THIS WAS A GERMAN BATTLE PLANE

But the Aircraft Guns Got His Range. The Insert Shows a Naval Plane


© International Film Service.

SOMEONE IS ALWAYS WATCHING IN THE FIRST LINE TRENCH

A British Trench at Orvillieres


[1]

TALES OF THE DARING RIDES OF A FRENCH TROOPER

With the Twenty-second Regiment of Dragoons

Told by Lieut. Christian Mallet, of the Dragoons

This famous 22nd regiment of Dragoons was raised in 1635 and took part in all the great wars in which the French were engaged before the Revolution. It fought under the Republic and then with Napoleon's armies—at Austerlitz (1805); Jena (1806); Eylau (1807); Oporto (1809). It saw service with the Army of the Sambre and Meuse, the Army of the Rhine, the Grande-Armee, in the War in Spain, the Campaign in Saxony, the Campaign in France (1814). The regiment was disbanded in 1815 at the close of the Napoleonic Wars and was not raised again until 1873. The first great charge of the 22nd Dragoons in the Great War occurred on the night of September 10-11, 1914. It has since been fighting heroically "For France and Civilization." Lieut. Mallet has fought his way up in the ranks with the Dragoons. He presents the unconquerable spirit of France in his book: "Impressions and Experiences of a French Trooper." It is dedicated: "To my Captain, Count J. de Tarragon, and to my two comrades, 2nd Lieut. Magrin and 2nd Lieut. Clère—who fell all three on the field of honour in defense of their country." One of his stories is recorded herewith by permission of his publishers, E. P. Dutton and Company: Copyright 1916.

[1] I—STORY OF PEASANT GIRL ON THE YSER

The battle finished (September 10, 1914) the pursuit of the conquered army commenced and kept the whole world in suspense, with eyes fixed on this headlong flight towards the north, which lasted till the end of the month, and which was to be the prelude of the great battles of the Yser.

[2]

The region round Verberie was definitely cleared of Germans and was become once more French. The little town for some days presented an extraordinary spectacle.

We entered the town after having received the formal assurance of the 5th Chasseurs, who went farther on, that all the country was in our hands. Some divisional cyclists were seated at the roadside. We asked them for news of the 22nd, and their reply wrung our hearts. They knew nothing definite, but they had met a country cart full of our wounded comrades, who had told them that the regiment had been cut up.

No one could tell us where the divisional area was to be found. The division itself appeared to have been dismembered, lost and in part destroyed. We thought that we were the only survivors of a disaster, and, once the horses were in shelter in an empty abandoned farm stuffing themselves with hay, we wandered sadly through the streets destroyed by bombardment and by fire in search of such civilians as might have remained behind during the invasion.

A little outside the town we at last found a farm where two of the inhabitants had stayed on. The contrast between them was touching. One was a paralysed old man unable to leave his fields, the other was a young girl of fifteen, a frail little peasant, and rather ugly. Her strange green eyes contrasted with an admirable head of auburn hair, and she had heroically insisted on looking after her infirm grandfather, though all the rest of the family had emigrated towards the west. She had remained faithful to her duty in spite of the bombardment, the battle at their very door and the ill-treatment of the Bavarian soldiers who were billeted in the farm. Distressed, yet joyous, she prepared a hasty meal and busied[3] herself in quest of food, for it was anything but easy to satiate eleven men dying of hunger when the Germans, who lay hands on everything, had only just left.

She wrung the neck of an emaciated fowl which had escaped massacre, and, by adding thereto some potatoes from the garden, she served us a breakfast, washed down with white wine, which made us stammer with joy, like children. One needs to have fasted for five days to have felt the cutting pains of hunger and of thirst in all their horror, to appreciate the happiness that one can experience in eating the wing of a scraggy fowl and in drinking a glass of execrable wine tasting like vinegar. She bustled about, and her pitying and motherly gestures touched our hearts. While we ate she told us the most astonishing story that ever was, a story acted, illustrated by gestures, which made the scenes live with remarkable vividness.

She told us how, faithful to her oath, she was alone when the Bavarians came knocking at her door, how she lived three days with them, a butt for their innumerable coarsenesses, sometimes brutally treated when the soldiers were sober, sometimes pursued by their gross assiduities when they were drunk; how one night she had to fly half naked through the rain, slipping out through the venthole of the cellar, to escape being violated by a group of madmen, not daring to go to bed again, sleeping fully dressed behind a small copse; how at last French chasseurs had put the Bavarians to flight and had in their turn installed themselves in the farm, and how among them she felt herself protected and respected.

She attached herself to her new companions, whom she looked after like a mother for three days. Then they went away, promising to return, and she was left alone.

But the next day at dawn, uneasy at the row that[4] came from the town, she decided to go in search of news. She put on a shawl and slipped through the brushwood and thickets as far as the first houses. She was afraid of being seen, and made herself as small as possible, keeping close to the walls, crossing gardens and ruined houses. The terrible noise increased, and she went towards it. She wanted to see what was going on, and a fine virile courage sustained her. The shells fell near her; no matter, she had only a few more steps to go to turn the corner of a street. She arrived on the place as the battle was finishing.

Her fifteen chasseurs were there, fifteen corpses at the foot of the barricade. One of them, who still lived, raised himself on seeing her, and held out his arms towards her. Then, forgetting all danger, in a magnificent outburst of feminine pity, she braved the rain of fire and dashed to the centre of the place. She knelt by the young fellow, enveloped him in her shawl to warm him and rocked him in her arms till he closed his young eyes for ever, thankful for this feminine presence which had made his last sufferings less bitter.

While she remained kneeling on the pavement wet with blood, a last big calibre shell knocked over, almost at her feet, a big corner house, which in its fall buried the German and French corpses in one horrible heap. She fell in a faint on the stones, knocked over by the windage of the shell, which had so nearly done for her.

During the latter part of her discourse she straightened her thin figure to the full, her strange eyes sparkled, and she appeared to be possessed by some strong and mysterious spirit which made us tremble. She became big in her rustic simplicity—big, as the incarnation of grief and of pity, and of the peasant in her gave place to a living image of the war—an image singularly moving and singularly beautiful.

[5]

II—WITH THE WARRIORS FROM THE MARNE

From the next day Verberie became in some degree the rallying point for all soldiers who had lost touch with their units. Elements of all sorts of regiments, of all arms, of all races even, arrived on foot, on horseback, on bicycles, in country carts. There were dragoons, cuirassiers, chasseurs, artillerymen, Algerian Light Infantry and English. Bernous, khaki uniform, blue capes, rubbed shoulders with dolmans, black tunics and red trousers.

In this extraordinary crowd there were men from Morocco mounted on Arab horses and wearing turbans; there were "Joyeux" who wore the tarboosh, and ruddy English faces surmounted by flat caps. All the uniforms were covered with dirt and slashed and torn. Many of the men had bare feet, and some carried arms and some were without. It was the hazard of the colossal battle of the Marne, where several millions of men had been at grips, which had thrown them on this point. All were animated by the same desire for information, and particularly of the whereabouts of their respective regiments. From every direction flowed in convoys, waggons, artillery ammunition waggons, stragglers from every division and from every army corps. The mix-up and the confusion were indescribable. One heard shouting, swearing, neighing of horses, the horns of motor-cars, and the rumble of heavy waggons, which shook the houses.

Faces drawn with fatigue were black with dust and mud and framed in stubbly beards. Everyone was gesticulating, everyone was shouting and a bright autumn sun, following upon the storm, threw into prominence amongst the medley of clothing the luminous splashes of[6] gaudy colours and imparted an Oriental effect to the crowd.

III—STORY OF THE PRIEST—AND TWO CHASSEURS

Having eaten, washed and rested, I walked the streets, drinking the morning air and taking deep breaths of the joie de vivre, of the strength and vitality mingled with the air. I looked on every side to see whether I could not find some acquaintance in the crowd, some stray trooper from my regiment.

So it was that the hazard of my walk brought me to a scene which moved me to tears and which rests graven so deeply on my memory that I can see its smallest detail with my eyes shut. The Gothic porch of the church, with its fine sculptures of the best period, was open, making in the brightness of the morning a pit of shade, at the foot of which some candles shone like stars. On the threshold of the porch, gaily lighted by the morning sun, a priest, whose fine virile face I can still recall, held in his hand the enamel pyx, and his surplice of lace of a dazzling whiteness contrasted with the muddy boots and spurs. One could guess that after having traversed some field of battle, consoling the wounded and the dying, he had dismounted to officiate in the open air under the morning sun.

Before him, on a humble country cart and lying on a bed of straw, were stretched the rigid bodies, fixed in death, of two chasseurs who had fallen nobly while defending the bridge over the river. All around, kneeling in the mud of the porch, a semicircle of bare-headed soldiers, overcome by gratitude and humility, were assembled to accomplish a last duty and pay their last respects to the two comrades who were lying before them[7] and who were sleeping their last sleep in their bloodstained uniforms, and assisted at the supreme office. The priest finished the De profundis, and in a clear voice pronounced the sacred words "Revertitur in terram suam unde erat et spiritus redit ad Deum qui dedit illum." The officiant gave the holy-water sprinkler to the priest, who sprinkled the bodies and murmured "Requiescat in pace." "Amen," responded the kneeling crowd, and a great wave of religious feeling passed over the kneeling men, the greater part of whom gave way to overmastering emotion.

I can still see a big devil of an artilleryman, with his head between his hands, shaken by convulsive sobs. Having given the absolution, the priest raised the host sparkling in the sunlight for the last time and pronounced the sacramental words. I moved off, deeply affected by the grandeur of the scene.

IV—DEPRAVED SOLDIERS IN A DRAWING ROOM

By the 12th a good number of 22nd Dragoons and some officers of the regiment had rejoined at Verberie. We formed from this débris an almost complete squadron under the command of Captain de Salverte, who had succeeded in getting through the lines by skirting the forest.

I again found my officer, M. Chatelin, whom I had last seen in the little clearing near Gilocourt, surrounded by lurking enemies, and whom I had hardly dared hope to see again alive; also M. de Thézy, my comrade Clère and others.

We were all sorry to hear that Lieutenant Roy had fallen on the field of battle with several others, and that Major Jouillié had been taken prisoner. As for Captain[8] de Tarragon, it was stated that he might have escaped on foot with his orderly and that he might be somewhere in the neighbourhood with a contingent of escaped men, but any precise information was wanting.

The night before I had slept in the drawing-room of the château belonging to M. de Maindreville, the mayor. Its appearance merits some brief description, so that those who are still in doubt as to the savagery of the Germans may learn to what degree of bestiality and ignominy they are capable of attaining.

This fine drawing-room was a veritable dung heap. The curtains were torn, the small billiard-table lay upside down in the middle of the room, a litter of rotting food covered the floor, the furniture was in matchwood, the chairs were broken, the easy-chairs had had their stuffing torn out of them and the glass of the cabinets was smashed. One could see that all small objects had been carried off and all others methodically broken. On the first floor the sight was heart-breaking. Fine linen, trimmed with lace, was soiled with excrement; excrement was everywhere, in the bath, on the sheets, on the floor. They had vomited on the beds and urinated against the walls; broken bottles had shed seas of red wine on the costly carpets. An unnamable liquid was running down the staircase, obscene designs were traced in charcoal on the wall-papers and filthy inscriptions ornamented the walls.

I have told enough to give an idea of the degrading traces left by a contemptible enemy. I have exaggerated nothing; if anything, I have understated the truth.

And this is the people that wants to be the arbiter of culture and of civilisation! May it stand for ever shamed and reduced to its true level, which is below that of the brute beast.

[9]

V—THE SEARCH FOR CAPTAIN DE TARRAGON

On the morning of the 12th, under the command of Captain de Salverte we crossed the Oise by a bridge of boats, the stone bridge having been destroyed by dynamite some days before. We went north to billet at Estrée-Saint Denis, which was to be the definite rallying point of the 22nd Dragoons. We were followed by several country carts, full of dismounted troopers, saddles, lances, cloaks and odds and ends of equipment.

Acting on very vague information, I set out on the 13th to look for Captain de Tarragon. I was mounted on a prehistoric motor bicycle, requisitioned from the village barber. I scoured the country seeking information from everyone I met. I received the most contradictory reports, made a thousand useless detours and was exasperated when overtaken by night without having found any trace of him.

I followed the road leading to Baron and to Nanteuil-le-Haudoin, along which but a few days before the corps of Landwehr, asked for by von Kluck, had marched with the object of enveloping our army, and along which it had just been precipitately hustled back. The sky was overcast and the day was threatening. At each step dead horses with swelled bellies threatened heaven with their stiff legs. A score of soldiers were lying in convulsed attitudes, their eyes wide open, with grimacing mouths twisted into a terrifying smile, and with hands clasping their rifles. Involuntarily I trembled at finding myself alone at nightfall in this deserted country, where no living being was to be seen, where not a sound was to be heard except the cawing of thousands of crows and the purr of my motor, which panted on the hills like an asthmatic old man, causing me the liveliest anxiety.

Fifteen hundred mètres from Baron, after a last gasp,[10] my machine stopped for ever, and, as I was ignorant of its mechanics, I was compelled to leave it where it was and continue my journey on foot through the darkness.

The proprietor of the château of Baron put me up for the night. As at Verberie, everything had been burnt, soiled and destroyed. Nothing remained of the elegant furniture beyond a heap of shapeless objects. Next morning with the aid of a captain on the staff who requisitioned a trap for me, I got back to Verberie and found Captain de Tarragon there. He had slept at the farm of La Bonne Aventure, quite near to where I lay.

When he saw me, after the mortal anxieties through which he had lived, believing his squadron lost and cut up, he was overcome by such a feeling of gratitude and joy that I saw tears rise to his eyes while he shook me vigourously by the hand. He had already sent forward my name for mention in the order for the day with reference to the affair at Gilocourt and the death of poor Dangel. I was recommended for the military medal, and my heart swelled with pride and joy, while I was carried back to Estrée-Saint-Denis, stretched out in a country cart with a score of dismounted comrades.

A few days afterwards I was promoted corporal and proudly sported the red flannel chevrons bought at a country grocer's shop.

VI—TALES OF THE DRAGOONS

Once the half-regiment was reconstituted after a fashion, though many were missing (a detachment of fifty men without horses having returned to the depot), we were attached to the 3rd Cavalry Division, which happened to be in our neighbourhood, ours having left the area for some unknown destination. Until the 1st of[11] October our lot was bound up with that of the 4th Cuirassiers, who marched with us.

On the 23rd of September, as supports for the artillery, we were present at violent infantry actions between Nesle and Billancourt. The 4th Corps attacked, and the furious struggle extended over the whole country. My troop was detached as flank guard and, in the thick morning fog, we knocked up against a handful of German cavalry, whom, in the distance, we had taken for our own men.

We charged them at a gallop, and we noticed that they were tiring and that we were gaining on them. One of them drew his sabre and cut his horse's flanks with it, whilst a non-commissioned officer turned and fired his revolver without hitting us; but, thanks to the fog, they got away. We did not tempt providence by following them too far for fear of bringing up in their lines.

At night we were sent to reconnoitre some fires which were reddening the horizon and which, from a distance, seemed vast conflagrations. We came upon a bivouac of Algerian troops, who were squatting on their heels, warming themselves, singing strange African melodies and giving to this corner of French soil an appearance of Algeria.

On hearing the sound of our horses they sprang to arms with guttural cries, but when they had recognised that we were French they insisted on embracing our officer and danced round us like children.

We billeted at Parvillers in a half-destroyed farm, and there at daybreak a sight that suggested an hallucination met our eyes. Some ten German soldiers were there in the courtyard dead, mowed down by the "75," but in such natural attitudes that but for their waxen colour one could have believed them alive. One was standing holding on to a bush, his hand grasping the branches.[12] His face bespoke his terror, his mute mouth seemed as if in the act of yelling and his eyes were dilated with fear. A fragment of shell had pierced his chest. Another was on his knees, propped against a wall, under cover of which he had sought shelter from the murderous fire. I approached to see where his wound was and it took me a moment to discover it, so intact was the corpse. I saw at last that he had had the whole of the inside of his cranium carried away and hollowed out, as if by some surgical instrument. His tongue and his eyes were kept in place by a filament of flesh, and his spiked helmet had rolled off by his side. An officer was seated on some hay, with his legs apart and his head thrown back, looking at the farm.

All these eyes fixed us with a terrifying immobility, with a look of such acute terror that our men turned away, as if afraid of sharing it; and not one of them dared to touch the magnificent new equipment of the Germans, which would have tempted them in any other circumstances. There were aluminum water-bottles and mess tins, helmet plates of shining copper and sculptured regimental badges dear to the hearts of soldiers, and which they have the habit of collecting as trophies.

VII—LAST CHARGE OF THE HORSEMEN

The dawn of the 25th broke without a cloud over the village of Folies. A heat haze hid the early morning sun. The enemy were quite near, and the sentries on the barricades gave the alarm. The cuirassiers and dragoons, leaving their horses under cover, had been on watch in the surrounding country since the morning to protect the village and the batteries of "75's," which were firing from a little way back.

A non-commissioned officer and I had remained[13] mounted. M. de Thézy sent us to investigate some horsemen whose shadows had loomed through the mist and whom we had seen dismount in an apple orchard near the village of Chocques. We set off at a quiet trot, convinced that we had to deal with some French hussars whom I had seen go that way an hour before. We crossed a field of beetroot and made straight towards them. They seemed anchored to the spot, and when we were within one hundred mètres, and they showed no signs of moving, our confidence increased. The fog seemed to grow thicker and our horses, now at the walk, scented no danger. We were within fifty mètres of them when a voice spoke out and the word "carbine" reached us distinctly, carried by a light breeze. The non-commissioned officer turned to me, his suspicions completely stilled, and said, "We can go on, they are French, I heard the word carbine." At the same instant I saw the group come to the shoulder and a dozen jets of fire tore the mist with short red flashes. A hail of bullets fell all around us, and we had only just time enough to put between them and ourselves as much fog as would conceal us, for before turning tail we had seen the confused grey mass of a column coming out of the village. We had only to warn the artillery and then there would be some fun.

The lieutenant of artillery was two kilomètres back perched on a ladder. Having listened to what we had to say, he turned towards his gun and cried through a megaphone, "2600, corrector 18." We were already far off, returning at the gallop to try to see the effect, and it was a fine sight.

Leaving the horses in a farm, we slipped from tree to tree. There was the column, still advancing. A first shell, ten mètres in front of it, stopped it short; immediately a second fell on the left, wounding some men, and[14] a horse reared and upset its rider. A third shell struck mercilessly into the centre of the column and caused an explosion which sent flying, right and left, dark shapes which we guessed to be fragments of bodies. It rained shell, which struck the road with mathematical precision, sowing death and panic. In the twinkling of an eye the road was swept clean. The survivors bolted in every direction like madmen, and the agonising groans of a dying horse echoed through the whole countryside.


On the 1st of October we rejoined our division and the first half-regiment at Tilloy-les-Mofflaines. Up to the 20th we passed through a period of great privation and fatigue owing to the early frosts. We were unable to sleep for as many as five days on end, and when at night we had a few hours in which to rest, we passed them lying on the pavement of the street, propped up against some heap of coal or of stones, holding our horses' reins, each huddled up against his neighbour to try and keep warm.

VIII—DIARY OF A FRENCH TROOPER

Here are extracts from my diary, starting from 8th of October:

8th October.—All night we guarded the bridge at Estaires, after having constructed a formidable barricade. Damp and chilly night, which I got through lying on the pavement before the bridge; drank a half-litre of spirits in little sips to sustain me. This is the most trying night we have passed, but the spirits of all are wonderful.

9th October: Twenty minutes to four, two kilomètres from Estaires, scouting amongst beetroot fields.—Has the[15] supreme moment come? A little while ago I firmly believed it had; now I am out of my reckoning, so incomprehensible and widespread is the struggle which surrounds us.

We have evacuated Estaires and the bridge over the Lys, which we were guarding, to rejoin our horses on foot. After some minutes on the road the first shells burst. My troop received orders to fight dismounted, and here we are, lying down as skirmishers amongst the beetroot, in the midst of a heavy artillery and musketry fire. I am on the extreme right, and a moment ago two shrapnel shells came over and burst six or eight mètres above my head, peppering the ground with bullets. Never, I imagine, have I come so near to being hit.

For the moment it is impossible to understand what is going on; the whole of the cavalry which was on in front of us—chasseurs, dragoons and all the cyclists—have fallen back, passing along the road on our flank. We, however, have had no order to retire. The peasants with their wives and children are running about the country like mad people. It is a sorry sight. A moment ago I saw an old man and a little girl fall in their hurry to escape from their farm, which a shell had just knocked to pieces. They are like herds of animals maddened by a storm.

At dusk the Germans are 500 mètres off. We have orders to take up our post in the cemetery of Estaires. I have hurt my foot and each step in the ploughed land is a torture. I have noted a way which will lead me to the bridge on the other side of the town.

I brought up my patrol at the double. When I got back I saw the troop retiring.

We passed through the town, which had a sinister look by night, reddened by the flames from many fires. The whole population is in flight, leaving houses open to the[16] streets, and crowding up the roads. All the windowpanes are broken by the bombardment; somewhere, in the middle of the town, a building is burning and the flames mount to the sky. There are barricades in every street. We have reached the horses, which are two kilomètres from the town, and we grope for them in the dark. Mine is slightly wounded in the foreleg. Long retreat during the night (the second during which we have not slept—a storm wets us to the skin).

Arrived at Chosques at five in the morning. We get to bed at 6.30 and we are off again at 8 o'clock. I ask myself for how many days men and horses can hold out.

10th October.—In the afternoon we again covered the twenty kilomètres which separated us from Estaires. Hardly had we settled down to guard the same bridge as yesterday when we were sent to La Gorgue. On the way stopped in the village, as shells commenced to fall. The 1st troop took refuge in a grocer's, where we were parked like sheep. A large calibre shell burst just opposite with a terrible row. I thought that the house was going to fall in. Lieutenant Niel, who had stayed outside, was knocked over into the ditch and wounded. We are falling back with the horses to La Gorgue, and we are passing a third night, without sleep, on the road, Magrin and I on a heap of coal. Horses and men have had nothing to eat, the latter are benumbed, exhausted, but gay as ever.

11th October.—We get to a neighbouring farm at Estrem to feed the horses. They have scarcely touched their hay and oats before an order comes telling us to rejoin at the very place from which we have come. The Germans are trying to take the village from the east, thanks to the bridge which they captured the day before yesterday, but we have been reinforced by cyclists, and the 4th Division is coming up. We are holding on;[17] the position is good. The belfry of the town hall has just fallen. We are going back to Estrem.

Three hours passed in a trench without greatcoats. Magrin and I are so cold that we huddle up one against the other and share a woollen handkerchief to cover our faces. We put up at Calonne-sur-la-Lys. And so it goes on up to the 17th, the date on which we re-enter Belgium, passing by Bailleul, Outersteene and Locre. It is not again a triumphal entry on a fine August morning, it is a march past ruins and over rubbish heaps.

At Outersteene, however, we were received with touching manifestations of confidence and enthusiasm; an old tottering and broken-down teacher had drawn up before the school a score of young lads of seven to ten years old, who watched us passing and sang the Marseillaise with all their lungs, while the old man beat the time.

The village had been evacuated only three days ago, and it was from the thresholds of its houses, partly fallen in and still smoking, that this song rose, a sincere and spontaneous outburst.

(Lieut. Mallet tells "How We Crossed the German Lines"; "The Charge of Gilocourt"; "The Escape in the Forest of Compiegne"; "The Two Glorious Days at Staden"; "The Funeral of Lord Roberts"; "The Attack at Loos.")

FOOTNOTE

[1] All numerals throughout this volume relate to the stories herein told—not to chapters in the original sources.


[18]

"TO RUHLEBEN—AND BACK"—LIFE IN A GERMAN PRISON

Where the British Civilian Prisoners Are Held in Detention Camp

Told by Geoffrey Pyke, an English Prisoner

This is a picturesque and thrilling story of a real adventure. The author, a young Englishman, entered Germany at the outbreak of the War, was discovered, imprisoned, and transferred to the great detention camp at Ruhleben. Here he made one of the most marvelous escapes on record, and after undreamed-of dangers and hardships arrived in safety at the Dutch front. Mr. Pyke in relating his experience says: "I was caught up in a vast mechanism ... that bounds the German Empire and tossed from one part to another, was beaten, crushed, and hammered ... the machine took me and threw me in jail, and then in another jail, and then in another, and then back into the first. Finally vomiting me, in a fit of either weariness, mercy or disgust, into a concentration camp for untrained civilians." Finally escaping from Ruhleben on July 9th, 1915. "Had only the 4,500 other inhabitants of Ruhleben escaped at the same time, in a species of general stampede, and one or two other people in Berlin or elsewhere died or been called off, matters might have arranged themselves very satisfactorily." The escaped prisoner has collected his experiences into a volume entitled: "To Ruhleben—And Back," from which we present a single chapter by permission of his publishers, Houghton, Mifflin and Company.

[2] I—HERR DIREKTOR OF THE PRISON

[19]

I forget now how many times I saw the Direktor of the prison, though at the time, the days on which I did were as distinct to me as wounds, which a man cannot see, but which he knows individually and intimately. In order to obtain audience of this gentleman, it was necessary, when the warder unlocked the door at 6.30 and the pitchers were put out, to ask to see the Herr Direktor. At half-past nine you were taken out of the cell, let through the door at the end down one flight and through to the floor which you could see over the railings of the balcony. Here again you were put into a cell, and the door was locked, and time passed by. Nothing else happened. In half an hour, or an hour, you were lined up in the passage with any others who also had requests. One by one you would go into that little office. You would bow at the entrance. "Ja?" would remark the bald-headed old gray-beard, with an Iron Cross of '70 hanging from his coat. "Ja?" And you would state your request. A vast ledger opposite him, the old bird, for he looked exactly like the Jackdaw of Rheims, would enter and sign and countersign in it. His decision was given in a curt "Ja" or "Nein," or "Das geht nicht,"[3] and you would be standing in the line outside, among those whose chance had not yet come. You had succeeded; you had failed—who knows what luck would attend you on these expeditions. Every request to write a letter had to be made in this manner. The shiny-headed old bird, with the head jailer in attendance his hand stiffly at his sword, would enter your name, the name of the addressee, and the reason for writing it, in his vast ledger. "Ja? Nein. Das geht nicht," and it is all over. Time after time I craved permission to write to His Excellency the American Ambassador, to request him to tell my people at home that I was alive. It was granted at the third request. What agony were those mornings, pacing[20] up and down in the cell downstairs, waiting to be put into line. What could I say to the old boy to persuade him? Hundreds of passionate words rose in my mind, as I paced up and down that cell, waiting for the moment. "Bitte, Herr Direktor, kann ich ein brief schreiben?"[4] was all that I could stammer out, almost before I had reached the threshold of his office. "Ja? Nein. Das geht nicht," and I, after staring at him with eyes like a rabbit's fastened on a snake, unable to find words to say more, aching with the dull misery of refusal, have passed away, giving place to someone else who, in his turn, also succeeds or fails.

I used to try once a fortnight, and though I have since discovered that even the letters I wrote were never sent, yet nevertheless I always had a hope of their getting through. Regularly as clockwork every other Monday, after the Hell of Sunday, I would request to see the Direktor. For the first ten weeks, I persevered in this. Then suddenly I began to go to pieces. I missed one Monday, and put off asking the old bald-pate until Tuesday. When the moment came round on the Tuesday morning, I funked again. Wednesday came, and again I funked. On Thursday, I managed to push the words asking to see the Direktor from between my lips. Then with a rush, realising there was no going back, I felt all courage return to me. My head became as clear as a bell, and arguments to meet every objection of the Direktor's came to my mind. He had let me write several times previously, and I had not troubled him now for seventeen days. I was confident. Again I repeated my request gently to myself.... Suddenly I realised I was standing before him, and that I must speak. I must say something. I had come there to say something. Unless I asked him something, he would say I was not to be brought before him again. My eyes fixed on the large pimple on the top of his head. I could not take them away. The pimple was not quite in the centre of the cranium, but occupied, so to speak, the position halfway betwixt centre-forward and right outside. He wore it where a comedian wears a top hat the size of a five-shilling bit in attempts to be funny. My thoughts followed it. It was unique, and magnificent. "Have YOU any superfluous hair?" I thought. I should love to breathe very gently on the shiny surface, just to see if it becomes misty, or whether it still shines through everything. I wondered if it was very sensitive, so sensitive that he could feel what was reflected in it, or whether it was pachydermatous, and safe to dig pins into. He was going to move. He was just finishing off the entry he was making in the ledger. He was going to look up at me and say, "Ja wohl?"—Speak, say something—speak—speak....

[21]

It was evening. I was in my cell. The light was fading fast. I was thinking how on the morrow I would try again, how it only needed careful preparation, and I should be as able as anybody to say what I wanted to,—to speak.

II—SOLITARY CONFINEMENT AT THE POLIZEIGEFANGNIS

After you have been in solitary for some time, it becomes increasing difficult to retain your judgment. I know that first I would make up my mind that I was going to be in prison for two years, and then a great and irresistible hope would arise within me, that I should be sent to a concentration camp called Ruhleben, that I had had a whisper of from my friends. I had hoped for some sort of a trial to know how long I was going to remain where I was. Every day that passed at ten[22] o'clock, when I imagined that anyone, before whom I might be brought, had come down to his office, I would put on the one collar I had. Every day at six I would take it off again, preserving it for the next day. At times I became convinced that, because I was not yet of age, I was to be kept for a few months more, and that the day after my twenty-first birthday, I was to be sentenced to some ghastly sort of punishment, like solitary for two years, or for life. (There seemed absolutely no difference between these two, and I dreaded the one as much as the other. Both appeared interminable, and I had no hopes of coming out sane, even after the shorter period. I pictured myself moaning about the London Law Courts in a celluloid collar, picking up a little copying work here, and a little there, until I finally sank into a mumbling old age at twenty-five, and died in delirium tremens at thirty.)

Another fact made me terribly despondent, and, fight how I would, was gradually making me utterly hopeless. About fourteen days after my companions of the British Relief Committee had gone, a new-comer had arrived. He spoke German absolutely perfectly, but with an Austrian accent. I had heard him say something to the warder. I will not tell his story, for he is at the present moment in another prison in Berlin, though not in solitary, and is, I know, writing his reminiscences in readiness for when the war shall come to an end. Let it suffice, however, to say that he had been discovered, soon after war broke out, writing articles for a London paper. He was arrested at the flat he happened to be living in, and, after a large amount of palaver, was given twenty-four hours to leave the country in. He was accompanied to the frontier. Within a fortnight he was back again. He had gone to London, had seen his paper, had come back to Holland, and at the frontier had pretended[23] to be an Austrian waiter who had been expelled from England. He so exasperated his interrogators at the frontier by his eternal repetition of his ill treatment at the hands of his dastardly English employers, that they finally let him pass. However, in the end he was caught—as we all are—and recognised. He had been told that he was to be sent to this place Ruhleben, and, when one day he disappeared, I naturally surmised that he had been taken there. He was very good to me, for he had managed to get permission to buy fruit; I had been refused it. So he used to buy double the quantity, and daily, on going down the stairs, smuggle me an apple. "If he," I argued, "who has done this thing twice, and who is hoary with old age (he was about thirty-five), gets sent to this camp Ruhleben, after being here for three weeks, and I, who have only done it once, and am not yet of age, and have been here nine weeks, and have not been sent there, then there is no hope of my ever getting there. They would have sent me there by now, were they going to do so at all." Afterwards, I found, of course, that he had never been sent anywhere near Ruhleben, but simply to another prison. I heard the most wonderful stories about his doings there, from a friend who was sent to prison for a time. He would appear for exercise dressed in flamboyant pink running shorts, a vest and socks to match—and a top hat. What on earth for? Well, if the walls of prison don't supply you with humour or whimsicality, you must undertake the task yourself.

The best of luck to him. He probably thinks I am still in that Polizeigefängnis.

For some time I had been the oldest inhabitant of the prison. The usual denizen of the place came for a day or two, and then went on his way through that process called Law and Justice. My position gradually came to[24] give me tiny privileges. For instance, they became quite convinced that I was going mad, for, apart from my habit of walking round and round the exercise yard at nearly five miles per hour, every night I would repeat the Jabberwocky. It had taken me a whole week with my broken-down memory to piece together the odd bits of lines and verses that I still carried in my head; and another week to evolve Mr. Kipling's "If." I would suddenly shout loudly into the solid blackness that "All mimsey were the borrow-groves and the moamwraths outgrabe," I knew quite well that borrogoves was the correct litany, but I preferred borrow-groves; so borrow-groves it was. "One two, one two and through and through the vorpel blade went snicker snack. He left it dead and with its head he went galumphing back," and I would make that "snicker snack" all slow and creepy, like Captain Hook; and would rise to a triumphant roar as I announced the fact that he "galumphed" back, in preference to any other form of locomotion that might have been available, glorying at his ability to resist temptations such as taxi-cabbing, taking the tube, or walking, and, above all, the insidious run.

"If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,
And lose; and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss."

If (and I shouted as if I was praying for life itself)

"If you can force your heart, and nerve, and sinew
To serve their turn, long after they are gone,
And so hold on, when there is nothing in you,
Except the will, which says to them, 'hold on.'"

And I would repeat it softly to myself, until loudly again, pacing madly up and down the cell, I would argue, "Yes,[25] that's all very well, you know, but your will is the very thing that suffers before your heart and nerve and sinew are anywhere near gone. Why, it's the very base, the very foundation of all things, that it attacked, and then what are you going to do, Mr. Rudyard?" Nevertheless, I found an odd sort of comfort, and they were nearly always my prayer to the setting sun as the darkness stole in.

I also used to hum, whistle, and sing. This was strictly forbidden by one of the thirty-three regulations pasted on the back of the door. One night in December, when the darkness had been extra oppressive,—I was in darkness for eighteen out of the twenty-four hours—and I had been singing loud enough for the warders to hear, one came up and, rapping on the door, said that such behaviour was forbidden, nevertheless, he would ask the Herr Direktor as an especial favour, if I might be permitted to whistle occasionally. This is what comes of being the oldest inhabitant of a jail. The next day there was solemnly filled into the ledger by the chief warder, and countersigned by the Direktor, "Erlaubnis zu nummer acht und fünfzig zu singen und zu pfeifen."[5]

III—IN A CELL AT THE STADT VOGTEI

I shall never forget the day on which, after thirteen weeks, in January, 1915, I left prison—to go to another. Nothing, I was convinced, could be more of a living Hell than those thirteen weeks at the Polizeigefängnis. I was escorted out into the street. There was snow upon the pavements: it had been summer when I saw them last. Our route lay round the corner. Here, after passing through a low door in an immensely thick wall, once again I found myself in an atmosphere, not merely of red tape, but of the very essence from which tape, and redness, are made. Those innumerable bureaux: those ticketings, docketings, searching of clothes, etc., occupied a couple of hours, until I found myself in a bright and beautiful cell thirteen feet by six. This was the famous Stadt Vogtei prison. "Vogtei," literally translated, means a bailiff's office, but why a prison should be called "The City Bailiff's Office," or why the city bailiff's office should be a prison, I am at a loss to say.

[26]

Notwithstanding the bailiff, it was quite a good prison. Large numbers of English people—five to six hundred in all—had been here before they were sent to Ruhleben "for purposes of quarantine" as the official report says. It was a gentleman's prison; it was intended for those who had sentences for minor offences to serve, e.g. two to three months. But this did not frighten me, as I knew of its character as a depot for Ruhleben. I was full of hope. We had two meals of skilly a day instead of one. I was allowed to talk to the others during the two hours' exercise they were good enough to allow, and I could buy almost anything I wanted—bar newspapers.

I had another experience here that nearly killed me. There was the usual shelf for bowl, spoon, etc., and from the side hung a fat little book with one hundred and thirty-three rules. It contained all the punishments for all the various main crimes, worked out in permutations and combinations. Things such as "for not cleaning out of the cell for the first time the prisoner is to be punished by the three days' withdrawal of the midday hot meal, or instead one day withdrawal of the hot meal, and a second day withdrawal of the cold meal (breakfast), or, in lieu thereof.... In addition to which ... or as an alternative ... in substitute thereof.... But for the second offence, or dirtiness of a second degree, or unpunctuality of the third degree, or noise of the twentieth degree, the[27] prisoner shall be punished by withdrawal of ... whereof ... in lieu of this can be subtituted ..." etc. etc.

On the outside of this little fat book with its one hundred and thirty-three rules was a diagram of the shelf from which it hung, showing exactly in what order the washing bowl, the eating bowl, the spoon, the fork, the soap were to be placed. And not merely was there a front view, but also two side views were given: one showing the side of the shelf with one towel hanging somnolently from a nail, and the other side view showing the other end of the shelf with the booklet itself hanging even more somnolently from another nail. But yes, there was something more: for not merely was there a picture of the booklet, but the picture of the booklet had the picture of the booklet pasted on the booklet's cover, and, what is more, the side which bore this diagram faced outwards, and the right-hand top corner was against the wall. Thus was it according to the picture. But it so happened that this was impossible, for the two were incompatible. Either the picture had to face inwards, or the left-hand top corner must touch the wall. But both together was contrary to the nature of the book. Feeling rather jolly at my new environment, I pointed this out to the jailer, who wasn't a bad sort of fellow, when he came in. At first he didn't grasp it, but when he did, he took serious note of it with pen and ink. Next day, in came the prison governor, a military-looking fellow, and he went straight to the booklet at the side of the cupboard, and examining the diagram on the cover, studied the incompatibility carefully for a long time. He turned round, and after looking whimsically at me, and then at the warder for some time, as if trying to make up his mind as to who was the biggest fool, said, "H'm," very definitely, and went away.

Alas, I only remained here five days. I had hardly[28] finished breakfast when the warder came round with a list and said I was to "pack up," though, since I had nothing to pack, his orders were rather superfluous. Again weary hours of waiting in the bureau, and then, for the first time in my life, I saw the inside of Black Maria.

I had imagined it to have cells all the way down the side, but there were only two. There were seven of us, including a woman and a policeman. Heaven knows what the woman was "in" for, and though I several times formulated the question mentally, I could never manage to get it out. The policeman was quite a nice fellow, and let us talk, and joined in himself with an air of a busy man sparing a moment to play with some children. It soon became plain that one of the men was the woman's husband, or ought to have been if he wasn't. The others were gentlemen, sentenced for petty offences, who were being taken to the town hall to be enlisted in the army. They did not seem to relish the prospect, but "at any rate," they said, "it would be a change." I looked through the grille to see what I could of Berlin streets. There were not many people on them, and the greater number were women and in black, but the quietness of the place was nothing to what I was to see later. There were a few luxury-selling shops, such as flower sellers, that were closed, but the majority seemed able to get along. That Teutonic spectacle, extraordinary but obviously sensible, of women going about without hats could be seen everywhere. And then we suddenly drove into the inevitable yard. Two gates unbarred and locked themselves automatically as one passed.

IV—"MY THIRD PRISON—MOABIT: CELL 1603"

It was the great prison—Moabit. A huge central hall surmounted by a dome, with wings going in all directions[29] and the end of each wing connected by another great building, each with six storeys of cells, and each of these with its iron balcony with glass flooring. There was noise, and clanging of doors everywhere. I was told to stand at the commencement of one of the wings, just off the dome. There was a huge clock, and I noticed it had a bell attached to it. At any rate, I thought, I shall hear the hour strike. The number of my cell, I can remember it now, was 1603, "the year Queen Elizabeth died," I remarked to myself, as it was unlocked, and I went in. It was a larger cell than I had hitherto had—about fourteen feet by six. There was electric light and a table and seat that folded down from the wall. The window was, as usual, above my head, but this time it was made of frosted glass. There was a horrid suggestion of permanency about the place that made me feel rather bad. I asked the warder who gave me my prison underclothing—I was allowed to keep my own suit—whether one was always in solitary here, and for how long one came. "Immer im einzelhaft"—always in solitary,—and for three to four months and upward, he said. "Never less?" I asked. "No, never," he replied. "Come with me," he continued, and I was taken down into the very bowels of this terrible edifice, till, finally, I joined a vast squad of criminals. He left me. We then filed down devious passages once more, and finally were led into a vast room with about two hundred and seventy showers in it. When bathed, I was locked into a large, bare cellar just opposite, and here I was soon joined by two others, one an elderly middle-aged man of about fifty-six, and the other an evil-looking devil of about thirty-four. They sat down on the bench. I was walking up and down. They were an interesting couple. They were about to be examined by an Untersuchungsrichter, or examining magistrate, and the younger one[30] was coaching the other in what to say. The elder seemed too numbed to agree or disagree, though he seemed to have a tendency towards the truth, which the other promptly suppressed, but just sat there, his hands on his knees, seemingly deaf. Once the younger strode up to him threateningly as if to hit him. He ground his teeth and swore that by God, if the old man were to say that he'd ——. Then he tried a different tack; he argued, he elucidated, he showed the simplicity of his ideas, and how, above all, it would help themselves.

When the young one became bellicose I had felt no inclination to help the old man. Why, I knew not. I think I felt that nothing, least of all truth, should stand in the way of man's salvation from that place, and that if the old man hadn't got enough gumption to tell what seemed to be a few well-concocted lies, well, he ought to be made to, since it involved the fate of the younger man, who was not yet reduced to the state of an incapacitated jelly. It was the same old story: Fate had beaten the old man, but had not succeeded in persuading the young one that he also was beaten; the young one refused to acknowledge it. It was blind instinct that told him to lie, though he knew with clever lawyers against him, and, worst of all opponents, the law, the chances of his getting through to freedom were remote. I had noticed hitherto that it was always the young men who felt the strain most, seemed most conscious of the inhuman cruelty of prison, and I was to find out later that it was generally the young ones who recovered easiest. Sometimes the older ones don't recover. A man I was to meet later was afflicted with sudden decay of the optic nerve, and is now gradually going blind, purely as a result of solitary.

The door opened suddenly, and they were taken out, and as they passed me I saw the younger and villainous[31] one look at the old man, in a manner in which threats, prayers, and above all, the desire to instil the wish to live were all inexpressibly mixed. They passed. I never saw them again. I often wonder where they are. There are lots like them.

I was taken back to my cell. I was now sinking fast. I saw little hopes of recovery. I was quickly becoming a broken-down creature, and though physically I should have lasted out for years, mentally I saw there was a crash not far ahead. I had seen it happen with other men before. As it was, mentally I was fast becoming a species of cow. I would stand for hours at a time, leaning my head into the corner, my hands in my pockets, staring at the floor. I would find that for hours I had been saying to myself "My dear sir"—I always called myself "my dear sir" when talking out loud,—"you really must make an effort to get out. I mean it's simply too stupid to spend the best years of your life in a box like this. Use your wits. Do something. Go on, you juggins, get out somewhere. Think!" and so on, from twelve till three. I became absolutely impersonal, and found it difficult to have likes and dislikes about anything. I absolutely forgot what flowers smelt like. Milk I could not imagine. Fruit, tobacco, fish, were mere names to me. I had forgotten what they were. I could not understand the meaning of the term "red."

Though I longed to be free, I felt that human beings would be perfectly unbearable. I no longer considered myself as one. I felt perfectly decorporealised: I was merely a mind contemplative and a poor one at that. And yet I longed for their company. I still kept up my nightly habit of repeating a few verses from any poem I could remember, and after the light had gone out—for here there was electric light—I would rise solemnly in the dark, and make the most fiery speeches to the Cambridge[32] Union—poor Cambridge Union. I would then proceed to oppose my own motion, pick holes in it, show up the proposer as an impostor and a charlatan. A seconder would then arise, who with all the sarcasm of a Voltaire would rend the immediate speaker adjective from substantive, verb from adverb, until quivering with the laceration received, the latter would be thrown, a bleeding proposition, into the waste deserts of verbosity.

V—GHASTLY HOURS UNDER GERMAN BRUTALITY

It was just about this time that I nearly got myself shot for attempted murder. I was so used to the darkness that I found electric light rather trying to the eyes, and therefore turned the racket upwards toward the ceiling in order to have but reflected light. A little later in came the warder. He saw the upturned bracket, and lifting the hilt of his sword, hit me sharply over the head. In a flash I was on him. I had raised my fists on each side for a smashing blow on his temples. He was unable to get away, for he was so short that my arms could have nailed him as he tried. He saw there was no escape, and the sight of my face blazing with fury and wretchedness made him drop his sword. I relished that moment, I gloated over it. I kept my fists going backwards and forwards nearly touching his temples, but never quite. I tried to imagine the agony in his rabbit-like mind, waiting for the crushing blow to fall upon him, and wondering what it would feel like. Suddenly he turned a sickly green. His hat was knocked all on one side. I saw beneath his uniform a fat little vulgar bourgeois, incapable of a thought outside the satisfying of his own senses. He turned from green to a pasty yellow. He glanced piteously up into my distorted face. I drove him back towards the door, growling and hissing at him, my[33] fists going like a steam hammer on each side of his head. His agony became worse. His eyes flew from one side to the other, like a rabbit looking for escape. His little pointed flaxen beard wobbled and, such was his panic, so did his stomach. Suddenly my mind changed, and taking him by the shoulders, and putting my knee, as far as it was possible, into his belly, I pushed him backwards, and he sat down violently and disconsolately in the passage outside, his sword underneath him, and his hat rolling away into the darkness. I slammed the door, and after a time he got up and locked it. I knew nothing would happen to me, for he was not permitted to hit me, but had I hit him back, I gasp to think of the number of years I should now be doing.

This, the third prison I had been in, was the worst. Physically it was slightly better: there was more space, light, two good meals a day, but the very last drop of individuality was taken away from you. It was not permitted even to arrange the bowls on the shelf as you liked. I never saw daylight, for our exercise took place at half-past six in the dark. It was now the 20th of January. I had been arrested in the early days of October. Since then I had been residing in a lavatory. I found it dull.

Despite the warder's announcement that nobody ever came there for less than three or four months, I was suddenly taken away again after five days, and Black Maria drove me back once more to the Polizeigefängnis of the Alexanderplatz. I was too miserable by now to care where I was sent or what they did to me. I was beginning to lose the power of appreciating anything—whatever its nature. I found some new arrivals at Alexanderplatz. The place was full as usual with neutrals who were under suspicion: Dutch, Swedes and Danes. One Dutchman had been there for seven weeks[34] in solitary. I was just reaching the final depths of despair when, one night, just as I had got my first foot into bed, the door was flung open, and into the gloom a voice shouted "'raus."[6] I "raused" timidly and in my nightshirt, and was told to dress quickly. I did so, surmising I was to go to another prison. I began to feel quite numb, and I no longer hoped for anything. Downstairs in the bureau a very pleasant policeman took charge of me, and after having signed the receipts for the acceptance of my carcase, he made the usual remark, "Kommen Sie mit," and off we went. I thought it odd that we should go alone: they usually fetch the criminals in batches. "Where are we going to?" I asked. "Ruhleben," he said.

VI—ON THE ROAD TO RUHLEBEN PRISON

For a moment I could hardly feel. I hardly dared feel. I just breathed quietly to myself, and thought how nice the air tasted. I was going to see human beings again. For a time the words were rather meaningless, and then I gradually began to revive under their warmth. We went out into the street to the Alexanderplatz station. I had a fine opportunity to run away here, though I should have been a fool to have done so, and to have invited prison again. In any case, I had no glasses with me, and I was very short-sighted. We had gone up on to the platform, and I was chuckling and giggling like a schoolgirl at seeing life once again, when the policeman discovered it was the wrong one. "Run," he said, "there's our train over there." I ran like a leopard. In ten bounds I had slipped through the crowd and had lost him. I ran on down the stairs, and into the street. How glorious it all seemed, and I roared aloud with laughter, at which a sallow-faced woman in black seemed offended and turned round to stare. I rushed on, up the other set of stairs and in time my captor appeared. The idea of bolting had just entered my head and flown, but "no," I said, "wait till we get to Ruhleben, and have got tired of that, then we'll see what can be done."

[35]

Meanwhile, I stared out into the darkness from the brightly-lit carriage as we steamed through the suburbs of Berlin. I got a glimpse of a tiny room, in which numbers of steaming dishevelled women were crowded together bending over machines and needlework. They were being sweated. That was their daily life. They too, lived in what was really a prison, though no law stopped them roaming whence they would. I was in the world once more....

(The prisoner relates numerous stories of his experiences, of which the above is but a single instance. He describes the prison; how it feels waiting to be shot; the impressions of a lunatic on release from solitary confinement and his daring escape with Mr. Edward Falk, District Commissioner in the Political Service of Nigeria.)

FOOTNOTES

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

[3] "That is impossible."

[4] "Please, Herr Direktor, may I write a letter?"

[5] "Permit to Number 58 to sing and to whistle."

[6] "Out!"


[36]

AN AMERICAN AT BATTLE OF THE SOMME WITH FRENCH ARMY

Army Life With the Soldiers Along the Somme

Told by Frederick Palmer, American War Correspondent

Mr. Palmer was the only accredited correspondent who had freedom of the field in the Battles of the Somme. At the time of this writing he has been officially appointed as a member of the staff of General Pershing, with the American Armies in France. This American has become a world figure. His life has been spent on the battlefields of the modern wars: The Greek War, the Philippine War, the Macedonian Insurrection, the Central American Wars, the Russian-Japanese War, the Turkish Revolution, the Balkan Wars. At the beginning of the Great War, he was with the British army and fleet. His descriptions of the fighting are unsurpassed in the war's literature—it is "the epic touch of great events." He has made a notable historical record in his book entitled "My Second Year of the War," in which he presents graphic pictures of the grim fighting along the Somme, with admirable descriptions of the heroism of the Canadians, the Australians and the fighters from all parts of the Earth, who are giving their lives "to make the world safe for Democracy." A single chapter from Mr. Palmer's book is here reproduced by permission of his publishers, Dodd, Mead and Company: Copyright 1917.

[7] I—STORY OF THE BATTLE RIDGE ON THE SOMME

Sometimes it occurred to one to consider what history might say about the Ridge and also to wonder how much history, which pretends to know all, would really know.[37] Thus, one sought perspective of the colossal significance of the uninterrupted battle whose processes numbed the mind and to distinguish the meaning of different stages of the struggle. Nothing had so well reflected the character of the war or of its protagonists, French, British and German, as this grinding of resources, of courage, and of will of three powerful races.

... It is historically accepted, I think, that the first decisive phase was the battle of the Marne when Paris was saved. The second was Verdun, when the Germans again sought a decision on the Western front by an offensive of sledge-hammer blows against frontal positions; and, perhaps, the third came when on the Ridge the British and the French kept up their grim, insistent, piece-meal attacks, holding the enemy week in and week out on the defensive, aiming at mastery as the scales trembled in the new turn of the balance and initiative passed from one side to the other in the beginning of that new era.

This scarred slope with its gentle ascent, this section of farming land with its woods growing more ragged every day from shell fire, with its daily and nightly thunders, its trickling procession of wounded and prisoners down the communication trenches speaking the last word in human bravery, industry, determination and endurance—this might one day be not only the monument to the positions of all the battalions that had fought, its copses, its villages, its knolls famous to future generations as in Little Round Top with us, but in its monstrous realism be an immortal expression, unrealized by those who fought, of a commander's iron will and foresight in gaining that supremacy in arms, men and material which was the genesis of the great decision.

The German began drawing away divisions from the Verdun sector, bringing guns to answer the British and[38] French fire and men whose prodigal use alone could enforce his determination to maintain morale and prevent any further bold strokes such as that of July (1916).

His sausage balloons began to reappear in the sky as the summer wore on; he increased the number of his aeroplanes; more of his five-point-nine howitzers were sending their compliments; he stretched out his shell fire over communication trenches and strong points; mustered great quantities of lachrymatory shells and for the first time used gas shells with a generosity which spoke his faith in their efficacy. The lachrymatory shell makes your eyes smart, and the Germans apparently considered this a great auxiliary to high explosives and shrapnel. Was it because of the success of the first gas attack at Ypres that they now placed such reliance in gas shells? The shell when it lands seems a "dud," which is a shell that has failed to explode; then it blows out a volume of gas.

"If one hit right under your nose," said a soldier, "and you hadn't your gas mask on, it might kill you. But when you see one fall you don't run to get a sniff in order to accommodate the Boche by asphyxiating yourself."

Another soldier suggested that the Germans had a big supply on hand and were working off the stock for want of other kinds. The British who by this time were settled in the offensive joked about the deluge of gas shells with a gallant, amazing humor. Going up to the Ridge was going to their regular duty. They did not shirk it or hail it with delight. They simply went, that was all, when it was a battalion's turn to go.

II—GUNNERS IN THE FURNACE OF WAR

July heat became August heat as the grinding proceeded. The gunners worked in their shirts or stripped[39] to the waist. Sweat streaks mapped the faces of the men who came out of the trenches. Stifling clouds of dust hung over the roads, with the trucks phantom-like as they emerged from the gritty mist and their drivers' eyes peered out of masks of gray which clung to their faces. A fall of rain comes as a blessing to Briton and German alike. German prisoners worn with exhaustion had complexions the tint of their uniforms. If the British seemed weary sometimes, one had only to see the prisoners to realize that the defensive was suffering more than the offensive. The fatigue of some of the men was of the kind that one week's sleep or a month's rest will not cure; something fixed in their beings.

It was a new kind of fighting for the Germans. They smarted under it, they who had been used to the upper hand. In the early stages of the war their artillery had covered their well-ordered charges; they had been killing the enemy with gunfire. Now the Allies were returning the compliment; the shoe was on the other foot. A striking change, indeed, from "On to Paris!" the old battle-cry of leaders who had now come to urge these men to the utmost of endurance and sacrifice by telling them that if they did not hold against the relentless hammering of British and French guns what had been done to French villages would be done to their own.

Prisoners spoke of peace as having been promised as close at hand by their officers. In July the date had been set as Sept. 1st. Later, it was set as Nov. 1st. The German was as a swimmer trying to reach shore, in this case peace, with the assurance of those who urged him on that a few more strokes would bring him there. Thus have armies been urged on for years.

Those fighting did not have, as had the prisoners, their eyes opened to the vast preparations behind the British[40] lines to carry on the offensive. Mostly the prisoners were amiable, peculiarly unlike the proud men taken in the early days of the war when confidence in their "system" as infallible was at its height. Yet there were exceptions. I saw an officer marching at the head of the survivors of his battalion along the road from Montauban one day with his head up, a cigar stuck in the corner of his mouth at an aggressive angle, his unshaven chin and dusty clothes heightening his attitude of "You go to ——, you English!"

The hatred of the British was a strengthening factor in the defense. Should they, the Prussians, be beaten by New Army men? No! Die first! said Prussian officers. The German staff might be as good as ever, but among the mixed troops—the old and the young, the hollow-chested and the square-shouldered, mouth-breathers with spectacles and bent fathers of families, vigorous boys in their late 'teens with the down still on their cheeks and hardened veterans survivors of many battles east and west—they were reverting appreciably to natural human tendencies despite the iron discipline.

It was Skobeloff, if I recollect rightly, who said that out of every hundred men twenty were natural fighters, sixty were average men who would fight under impulse or when well led, and twenty were timid; and armies were organized on the basis of the sixty average to make them into a whole of even efficiency in action. The German staff had supplied supreme finesse to this end. They had an army that was a machine; yet its units were flesh and blood and the pounding of shell fire and the dogged fighting on the Ridge must have an effect.

It became apparent through those two months of piece-meal advance that the sixty average men were not as good as they had been. The twenty "funk-sticks," in army phrase, were given to yielding themselves if they[41] were without an officer, but the twenty natural fighters—well, human psychology does not change. They were the type that made the professional armies of other days, the brigands, too, and also those of every class of society to whom patriotic duty had become an exaltation approaching fanaticism. More fighting made them fight harder.

III—DEAD BODIES STRAPPED TO GUNS

Such became members of the machine-gun corps, which took an oath never to surrender, and led bombing parties and posted themselves in shell-craters to face the charges while shells fell thick around them, or remained up in the trench taking their chances against curtains of fire that covered an infantry charge, in the hope of being able to turn on their own bullet spray for a moment before being killed. Sometimes their dead bodies were found strapped to their guns, more often probably by their own request, as an insurance against deserting their posts, than by command.

Shell fire was the theatricalism of the struggle, the roar of guns its thunder; but night or day the sound of the staccato of that little arch devil of killing, the machine gun, coming from the Ridge seemed as true an expression of what was always going on there as a rattlesnake's rattle is of its character. Delville and High Woods and Guillemont and Longueval and the Switch Trench—these are symbolic names of that attrition, of the heroism of British persistence which would not take No for answer.

You might think that you had seen ruins until you saw those of Guillemont after it was taken. They were the granulation of bricks and mortar and earth mixed by the blasts of shell fire which crushed solids into dust[42] and splintered splinters. Guillemont lay beyond Trônes Wood across an open space where the German guns had full play. There was a stone quarry on the outskirts, and a quarry no less than a farm like Waterlot, which was to the northward, and Falfemont, to the southward and flanking the village, formed shelter. It was not much of a quarry, but it was a hole which would be refuge for reserves and machine guns. The two farms, clear targets for British guns, had their deep dugouts whose roofs were reinforced by the ruins that fell upon them against penetration even by shells of large caliber. How the Germans fought to keep Falfemont! Once they sent out a charge with the bayonet to meet a British charge between walls of shell fire and there through the mist the steel was seen flashing and vague figures wrestling.

Guillemont and the farms won and Ginchy which lay beyond won and the British had their flank of high ground. Twice they were in Guillemont but could not remain, though as usual they kept some of their gains. It was a battle from dugout to dugout, from shelter to shelter of any kind burrowed in the débris or in fields, with the British never ceasing here or elsewhere to continue their pressure. And the débris of a village had particular appeal; it yielded to the spade; its piles gave natural cover.

IV—THE ARTILLERYMEN IN THE WOODS

A British soldier returning from one of the attacks as he hobbled through Trônes Wood expressed to me the essential generalship of the battle. He was outwardly as unemotional as if he were coming home from his day's work, respectful and good-humored, though he had a hole in both arms from machine-gun fire, a shrapnel wound[43] in the heel, and seemed a trifle resentful of the added tribute of another shrapnel wound in his shoulder after he had left the firing-line and was on his way to the casualty clearing station. Insisting that he could lift the cigarette I offered him to his lips and light it, too, he said:

"We've only to keep at them, sir. They'll go."

So the British kept at them and so did the French at every point. Was Delville Wood worse than High Wood? This is too nice a distinction in torments to be drawn. Possess either of them completely and command of the Ridge in that section was won. The edge of a wood on the side away from your enemy was the easiest part to hold. It is difficult to range artillery on it because of restricted vision, and the enemy's shells aimed at it strike the trees and burst prematurely among his own men. Other easy, relatively easy, places to hold are the dead spaces of gullies and ravines. There you were out of fire and there you were not; there you could hold and there you could not. Machine-gun fire and shell fire were the arbiters of topography more dependable than maps.

Why all the trees were not cut down by the continual bombardments of both sides was past understanding. There was one lone tree on the skyline near Longueval which I had watched for weeks. It still had a limb, yes, the luxury of a limb, the last time I saw it, pointing with a kind of defiance in its immunity. Of course it had been struck many times. Bits of steel were imbedded in its trunk; but only a direct hit on the trunk will bring down a tree. Trees may be slashed and whittled and nicked and gashed and still stand; and when villages have been pulverized except for the timbering of the houses, a scarred shade tree will remain.

Thus, trees in Delville Wood survived, naked sticks[44] among fallen and splintered trunks and upturned roots. How any man could have survived was the puzzling thing. None could if he had remained there continuously and exposed himself; but man is the most cunning of animals. With gas mask and eye-protectors ready, steel helmet on his head and his faithful spade to make himself a new hole whenever he moved, he managed the incredible in self-protection. Earth piled back of a tree-trunk would stop bullets and protect his body from shrapnel. There he lay and there a German lay opposite him, except when attacks were being made.

Not getting the northern edge of the woods the British began sapping out in trenches to the east toward Ginchy, where the many contours showed the highest ground in that neighborhood. New lines of trenches kept appearing on the map, often with group names such as Coffee Alley, Tea Lane and Beer Street, perhaps. Out in the open along the irregular plateau the shells were no more kindly, the bombing and the sapping no less diligent all the way to the windmill, where the Australians were playing the same kind of a game. With the actual summit gained at certain points, these had to be held pending the taking of the whole, or of enough to permit a wave of men to move forward in a general attack without its line being broken by the resistance of strong points, which meant confusion.

V—STALKING A MACHINE GUN IN ITS LAIR

Before any charge the machine guns must be "killed." No initiative of pioneer or Indian scout surpassed that exhibited in conquering machine-gun positions. When a big game hunter tells you about having stalked tigers, ask him if he has ever stalked a machine gun to its lair.

As for the nature of the lair, here is one where a Briton[45] "dug himself in" to be ready to repulse any counter-attack to recover ground that the British had just won. Some layers of sandbags are sunk level with the earth with an excavation back of them large enough for a machine-gun standard and to give the barrel swing and for the gunner, who back of this had dug himself a well four or five feet deep of sufficient diameter to enable him to huddle at the bottom in "stormy weather." He was general and army, too, of this little establishment. In the midst of shells and trench mortars, with bullets whizzing around his head, he had to keep a cool aim and make every pellet which he poured out of his muzzle count against the wave of men coming toward him who were at his mercy if he could remain alive for a few minutes and keep his head.

He must not reveal his position before his opportunity came. All around where this Briton had held the fort there were shell-craters like the dots of close shooting around a bull's-eye; no tell-tale blood spots this time, but a pile of two or three hundred cartridge cases lying where they had fallen as they were emptied of their cones of lead. Luck was with the occupant, but not with another man playing the same game not far away. Broken bits of gun and fragments of cloth mixed with earth explained the fate of a German machine gunner who had emplaced his piece in the same manner.

Before a charge, crawl up at night from shell-crater to shell-crater and locate the enemy's machine guns. Then, if your own guns and the trench mortars do not get them, go stalking with supplies of bombs and remember to throw yours before the machine gunner, who also has a stock for such emergencies, throws his. When a machine gun begins rattling into a company front in a charge the men drop for cover, while officers consider how to draw the devil's tusks. Arnold von Winkelried, who[46] gathered the spears to his breast to make a path for his comrades, won his glory because the fighting forces were small in his day. But with such enormous forces as are now engaged and with heroism so common, we make only an incident of the officer who went out to silence a machine gun and was found lying dead across the gun with the gunner dead beside him.

VI—TALKS WITH THE MEN IN THE REAR

The advance on the map at our quarters extended as the brief army reports were read into the squares every morning by the key of figures and numerals with a detail that included every little trench, every copse, every landmark, and then we chose where we would go that day. At corps headquarters there were maps with still more details and officers would explain the previous day's work to us. Every wood and village, every viewpoint, we knew, and every casualty clearing station and prisoners' inclosure. At battalion camps within sight of the Ridge and within range of the guns, where their blankets helped to make shelter from the sun, you might talk with the men out of the fight and lunch and chat with the officers who awaited the word to go in again or perhaps to hear that their tour was over and they could go to rest in Ypres sector, which had become relatively quiet.

They had their letters and packages from home before they slept and had written letters in return after waking; and there was nothing to do now except to relax and breathe, to renew the vitality that had been expended in the fierce work where shells were still threshing the earth, which rose in clouds of dust to settle back again in enduring passive resistance.

There was much talk early in the war about British cheerfulness; so much that officers and men began to[47] resent it as expressing the idea that they took such a war as this as a kind of holiday, when it was the last thing outside of Hades that any sane man would choose. It was a question in my own mind at times if Hades would not have been a pleasant change. Yet the characterization is true, peculiarly true, even in the midst of the fighting on the Ridge. Cheerfulness takes the place of emotionalism as the armor against hardship and death; a good-humored balance between exhilaration and depression which meets smile with smile and creates an atmosphere superior to all vicissitudes. Why should we be downhearted? Why, indeed, when it does no good. Not "Merrie England!" War is not a merry business; but an Englishman may be cheerful for the sake of self and comrades.

Of course, these battalions, officers and men, would talk about when the war would be over. Even the Esquimaux must have an opinion on the subject by this time. That of the men who make the war, whose lives are the lives risked, was worth more, perhaps, than that of people living thousands of miles away; for it is they who are doing the fighting, who will stop fighting. To them it would be over when it was won. The time this would require varied with different men—one year, two years; and again they would turn satirical and argue whether the sixth or the seventh year would be the worst. And they talked shop about the latest wrinkles in fighting; how best to avoid having men buried by shell-bursts; the value of gas and lachrymatory shells; the ratio of high explosives to shrapnel; methods of "cleaning out" dugouts or "doing in" machine guns, all in a routine that had become an accepted part of life like the details of the stock carried and methods of selling in a department store.

Indelible the memories of these talks, which often[48] brought out illustrations of racial temperament. One company was more horrified over having found a German tied to a trench parados to be killed by British shell fire as a field punishment than by the horrors of other men equally mashed and torn, or at having crawled over the moist bodies of the dead, or slept among them, or been covered with spatters of blood and flesh—for that incident struck home with a sense of brutal militarism which was the thing in their minds against which they were fighting.

VII—WITH STEEL HELMETS AND GAS MASKS

With steel helmets on and gas masks over our shoulders, we would leave our car at the dead line and set off to "see something," when now the fighting was all hidden in the folds of the ground, or in the woods, or lost on the horizon where the front line of either of these two great armies, with their immense concentration of men and material and roads gorged with transport and thousands of belching guns, was held by a few men with machine guns in shell-craters, their positions sometimes interwoven. Old hands in the Somme battle become shell-wise. They are the ones whom the French call "varnished," which is a way of saying that projectiles glance off their anatomy. They keep away from points where the enemy will direct his fire as a matter of habit or scientific gunnery, and always recollect that the German has not enough shells to sow them broadcast over the whole battle area.

It is not an uncommon thing for one to feel quite safe within a couple of hundred yards of an artillery concentration. That corner of a village, that edge of a shattered grove, that turn in the highway, that sunken road—keep away from them! Any kind of trench for shrapnel; lie down flat unless a satisfactory dugout is near for protection[49] from high explosives which burst in the earth. If you are at the front and a curtain of fire is put behind you, wait until it is over or go around it. If there is one ahead, wait until another day—provided that you are a spectator. Always bear in mind how unimportant you are, how small a figure on the great field, and that if every shell fired had killed one soldier there would not be an able-bodied man in uniform left alive on the continent of Europe. By observing these simple rules you may see a surprising amount with a chance of surviving.

One day I wanted to go into the old German dugouts under a formless pile of ruins which a British colonel had made his battalion headquarters; but I did not want to go enough to persist when I understood the situation. Formerly, my idea of a good dugout—and I always like to be within striking distance of one—was a cave twenty feet deep with a roof of four or five layers of granite, rubble and timber; but now I feel more safe if the fragments of a town hall are piled on top of this.

The Germans were putting a shell every minute with clockwork regularity into the colonel's "happy home" and at intervals four shells in a salvo. You had to make a run for it between the shells, and if you did not know the exact location of the dugout you might have been hunting for it some time. Runners bearing messages took their chances both going and coming and two men were hit. The colonel was quite safe twenty feet underground with the matting of débris including that of a fallen chimney overhead, but he was a most unpopular host. The next day he moved his headquarters and not having been considerate enough to inform the Germans of the fact they kept on methodically pounding the roof of the untenanted premises.

After every battle "promenade" I was glad to step into[50] the car waiting at the "dead line," where the chauffeurs frequently had had harder luck in being shelled than we had farther forward. Yet I know of no worse place to be in than a car when you hear the first growing scream which indicates that yours is the neighborhood selected by a German battery or two for expending some of its ammunition. When you are in danger you like to be on your feet and to possess every one of your faculties. I used to put cotton in my ears when I walked through the area of the gun positions as some protection to the eardrums from the blasts, but always took it out once I was beyond the big calibers, as an acute hearing after some experience gave you instant warning of any "krump" or five-point-nine coming in your direction, advising you which way to dodge and also saving you from unnecessarily running for a dugout if the shell were passing well overhead or short.

I was glad, too, when the car left the field quite behind and was over the hills in peaceful country. But one never knew. Fifteen miles from the front line was not always safe. Once when a sudden outburst of fifteen-inch naval shells sent the people of a town to cover and scattered fragments over the square, one cut open the back of the chauffeur's head just as we were getting into our car.

"Are you going out to be strafed at?" became an inquiry in the mess on the order of "Are you going to take an afternoon off for golf to-day?" The only time I felt that I could claim any advantage in phlegm over my comrades was when I slept through two hours of aerial bombing with anti-aircraft guns busy in the neighborhood, which, as I explained, was no more remarkable than sleeping in a hotel at home with flat-wheeled surface cars and motor horns screeching under your window. A subway employee or a traffic policeman in New[51] York ought never to suffer from shell-shock if he goes to war.

The account of personal risk which in other wars might make a magazine article or a book chapter, once you sat down to write it, melted away as your ego was reduced to its proper place in the cosmos. Individuals had never been so obscurely atomic. With hundreds of thousands fighting, personal experience was valuable only as it expressed that of the whole. Each story brought back to the mess was much like others, thrilling for the narrator and repetition for the polite listener, except it was some officer fresh from the communication trench who brought news of what was going on in that day's work.

Thus, the battle had become static; its incidents of a kind like the product of some mighty mill. The public, falsely expecting that the line would be broken, wanted symbols of victory in fronts changing on the map and began to weary of the accounts. It was the late Charles A. Dana who is credited with saying: "If a dog bites a man it is not news, but if a man bites a dog it is."

Let the men attack with hatchets and in evening dress and this would win all the headlines in the land because people at their breakfast tables would say: "Here is something new in the war!" Men killing men was not news, but a battalion of trained bloodhounds sent out to bite the Germans would have been. I used to try to hunt down some of the "novelties" which received the favor of publication, but though they were well known abroad the man in the trenches had heard nothing about them.

Bullets, shells, bayonets and bombs remained the tried and practical methods there on the Ridge with its overpowering drama, any act of which almost any day was greater than Spionkop or Magersfontein which thrilled a world that was not then war-stale; and ever its supreme feature was that determination which was like a[52] kind fate in its progress of chipping, chipping at a stone foundation that must yield.

VIII—VICTORY!—"THE RIDGE IS TAKEN"

The Ridge seeped in one's very existence. You could see it as clearly in imagination as in reality, with its horizon under shell-bursts and the slope with its maze of burrows and its battered trenches. Into those calm army reports association could read many indications: the telling fact that the German losses in being pressed off the Ridge were as great if not greater than the British, their sufferings worse under a heavier deluge of shell fire, the increased skill of the offensive and the failure of German counter-attacks after each advance.

No one doubted that the Ridge would be taken and taken it was, or all of it that was needed for the drive that was to clean up any outstanding points, with its sweep down into the valley. A victory this, not to be measured by territory; for in one day's rush more ground was gained than in two months of siege. A victory of position, of will, of morale! Sharpening its steel and wits on enemy steel and wits in every kind of fighting, the New Army had proved itself in the supreme test of all qualities.

(This American correspondent relates thirty-one remarkable narratives of adventure, all of which equal in human interest and historical importance, the single narrative given above. He tells about his experiences "Forward with the Guns;" "The Brigade that Went Through;" "The Storming of Contalmaison;" "The Mastery of the Air;" "The Tanks in Action;" "The Harvest of Villages;" "Five Generals and Verdun"—all of which are notable historical records.)

FOOTNOTE

[7] All numerals throughout this volume relate to the stories herein told—not to chapters in the original sources.


[53]

AN AMERICAN'S EXPERIENCES "INSIDE THE GERMAN EMPIRE"

Told by Herbert Bayard Swope, an American in Berlin

These experiences and observations inside the German Empire in the third year of the War form an invaluable narrative. They have been recognized by one of the leading American universities as the most important contribution of a journalist to the literature of the Great War. Hon. James W. Gerard, American Ambassador to the German Empire, says: "The facts and experiences ... (of Herbert Bayard Swope), gathered first-hand by the author, whose friendship I value and whose professional equipment I admire, form an important contribution to contemporaneous history." Mr. Swope says: "My volume is based upon a series of articles I wrote for the New York World, and I am grateful to Mr. Ralph Pulitzer of that paper, for permission to use the material in this form." This inspiring book is published by The Century Company: Copyright, 1917, with whose authority this chapter is given.

[8] I—JOURNEYS IN THE SPY-BESIEGED LAND

Germany to-day is a giant fortress completely ringed by besiegers. Every man, woman, and child, all the beasts of burden and food, are checked and located. The doors have been locked against travelers seeking to enter and those seeking to depart. Only in exceptional cases are visitors received, and in rarer instances are natives permitted to leave.

The police are able at all times to account for every one of the population, passport issuance has been made extremely difficult, the ordeal of search and inquest at the frontier is severe and thorough, interior travel has been sharply restricted, every foot of the border is guarded against illegal entry, obstacles have been put in the way of mail and telegraph communications, the espionage system has been multiplied in efficiency and extent—all for the safety of the empire. And because this is the underlying reason for them, the Germans have submitted to the restrictions willingly, and, instead of rebelling, aid them.

[54]

The spy mania that swept over war-ridden Europe two years ago has lessened in its visible intensity in Germany, but the precaution against spies has been increased. The people have confidence in the safeguards against espionage, and so suspicion has been quieted. How well this confidence is justified can be attested by any one who has been inside the empire in the second year of the war.

A stranger is under observation from the time he enters until he has left. The watchfulness is not obtrusive, it is rarely evident; but it is always thorough. Within twelve hours of a visitor's arrival he must report in person at the nearest police station, and every time he makes a railroad journey this operation must be repeated.

When an American undertakes a voyage to Germany, the wheels of the imperial Government begin to revolve immediately upon the first application for a visé to his passport being made in this country. The first question to be answered concerns the applicant's character, so that Germany may feel sure he does not purpose to aid or abet her enemies; and the second, the actual need of the business that causes him to make the trip. Obtaining a passport from the American Government is attended by many formalities, and these are renewed when the German consul-generals are asked to approve.

Germany insists that a fortnight intervene between[55] the application for a visé and the beginning of the trip. This is to enable her officials to make the necessary investigations, and then to communicate the facts to Berlin and to the traveler's port of arrival.

All travel between America and Germany is through Copenhagen, Stockholm, or Rotterdam. From Copenhagen the traveler enters Germany through Warnemunde; from Stockholm he enters through Sassnitz; and from Rotterdam through Bentheim. Upon his arrival at one of the three neutral cities he must begin the proceedings afresh....

Upon arrival at Warnemunde (the methods throughout the empire are standardized, and are the same at every other entrance point) the travelers are shunted into a long low wooden shed, carrying their hand baggage, having previously surrendered the checks for their heavier luggage. Upon entering the place they are given numbers, and in return surrender their passports to brisk, keen-eyed, non-commissioned officers, whose efficiency has been increased by long practice.

II—"SEARCHED" BY THE SECRET POLICE

Once in the room, the travelers are not permitted to leave except through one door, and that they pass only when their numbers are called. Barred windows and armed sentries prevent any trifling with this system. The numbers are called one by one except in the case of husbands and wives, who are permitted to go through together—and when this is reached, the traveler passes through into a second office, where he is questioned as to his identity and the photographs on the passports are verified.

While he is undergoing this questioning he is being overheard and carefully watched by numbers of the[56] geheim-Polizei (secret police), some of whom are in uniform and others of whom masquerade in civilian attire as new arrivals. If there is any error in his papers it is developed at this point, and he is at once turned about and sent back to Copenhagen. But if it is a case of alles in Ordnung (everything in order), it is so reported, and he is ushered into another room, where, having passed the first two inquisitorial chambers, he is submitted to the grand ordeal, that of search.

And what a search it is! Unless one's credentials are exceptionally strong, one is stripped and one's mouth, ears, nose, and other parts of the body examined. One's fountain pen is emptied, every piece of paper taken away, including visiting cards, and even match-boxes are confiscated. Finger rings, umbrellas and canes are inspected. If bandages are worn, these must be stripped off, too. No distinction is drawn between men and women beyond the fact that women are of course examined before female inspectors.

The bodily search having been completed, that of the clothing is begun. Every article of apparel is felt over carefully and exposed to a strong light for fear there may be writing on the lining. If there is the slightest reason for suspicion, the travelers are given a sponge bath of water with a large admixture of citric acid, which has the effect of making apparent any writing on the body that may have been done with invisible ink. The Germans say that these precautions have been necessitated by the ingenious ruses employed by spies, whose entrance into the country is considered a greater menace than is their departure, since in entering they bring with them instructions to their confederates already within the empire awaiting orders.

The next step is the examination of the baggage, and this is done in a manner to make the American customs[57] inspection seem childish. The interior and exterior measurements of the trunks are taken to guard against false sides, tops, and bottoms, and then one by one every article the trunks contain is put through a separate inspection....

Every sort of liquid is confiscated. The perfumes of the women are poured into a big tub, and such liquors as the men may be carrying are treated in a similar manner. The contents of travelers' alcohol or spirit lamps are carefully emptied into air-tight containers for later use. The reason for the drastic regulation against taking any liquid, however small the quantity, into Germany was the danger of the fact that high explosives such as nitroglycerine can be carried in small vessels. On several occasions, the Germans say, railroads and bridges have been blown up by the enemy travelers who carried the means of destruction in this way. In this connection the additional precaution is taken by the authorities of prohibiting all travelers from putting their heads out the windows of the coupés while crossing bridges.

All written or printed matter, such as books, newspapers, pamphlets, magazines, is taken away. Upon request the traveler may have these forwarded to his point of destination after they have been censored and deleted. As every point on the German border is carefully guarded, it is virtually impossible for any one to enter the country except at stated points. All the roads are closed, and the border fields are carefully patrolled.

Upon his arrival in Berlin, or wherever he may be bound, the traveler must present himself in person at the nearest police station. There his passport is again viséd, and he is given official permission to remain for a given period. But every time he makes a trip he must report himself going and coming....

[58]

III—THE COUNTRY THAT WENT "SPY MAD"

In every hotel are to be met spies in the form of guests, waiters, chambermaids, telephone operators, and bartenders. In the early part of the war these last proved their worth often, for men otherwise cautious and reticent became outspoken under the influence of a few Scotches or cocktails, which are still in vogue in Germany despite their American origin.

At one of the biggest of the Berlin hotels it is a noticeable fact that all the floor waiters are young, active, highly intelligent men. When they are asked why they are not serving at the front all have excuses on the score of health. The truth is that they are all governmental agents whose duty it is to familiarize themselves with the details of every visitor's business. That they do well. Every stranger's papers are thoroughly investigated, no matter how securely they may be locked up, before he has been in the city two days, assuming he leaves them in his room. Two members of the American diplomatic corps who made short stays in Berlin can tell singular stories on this point.

The chief of the floor waiters at this hotel—and it is illustrative of all the others—is a polished-mannered young fellow of about thirty-two who speaks English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Danish with the same facility that he reads them, and he reads them as well as he does his native German. I noticed the chief of the telephone operators, who while discharging the duties of his lowly job wore livery, attending the races in an English sport-coat, with glasses strung over his shoulders, and he went to and from the course in a taxicab, the height of luxury in wartime Berlin. One would hardly credit his income solely to the measly wages he received from[59] his work at the switch-board. He, too, as well as his assistants, was an accomplished linguist.

It must not be thought that espionage is confined to the Americans. On the contrary, even the subjects of Germany's allies receive this attention. Austrian, Bulgarian, or Turkish, it makes no difference; all are put under the scrutiny of the secret eyes and ears of the Kaiser. Almost it is more difficult to obtain a passport permitting one to travel to Austria than it is to obtain one for a journey to America, and the examination at the Austrian border is just as severe as at the frontier between Germany and Denmark.

German spies travel on all the transatlantic liners running from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Holland to America, and back again. They find out as much as they can about their fellow-travelers, so that the secret police may be forewarned as to whom and what they are to receive. These agents are rarely employed by the German Government for the secret transmission of mail; that is usually done by men of solid reputation, American or other neutrals who are persuaded to accept the task on the ground of a service to the empire. Obviously, they must be violently pro-German before they are asked to assume the undertaking.

The difficulty of communication is one of the severe hardships that the German Government and people suffer. Mails to and from the empire are seized by the Allies, and if delivered at all, are so belated as to make them valueless. Only such cables as the Allies choose to pass are permitted transmission. Male Germans are not permitted to travel on the seas. So German communication is restricted to the wireless, to supposedly neutral couriers, and to submarines, both of the commercial type as the Deutschland, and of the war type, which have been secretly conveying important German[60] mail to Spanish waters, where it is loaded upon friendly neutral vessels, which carry it into Spanish ports and thence forward it to America and other points. This last method has been a carefully guarded secret of the German Government. Mail sent out by Spain is not seized and censored by the Allies....

IV—A VISIT TO GENERAL LORINGHOVEN

To get the official view of the situation held by the officers of the general staff, I called on General von Freytag-Loringhoven at the general staff building in Berlin, where the great Moltke long presided. He received me in a room the distinguishing features of which were maps, not only showing the disposition of the German forces, but immense wall-sized ones on which were diagrammed the present locations of the Allies, showing their number, their commanders (designated by name and locations of headquarters), with their relative ranks indicated by little parti-coloured flags. I had just returned from the Somme, and as I saw how each of the French and British lines was clearly marked, I expressed my surprise.

The general smiled.

"Yes, our intelligence department is pretty thorough," he said, "but it is no better on the Somme than our enemy's is, for in France, where we stand on occupied soil, almost every civilian is an aid to the Allies.

"But despite that, despite all the French and English can do at the Somme," he went on, "they will never break through."...

I asked the general for his impressions of the French and British soldiers. He answered:

"The French are better soldiers. They are better schooled and drilled. They have been at it longer and[61] they are enormously brave and sacrificing. But the British are proving their worth, too. They are all of them warlike and like to fight, but they don't know how as yet. You can't make a soldier in a few weeks or months; it takes time and patience.

"The French artillery is exceptional. The French artillery officers have always been of high repute. They are teaching much to the English and Russians, and these forces are showing a corresponding betterment.

"Because of their greater experience, I should say the French are better officered than the English. The Russian officers are a poor lot. There is no sympathy between them and their men. The men are brave enough, but are sheep-like in their lack of intelligence...."

In September, I stood in the general's field headquarters and watched the big guns drop shells all around the famous "windmill of Pozières" on the high ridge which had been taken by the British and was being used by their artillery observers, who gamely held on, although the position was anything but comfortable.

While we watched the bombardment a squadron of English fliers passed overhead. I ducked and made for the bomb-proof.

"Don't worry," said the general, "the fliers rarely bomb us. Our aviators generally leave their generals' headquarters alone, and they usually do the same by us. It is a sort of understood courtesy."...

While I stood in his observation-point with Wenninger an iron-gray quartermaster sergeant passed. He had been in the east against the Russians as well as in the west. In reply to my question as to his opinion of the schools of fighting, he answered:

"I'd rather face twenty infantry attacks from the Russians than bring up food to the first lines here (British). Their damned artillery makes it hell."

[62]

V—"AT THE SOMME, I MET VON PAPEN"

At the Somme I met Captain von Papen, the former German military attaché, who was sent home by America. After six weeks on the firing line he was made chief of staff to General Count Schweinitz, commanding the Fourth Guard Division and holding the Grevillers-Warlencourt-Ligny line. He has proved himself an efficient officer.

Captain Boy-Ed, the naval attaché, who was sent back to Germany at the same time, is now chief intelligence officer at the admiralty in Berlin. He is very bitter toward America, while von Papen is friendly. Dr. Dernburg, the other propagandist who was returned to the fatherland, is philosophical as regards his work in America, and is without rancour over his treatment. He is living in Berlin, working on housing plans for the poor, but he has lost the confidence of his Government....

All the world knows Hindenburg. Germany's Iron Man, the hero of the Masurian Swamps, a colossal wooden statue of whom stands opposite the Reichstag in the Sieges-allee, the Avenue of Victory, in Berlin's Tiergarten. But who is Ludendorff?

Ludendorff is Germany's man of mystery, the grim, inscrutable, silent man whose picture is on sale in every shop, whose name is in every mouth, but whose real personality is hidden even from his own countrymen.

Ludendorff is Hindenburg's indispensable right-hand man....

There are those who say that Ludendorff is Hindenburg's brain, and that Hindenburg's greatest successes have been planned by his silent, retiring assistant. Hindenburg, when in the mood, becomes very talkative and chatty, and at such times he often attributes his success[63] to his assistant. There is a perfect harmony between the two; Ludendorff plans and Hindenburg decides....

On August 28 (1914) it was announced that the Russians were fleeing across the border. The news grew. Five army corps and three cavalry divisions had been annihilated. More than ninety thousand prisoners were taken. Tannenberg, one of the greatest victories of the war, had changed the whole face of affairs in the east.

There have been bigger battles and longer battles, and there have been battles of more significance in the history of the war, but there has been no other battle in which the result has been so overwhelming and complete a victory for either side.

Just what happened at Tannenberg and in the Masurian Swamps is still a secret. There have been stories that a hundred thousand men were drowned in the swamps. There have been tales of dikes released and men swept away in a swirl of rushing waters. All that is known certainly is that a Russian army disappeared.

(This American war correspondent then gives his impressions of men and events within the German Armies, telling many interesting tales of Boelcke, the German "knight of the air" who shot down thirty-eight enemy aeroplanes before he was killed in collision with one of his own German machines.)

FOOTNOTE

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


[64]

"DIXMUDE"-AN EPIC OF THE FRENCH MARINES

Story of the Murder of Commander Jeanniot

Told by Charles Le Goffic of the Fusiliers Marins—Translated by Florence Simmonds

The story of the French Marines is one of the epics of the World's Wars. Such is the story of the Bretons. At Dixmude, under command of their own officers, retaining not only the costume, but the soul and language of their profession they were still sailors. Grouped with them were seamen from all the naval stations. The heroism of these sailors is told in the volume entitled "Dixmude," published by J. B. Lippincott Company. From these interesting stories, we here relate "The Murder of Captain Jeanniot."

[9] I-GREAT HEARTS OF THE FRENCH MARINES

I had opportunities of talking to several of these "Parigots," and I should not advise anyone to speak slightingly of their officers before them, though, indeed, so few of these have survived that nine times out of ten the quip could be aimed only at a ghost. The deepest and tenderest words I heard uttered concerning Naval Lieutenant Martin des Pallières were spoken by a Marine of the Rue des Martyrs, George Delaballe, who was one of his gunners in front of the cemetery the night when his machine-guns were jammed, and five hundred Germans, led by a major wearing the Red Cross armlet, threw themselves suddenly into our trenches.

[65]

"But why did you love him so?" I asked.

"I don't know.... We loved him because he was brave, and was always saying things that made us laugh, ... but above all because he loved us."

Here we have the secret of this extraordinary empire of the officers over their men, the explanation of that miracle of a four weeks' resistance, one against six, under the most formidable tempest of shells of every caliber that ever fell upon a position, in a shattered town where all the buildings were ablaze, and where, to quote the words of a Daily Telegraph correspondent, it was no longer light or dark, "but only red." When the Boches murdered Commander Jeanniot, his men were half crazy. They would not have felt the death of a father more deeply. I have recently had a letter sent me written by a Breton lad, Jules Cavan, who was wounded at Dixmude. While he was in hospital at Bordeaux he was visited by relatives of Second-Lieutenant Gautier, who was killed on October 27 in the cemetery trenches.

"Dear Sir," he wrote to M. Dalché de Desplanels the following day, "you cannot imagine how your visit went to my heart.... On October 19, when my battalion took the offensive at Lannes, three kilometers from Dixmude, I was wounded by a bullet in the thigh. I dragged myself along as best I could on the battlefield, bullets falling thickly all around me. I got over about five hundred meters on the battlefield and reached the road. Just at that moment Lieutenant Gautier, who was coming towards me with a section, seeing me in the ditch, asked: 'Well, my lad, what is the matter with you?' 'Oh, Lieutenant, I am wounded in the leg, and I cannot drag myself further.' 'Here then, get on my back.' And he carried me to a house at Lannes, and said these words, which I shall never forget: 'Stay there, my lad, till they come and fetch you. I will let the motor ambulance men[66] know.' Then he went off under the fire. Oh, the splendid fellow!"

II—TALES OF THE BRAVE "PARIGOTS"

"The splendid fellow!" Jules Cavan echoes Georges Delaballe, the Breton, the "Parigot." There is the same heartfelt ring in the words of each. And sometimes, as I muse over these heroic shades, I ask myself which were the more admirable, officers or men. When Second-Lieutenant Gautier received orders to take the place of Lieutenant de Pallières, buried by a shell in the trench of the cemetery where Lieutenant Eno had already fallen, he read his fate plainly; he said: "It's my turn." And he smiled at Death, who beckoned him. But I know of one case when, as Death seemed about to pass them by, the Marines provoked it; when, after they had used up all their cartridges and were surrounded in a barn, twelve survivors only remaining with their captain, the latter, filled with pity for them, and recognizing the futility of further resistance, said to his men: "My poor fellows, you have done your duty. There is nothing for it but to surrender." Then, disobedient to their captain for the first time, they answered: "No!" To my mind nothing could show more clearly the degree of sublime exaltation and complete self-forgetfulness to which our officers had raised the moral of their men. Such were the pupils these masters in heroism had formed, that often their own pupils surpassed them. There was at the Trouville Hospital a young Breton sailor called Michel Folgoas. His wound was one of the most frightful imaginable: the whole of his side was shaved off by a shell which killed one of his comrades in the trenches, who was standing next to him, on November 2. "I," he remarks in a letter, "was completely stunned at first. When I came to myself I walked three hundred meters before I noticed[67] that I was wounded, and this was only when my comrades called out: 'Mon Dieu, they have carried away half your side.'" It was true. But does he groan and lament over it? He makes a joke of it: "The Boches were so hungry that they took a beef-steak out of my side, but this won't matter, as they have left me a little."

Multiply this Michel Folgoas by 6,000, and you will have the brigade. This inferno of Dixmude was an inferno where everyone made the best of things. And the battues of rabbits, the coursing of the red German hares which were running in front of the army of invasion, the bull-fights in which our Mokos impaled some pacific Flemish bull abandoned by its owners; more dubious escapades, sternly repressed, in the underground premises of the Dixmude drink-shops; a story of two Bretons who went off on a foraging expedition and were seen coming back along the canal in broad daylight towing a great cask of strong beer which they had unearthed Heaven knows where at a time when the whole brigade, officers as well as men, had nothing to drink but the brackish water of the Yser—these, and a hundred other tales of the same kind, which will some day delight village audiences gathered round festal evening fires, bear witness that Jean Gouin (or Le Gwenn, John the White, as the sailors call themselves familiarly[10]), did not lose his bearings even in his worst vicissitudes.

Dixmude was an epic then, or, as M. Victor Giraud proposes, a French geste, but a geste in which the heroism is entirely without solemnity or deliberation, where the nature of the seaman asserts itself at every turn, where there are thunder, lightning, rain, mud, cold, bullets, shrapnel, high explosive shells, and all the youthful gaiety of the French race.

[68]

And this epic did not come to an end at Dixmude. The brigade did not ground arms after November 10. The gaps in its ranks being filled from the dépôts, it was kept up to the strength of two regiments, and reaped fresh laurels. At Ypres and Saint Georges it charged the troops of Prince Ruprecht of Bavaria and the Duke of Würtemberg in succession. Dixmude was but one panel of the triptych: on the broken apex of the black capital of the Communiers, on the livid backgrounds of the flat country about Nieuport, twice again did the brigade inscribe its stormy silhouette.

But at Ypres and Saint Georges the sailors had the bulk of the Anglo-French forces behind them; at Dixmude up to November 4 they knew that their enterprise was a forlorn hope. And in their hands they held the fate of the two Flanders. One of the heroes of Dixmude, Naval Lieutenant Georges Hébert, said that the Fusiliers had gained more than a naval battle there. My only objection to this statement is its modesty. Dixmude was our Thermopylæ in the north, as the Grand-Couronné, near Nancy, was our Thermopylæ in the east; the Fusiliers were the first and the most solid element of the long triumphant defensive which will one day be known as the victory of the Yser, a victory less decisive and perhaps less brilliant than that of the Marne, but not less momentous in its consequences.

The Generalissimo is credited with a dictum which he may himself have uttered with a certain astonishment:

"You are my best infantrymen," said he to the Fusiliers.

We will close with these simply, soldierly words, more[69] eloquent than the most brilliant harangues. The brigade will reckon them among their proudest trophies to all time.

III—STORY OF MURDER OF DR. DUGUET

On October 25 (1914), we had not yet received any help from the inundation. Our troops were in dire need of rest, and the enemy was tightening his grip along the entire front. New reinforcements were coming up to fill the gaps in his ranks; our scouts warned us that fresh troops were marching upon Dixmude by the three roads of Essen, Beerst, and Woumen.[11] We had to expect a big affair the next day, if not that very night. It came off that night.

About 7 o'clock the Gamas company went to relieve the men in the southern trenches. On their way, immediately outside the town, they fell in with a German force of about the same strength as themselves, which had crept up no one knew how. There was a fusillade and a general mêlée, in which our sailors opened a passage through the troop with bayonets and butt-ends, disposing of some forty Germans and putting the rest to flight.[12] Then there was a lull. The splash of rain was the only sound heard till 2 A.M., when suddenly a fresh outbreak of rifle-fire was heard near the Caeskerke station, right inside the defences. It was suggested that our men or our allies, exasperated by their life of continual alarms, had been carried away by some reckless impulse. The bravest soldiers admit that hallucinations are not uncommon at night in the trenches. All the pitfalls of darkness rise before the mind; the circulation of the blood makes a noise like the tramp of marching troops; if by chance a nervous sentry should fire his rifle, the whole section will follow suit.

[70]

Convinced that some misunderstanding of this kind had taken place, the Staff, still quartered at the Caeskerke railway station, shouted to the sections to cease firing. As, however, the fusillade continued in the direction of the town, the Admiral sent one of his officers, Lieutenant Durand-Gasselin, to reconnoiter. He got as far as the Yser without finding the enemy; the fusillade had ceased; the roads were clear. He set out on his way back to Caeskerke. On the road he passed an ambulance belonging to the brigade going up towards Dixmude, which, on being challenged, replied: "Rouge Croix." Rather surprised at this inversion, he stopped the ambulance; it was full of Germans, who, however, surrendered without offering any resistance. But this capture suggested a new train of thought to the Staff: they were now certain that there had been an infantry raid upon the town; the Germans in the ambulance probably belonged to a troop of mysterious assailants who had made their way into Dixmude in the night and had vanished no less mysteriously after this extraordinary deed of daring. One of our covering trenches must have given way, but which? Our allies held the railway line by which the enemy had penetrated into the defences, sounding the charge.... The riddle was very disturbing, but under the veil of a thick, damp night, which favored the enemy, it was useless to seek a solution. It was found next morning at dawn, when one of our detachments on guard by the Yser suddenly noticed in a meadow a curious medley of Belgians, French Marines, and Germans. Had our men[71] been made prisoners? This uncertainty was of brief duration. There was a sharp volley; the sailors fell; the Germans made off. This was what had happened!

Various versions have been given of this incident, one of the most dramatic of the defence, in the course of which the heroic Commander Jeanniot and Dr. Duguet, chief officer of the medical staff, fell mortally wounded, with several others. The general opinion, however, seems to be that the German attack, which was delivered at 2:30 P.M., was closely connected with the surprise movement attempted at 7 o'clock in the evening on the Essen road and so happily frustrated by the intervention of the Gamas company. It is not impossible that it was carried out by the fragments of the force we had scattered, reinforced by new elements and charging to the sound of the bugle. This would explain the interval of several hours between the two attacks, which were no doubt the outcome of a single inspiration.

"The night," says an eye-witness, "was pursuing its normal course, and as there were no indications of disturbance, Dr. Duguet took the opportunity to go and get a little rest in the house where he was living, which was just across the street opposite his ambulance. The Abbé Le Helloco, chaplain of the 2nd Regiment, had joined him at about 1:30 A.M. The latter admits that he was rather uneasy because of the earlier skirmish, in which, as was his habit, he had been unremitting in his ministrations to the wounded. After a few minutes' talk the two men separated to seek their straw pallets. The Abbé had been asleep for an hour or two, when he was awakened by shots close at hand. He roused himself and went to Dr. Duguet, who was already up. The two did not exchange a word. Simultaneously, without taking the precaution of extinguishing the lights behind them, they hurried to the street. Enframed by the lighted[72] doorway, they at once became a target; a volley brought them down in a moment. Dr. Duguet had been struck by a bullet in the abdomen; the Abbé was hit in the head, the arm, and the right thigh. The two bodies were touching each other. 'Abbé,' said Dr. Duguet, 'we are done for. Give me absolution. I regret....' The Abbé found strength to lift his heavy arm and to make the sign of the cross upon his dying comrade. Then he fainted, and this saved him. Neither he nor Dr. Duguet had understood for the moment what was happening. Whence had the band of marauders who had struck them down come, and how had they managed to steal into our lines without being seen? It was a mystery. This fusillade breaking out behind them had caused a certain disorder in the sections nearest to it, who thought they were being taken in the rear, and who would have been, indeed, had the attack been maintained. The band arrived in front of the ambulance station at the moment when the staff (three Belgian doctors, a few naval hospital orderlies, and Quartermaster Bonnet) were attending to Dr. Duguet, who was still breathing. They made the whole lot prisoners and carried them along in their idiotic rush through the streets. Both officers and soldiers must have been drunk. This is the only reasonable explanation of their mad venture. We held all the approaches to Dixmude; the brief panic that took place in certain sections had been at once controlled."

IV—STORY OF MURDER OF COMMANDER JEANNIOT

"Commander Jeanniot, who had been in reserve that night, and who, roused by the firing like Dr. Duguet and Abbé Le Helloco, had gone into the street to call his sector to arms, had not even taken his revolver in his hand. Mistaking the identity and the intentions[73] of the groups he saw advancing, he ran towards them to reassure them and bring them back to the trenches. This little stout, grizzled officer, rough and simple in manner, was adored by the sailors. He was known to be the bravest of the brave, and he himself was conscious of his power over his men. When he recognized his mistake it was too late. The Germans seized him, disarmed him, and carried him off with loud 'Hochs!' of satisfaction. The band continued to push on towards the Yser, driving a few fugitives before them, and a part of them succeeded in crossing the river under cover of the general confusion. Happily this did not last long. Captain Marcotte de Sainte-Marie, who was in command of the guard on the bridge, identified the assailants with the help of a searchlight, and at once opened fire upon them. The majority of the Germans within range of our machine-guns were mown down; the rest scattered along the streets and ran to cellars and ruins to hide themselves. But the head of the column had got across with its prisoners, whom they drove before them with the butt-ends of their rifles.[13] For four hours they wandered[74] about, seeking an issue which would enable them to rejoin their lines. It was raining the whole time. Weary of wading through the mud, the officers stopped behind a hedge to hold a council. A pale light began to pierce the mist; day was dawning, and they could no longer hope to regain the German lines in a body. Prudence dictated that they should disperse until nightfall. But what was to be done with the prisoners? The majority voted that they should be put to death. The Belgian doctors protested. Commander Jeanniot, who took no part in the debate, was talking calmly to Quartermaster Bonnet. At a sign from their leader the Boches knelt and opened fire upon the prisoners. The Commander fell, and as he was still breathing, they finished him off with their bayonets. The only survivors were the Belgian doctors, who had been spared, and Quartermaster Bonnet, who had only been hit in the shoulder. It was at this moment that the marauders were discovered. One section charged them forthwith; another fell back to cut off their retreat. What happened afterwards? Some accounts declare that the German officers learned what it costs to murder prisoners, and that our men despatched the dogs there and then; but the truth is, that, in spite of the general desire to avenge Commander Jeannoit, the whole band was taken prisoners and brought before the Admiral, who had only the three most prominent rascals of the gang executed."


FOOTNOTE

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

[10] "When we passed through the streets of Ghent they were full of people shouting, 'Long live the French!' I heard one person in the crowd call out, 'Long live Jean Gouin!' He must have known them well." (Letter of Fusilier F., of the island of Sein.) Le Gwenn, which has been corrupted into Gouin, is a very common name in Brittany. [Compare the current English nickname "Jack Tar."—Tr.]

[11] "Germans of the regular army coming from the direction of Rheims. The Boches we had had to deal with so far had been volunteers or reservists." (Second-Lieutenant X.'s note-book.)

[12] Not without losses on our side. "Saw Gamas, who has had fourteen of his men killed to-night, among them his boatswain Dodu." (Second-Lieutenant Gautier's note-book.)

[13] Here there seems to have been some confusion in the eye-witness's account. He leads us to suppose that Dr. Duguet's ambulance was in the town, and that the Germans who killed him and wounded the Abbé Le Helloco went on afterwards to the bridge with their prisoners. "As a fact," we are now told, "the affair took place between the bridge—which the head of a column had crossed by surprise, driving before them a number of Belgians, sailors, and perhaps some marauders—and the level crossing near the station of Caeskerke where the column was finally stopped. It was in this part of the street that Dr. Duguet had his dressing-station; and it was there, too, that Commander Jeanniot, whose reserve post was at Caeskerke, came out to meet the assailants. And it was the fields near the south bank of the Yser to which the column betook itself, dragging its prisoners with it, when it found the road barred."


[75]

A BISHOP AT THE FRONT WITH THE BRITISH ARMY

Told by the Right Reverend H. Russell Wakefield, Bishop of Birmingham

This is an account of how the Bishop, accompanied by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, went to the fighting lines to visit the staff at headquarters. They were at times within thirty-five yards of the German trenches. His impressions have been recorded in a volume published by Longmans, Green and Company, from which the following incidents are taken.

[14] I—THE HUMOUR OF BRITISH "TOMMIES"

Whenever, in future, I am inclined towards a fit of pessimism, I shall shut my eyes in order to see once again, with the vision of the spirit, a stalwart Britisher of the Worcester Regiment, not very far from the German lines, on a certain afternoon, when a most appalling thunderstorm was raging and some German shells were falling. He was munching the thickest slice of bread and jam that I have ever seen, and looking with a mild contempt at the intruding figure of an unknown padre whom a considerable number of his comrades were greeting because they recognised in him their Bishop. He put down now and again his refreshment in order to do some bit of work, but he was just as calm and collected as if he had been in his Worcestershire village and not in the trenches.

[76]

That which carries our men through so many difficulties is another thing which impressed me—namely, their unfailing sense of humour; a humour which is never really hurtful even when exercised upon some one deserving of satire. When he christens a road along which there are a couple of miles of Army Service carts "Lorry Park," when he finds every kind of strange anglicising for Flemish or French words, we know that he is not only having some fun for himself, but also providing amusement for those who come after him. The same humour shines out when he is in hard case. A chaplain told me that he had been addressing informally some wounded men who had just arrived from the trenches. He was expatiating upon the glories of the Victoria Cross because he noticed some of the men came from a regiment one of whose number had recently received that coveted distinction. Suddenly his eloquence was disturbed by a voice proceeding from a man, both of whose feet were swathed in bandages, who remarked, "Never mind the Victoria Cross, give me the Victoria 'Bus!" Obviously the soldier's sense of humour was conquering his pain, and his remark made the rest of the party forget their sufferings for a short time....

II—FRANCE BLEEDS FOR CIVILIZATION

As one who saw the French during the war of 1870, when—being a boy—I was very susceptible to impressions, I can hardly express the difference I notice between the nation then and now. In the former war there was excitement, impulsiveness, overconfidence, want of ballast; to-day there is quietude, earnestness, and withal, assurance of eventual victory. More than once I journeyed through a considerable part of the French lines, and I assert with confidence that the Army of France at the present time is incomparably superior to[77] that which she placed in the field in 1870. As to her civilians, I only saw women, children, and old men; I did not, in all my thousand miles of travel, discover a single able-bodied person of military age out of uniform.

The harvest, a very good one, was in full swing. Every family was out in the fields, all doing something towards the in-gathering. I have a picture now before my eyes of seven people, all undoubtedly coming from the same house, working away hard, whilst at the tail end of the procession appeared what might have been the great-grandpapa, no longer capable of bending down for harvesting, but who, nevertheless, had his piece of work in carrying about the baby, who, of course, could not be left behind alone in the house. The whole nation is doing its utmost.

III—"HOW I WENT TO THE TRENCHES"

On one occasion after motoring through towns that are a household word, both at home and with our Allies, towns which have seen the Germans in them and then driven out of them, places where the buildings are practically level with the ground, the limit for vehicular traffic is reached and one goes forward on foot. Soon you reach a cutting in the ground and you begin to walk along a trench. You turn now and again either to right or left, seeing sign-posts telling sometimes in comic language and sometimes only by number the name, as it were, of the underground street; you then rise a little and find yourself walking in the inside of houses so shattered that you cannot tell much about what they originally were until you are told that they formed a street in a little overgrown village of which nothing is left, and the last inhabitant of which was the station-master, who refused to leave though there was neither train,[78] station nor house for himself left, because so long as he remained on the spot he could claim his pay. Forcible measures had at last to be used to secure his departure. Where you are walking you are yourself hidden from the enemy, but are within the range of their fire. You are taken up to an observation post, where one of your companions incautiously takes out a white pocket-handkerchief and is hurriedly told to put it back in his pocket.

You come down again and proceed cautiously along trenches. Now and again shells pass over, and your careful guide looks to see in what direction they are falling, as, though he is quite unconcerned for himself, he knows that he is responsible for the safety of the troublesome visitor. You are told to keep your head down and not to show, for the moment at any rate, any desire to view the landscape. Soldiers are dotted about here and there, all of them ready to give a kindly greeting, and then at last you reach a point where you are told not to speak loudly because practically only a few yards away is the enemy, who, were he to hear conversation, might think it worth while to throw over a hand grenade. What looks like a tiny bit of glass at the end of a short stick is there before you, and you are asked to look into it; when you do the enemies' trenches are visible to you. Beyond an occasional ping against a sandbag, you have heard nothing to note the existence of rifle fire, except that the men you have passed have got these weapons to hand. You tell the men at the advanced posts how proud their country is of them, how thankful you are to have seen them, how you pray that God may bring them back safe to their homes; you get rid of all cigars or cigarettes you may have upon you, wishing that you had thousands more, and then you return home, varying perhaps the route through the communication trenches.

On another occasion our way took us through a town[79] which is absolutely razed to the ground and is still under shell fire. There I saw two soldiers busy with spades, and I asked what kind of fortification they were putting up, to which, with a broad grin, one replied that they were looking for souvenirs. He was kind enough to give me a complete German cartridge case, for which he refused to take any remuneration. Going on a little farther in this town, we went down some steps and found ourselves in an underground club full of soldiers, who were having a hot meal, were reading papers and playing games, everything being presided over by perhaps the most magnetic person I met on my travels, a young Chaplain to the Forces, who would not wish his name to be mentioned, though there is probably no one out at the Front who will not know to whom I refer. When we went from this place towards the more advanced trenches, I was taken along a road which looked perfectly harmless, when suddenly a stalwart Scotchman told my companion and myself that we must get off it at once as it was a favourite target for German Maxims. Never was a General more obediently submitted to than was this, I believe, private soldier. It was on this occasion that we had tea in the dugout of the Colonel, who bears a name distinguished in English naval, military and sporting life. A characteristic of the German trenches which I noticed on this and other occasions, was that their sandbags seemed to be generally white in colour, at any rate in those of the first line. Leaving the trench on this particular day, we had to go through an almost alarming thunderstorm, which in the course of half an hour made a sea of mud of the place which had been quite dry before. It was curious to notice how petty the sound of the guns appeared as compared with the artillery of heaven.

Pathetic incidents occur and touching scenes are visible[80] on these journeys to the Front. One looked in the trenches upon little mounds and crosses, marking the resting-places of men who had been hurriedly, but reverently, buried. There they are side by side with their living comrades, who are doing their work whilst their brothers sleep. Dotted all about the country are little cemeteries, which tell of devotion unto death, and which remind one of all the sorrow this war has caused. It is strange to see how religious emblems appear to have been strong against shell. Constantly you would see a church almost totally destroyed and yet the crucifix untouched, and who will ever forget that sight which can be seen for miles around, of the tower which has been almost shattered to pieces and yet the statue of the Virgin and Child, which was near the top of it, though bent over completely at right angles, still remains, as it were blessing and protecting the whole neighbourhood.

IV—"SEE GOD THRO' CLOUD OF SMOKE"

This leads to the consideration of the religious condition of our troops as affected, first, by the churches and worshippers of France, and, secondly, by their own experience in this war. More than one mentioned the pleasure felt at the sight of the little wayside shrines which they passed on their march. Others commented upon the large numbers of people they saw flocking to their early communion....

What his experience of war is doing for the soldier in regard to religion is remarkable. It would have been possible that the sight of humanity striving to the death and inflicting horrible suffering might have made our young fellows despair of Christianity. They might have argued that it was of no avail to teach the religion of Jesus when no effect was produced upon international[81] conduct; but they have been able to look more deeply into matters and to realise that not Divine intention was at fault, but human refusal to follow true teaching. They have been able to see God through the cloud of smoke raised by shot and shell, and the Presence of the Divine has not been obscured by the horrors of war. Conscious of the seriousness of the work in which they are engaged, feeling every moment the nearness of eternity, our soldiers have in no craven spirit, but with a due remembrance of their relationship to God and to eternity, turned to religion as a stay in the hour of conflict....

Although I must refrain most reluctantly from saying anything about the great military personages whom I met in France, and with whom I was so greatly impressed, I may perhaps refer to two French persons of distinction, in no way connected with the war, whom I was privileged to meet. First there is that outstanding personality the Mayor of Hazebrouck, Abbé Lemire. He and I were brought together because he is a clerical municipal dignitary and I was the first clergyman who was ever a mayor in this country. He, however, does more than I have ever been able to do, because he is a member of the Chamber of Deputies, and here in England the doors of the House of Commons are still shut against the clergy....

He is an extraordinarily winning personality, and as we walked through the streets of his city every woman and child and old man had something to say to him. With one he would discuss the imprisonment of a soldier son in Germany; with another the fact that a married daughter had had a bouncing boy who would be, so prophesied the Abbé, a soldier of France in years to come. To another in deep mourning he had a word of comfort to give; until at last I said to him that he appeared[82] to be not only le maire but also le père of Hazebrouck....

Another beautiful character is the present Archbishop of Rouen. Carrying well his seventy-six years, thanks in no small measure to the loving care of his secretary, the great dignitary has passed through the recent critical time for his Church, retaining throughout his breadth of view and his sweetness of nature. Turned out of his official residence, he has built himself another, beautifully situated, in the grounds of which may to-day be seen English doctors and nurses, and even wounded, resting and gaining health. The morning upon which I saw him I had been celebrating the Holy Communion in the chapel of what once was his palace. When I asked him whether he felt any objection to this being done by our English clergy, he answered, "Certainly not." And then, after a moment's thought, he went on: "After all, what does it matter whether one celebrates in one vestment and another in a different one, if at the root of things we are the same?"

(The Bishop now relates his impressions of the various countries engaged in the War, all of which, with the exception of Japan, he has visited. He believes that the War is to result in a great spiritual awakening throughout the world.)

FOOTNOTE

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


[83]

SHORT RATIONS—THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE IN GERMANY

An American Woman in Germany

Told by Madeline Zabriskie Doty

Miss Doty made two trips of exploration to Europe during the War. She is one of the few "foreigners" who were permitted to visit prison camps and industrial factories in Germany. It has remained for this American woman to bring out of Germany some of the most interesting sidelights. It is a graphic account of the tragedy which reveals the conditions within the German Empire. Miss Doty talked with the German women in the factories, the mothers with their babies, finding everywhere the tragedy of suffering almost beyond human endurance. The following reminiscences are from her book: "Short Rations," published by the Century Company: Copyright 1917.

[15] I—STORY OF WOMAN WHO WANTED TO SELL HER CHILD

I awoke to find myself in Germany.... Hamburg is a city of sleepers. Its big hotels, its many stores, its impressive buildings stretch out endlessly, but within all is still. All that modern industry and the ingenuity of man can achieve has here been flung upon the land, and then the force that created it has vanished, leaving these great monuments to rot, to rust, and to crumble. The tragedy of unused treasures is as horrible as rows of dead. A city seems visibly dying....

[84]

A crowd of children is gathering just below. School is out, and they are surrounding an object of interest. One or two women join them. There is no passing populace to swell the throng. We approach and see in the centre of the crowd of children a woman crouched upon a bench. She is dirty, ragged, and dark in colouring.... On the ground at her feet is a baby just big enough to walk. It also is dirty, and possesses only one ragged garment. The mother sits listless, gazing at her child. It is evident she is soon to be a mother again. There is great chattering among the children. I turn to my companion for explanation.

"The woman wants to sell her child. She says she hasn't anything to eat. She isn't a German mother. Of course, no German mother would do such a thing. You can see she isn't good. She is going to have another baby."

A school-child gives the toddling baby some cherries. She eats them greedily. My hand goes to my pocketbook, but my companion pulls me away. If I bought the baby, what could I do with her on a trip through Germany?...

II—THE SECRET GRIEF OF GERMANY

But before I leave Germany the spies get on my nerves. What was at first amusing becomes a nuisance. I feel exactly as though I am in prison. I acquire the habit of looking out of the corner of my eye and over my shoulder. These spies are as annoying to their countrymen as to me. The people detest them. They grow restless under such suppression. Free conversation is impossible, except behind closed doors. Between German spies and the spies of other countries supposed to be at large, public conversation is at a standstill. Everywhere are[85] signs—"Soldaten"—"Vorsicht bei gespröchen Spionengefahr."...

In spite of the concealment of the wounded, the population begins to understand its loss. One night I went to the station (at Berlin) to see a big detachment leave for Wilmâ. They had all been in war before. Their uniforms were dirty and patched. They sat on benches clinging to a loved one's hand, or stood in listless groups. No one talked. They were like tired children. They needed food and bed. The scenes of farewell were harrowing.

Here was a young boy saying good-by to a mother and three aunts. He was all they had—their whole life. Here a father saying farewell to a wife and three sons, all under seventeen. Or a mother in deep mourning taking leave of her last son, or a young wife with a baby in her arms giving a last embrace.

As the train moved out of the station there were no shouts, no cheers, no words of encouragement. Instead there was a deadly silence. The men leaned out of windows, stretched despairing hands towards loved ones. As the train pulled away the little groups broke into strangling sobs. They were shaken as by a mighty tempest. Paroxysms of grief rent and tore them. They knew the end had come. A man may go once into battle and return, but not twice and thrice. Life held no hope. As I came away I stopped before the big building which conducts military affairs. It is known as the "House of Sorrow." On its rear wall is posted the list of dead and wounded....

One evening at midnight as I cross the Thiergarten I pass a small procession of new recruits. Midnight, my friend tells me, is the favourite hour for seizing fresh food for cannon. There is something sinister in choosing dark hours, when the city sleeps, for this deed....

[86]

III—A BEAUTIFUL STORY TOLD IN GENEVA

While in Geneva I visited the Red Cross authorities. This is the Central Bureau for relief work. It gives aid to the wounded and prisoners of all the belligerent countries. Many horrible, tragic and beautiful stories pass through the committee's hands.

After the war these stories will come to light. At present the rigid censorship prevents publication, for it is impossible to carry printed or written material across frontiers.

But one story told me needed no notes. It became engraven in my memory. It is the story of an English boy and a German mother.

I could not secure the letters that passed between these two but their contents, and the other facts given are here set forth accurately. This is a true story.


The sky was a soft, shining blue. The air was still. The warmth of summer brooded over the land. But no bird's song broke the stillness. No bees fluttered over flowers. The earth lay torn and bare. In deep brown furrows of the earth, hundreds of restless men lay or knelt or stood.

The land was vibrant with living silence. But now and again a gigantic smashing roar broke the tense stillness. Then in some spots, the ground spit forth masses of dirt, a soldier's helmet, a tattered rag of uniform, and bits of a human body.

It was after such a mighty blast that a great winged object came speeding from the north. It skimmed low over the trenches and dipped, and circled and paused above the English line. Like a great eagle it seemed about to rush to earth, snatch its prey, and then be off. But as it hung suspended, another whirring monster[87] flew swiftly from the south. It winged its way above its rival, then turning, plunged downward. The great cannons grew silent. The eyes of the pigmies in the trenches gazed skyward. A breathless tenseness gripped the earth. Only sun and sky shone on with no whisper of the mad fight of these two winged things.

For a few wild moments they rushed at one another. Then the whirring bird with wings of white rose high, turned back, and plunged again upon that other whose wings had huge, black crosses.

It missed its prey, but there came a cracking sound. A puff of smoke, like a hot breath, burst from the creature of the iron crosses. It shuddered, dropped, turned, and fell head down. With sweeping curves the pursuer also came to earth. A lean, young Englishman sprang from the whirring engine. His body quivered with excitement. He sped with running feet to the broken object lying on the ground. He knelt by the twisted mass. Beneath the splintered wood and iron he saw a boyish figure. It was still and motionless. He gently pulled the body out. A fair young German lay before him. A deep gash in the head showed where a blow had brought instant death. The body was straight and supple, the features clear cut and clean. A boy's face with frank and fearless brow looked up at the young Englishman. The eyes held no malice. They were full of shocked surprise. The brown haired lad felt the lifeless heart. A piece of cardboard met his fingers. He pulled it from the coat pocket. It was a picture—a picture of a woman—a woman with gray hair and kindly eyes,—a mother whose face bore lines of patient suffering. Scrawled beneath the portrait in boyish hand were the words, "Meine Mutter."

A sob choked the young Englishman. Tenderly he[88] gathered the lifeless form in his strong arms. Then he rose and walked unheeding across the open field of battle. But no angry bullet pelted after those young figures. The men in the trenches saw and understood. Behind the lines the boy lay his burden down. Taking paper and pencil from his pocket and placing the little picture before him, he began to write.

When he had finished he placed the letter and portrait in a carefully directed envelope. Then walking hurriedly to his machine he prepared for flight. Soon he was whirring low over the enemy trenches. Leaning out, he dropped his missile. The cannons roared, but no rifle was turned on that bright figure. Instinctively, men knew his deed was one of mercy. As the little paper fluttered downward it was picked up by eager soldier hands. A little cheer broke from a hundred throats. Willing messengers passed it to the rear. Speedily it went on its way.

Twenty-four hours later a mother with pale face and trembling hands fingered the white scrap of paper. Her unseeing eyes gazed out on a smiling landscape. Between green meadows in the warm summer sunshine lay the glittering Rhine. But she saw nothing. Her baby boy was dead. Memories of him flooded her. She felt again the warmth of the baby body as it clung to hers and the pull of the tiny hands at her breast. She saw him as a boy, his eager restlessness. She heard his running steps at the door and his cry of "mother." It was over. That bright spirit was still. The third and last son had been exacted. Her fingers touched the letter in her lap. Her eyes fell on the penciled words. Slowly they took meaning. This boy who wrote: He'd seen the beauty of her son. He'd lifted the dear body in his arms. His heart was torn by anguish. What was it he said?

[89]

IV—WHAT THE GERMAN MOTHER READ ON THE SCRAP OF PAPER

"'It's your son. I know you can't forgive me for I killed him. But I want you to know he didn't suffer. The end came quickly. He was very brave. He must also have been very good. He had your picture in his pocket. I am sending it back, though I should like to keep it. I suppose I am his enemy, yet I don't feel so at all. I'd give my life to have him back. I didn't think of him or you when I shot at his machine. He was an enemy spying out our men. I couldn't let him get back to tell his news. It meant death to our men. It was a plucky deed. We were covered up with brush. He had to come quite low to see us and he came bravely. He nearly escaped me. He handled his machine magnificently. I thought how I should like to fly with him. But he was the enemy and had to be destroyed. I fired. It was over in a second. Just a blow on the head as the machine crashed to earth. His face shows no suffering, only excitement. His eyes are bright and fearless. I know you must have loved him. My mother died when I was quite a little boy. But I know what she would have felt if I had been killed. War isn't fair to women. God! how I wish it were over. It is a nightmare. I feel if I just touched your boy, he'd wake and we'd be friends. I know his body must be dear to you. I will take care of it and mark his grave with a little cross. After the war you may want to take him home.

"'For the first time, I'm almost glad my mother isn't living. She could not have borne what I have done. My own heart is heavy. I felt it was my duty. Yet now when I see your son lifeless before me and hold your picture in my hand, it all seems wrong. The world is dark. O Mother, be my mother just a little too, and tell me what to do.—Hugh.'"

[90]

Slowly great tears rolled down the woman's cheeks. What was this monster that was smashing men? Her boy and this other, they were the same. No hate was in their hearts. They suffered—the whole world suffered. Her country went in hunger. The babies in the nearby cottages grew weak for want of milk. She mustn't tell that to the English lad. His heart would break. Why must such suffering be? Was she to blame? There was the English lad without a mother. She had not thought of him and others like him. Her home, her sons, her Fatherland, these had been sufficient. But each life hangs on every other. Motherhood is universal.

V—A GERMAN MOTHER TO THE ENGLISH BOY WHO KILLED HER SON

Suddenly she knew what to write. What she must say to that grief-stricken English boy. Quickly her hand penned the words:

"Dear Lad: There is nothing to forgive. I see you as you are—your troubled goodness. I feel you coming to me like a little boy astounded at having done ill when you meant well. You seem my son. I am glad your hands cared for my other boy. I had rather you than any other touched his earthly body. He was my youngest. I think you saw his fineness. I know the torture of your heart since you have slain him. To women brotherhood is a reality. For all men are our sons. That makes war a monster that brother must slay brother. Yet perhaps women more than men have been to blame for this world war. We did not think of the world's children, our children. The baby hands that clutched our breast were so sweet, we forgot the hundred other baby[91] hands stretched out to us. But the Earth does not forget, she mothers all. And now my heart aches with repentance. I long to take you in my arms and lay your head upon my breast to make you feel through me your kinship with all the earth. Help me, my son, I need you. Be your vision, my vision. Spread the dream of oneness and love throughout the land. When the war is over come to me. I am waiting for you.—Deine Mutter."

FOOTNOTE

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


[92]

FIGHTING "WITH THE RUSSIAN ARMY"—ON AUSTRIAN FRONT

The Colossal Struggle of the Slavs

Told by Bernard Pares, Official Observer with the Russian Army

This is one of the most important narratives in the records of the War; it is an invaluable witness of the colossal struggle waged on the Eastern battle front. The author was granted official privileges awarded to no other non-combatant. He passed through the first Warsaw Campaign, the crucial battle of Dunajec, and the Russian retreat. When Germany declared war on Russia, he volunteered for service and went to Petrograd and Moscow, where he was appointed official correspondent with the Russian Army, traveling with the general staff. He later joined the third army as an attaché. Here he was given written permit by General Radko Dmitriev to visit any part of the firing line. "We were the advance guard," he says, "of the liberation of the Slavs ... the retreat of the army to the San and to the Province of Lublin. We were driven out by sheer weight of metal ... it was a delight to be with such splendid men as the Staff of the Russian Army. I never saw anything base all the while I was with the Army. There was no drunkenness, everyone was at his best, and it was the simplest and noblest atmosphere in which I have ever lived." His experiences have been gathered into a volume entitled, "Day by Day With the Russian Army," from which the following incidents are retold by permission of his American publishers, Houghton, Mifflin and Company.

[16] I—WAR STORIES FROM THE RUSSIANS

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It is wonderful how little effect the war seems to have made on the body of Russia. On the other hand, the atmosphere of nervous tension begins to disappear the moment one begins to get really near to the front. In the Red Cross offices at Kiev I found the same straining toward the front as elsewhere, only much calmer because these were people who had a big war work to do. Hospitals meet the eye in the streets at every turn.

Once in the train for Galicia it was again the war atmosphere and simplicity itself. The talk was all of people engaged directly or indirectly in it. A graceful old lady with a very attentive son was on her way to get a sight of her husband, one of the generals. A young officer, whose wound has kept him out of it for three weeks, is on his way to the front before Cracow. A fresh-looking young man, at first unrecognisable to his friends with his close-cropped bullet head, tells how he went on a reconnaissance, how he came on the Austrians, how their first line held up their muskets and when the Russians had passed on fired on their rear, how nevertheless practically all came back safe and sound. It was told with a kind of schoolboy ingenuousness and without suggestion or comment of any kind on the conduct of those concerned. Then followed an account of a war marriage, at first put off and then carried out as quietly as possible. All the friends of every one seemed to be at the war.

At the old frontier some of the buildings near the station were wrecked by artillery fire, and the railway was lined with a succession of solid hospital barracks, with the local commandant's flag flying over one of them. There was plenty to eat at the station; and though we moved on very quickly, every one from our crowded train managed to find a place in the Austrian carriages, chiefly because every one was ready to help his neighbour. The corridors jammed with passengers and kits, we moved on through the typical "strips" of Russian peasant culture,[94] a pleasant wooded country, passing a draft detachment on the halt which waved greetings to us. My companion, Mr. Stakhovich, a phenomenally strong man and imbued by a fine spirit, was talking of the indifference of the Russian peasant to danger; he regarded it as an indifference to all sensations; anyhow they go forward, whatever the conditions, as a sheer matter of course. With the ordinary educated man the mind must be kept occupied with work if unpleasant possibilities of all kinds are to be kept out of it; but General Radko Dmitriev, to whom we are going, will jump up from a meal, however hungry, when there is a chance of getting under fire.

II—IN THE CONQUERED CITY OF LVOV

We draw up in the great station at Lvov. To the right of us stretch endless lines crowded with wagons, especially with sanitary trains. In the lofty passages and waiting-rooms are sleeping troops with piled muskets, some wounded on stretchers tended by the sisters of mercy who are constantly on duty here, and a crowd of men, all soldiers, coming and going. One passed many Austrian prisoners, of whom another enormous batch was just announced to arrive; and elsewhere a Russian private explained to me the excellent quality of the Hungarian knapsack, which he and his comrades had turned into busbies. One man was asleep inside the rail opposite the ticket office. He did not seem to mind how often he was awakened.

In the town everything is quiet, and life goes so naturally that no one could take it for a conquered city. In the country this might have been expected because far the greater part of the population is Little Russian; but in Lvov the Russians are only about 17 per cent. and the predominant element is the Polish (60 per cent.), the[95] rest being Jews (20 per cent.) or Germans (3 per cent.).

Lvov is taking on more of the character of a Russian town. Many of the Jews have left. The Russian signs over new restaurants, stores, etc., meet the eye everywhere. Of the Little Russian party which supported the Austrians, many have now returned and are making their peace with the new authorities. The Russian soldier is quite at home in Lvov, as one sees when the singing "drafts" swing past the Governor-General's palace; the Austrian prisoners in uniform, who are allowed liberty on parole, seem equally at their ease. Numbers of Russian priests are pouring into Galicia, but not fast enough for the Uniat villages which have embraced Orthodoxy; as soon as they arrive, peasants come with their carts and take them off to their parishes, without waiting for any formal distribution. The Uniat creed and ritual are practically identical with the Orthodox, so that the difference between the two was purely political. At the new People's Palace of Nicholas II, I saw a number of children, principally from families that had suffered severely at the hands of Austrian troops, receive Christmas presents on the day of St. Nicholas, who is the Russian Santa Claus. Archbishop Eulogius, in a very effective little address, told them that the biggest Christmas present which they were receiving was the liberty to speak their own language and worship in their own way in union with their Russian brothers.

Starting for the army, I spent a night of strange happening in the great railway station, as our train was delayed till the morning. At one time I went, in the frosty night, to look for it at the goods station, where there were endless rails and wagons, and found it after a long search. In the big restaurant four little boys made great friends with me, one of fourteen in uniform and spurs who had been serving as mounted scout with[96] a regiment at the front, and one of thirteen who had attached himself in the same capacity to a battery. Both were small creatures, and the first was a remarkable little person, with all the smartness and determination of a soldier, relieved by an amusing childlike grace and courtesy. He said to me in a confidential voice, "I see you are very fond of little children," and he ordered with pride lemonade and chocolates for us both. He said the men at the front could last a week to ten days, if necessary, without any food but sukhari (army biscuit), so long as they had cigarettes. His imagination had been caught by the aeroplanes over Peremyshl, and also by the Carpathians, which he described with an up and down movement of the hand. He had a great disgust for anything mean and a warlike pride in the exploits of the soldiers of his regiment. His model was a boy, now a young man, who had been through the Japanese War. "If a general comes past," and he made a salute to show the extreme respect felt for his hero. Many a time in that long night, while the weary heads of doctors and sisters of mercy were bent in sheer tiredness against the tables, he would come and sit by me and ask me to read the war news to him, or to tell him about the English submarines. He left me with the smartest of salutes in the early hours of the morning.

III—TALES TOLD ON AN ARMY TRAIN

Our train is an enormous one with endless warm carriages (teplushki) for the wounded. The staff of sanitars and sisters, working for the Zemstvo Red Cross, live in a spotlessly clean carriage, and there are special carriages for drugs, stores, kitchen, etc. They are simple and interesting people, and, as I am now in the Red Cross and have many interests in common with them, they[97] kindly made me up a bed in their carriage, where we discussed Russia in all its bearings.

We carry a group of passengers who have all made friends after the Russian way. A colonel and his wife are going to fetch the body of a fallen comrade. Another colonel, a delightfully simple man with close-cropped hair, thin brown face and bright, clever eyes seems to know all the Slavonic languages and has much to say of the Austrians. He has seen twenty of them surrender to a priest and his clerk who came on them in a wood, made the sign of the cross and told them to come with them. In another place twenty-two Austrians were captured by two Russians. The Austrian officers put quick-firing guns behind their own rifle pits for the "encouragement" of their men, on whom he has seen them fire. They make their gunners fire every two hours in the night as a kind of exercise. He has seen them form their men in close column under fire and march them about up and down along the line of the Russian trenches. The Austrian artillery seldom takes cover; the Russian directs its fire on the enemy rather than on his batteries. In one place, heavy Russian artillery at a range of seven miles demolished an Austrian field train and two battalions who were lunching in the square of a small town. He is full of life and confidence, and all that he says breathes of fresh air and of work.

Our train made its way through to the furthest point up. We had to stop several times to let through the ambulance trains already charged with wounded, which take precedence. We had to go very slowly over several repaired bridges; and this was no simple matter, as we had twenty-seven long and heavy coaches. Some of these repairs were complicated pieces of work, as the bridges were high above the level of the rivers. At point after point, and especially on the Austrian sides of the rivers,[98] we passed lines of carefully prepared trenches, and in one place there was a masterpiece of artillery cover, with every arrangement for a long stay.

The damage done by the artillery fire was sporadic—here a smashed station building, there a town where several houses had suffered. But there was nothing indiscriminate; and the Polish population, which showed no sign of any hostility to the Russians, seemed to find the war conditions livable.

As in other parts, I was specially struck by the easy relations existing between the inhabitants, the Austrian soldiers and their Russian captors. There were exceptions. I had some talk with a few Austrian Germans from Vienna. They were simple folk and seemed to have no grudge against the Russians; and the circumstance in their position which they felt most—they were only taken the day before yesterday—was that this was Christmas Eve, the "stille Nacht, heilige Nacht" of the beautiful German hymn, and that they were far from home among strange people. They kept apart as far as possible not only from their captors but from their fellow prisoners from Bohemia and Moravia. These last seemed at least quite comfortable, smoking their long pipes and leisurely sweeping the platforms. They were quite a large company. They understood my Russian better than my German. When I asked them how they stood with the German troops, instead of the sturdy "Gut" of their Viennese fellows, they answered with a slang word and a gesture. When asked about the Russians, they replied in a quite matter-of-course way: "We are brothers and speak the same tongue; we are one people." For any difficulties, the Poles often prove good interpreters. It is very different for the Austrian captive officers, who often cannot understand their own men.

These Czechs confidently assured me that any Russian[99] troops that entered Bohemia would be welcomed as friends; and they claimed that not only the neighboring Moravians and Slovaks but also the Croats further south were to be taken as feeling as they did. The Bohemians and Moravians seem to be surrendering in the largest numbers of all; and though the Viennese claimed that large numbers of Russians had also been taken, I cannot regard as anything but exceptional the enormous batches of blue uniforms that I passed on the road here. I asked these men about their greatcoats and was not at all surprised when they said they felt cold in them. It is nothing like such a practical winter outfit, whether for head, body or legs, as that of the Russian soldier.

We came very well over the last part of our journey. I was sorry to part with the friendly sanitars, who all seemed old acquaintances by the end of the journey and invited me to take up my quarters permanently with them. Theirs was more than ordinary kindness, as they had shared everything they had with me, including their little sleeping apartment. The bearer company under their orders is all composed of Mennonites, a German religious sect from South Russia which objects to war on principle and, being excused military service even in this tremendous struggle, seems to be serving wholesale as ambulance volunteers.

As there were none but soldiers about, these men helped me out with my luggage; and through the window of the First Aid point in Tarnow station, I saw another acquaintance waving me a welcome. This is the last point that the railway can serve; and my friends will go back with a full burden, which will keep the medical staff busy day and night all the way. One of my new companions, who has been out to a village to get milk for the wounded, has seen the shrapnel bursting; and the guns are sounding loud and clear near the town as I[100] write this. It is here that the most seriously wounded must be treated at once, as a railway journey would simply mean death for them. This is brought home to one, if one only looks at the faces of the workers. Yet with this huge line of operations, and the assaults which may be made at any point of it, at any moment the nearest field hospitals may need to send off any wounded who can be moved without delay. Though the work is being done with danger all round, less thought is being given to it than anywhere that I have been yet.

IV—CHRISTMAS IN AN AUSTRIAN HOSPITAL

Christmas Eve: peace on earth and good will toward men. And all through "the still night, the holy night," the sound that means killing goes on almost continuously. How can any one say prayers for a world which is at war, or for himself that is a part of it? May God, who knows everything, help each of us to bear our part and not disgrace Him, and make us instruments to the end that He wishes.

Christmas day I spent in the hospitals. In one ward, at a local Austrian hospital, and full of wounded, I found that almost every one of the line of patients was of a different nationality. Going round the room, one found first a Pole of western Galicia, then a Russian from the Urals, next a Ruthenian (Little Russian) from eastern Galicia, next a Magyar from Hungary, and against the wall a young German from Westphalia. After him came an Austrian-German from Salzburg, a Serbian from southern Hungary, another Ruthenian, an Austrian-German from Moravia, an Austrian-German from Bohemia, and a Moravian from Moravia.

I spent a couple of hours here, talking sometimes with each of the patients, sometimes with all. The Pole knew[101] only Polish and the bearded Russian, who had a bad body wound, was too tired to talk much. Of the Ruthenians one was a frail, white-faced boy from close to the Russian frontier who seemed, like most of his people, subdued, and confused with the strangeness of his position in fighting against his own people; the other was a lumpish boy without much intelligence. The thin, bearded Hungarian, who knew no German but a little Russian, was mostly groaning or dozing. The Salzburg Austrian was dazed and drowsy, but at intervals talked quietly of his pleasant homeland.

The German stood out from the rest. He was a bright, vigorous boy of twenty, had gone as a volunteer and was tremendously proud of the spirit of the German army. He had fought against the French during four days of pouring rain, mostly in standing water. The Bavarians, who seemed to have quarrelled with the other troops in that part, were making war atrociously, he said, knifing the inhabitants, insulting the women and destroying all that came in their way. He was later moved to the Carpathians, where one German division fought between two Austrian ones. They advanced in snow without field kitchens, and were not allowed to touch the pigs and poultry that they passed. However, they had enough to eat; and they were hoping to surprise their enemy, when the Russians fell upon them and left only the remnants of a regiment, many of the officers also falling. He himself was wounded in both legs, and was brought here in a cart.

Every German soldier has a prayer-book and a song-book. They constantly sing on the march, and find it a great remedy against fatigue. Songs of Arndt and Körner are very popular, and there is a new version of an old song, which is perhaps the greatest favorite; it begins—

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"Oh Deutschland hoch an Ehren,
Du heil'ges Land der Treu."

and it goes on to speak of the new exploits in east and west. There are any number of volunteers in Germany; the women are all joining the Red Cross; and the population is busy with every kind of work for the army; but when I asked whether the people were keen for the war, he answered with astonishment, "The people? The people thought that the war was not to be avoided; but that was at the start; now it is different." He asked if there were many other Englishmen in Russia, and when I answered that there were some, he said, to my surprise, "The English are everywhere, they are a fine people—nobel." He also asked me on the quiet whether, when he was well, he would be sent to Siberia. He had been told that the Russians were terrible, but had written home to say that he had found them nothing of the sort.

Much of our talk turned on the Austrian army. The German said that it didn't stand firm "unless it was properly led, by Germans." In Bohemia and Moravia the regiments were mixed, Slavs and Austrian-Germans, and according to the Moravian soldiers, were constantly quarrelling; all the officers were Austrian-Germans, and even some of the Hungarian regiments seemed to be commanded by Germans. The young Serbian spoke of frequent quarrels and even brawls between Serbian and Hungarian fellow-soldiers. The great wish of all was that the war should end. When I said that the end was not in sight, the German exclaimed, "More misery, more misery;" a second said, "Oh, Jammer, Jammer" (lamentation), and a third had tears in his eyes.

In another ward I heard more of the Bohemians. There Prussia is the antipathy. There appear to be Czech[103] officers only in the reserve. After the outbreak of war, the Austrians made wholesale arrests among the educated Czechs, quite apart from party politics, and were particularly severe on the gymnastic volunteer organizations (sokols), which are popular among all the Slav nationalities of Austria. The Bohemians had not had time to find their legs under the new possibilities created by the Russian successes, but the Russian troops would be sure of a cordial welcome there. The whole of my informant's regiment had surrendered en masse; and even in the mobilization of 1914, a Prague regiment had refused to march against Russia and several of the men had been shot. I was told that the Austrian army was much weaker in reserves than the Russian.

V—HOW THE RUSSIAN SOLDIERS DIE

I ended the day at the railway station, where the Russian wounded just brought in were being attended to while the cannon sounded from time to time not far off. Several lay on stretchers in the corridors and others on pallets in the ambulance room, all still in their greatcoats and with their kits lying beneath them. I had no conversations here; there was too much pain, one could only sit by the sufferers or perhaps help them to change their position. First aid had been given elsewhere, but this was the stage when the wounds seem to be felt most. There was wonderfully little complaining. Most were silent, except when a helping hand was needed. One man shot through the chest told me that "By the grace of God, it was nothing to matter." It was always a satisfaction to the men that they had been wounded while attacking. A general walked quickly round, distributing cigarettes, which he put in the men's mouths and himself lighted.

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In the night the cannonade sounded close to the town, but seemed farther off again next morning.

To-day I also went round a hospital with the dressers. The work was quickly executed, but much of it was very complicated. One does not describe such scenes, not so much because of the ugly character of many of the wounds, nor because of the end impending over many of the patients. To this last the Russian soldier's attitude is simple—gilt es dir, oder gilt es mir. He will speak of it as "going to America," the undiscovered country. But all these things come to be forgotten in the atmosphere of work. Here all the resources of life are going forward in their own slow way, for they can have no quicker, handicapped and outpaced in their struggle to keep up with the work of death.

General Radko Dmitriev is a short and sturdily built man with quick brown eyes and a profile reminiscent of Napoleon. He talks quickly and shortly, sometimes drums on the table with his fingers, and now and then makes a rapid dash for the matches. The daily visit of the Chief of the Staff is short, because, as the General says on his return, simple business is done quickly. Every piece of his incisive conversation holds together as part of a single and clear view of the whole military position, of which the watchword is "Forward."

It is only the heavy rains that have saved the retreating Austrians from further losses. The roads are so broken up and so deep with mud that any quick movement is impossible. This gives the occasion for a useful rest. The cold weather—and it is freezing now—will be welcomed on this side; and the Russian winter kits, which have already been served out, are immeasurably better than the thin blue greatcoats of the draggled and demoralized Austrians.

Numbers of Austrian units are so reduced that they[105] are only shadows of what they were, and some seem to have disappeared altogether. The ordinary drafts came in some time ago and are now exhausted—such is the testimony of Austrian officers. The new Russian recruits, on the contrary, will join the colors shortly.

From the beginning of the war, Bosnians, who are really Serbians, surrendered in large numbers. Then the Poles began to come in, and now the Bohemians. The Hungarians are sure to go on to the end; but the Roumanian and Italian soldiers of Austria have also come over very easily. In front of Cracow a Russian officer under fire came on a whole number of Bohemians who were singing the "Sokol" songs and shouted a greeting as they came into the Russian lines.

These wholesale surrenders have, I think, an extremely interesting political significance. When governments turned the whole people into an army, it was clear that the army was also being turned into the people; but it was not clear how the people could express itself when under army discipline. These surrenders, in their general character and in their differences of detail, are a picture of the feelings and aspirations of the various nationalities which are bundled together under the name of Austria.

At this Staff, as at the General Staff, life was very simple. We all met twice a day for a plain meal without any alcohol; there was plenty of conversation, but it was that of men engaged in responsible work; any news from outside was welcome, especially from the western allies, and there was full appreciation and sympathy for their hard task.

There was plenty of news from other quarters of the[106] Russian front, and one could have a much juster and fuller perspective of how things were going than anywhere behind the army; the two things which stood out even more here than elsewhere were, on the one hand, the immensity of the sacrifices which have been asked and are being cheerfully made by Russia, and, on the other, the sense of quiet confidence as to the ultimate result.

FOOTNOTE

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


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THE ROMANCE OF THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION

The "Glorious Rascals"

Told by E. S. and G. F. Lees

The reinstatement by the King of Lieutenant-Colonel John Ford Elkington in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, after he had served for twenty-two months with conspicuous bravery in the French Foreign Legion, has once more drawn attention to this unique military organization. As the writers of this story show, "La Légion Etrangère" of our Allies the French is literally steeped in romance, and it is therefore the romantic side of the heroic yet often maligned legionaries which they have set forth most prominently. Practically every man in the corps has a history, if he could only be induced to tell it, and in the present war the Legion has covered itself with glory, as shown in this story in the Wide World Magazine.

I—STORY OF "THE GLORIOUS BLACKGUARDS"

Budding novelists in search of ideas for tales of adventure, short story writers who have come to the end of their stock of episodes, and all who wield the pen either for amusement or instruction, may be recommended to turn over the pages that tell the story of the Foreign Legion. There is a whole literature at their disposal, covering a period of more than eighty years and written in almost as many languages as there are nationalities in this remarkable military body, and it teems from beginning to end with incidents which respond to the entire gamut of human emotions.

The Foreign Legion, which in time of peace is composed of between eight and ten thousand men, but which[108] now probably exceeds the strength of an army corps, since no fewer than thirty-two thousand odd foreigners enrolled themselves from August 21st, 1914, to April 1st, 1915, is, as it were, a microcosm of the world. According to official French returns, there were in its ranks at the beginning of the war nine thousand five hundred Alsatians and Lorrainers, fourteen hundred and sixty-two Belgians, three hundred and seventy-nine English, three thousand three hundred and ninety-three Russians, four thousand nine hundred and thirteen Italians, thirteen hundred and eighty Greeks, five hundred and ninety-one Luxembourgers, nine hundred and sixty-nine Spaniards, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven Swiss, thirteen hundred and sixty-nine Austro-Hungarians, one thousand and twenty-seven Germans, five hundred and ninety-two Turks, six hundred Americans, and four thousand two hundred and fifty-four of various other nationalties, including, in all probability, as at the time of the Empire, Poles, Albanians, Croatians, Illyrians, and negroes.

In this world-in-little all classes of society are represented—the prince and the pauper, the scholar and the illiterate, the one-time brilliant officer, prominent financier, and ecclesiastic. All of them are brought to a common level with the lowest of the low through inherent human weakness, some foolish act committed in haste and repented of at leisure, or else through some misfortune or other over which the man who is "down on his luck" has no control whatever.

The social outcast, the deserter, the gambler, the fugitive from justice, the man who has been crossed in love, the desperate man who, on second thoughts, prefers the ranks of the Legion to suicide, the man who has a pure love of soldiering or an inordinate taste for adventure, the out-and-out failure who has been told by his family[109] to "make good" and clean off his debt to society—all of them are found here, living under the shadow of mystery, undergoing the most arduous life imaginable, and, for the most part, suffering in silence. So heterogenous are they that the legionaries, quite unjustly, have been called many ill names. Through the faults of a few, who necessarily find their way into such an organization, they have all been indiscriminately labelled with such epithets as "band of criminals," "degenerates," "troop of dishonoured foreigners," "heartless mercenaries," and so on. But many sins can be forgiven the soldiers of the Legion when we read their history aright, and come to understand their Spartan characters in the hour of trial and danger. And it is for that reason that, despite their antecedents and shortcomings, they are now generally known in French military circles as "The Heroic Rascals," or as "The Glorious Blackguards."

The Foreign Legion can trace its origin to the days of the Scottish archers, employed by Charles VII. of France, and to those of the Swiss, Albanian, Flemish, Walloon, German, Italian, and other mercenaries in the service of his successors. At the time of the Convention, in 1793, an appeal was made to the nations of Europe for soldiers, with the result that several foreign regiments fought with the revolutionary armies. All these, however, were disbanded at the fall of Napoleon. When Louis XVIII. came to the throne he created the Royal Foreign Legion in their place, but they gradually merged into the regular army. However, after the 1830 Revolution the Foreign Legion was revived, and ever since they have taken part in nearly every foreign campaign in which France has been engaged—in the conquest of Algeria, in the Crimean War, in Mexico, Tongking, Formosa, Madagascar, and Morocco.

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II—ASYLUM OF BRAVE UNFORTUNATES

Admission to the Legion is not the result of the efforts of the recruiting sergeant. All the men are volunteers, and although all classes and all nationalties are welcome to join they are not unduly encouraged to do so. There have been cases in which men who have come to enlist at the military headquarters in Paris have been told of the disadvantages they would have to encounter, and advised "to think the matter over seriously" before signing away their liberty for a period of five years. Yet, almost to a man, they have come back to undergo the extremely rigorous medical examination—the only examination, by the way, with which they are troubled. For, as regards their real name and nationality, no proofs are required. The authorities show no curiosity whatsoever about a man's past. They take it for granted that he has a very good reason for wishing to disappear for a while from the society of his relatives and friends and become merged with others of like mind in a semi-anonymous body, training, marching, and fighting without respite.

The military authorities formerly used to pay the legionaries the princely salary of a half-penny a day (recently raised to twopence-halfpenny), and their kit does not even include socks, yet they are expected to possess sufficient physical vigour to march a distance of twenty to thirty-two miles, over rocky, slippery ground and through jungles, in less than eight hours, halting only ten minutes each hour, and with a load of seventy to eighty pounds. This is a terrible test of speed and endurance, yet one out of which these men come, through systematic training, with flying colours, and of which they are all of them justly proud. "No questions asked, but strict obedience and iron discipline"—this might be the motto of the corps, in which such famous soldiers as MacMahon,[111] Canrobert, Chanzy, De Négrier, Servière, and Villebois-Mareuil have been officers. In spite of this display of delicacy, however, many a man's story leaks out. He may be as silent as the Sphinx for years, yet the time comes when his taciturnity is overcome through some little incident, and his secret, or part of it, as in a case related by Mr. Frederic Martyn, in his "Life in the Legion," is out.

It was during the French campaign in Mexico, says Mr. Martyn, who himself served for five years in the Legion. A large city having been captured, the general in command wished to propitiate the inhabitants by celebrating a spectacular military High Mass in the cathedral. When all the troops had been assembled, it was found that the clergy had gone on strike. In the face of this dilemma, the general was just about to abandon the ceremony when a corporal of the Legion stepped forward and, saluting, said, "Mon général, I was a bishop before I became a corporal, and I will celebrate the Mass." Another eye-witness of this incident states that the ex-bishop also offered to preach a sermon, but the general considered that the Mass alone was sufficient.

M. Maurer, a former officer in the Legion and now President of the Mutual Aid Society for former officers, N. C. O.'s, and soldiers of the foreign regiments in Paris, informed us that he remembered this bishop, whose fall was due to drink.

This recalls another ecclesiastical anecdote. At the time of the Fashoda incident a legionary was drowned at Zarzis whilst attempting to save a fisherman. His comrades made a coffin out of the only wood available, some pieces of old packing-cases, on one of which—the portion, as it happened, which we used for the top—were the words, "Keep the contents dry." Again no priest was thought to be there to perform the last rites over the[112] dead, until an Italian private stepped forward, revealed his priestly identity, and recited the Burial Service by heart.

III—FROM PRINCE TO LEGIONAIRE—THE KAISER'S COUSIN

The fall from bishopric to the rank and file of the Foreign Legion is not the biggest social drop on record in the Legion. In 1897 a young man of twenty-six, who gave his name as Albrecht Friedrich Nornemann, was accepted for service. After ten months in barracks at Géryville he broke down under the severe training, was sent into hospital, and in a few weeks died of phthisis. A day or two later the regiment was astonished to learn that a German war-vessel had entered the harbour, entrusted with the astounding mission of fetching the body of Albrecht Friedrich, cousin-german of Prince Henry of Prussia, and consequently cousin of the Kaiser, who, having ordered the remains to be brought back to Hamburg, probably alone knew the prince's secret.

Six years before this remarkable incident, which is vouched for by more than one authority, another man of mysterious origin—who, if he was not actually a prince of the realm, was in all probability of royal blood on one side—was discovered in a Tongking battalion. A sergeant and the owner of an illustrious name, since his father was a general and Minister to a European monarch, it was noticed that he never received any letters from his father, but that every month the paymaster handed him a thousand francs which he never failed to share with his less well-to-do comrades. Why was he there, and what was the mystery surrounding his birth? was often the mental reflection of those who enjoyed his friendship and generosity. Only after his death did[113] they get an inkling of the truth. His military book stated that his name was V. de S——, son of V. de S——, General of Division and Minister of War. "There was no mention of his mother's name," said a superior officer to M. de Pouvourville, who tells the story, "and there can be little doubt that she was of too illustrious a rank to acknowledge a son the circumstances of whose birth had placed him beyond the pale."

Some excellent stories of life in the Legion were told to the authors of this article by the above named M. Maurer.

One of his orderlies was Graf X——, the son of the then Governor of Brandenburg, but he could never learn in what circumstances this man had fallen from his high estate. It was different in the case of his particular chum, a young Englishman of distinguished manners, who spoke several languages and was an accomplished musician, though the secret of his life did not come out until several years after M. Maurer had retired and returned to Paris. One day, when passing the Madeleine, he saw a splendid equipage, drawn by a pair of magnificent greys, with silver harness, standing outside the church, and, lo and behold! sitting in the carriage was his old chum. Hailing him by the name by which he had always known him, M. Maurer was astonished to see his friend put his finger to his lips. The next moment he was invited to enter the carriage, and, with an invitation to dinner, off they drove to a fashionable restaurant in the Champs Elysees. Over dinner M. Maurer's former comrade told him his real name and story. A young man of good family, he had started his career with an excellent position in the Bank of England. One day, when ten thousand pounds had been slid into his hands, a sudden temptation came over him, a foolish desire to have a flutter at "Monte." So he took the earliest opportunity of leaving London.[114] As was only to be expected, the inevitable happened; he lost at the tables every penny of the sum he had embezzled. Aware of the disgrace that awaited him when the theft was discovered, he enlisted in the Foreign Legion.

"Now, it is a well-known fact," concluded M. Maurer, "that the sins of a man who has served his full time in the Legion are wiped off the slate, and I suppose that something like this must have happened in the case of my young friend. I have no doubt that his family restored the money. Anyway, he attained his rehabilitation. He is the bearer of a very well-known name, and to-day occupies an important—a very important—post in public affairs in England."

IV—THE ROMANCE OF THE EURASIAN

Another little romance revolving round the life of a legionary, whose birth was enveloped in mystery, was told some years ago by a British soldier who served in the Legion. After an engagement at Cao-Thuong, there was found on one of the dead, sewn in a belt, six British war medals and a letter addressed to the narrator. Judge of his surprise when he found that it was in perfect English, of which he had never for a moment suspected his comrade-in-arms had a knowledge, and that it contained the statement that the medals had been won by the writer's father and grandfather in India. His mother, the writer explained, was a native, and therefore he, as a Eurasian, although born in wedlock, was ineligible for the British Army. As his tastes were wholly military, and the greatest desire of his life was to add to his forebears' collection of medals, he had enlisted in the Legion.

The mental attitude of the man who regards the Foreign Legion as a pis aller is a common trait among its members; it is often, indeed, the last resource of those who have met with life's disappointments.

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There was once an officer of the German army who had invented a new type of cannon, and could not get its merits recognised, either by his own country or by France, as rapidly as he would have liked, or receive prompt remuneration for his work. Straightway, therefore, he went and joined the Légion Etrangère. Some little time later, in 1895, the French authorities, waking up to the possibility of the value of the work of so eminent an engineer, approached him on the subject, but by then he had become thoroughly soured. He declined to have anything to do with them, and with the air of one whose genius has been recognised too late hastily returned to his kitchen, where he had long carried out the duties of regimental cook.

In the barracks at Sidi-bel-Abbes, where the most cordial and frequently rowdy bonne camaraderie reigns, failures in art, science, literature, and every other walk in life may be found by hundreds. Special cases like that of the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Elkington, who, after being cashiered by general court-martial, joined the Legion as a simple private at the beginning of the present war and won his way to distinction, are rare. He was in the thick of the fighting in the Champagne country, lay for ten months in hospital badly wounded, and before regaining the confidence of his King and country was personally decorated with the Médaille Militaire and the Croix de Guerre by an officer attached to General Joffre's staff. To find an exact parallel to this instance of reinstatement in the British Army would be difficult. Among the legionaires, however, there have been quite a number of men of the type of the American Daly, an artist and pupil of Gérôme, who lost at Monte Carlo everything his father had given him to pay for his art training in Europe; scores, too, of such enigmas as that fine young fellow who joined the Legion in 1893, served in Tongking,[116] and left in 1898, at the end of his time, when by chance his superiors discovered that he had been first tenor at the Theâtre de la Monnaie at Brussels. Not a note had he sung, not a single reference to music had he made whilst in the regiment! Ah, what stories some of these ne'er-do-wells, drunkards, comedians, and gentlemen with fine manners could tell if only they would consent to open their lips!

V—WHY GERMANS HATE THE FOREIGN LEGION

Many of them, of course, have no tale worth telling, and among these are the deserters from other armies. If we include the Alsatians and Lorrainers who join to avoid service under the hated German flag, they form a very big class indeed. Nearly every year more than a thousand men of the annexed provinces and more than a thousand Germans flocked to the French standard, with the result that the Legion has always been disliked and slandered by Germans. We have before us seven closely-printed pages forming a list of books and pamphlets written by German writers, who, filled with Pan-Germanist hatred and inspired by the virulent libels of anonymous scribes, have endeavoured for the past twenty years to throw mud at a military organization into which so many of their countrymen escaped. This prompts new thought. If German soldiers are so glad to join a body in which life is "a veritable hell upon earth," where men "never taste meat, but only bread and rice," where they "sleep on the bare ground," where "noses, ears, and fingers are cut off for the slightest fault," where they are "buried in the sand to the waist with an iron cage over them filled with hungry rats"—the last idea was stolen by the German slanderers from Octave Mirbeau's "Jardin[117] des Supplices"—what must their life in their own army be like?

As a matter of fact, many Germans who have served in the Legion have had, on their return home, nothing but good to say about it, and have become voluntary recruiting agents for France, hence an increased bitterness on the part of the Huns. A few years ago deserters from the German army became so numerous that a society was formed at Munich, bearing the name "The German Protection Society Against the Foreign Legion." Several times men were arrested for trying to persuade their comrades to join the Legion, but they had to be released, as it was found that they were pure-born Teutons.

And now let us apply the supreme test and look into the fighting record of the legionaries. As military experts are agreed that they are among the finest fighters in the world. Innumerable instances of their stubbornness can be given, and it is the quality which has made them, time after time, invaluable as a "stiffening" whenever it has been considered necessary to draft a number of soldiers of the Legion into a regiment of less experienced troops. "The most pusillanimous of them," said an old French officer, who had seen much service in Africa, to us, "will hold out to the death when side by side with a legionary and inspired by his superb courage."

One of the feats of the Foreign Legion was the taking of Son-Tay on December 16th, 1883, a square brick citadelle protected by a hundred cannon, a moat five yards wide, and hedges of bamboo, and defended by twenty-five thousand men—ten thousand Chinese regulars, ten thousand Black Flags, and five thousand Annamites. As an example of pure bravery, look at the thirty-six days' siege of Tuyen-Quan, which in 1885 was held by six hundred legionaries against twenty thousand Chinese. Few celebrated sieges have attained and none surpassed[118] in horror what took place there. On the occasion of the Camerone affair, in Mexico, sixty-five legionaries, without food or shelter, in an open court and under a tropical sun, held in check for more than ten hours two thousand enemies, three hundred of whom they killed. The word "Camerone" is embroidered on the flag of the Foreign Legion, and if you go to the Invalides you will see on one of the walls, in letters of gold, the names of the three officers who directed that handful of heroes, with the date of the fight: "Lieutenant Vilain, Sub-Lieutenant Mandet, and Captain Danjou; April 30th, 1863."

VI—FRANCE'S TRIBUTE TO THE LEGION

The bravery of the Foreign Legion has been so conspicuous that on February 16th, 1906, M. Eugène Etienne, then Minister of War, proposed that the flag of the 1st Foreign Regiment be decorated with the Legion of Honour, "in recognition of the acts of devotion, courage, and abnegation which a troop, ever on a war footing, renders to the country in the defence of its Colonial possessions." This was done, and at the Invalides, in a special case, can be seen an old flag of the regiment bearing the date September 24th, 1862, a flag which had been retaken from the enemy, and on the staff of which hangs the Cross of the Legion of Honour, the finest tribute which France can pay to the glorious deeds of the Foreign Legion.

During the present war a further distinction has been granted the marching regiment of the Legion. Authority has just been given the men to wear the fourragère, or braid, over the left shoulder. The flag of this regiment had already been decorated with the Croix de Guerre.

The latest recorded exploit of this gallant corps was the capture, at the point of the bayonet, of a fortified village strongly held by the enemy. The men of the[119] Legion held out so vigorously that all the enemy's counter-attacks were beaten off, and seven hundred and fifty German prisoners were sent to the rear.

The British residents in Paris and other parts of France who volunteered for service in the French army and trained at the Magic City in 1914 were drafted into the Foreign Legion, and the survivors have reason to be proud of their old corps.

But the complete history of the doings of the Legion during this war can only be written some time hence. Suffice it to say, in addition to the above facts, that they have been mentioned in army orders no fewer than three times—a distinction not won by any other French regiment. At one time, during the Champagne campaign, they advanced eighteen kilomètres into the enemy's front, and if only there had been reinforcements to back them up there is no doubt a great victory would have been won. The many personal heroic deeds, too, necessitate names and details which will not yet pass the Censor's scrutiny. But one incident, in conclusion, perhaps we may mention, as recorded to us by M. Maurer.

"One of my former men, an Alsatian peasant of the lowest type, speaking only of his own patois and unable to read or write, came to Paris after serving fifteen years in the Foreign Legion. I was instrumental in getting him a place in a public wash-house, where he drew a handcart for the sum of four francs a day, which, by the by, he promptly spent in drink as soon as it was handed to him. As soon as war was declared he was off again to his métier. He returned on leave after ten months in the trenches, and came to see me. Judge of my surprise when I found he had become a sub-lieutenant, wearing the Croix de Guerre and Croix Militaire with the three palms! Still unable to speak more than a dozen words in French he explained in his dialect,[120] when I inquired what he had done to acquire such distinctions, that he had killed fifty-two Boches in the most dramatic circumstances. Night after night he had slipped out of his trench, and like a snake in the grass crawled across 'No Man's Land' to the enemy's listening-posts, which are invariably under the charge of experienced officers and picked men. He did his work silently and expeditiously—with a knife. A terrible but true anecdote of this relentless war!"


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ADVENTURES OF WOMEN WHO FACE DEATH ON BATTLEGROUNDS

Little Stories of Woman's Indomitable Courage

This is a group of little tales of brave women—direct from the battlefields. They are but typical of the noble deeds of the mothers and daughters of all nations throughout the war. It has been estimated that forty thousand women have fought in the armies—thousands of them in soldiers' uniforms. The first three stories told here are from the New York American, and the fourth is from the New York World.

I—STORY OF ENGLISHWOMAN WHO RISKED LIFE ON RUSSIAN BATTLEFRONT

Mrs. Hilda Wynne has youth, beauty, wealth and fascination—she cast them all into the great pool of the war in Europe, and added bravery to them—a limitless bravery. She wears the Croix de Guerre, the gift of France. King Albert of Belgium decorated her with the Order of Leopold, and Russia honored her with the Order of St. George. These rare distinctions she won by unique service. She drove her ambulance between the first trenches. Back and forth she went, driving her automobile at furious pace with the fire pouring upon her from the allies on one side and the Germans on the other, but a mile separating them. Her unit worked between the first trenches, the only workers permitted to operate on this danger line. Mrs. Wynne and her organization, the Bevan-Wynne Unit, have saved more than 25,000 lives of wounded that but for her speedy aid would have been lost. She then came to America for the specific purpose of interesting Americans in the needs of Russian soldiers.

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Told by Hilda Wynne, herself

I have looked into the eyes of death and seen there many things.

Looking upon the human carnage I have witnessed, from this distance and in the little breathing space I have taken from service to make you Americans know the Russians and their needs better, I testify that I have seen thousands of heroic acts, but the bravest act happened on the Russian front.

I saw two aviators go up to certain death. They were a Russian and a Frenchman. Both were little men. They went up to meet twenty German aeroplanes. It was suicidal. But they had been ordered to go—and theirs was the spirit of the gallant six hundred. I stood near them as they made ready to go. They said nothing. That is one of the lessons you learn in war—not to waste time nor words.

They got their machines ready as a rider tests his saddle straps and stirrups before starting for his morning gallop through the park. A little pothering and fixing of the machinery and they had gone. They went straight up and began blazing away at the German planes. I watched and the cords of my heart tightened, for the German planes, looking like great gray birds with wings wide spread, came closer and closer. They surrounded them. They formed a solid double circle about them. Then they began to fire. And I turned and covered my eyes with my hands, for out of that solid, ominous group two dots detached themselves and fell. A few seconds later what had been aeroplanes were splintered wood and what had been men a broken mass covered by smoking rags.

While this was the bravest act I saw in two and a half years on the firing line, I readily recall the most pathetic.[123] It was the second line of men in the Russian trenches. They were unarmed soldiers. There were no guns for them. They took their places there expecting that the man in front might drop, and the second line man could pick up his gun and take his place. The reports that some of the Russian soldiers have desperately fought with switches I have no doubt is true.

I have seen many of the allies die. They all die bravely. At Dixmude when the fusiliers arrived 8,000 and went out 4,000 there was magnificent courage in death. The Frenchman dies calling upon his God. The Englishman says nothing or feebly jests; just turns his face to the wall and is still. The Russian is mystic and secretive. The Russian lives behind a veil of reserve. You never fully know him. In the last moments you know by his rapt look that his soul is in communion with his God.

One of the deepest, unalterable truths of the war is the German power of hatred. It is past measuring. An example occurred at Dixmude. When we had been there three days we were driven out. I took my car filled with the wounded across a bridge just in time. A second after we had crossed there was a roar, then a crash. A shot had torn the bridge to pieces. Three weeks later to our hospital was brought a wounded German.

"I know you," he said. "We nearly got you at the bridge at Dixmude."

"I remember," I said.

That man's eyes used to follow me in a strange way. Build no beautiful theories of his national animosity disappearing, or being swallowed up in his gratitude. There was no such thought in his mind. The eyes said: "I wish I had killed you. But since I didn't I wish I might have another chance."

This after I had driven away a group of zouaves who[124] had taken everything from him, including his iron cross, and who were debating whether to toss him into the canal then or that night.

It is quite true that the Germans fire upon hospitals. Don't believe any disclaimers of such acts. There have been many of them. The aeroplanes were circling about and above a rough hospital we had constructed and we had to leave it in a hurry. We told the patients of their danger and hurried them into ambulances to take them to a safer spot. One of the patients was a German. Both his arms had been shot away. He was in great pain. I went to his cot and offered to help him.

"Lean on me," I said. But he turned upon me a baleful look.

"No," he said, staggering to his feet. His tormented body reeled as he made his way to the door. "No," he repeated. "I will take no help from the enemy."

It is true that a shell has burst at my feet. It has happened dozens of times. That isn't alarming. If it burst a few feet away I should be killed. Shells glance down and under the ground. That saves one if he is near it. A shell bursting near one is a commonplace in war.

The shells have a disturbing way about them, more disturbing to your plans than your equanimity. Shells prevented my having a nice comfortable illness. In southern Russia one can get little to eat. Coarse black bread is the chief food. It causes unpleasant disorders. I, afflicted with one of them, arranged a table in the corner of my tent. I placed remedies on the table, undressed and turned in, intending to have a cozy illness of a few days. But as I lay there came an angry buzzing. A shell hissed through, carrying away a corner of my tent. That ended my illness. I had no more time to think of it.

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The greatest peril I encountered was not from shells. I have said that one becomes used to them. One of the greatest dangers I faced was on a dark night drive along a precipice in the Caucasus. It was while the plan to bring troops through Persia to Russia was expected to be successful. I went ahead with some ambulances. It was necessary to take two Russian officers across the mountain. I offered my services. The road was an oddly twisting one. On one side was a high wall, on the other a precipice whose depth no one calculated. But as I allowed myself to look into it at twilight I could see no bottom to it. We started on the all night drive at dusk. The precipice remained with us, a foot away, most of the distance. Had my car skidded twelve inches the story would have been different.

Then, too, I wandered once within the Turkish lines, mistaking them for our own. But amidst a courteous silence I was allowed to discover my mistake and escape without harm.

I think I owe my opportunity to do my bit, in the way I have, to the fact that I arrived in Flanders a few hours before the fight and the officers were too busy to send me back. I had seven automobiles, and knew how to use them. I took them to Dixmude and offered the automobiles and my services to the cause. I established headquarters at Furnes, which is seven miles from Nieuport, eight from Dixmude and twenty from Ypres. I drove along the Yser Canal to the parts of the field that were under the heaviest fire, for there, I knew, my cars and I would be most needed. For a year I worked for the relief of the wounded of the French armies. Then I went to Russia, where I found the need of help and the sacrifice of life because of lack of that help, almost inconceivable. The French armies have 6,600 ambulances.[126] The Germans have 6,200. Russia, with a firing line of 6,000 miles has but 600 motor ambulances.

I established dressing stations in the mountains. Some of these were 10,000 feet above the sea level. There, on the canvas stretched between two horses, the wounded were brought, or so they started. For many of them died in the long journey, every step of which was torture to a wounded man.

The most exciting experience I ever had was on the Galician border. We could approach the battle line only along the Tranapol road, which ran for fifteen miles directly under German guns. I was speeding along it with an ambulance full of wounded soldiers when a shell struck the roadside and exploded, tearing a great hole in the earth fifty feet away. The concussion stopped us. Then we went on. I travel on my luck. Some time, I suppose, I shall travel too far.

I have given all my fortune to the work. That is what we should do—give not what we can afford, but all we have.

II—STORY OF THE "SPY-TRAPPERS" OF ENGLAND WHO CAUGHT CARL LODY

Everybody has heard of the tremendous ramifications of the German military spy system, which had every move of England's army and navy under observation, every gun emplacement mapped out and knew every order given to the army before it reached the subordinate officers.

Englishmen were powerless to shake off this spy danger, which penetrated into every branch of national life, but English women took up the matter, brought the most dangerous spies to trial, put the others under armed guard and in various other ways made the lives of spies and suspected spies a burden to them.

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They have proved that women are the only efficient "spy trappers." The leaders of the undertaking are women of title, for they alone would have the authority, means and prestige to carry out such a difficult and far-reaching work.

The organizer and "chairman" of the committee that has been rounding up the spies is Lady Glanusk, wife of a peer and officer, a woman of keen mind and very determined, yet tactful personality. Other members are the Duchess of Wellington, who is president; the Duchess of Beaufort, the Duchess of Sutherland, the Marchioness of Sligo, Countess Bathurst, the Countess of Lanesborough, Viscountess Massereene and Ferrard, Viscountess Combermere, Viscountess Cobham, Lady Vincent, Lady Leith of Fyvie, Mrs. Harold Baring and others.

Among them are some of the most notably beautiful women in English society and others who are distinguished by their winning personality. Perhaps the most striking beauty is the Viscountess Massereene and Ferrard, whose husband is the chief of a celebrated Irish family. Equally attractive in her way is the young Duchess of Sutherland, whose husband is the largest landowner in Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Another member of the committee noted for her beauty is Mrs. Harold Baring, who was formerly Miss Marie Churchill, of New York. Her husband belongs to the famous English banking family that possesses four peerages. Lady Leith of Fyvie, is another American born member. She was Miss Marie January, of St. Louis. Womanly intuition and womanly guile exercised by these attractive "spy trappers," on many social occasions, have led many Germans to make admissions they would never have made to a man.

Before the war thousands of Germans were in positions of trust in England, ranging from heads of banks[128] down to such positions as butlers in prominent English families and headwaiters in leading hotels. Many people believe that German butlers in the employ of British Cabinet ministers and British generals have been the most important agents for conveying military information to the enemy. Standing silent and discreet behind their employers and their guests at the table, they listened to many military secrets and they also had other opportunities for gathering information.

One of the fair members of the committee dined one evening at the house of an English general with a small party of persons highly placed in military and official life. When the general joined the ladies in the drawing room after dinner the fascinating "spy trapper" drew him aside and said:

"General, before I go, I want you to arrest your butler and search his belongings. He is a German spy," she said.

"But Lady ——," said the general in amazement, "he has been with me for ten years. The man is an excellent butler."

"No doubt," said the lady, "but he is also an excellent spy. Never speak to me again if I am wrong."

The butler's room was searched and many notes of an incriminating character were found. The lack of positive evidence that he had sent information to the German Government saved his life, but he was sent to prison with a host of other German spies.

It is generally understood that Carl Hans Lody, the German spy executed in the Tower of London, was brought to trial through the efforts of the women's committee, although the members disclaim the achievement.

Lody was an officer of the German naval reserve who had resided some years in the United States, married and deserted his wife there. He was engaged for a time as[129] an agent of an English tourist agency in America, work which gave him an excellent opportunity for watching military preparations.

Last August he obtained an American passport from the American Embassy in Berlin, under the name of Charles A. Inglis, of New York, American citizen. He went to England with instructions to obtain information concerning the movements of the English fleet for the German Government.

In the disguise of an American tourist, he visited the principal seaports of the United Kingdom. While he was viewing the romantic scenery in the vicinity of Edinburgh, an attractive member of the ladies' committee made his acquaintance. Under the influence of sympathetic society Lody became more communicative than discretion warranted.

Behind the superficial American accent the natural German accent revealed itself in the warmth of confidence. A few days later, Lody was arrested and letters, which he had written to Germany, giving information concerning English naval movements and which had been seized in the mails, were produced.

Lody admitted that he was acting as a spy. After a short trial he was condemned to be shot in the old Tower of London. He met his fate very bravely.

The "ladies' committee" has hunted down all German headwaiters and waiters employed in the principal English hotels and restaurants and caused them to be removed to detention camps. These men, owing to the peculiar character of their work, enjoyed an excellent opportunity for meeting persons of all the important classes of society, and in the free expansion that ordinarily takes place at the table all kinds of confidences were exchanged within their hearing.

Many Germans of high social position and great[130] wealth, some of them naturalized British subjects, have been pursued by the relentless "ladies' committee." Professor Arthur Schuster, a born German, but a naturalized Englishman, was surprised at his luxurious country seat, when a band of detectives descended on him and seized his private wireless apparatus.

Lady Glanusk explained to the correspondent of this newspaper some of the aims and labors of the committee.

She has turned the drawing and reception rooms of her fine house, at No. 30 Bruton street, Mayfair, into offices for the committee.

"Owing to the fact," said Lady Glanusk, "that no serious effort has been made by our menkind to round up the 73,000 alien enemies in our midst, I felt the call to start a protest by women, as it is women who are the greatest sufferers by war. My husband and two sons are fighting at the front and thousands of women can say very much the same.

"Ten days after I issued my appeal to the women of England I had formed my committee with the definite object that all alien-born enemies, whether German, Austrian or Turk, of military age, be forthwith interned, whether naturalized or not. Other alien enemies above military age or under should be removed at least twenty miles from the coasts and kept under surveillance.

"I consider that women as spies and decoy ducks are more dangerous than men.

"To such an extent have the women of England been roused that in the first couple of weeks more than 200,000 signatures to the petition to be presented to Parliament were obtained.

"Alien enemies, Germans and Austrians particularly, were spread all along the coast towns and it was impossible to know whether or not they were in constant communication[131] with the enemy. For my part, I would like to see as many as possible of these 'useless non-combatants' dumped right onto German soil. It would be amusing to think of the embarrassment of the German authorities having to find food and shelter for something like 70,000 fresh mouths. Another trouble is the shameful favoritism shown to wealthy and highly placed Anglo-Germans while their humbler compatriots are interned without ado.

"Out of the petition of protest has grown what we have named 'the anti-German League,' by which it is resolved that no member will employ or sanction the employment of any German or alien enemy. Members will further refuse to deal with any shops or establishments selling any German or alien enemy goods. As the members of our committee are highly influential people the movement should be effective and will continue for several years. Further, no pains will be spared to improve the usefulness of British hotel waiters and other hotel and restaurant employees.

"If every British woman will realize that it is shameful and treacherous to give financial help to the Germans there will be no future need to protect the public from this alien peril, for the German Empire will never be in a position to menace us again, for war cannot be waged except by a commercially flourishing nation."

Lady Glanusk is a typical Englishwoman, full of energy, go and spirit. She is tall and stately, with a beautiful complexion. She received the American correspondent cordially and with a friendly grasp of the hand.

During the interview Mr. Joynson-Hicks, Member of Parliament, and just recently appointed Chairman of the Unionist Parliamentary Committee lately formed to inquire[132] into this alien enemy question, was present, as was also Lord Euston, heir to the Dukedom of Grafton.

III—STORY OF DAUGHTERS OF ENGLISH NOBILITY WHO WORK IN TRENCHES

Many beautiful girls of the most delicate breeding have gone to the front to nurse the wounded—to see the worst horrors of this most horrible of wars.

It must not be assumed that they have merely gone to the base hospitals to attend to the wounded soldiers brought to them from the front and carried to them through the dangerous area. Some at least have gone right to the trenches into the midst of the inferno of bullets and shells and poisonous gases, where the air is filled with the groans of the dying and the stench of the unburied dead and where the very soil trembles from the force of the new and devilish explosives that reduce humanity to a pulp.

The sights that these delicately reared girls must witness can only be hinted at. Many strong men have turned sick at the same experience, and even veteran soldiers are only able to endure their surroundings by smoking the strongest kind of tobacco. How the spoiled darlings of society will come through their terrible experience must be one of the most interesting problems of the war.

One of the most strikingly beautiful girls at the front is Miss Gladys Nelson, daughter of Sir William and Lady Nelson, who have a house noted for its art treasures in Hill Street, Mayfair, the most aristocratic quarter of London.

Sir William Nelson is a great railroad magnate, having large enterprises of this character in the colonies and other parts of the world. He is probably one of the wealthiest men in the United Kingdom. He has two[133] sons in the army, and four daughters married to army officers. His only unmarried daughter, Miss Gladys, determined that she would not do less for her country than any of her family.

Miss Nelson is the purest and most refined type of English beauty. She is tall, lithe and athletic, with beautiful golden hair and a very delicate, fair complexion. This exquisite daughter of millions is actually running a motor ambulance from the trenches in the North of France to the base hospital. She helps to carry the poor wounded soldiers in her car back of the firing line and then drives them to the base hospital. She has been repeatedly under fire and runs the risk of being killed almost daily. She was within the firing zone when the Germans first began their use of poisonous gases, and it was only because she had a full load of wounded in her car that she moved to the rear before the deadly fumes reached her.

All the risks of death and injury, however, would seem to be less of an ordeal to a woman of sensitive nerves than the sights she must constantly witness. The bodies of dead and wounded have been turned black, green and yellow, so that they become in many instances a caricature of humanity.

Then so furious is the fighting and so difficult the work of attending to the wounded that the dead have often been left unburied for days. The wounded are often terribly mangled and sometimes left to lie in the dirt for hours or even days before the ambulances can find them. Before they can be relieved at all their clothes and boots may have to be cut from them, and in this process very often large masses of flesh come away with the garments. These and other services are rendered by the women ambulance workers.

The exquisite Miss Gladys Nelson has been doing her[134] share in this terrible work, and, according to last accounts, doing it very creditably. Will she come through the ordeal a stronger and nobler character or will she break down under it?

One of the bravest English nurses is Miss Muriel Thompson, of the First Aid Yeomanry Corps. She belongs to a well-known English family. She is a pretty girl of robust physique. She has been right up to the trenches in one of the worst centres of carnage in the whole field of war. Many badly wounded Belgians, who had no hope of medical attention from their own forces, were carried by Miss Thompson from the firing line. King Albert of Belgium presented to her on the battlefield a medal for bravery.

The beautiful Marchioness of Drogheda, a young matron of the highest aristocracy, is nursing the wounded in a houseboat on the Yser River, in Belgium, where some of the most terrible fighting of the whole war has occurred. This is the spot where the Germans put forth their greatest force in the West last October to break down the allied lines and reach the English Channel.

The Germans in their advance either killed the Belgian inhabitants or at least drove them out and destroyed their homes. The allies in their anxiety to stop the Germans flooded the country and destroyed hundreds more Belgian homes. The world has never seen a more pitiful and death-strewn waste than this once very populous and prosperous region.

The Marchioness of Drogheda and some other English women are laboring among the wounded and starving on the Yser, within sound of the guns to relieve some little part of the unspeakable misery.

Two of the most noted beauties of the British aristocracy are in training to act as war nurses. One of them is Lady Diana Manners, daughter of the Duke of Rutland[135] and sister of the former Lady Marjorie Manners, whose heart affairs have been of so much interest to the world.

Lady Diana is one of the most charming, dainty and sprightly girls in the liveliest set of fashionable society. To think of such a girl amid the blood, dirt and horrors of trench warfare gives one the greatest shock of all. It has not yet been decided where Lady Diana will take up her duties in the war area, but her friends say that her spirit is so great that she will go to the most dangerous places that any woman has yet ventured to.

Another beautiful girl of equal social prominence who has been training as a war nurse is Miss Monica Grenfell, daughter of Lord Desborough, one of the most noted sportsmen in England.

In the earlier stages of the war considerable adverse comment was excited by the numbers of society women who forced themselves through their influence with high officials into the fighting area, where they were not fitted to be of help and were often a serious hindrance.

This evil has now been nearly eliminated. With a growing sense of the awful seriousness of the war the most frivolous of society women have become subdued. Under the direction of such masterful men as General Kitchener and General Joffre the army officers and other officials have refused to allow any women, however highly connected, who were actuated merely by curiosity, to proceed to the front.

Only women qualified to nurse and belonging to a recognized war nursing organization are now allowed to go near the fighting area.

At one time criticism was excited by the sight of Lady Dorothy Fielding, the twenty-year-old daughter of the Earl of Denbigh, standing among a group of admiring French and Belgian officers at the front. It was assumed[136] that a girl of such an age and such training could only be a hindrance among the fighting men, and it was even hinted that she was addicted to flirting.

Whatever she may have been at first, the young Lady Dorothy has now changed all opinions of her and become a real heroine. With training and experience now lasting for months she has become a most valuable as well as courageous nurse in rescuing and caring for the wounded. Naturally a strong girl and accustomed to athletic sports, she has shown herself peculiarly fitted for this kind of work.

Many ladies of rank interested in the wounded have lately shown their good sense by not trying to go to the fighting area. The handsome and skittish Duchess of Westminster, who excited some attention at first by bustling around among the soldiers in France has now gone to Serbia, where there is the greatest need of Good Samaritans. The hospital founded by her at Le Touquet, near Paris, has done good work.

The condition of Serbia is such that any women who ventures there must see the extremes of human misery. The whole country has been turned into a charnel house by the invading Austrians, followed by the still more terrible typhus fever. Men, women and children are dying of disease without being able to find a bed to lie on or a roof to cover them.

One report stated that young Lady Paget had died while nursing typhus patients in Serbia. Her mother is the well-known American Lady Paget, wife of General Sir Arthur Paget, and the daughter is married to a distant cousin, named Sir Richard Paget, British Minister to Serbia. Later news came that young Lady Paget had not died of the fever, but she is passing through scenes of horror that have not been known in Europe for three centuries.

[137]

IV—STORY OF A NEW YORK MOTHER WHO SOUGHT HER SON IN THE TRENCHES

Paul Planet was sailing away from New York and from the mother he adored to fight under the colors of France.

Other women—mothers, wives, sisters, sweethearts—pressed forward. They also gazed tearfully after the slowly receding steamer.

The girlish figure with the great brown eyes and firm, resolute mouth, stood motionless.

"Paul," she murmured. "He is my only child—my boy!"

Weeks passed—months.

Paul Planet's regiment was at the front. He had learned what it means to look death in the face, to live in the trenches, to see the horrors and devastation of war. He had fought and fought bravely, and experienced no regrets save one—that he must be separated from his mother.

"We have always been more like chums than mother and son," he confided to his comrades. "Since my earliest recollection until now we have never been separated."

But when he drew forth a small picture from over his heart and said it was a likeness of the mother for whose loneliness he sighed, his friends ridiculed his statement.

"Your sweetheart," they said, "or perhaps your sister. But never, never ask us to believe that the likeness is of your mother."

"She is always young—always beautiful—to me she will never grow old," declared the young soldier. But after that he did not show the picture again.

In far away New York the fair young mother of so stalwart a son learned, as months rolled by, what it means to watch and wait, to tremble at the sound of the[138] postman's ring lest it be the harbinger of ill news; to live, day by day, in a state of suspense and agony bordering upon despair, and to envy every mother she saw whose son walked by her side.

Then she, too, sailed for France.

"I must find my boy," she told those who sought to dissuade her from undertaking the trip.

For nearly a year had passed and no word had been received from Paul Planet. His name had not appeared in the lists of dead and missing, yet of his whereabouts his mother could learn nothing.

She applied to the officials at the Army Headquarters in Paris for information or assistance in locating her son. Her efforts were fruitless. Passports she received to certain sections of the country where the family name was known and where she had relatives or friends to visit or business to transact, but no permission was accorded her to leave the train at any intermediate point nor to visit a military camp.

Day after day Mme. Planet planned and schemed how she might find her boy. She made journey after journey in the vain hope that chance might bring her near him. Her aged mother now accompanied her.

"It will be a miracle if you ever find him," declared the elder woman as they looked forth upon miles of devastated country through which long lines of trenches intersected. Everywhere madame's inquiry met with the same discouraging reply. Paul Planet, the young soldier in the automobile service, might be in one of any number of places. Even if located it would be impossible for madame to visit him.

The train in which madame was travelling drew up at a siding near the ruins of what had once been a small village. Several troop trains sped by. Slowly the sidetracked train pulled forward toward the main tracks[139] again. Madame, restless and anxious, crossed the compartment and peered from the window. The next instant a startled exclamation escaped her lips.

"What is it?" asked her mother.

With frantic haste the younger woman turned and commenced to collect their travelling bags.

"I have found Paul," she whispered. "We must leave the train at the next station."

Now, all that day Paul Planet, for some strange psychological reason which he could not have explained, had felt conscious of his mother's nearness. Yet she was in New York, he reasoned and fear smote his heart lest sickness or accident had befallen her.

"Rest—for two hours."

Down along the marching line of soldiers the order was repeated. Planet heard it and fell out with alacrity. He heard himself detailed for temporary duty with a corporal's guard to unload automobile trucks. A troop train rushed by and a waiting passenger train pulled slowly out from a siding.

Planet glanced up. From the window of the latter train a face looked forth—a hand waved. Was he dreaming? Surely that was his mother's face he had seen! He dashed forward. The face was very distinct now. Impulsively he laid his finger across his lips as his mother had been wont to do when, as a child, she had desired him to remain silent. If the face at the window was that of his mother they must be discreet or she would never be permitted to join him.

"My mother was on that train," he confided to the soldier beside him. The man laughed.

"Impossible," he exclaimed. "You have seen a vision."

But Paul Planet had not seen a vision. Two miles further on, when the train had come to a halt at the little village station, Mme. Planet almost pulled her protesting[140] mother of seventy down the steps. The guards also protested.

"Your passports, madame? Where are your passports?" they asked.

"My passports?" she repeated. "Oh, monsieur, I am so excited I do not know. There are passports there—papers—anything you want—in that bag."

Madame was so charming—the name of Planet was so well known—that the bag remained at the station, unopened, and the clever French-American mother hurried off in search of her supposed friends.

She found them down along the railroad. A little squad of uniformed men unloading automobile trucks.

"Vive la France!" she cried. "Vive la France!" and all the while her brown eyes were gazing hungrily, eagerly into the equally brown orbs of her son. It would not do to single him out from the others. To do so might result in difficulties for him and for her.

The two hours' rest was lengthened to six. Still the detachment waited by the roadside. Still madame and her mother waited.

Again the former's ready wit came to their aid. Madame was so distressed! The friends she had expected to find in the village had gone away. There was no place for herself and her mother to dine. Would the soldiers be so kind—so generous——

The soldiers would. They hospitably provided a tent for madame and her mother. It might be two days, the officers told them, before another passenger train stopped at that station. Madame, overjoyed, resigned herself to Providence and basked in the sunshine of her son's presence. The ban of secrecy had been lifted now. Their relationship was made known and pocket kodaks drafted into service as the troops were breaking camp.

"I will have the pictures developed when I reach[141] Paris," said madame as she once more clasped her boy in her arms. "I have seen you again and I am content. That two hours' respite by the roadside that resolved itself into a two days' encampment was a special dispensation of Providence."

"It was a miracle, mother," declared the son. "There have been miracles all through this war. That you found me was one of them." Then he kissed her and marched away.


[142]

AN AMERICAN WOMAN'S STORY OF THE "ANCONA" TRAGEDY

Told by Dr. Cecile Greil, an American Physician

Dr. Cecile Greil was the only native-born American on the liner Ancona, which was shelled and sunk by an Austrian submarine. She tells this intensely graphic account of the terrible event in the New York Times. She precedes it with a description of the crowd of passengers, mostly poor Italian women and children, that had passage on the ship—the most pathetic gathering, it seemed to her as they came aboard the ship, that she had ever seen.

I—"WHEN THE TORPEDO STRUCK US"

The bell for luncheon rang at 11:30. As we sat at the table, still without the Captain, we joked and laughed together, to hide our lack of ease. We spoke of trivial things. We were through with lunch now; the others were going out; I was rising from my seat, at the same time drinking the remainder of my coffee. Then the thing came upon us that we had all, strangely enough, felt coming, in our hearts.

A terrific vibration shook the ship. I was thrown back into my seat. I knew that the ship must be stopping. I heard a running and scurrying about the deck outside. Looking out, I saw, through the dining saloon window, six or ten stewards in white whirling out of sight around an angle.

"What could be wrong, Doctor?" I asked one of the ship's doctors in French.

"Heaven only knows!" he answered, as he carefully adjusted his military cape, and hurried out. The dining[143] saloon was emptied in an instant; everybody had bolted as if they were running to a fire.

It was evident that something had gone wrong with the ship, though, by some queer process of mind, at that moment nobody thought of a submarine. But hearing the next moment a sharp, quick crash, as of lightning that had struck home close by, at the same instant I both thought of the possibility of a submarine—and saw one!

The fog had lifted slightly. There, in full view framed in the window with a curious, picture-like effect, lay a submarine with its deck out of the water. It was long and flat, horribly longer and bigger than the mental conception I had formed of what such a thing would be like. There was a gun mounted in front, and another at back, and both had their muzzles leveled directly at the Ancona.

The submarine stood out in clear, black outline against the white background of mist. The fog seemed only to make it more distinct, as it always does with objects near by. From a staff in the back broke a red and white drapeau. Afterward I learned that this was the combination of colors that made the Austrian flag. I was ignorant of it, then, though I remembered the exact colors.

So far, I could find nothing tragic or terrible in the situation. Possibly we would be in danger of considerable exposure in open boats, before other ships, summoned by wireless, would pick us up. I did not rush out as the others had done. I stood quite still, in order to calm myself, to give myself time to think what would better be done. The Ancona had come to a stop. Of that I was certain. I also knew that the ship was doomed.

But now there came another terrible crash, and another, and another, in different parts of the ship, followed[144] by explosions and the sound of débris falling into the water and on deck. Well, they were merely destroying the wireless. Still there was no fear of death.

But now I was aware of a terrible shrieking. Everybody was in a frightened panic.

II—"THE HORROR OF WHAT I SAW"

Well, as for myself—to get excited wouldn't help. I went to my cabin as calmly as I could, determined to save what I could of my valuables. I put them in my lifebelt. I took a receipt for 20,000 lire, which I had left with the purser. I went toward the bow of the ship. I descended the staircase to the second cabin, on the way to the purser's office. A large part of the staircase had been shot away—and the horror of what I saw at the bottom of it made me instantly forget what I was going for. There lay three or four women, four or five children, and several men. Some of them were already dead, all, at least, badly wounded. I made sure two of the children were dead. The purser sprawled limply across his desk, inert, like a sack of meal that has been flung down and stays where it lies. He had been shot in the head. The blood was running bright like red paint, freshly spilt, down his back, and his hair was matted with it.

The first series of shots had wrecked this part of the ship, breaking through and carrying away whole sections of the framework. I tried to get back up the stairs. But in the slight interval of time I had consumed, enough additional shells had been discharged to finish the wreck of the staircase.

I saw that this was not what the nations call, ironically enough, "legitimate warfare," but wholesale and indiscriminate massacre. Seeing my exit that way cut off,[145] I started through the second cabin to go up the central stairway. The sight that I ran into there was indescribable. All the passengers from the third cabin had rushed up into the second. They had altogether lost their wits. The only thing that was left them was the animal instinct for self-preservation in its most disastrous and most idiotic form. Men, women, and children were burrowing headforemost under chairs and benches and tables. I saw one man, his face pressed close against the floor sidewise, heaving a chair up in the air with his back, in an effort to efface himself.

All the while the detonations, like continuous thunder and lightning, increased the panic. Women were on their knees in mental agony, each supplicating the particular saint of the part of the country from which she came to save her from death. I pushed and shoved them by the shoulders. I took them by the legs and arms and clothes, and urged them, in Italian, to get up, to put on lifebelts, to get off the ship. I told them that, at least, they would find no security from shells under chairs and tables.

I found a poor old woman at the foot of the stairs, huddled in prayer. Her thin, gray hair straggled loose over her shoulder. I recognized her as a woman I had got acquainted with in my search for a fellow-citizen to join me in the first cabin. She was 65 years old, she had told me. She had seen two sons off to the war, and was now going to a third who had emigrated to America and lived in Pennsylvania. It was the first time she had ever crossed the ocean. She was sick of the thought of war. In the New World she would find peace and comfort for her old age, with her "Bambino," as she still called the grown-up man who was her son. So when I saw her lying there I was possessed of but one idea—to get her off alive. I told her to come with me, that I would protect her. She acquiesced, but her fright was[146] so great that she hung limp as if she had no spine while I half dragged her to the first cabin deck.

A boat was being lowered. It had been swung out on the davits. It already seethed full of people. And more men and women and children were fighting, in a promiscuous, shrieking mass, to get into it as it swung out and down. The men, with their superior strength, were, of course, getting the best of the struggle. Age or sex had no weight. It was brute strength that prevailed.

At the sight before her the old woman grew frantic with unexpected strength. She suddenly jerked loose from me, and before I could prevent her, ran with all the agility of fear and jumped overboard. Others flung their bodies pell-mell on the heads of those already in it. Some, in their frenzy, missed the mark at which they aimed themselves and fell into the sea. To make the horror complete, the boat now stuck at one end, tilted downward, and spilled all its occupants into the sea, ninety or a hundred at once. They seized each other. Some swam. Others floundered and sank almost immediately, dragging each other down. Some drowned themselves even with lifebelts on, not knowing how to hold their heads out of the water.

I tried to speak with the passengers still on deck. It was useless. Everybody was talking in his own particular dialect. Then I realized the predicament I myself was in—an utter foreigner, whom they would sacrifice in an instant for one of their own nationality. Perhaps if only I had some of my jewelry I might be able to bribe my way to safety in some such crisis.

III—"THE DEAD WERE LYING ON DECK"

I made my way back to my cabin again. There were people dead and dying on the deck. I saw one man who[147] had started to run up the gangway to the officer's deck come plunging down again. He had been struck in the back of the head. Somehow or other, I just felt that my time had not yet come. This conviction enabled me to keep my wits about me.

In my cabin I flung up the top of my steamer trunk. As I was searching for my valuables my chambermaid appeared in the doorway; half a dozen times I had met her rushing frantically and aimlessly up and down.

"Oh, madame, madame—we shall all be killed, we're all going to get killed!"

"Maria," I advised as quietly and soothingly as I could, still stooping over my trunk; "don't be so mad, get a lifebelt on, and get up out of here."

Before she could speak again she was a dead woman. A shot carried away the port-hole and sheared off the top of her head. It finished its course by exploding at the other side of the ship. If I had not been stooping over at the time I would not have lived to write this story.

I snatched up my little jewel-basket with a few favorite trinkets in it. I put on my cap and sweater. When I got up on deck I saw the submarine carefully circumnavigating its victims and deliberately shooting toward us at all angles. I ran along the deck. The sea was full of deck rails, parts of doors, and other wreckage, and dotted with human beings, some dead, others alive, and screaming for help. There was another boat in front that tilted and dumped out its frantic load into the sea. Peering over the side of the ship, I saw a boat that had already been lowered to the water's edge. In it I recognized the two ship's doctors, and two of the seamen. There was also an officer in the boat, Carlo Lamberti, the chief engineer. He sat at the helm. I called out to them to take me in.

[148]

"Jump!" they shouted back.

I threw my basket down. I had a good twenty-foot drop. I have always been a good swimmer. Furthermore, I saw that if I jumped into the boat, crowded with people, sails, water-barrels, and pails for bailing, I might cause it to capsize. So I told them to push the boat away and then they could pick me up out of the water.

I escaped with a ducking.

An immigrant girl who followed me flung herself down wildly and broke both her legs on the side of the ship.

We were powerless to save any more. The ship might at any moment receive the final torpedo from the submarine. The sailors rowed madly to get out of danger.

Then the torpedo was discharged. It whizzed across the ship, drawing a tail behind it like a comet. It plunged beneath the Ancona as if guided by a diabolical intelligence of its own. There followed a terrific explosion. Huge jets of thick black smoke shot up, with showers of débris. Our boat rocked and swayed in the roughened water. The Ancona lurched to the left, righted herself, shivered a moment—then her bow shot high in the air like a struggling, death-stricken animal. She went under, drawing a huge, funnel-like vortex after her.

The Captain and some officers were the last to drop astern, in a small boat. Passengers were still to be seen, clinging forward, like ants on driftwood, as the ship was drawn down. There were many people wounded, so that they could not get off unaided. They were left to die.

The sea now looked absolutely empty, swept smooth. The ship had drawn everything down with it. The fog undulating upward, the submarine was seen lying in full view, as if in quiet Teutonic contemplation of what it had done. Then it moved off, and was soon merged into[149] the waste of sea and fog. We felt a great relief when it had departed.

IV—SURVIVORS DRIFTING ON THE OCEAN

All that afternoon our six surviving boats drifted within sight of each other. When darkness fell large yellow lanterns were lit, and from time to time Bengal lights flared and fell. It looked like a regatta held on the River Styx, in Hell. The sailors had exhausted themselves rowing, so the improvised sails were set. The boat-loads of survivors had run the gamut of every emotion. They were now mere stocks of insensibility, numb, dumb, and inert.

At six in the afternoon a boat just behind us began sending us signals of distress. The men had taken off their shirts and were waving them to us on oars. Our sailors objected to turning back, saying that both boats would be sunk if we tried to relieve them. But Carlo Lamberti, the chief engineer, with a quiet look in his blue eyes, with a rather careless, engaging smile, which was habitual to him all the time, presented his revolver—and we went back to see what was wrong.

We found that the boat had been struck by a shell and was leaking badly. True enough, most of the people in it tried to make an immediate stampede into our boat. But again Lamberti presented his eloquent pistol and his quiet smile, and with order and precision we took aboard the wounded, the women, and children. Then the leaky craft was tied to our stern and the men left were easily able to keep it afloat by bailing.

"We'll save you, or go down with you!" Lamberti reassured them. This chief engineer was the only man who showed signal bravery.

One of the first of the wounded rescued from the leaky[150] boat was my former companion, the Marquis Serra Cassano. He did not wish to join in the incipient stampede. With four toes of his foot shot away, he rose limpingly to assist the other wounded into our boat first, before he himself came in. Then with an air of pathetic aristocracy he seated himself by me, and wanted to know if any one had a cigaret to spare. We had four cigarets on the boat. The men took turns puffing them.

A frantic mother had dropped her baby in the water. I jumped out and rescued it. Later on, she got separated from it, and I had it in my charge for several days—but that is not in the present story.

We kept close watch on each other's boats till nightfall. As the other five would appear and disappear, we would be alternately cheered and frightened.

It must have been nearly midnight when one of our sailors cried out that he saw a ship's light. But for a long while nothing appeared but thin threads of light that filtered through the fog. After some discussion as to whether it might not be an enemy craft, we approached the direction of the light, till it burst on us in a powerful, searching blaze. And we discerned the other boats converging toward it, mere moving yellow splurges in the gloom.

The ship that was rescuing us was a French mine layer, the Pluton. It was hellish-looking, as it beetled over us, but none the less it looked like heaven, too!

And now our boat-loads of survivors were close together, and suddenly everybody grew voluble and chatty. We shouted across the water to each other. I even heard a voice singing. We were saved! We were saved!


[151]

THE STRATEGY OF SISTER MADELEINE

The Story of a French Captain's Escape from the Germans

Told by himself, and translated by G. Frederic Lees

Few men who have succeeded in slipping through the clutching fingers of the Mailed Fist have such a moving record of adventure to their credit as Captain X——, who here relates his remarkable experiences. There is the true Stevensonian flavor in some of the episodes narrated; and at the same time the story has real historical value, since it opens with a graphic account of the Battle of Charleroi, which has not yet been described by the French Staff, or by any of the unofficial historians of the war. The officer's name is suppressed in deference to his own request when he related his experiences in the Wide World Magazine.

I—MY EXPERIENCES AT THE BATTLE OF CHARLEROI

In relating my adventures, extending over more than fifteen months, I cannot do better than begin with the starting-point of the whole affair—the Battle of Charleroi. To describe the events which grouped themselves around August 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th, 1914, seems like telling old news, but, as a matter of fact, the gigantic struggle named after the Belgian town of ironworks and mines has yet to be recorded. The French Staff has published nothing, unofficial historians—eager to be the first to place their researches before the public—have only given general and often erroneous descriptions of the advance of Von Kluck, Von Buelow, and Von Hausen against Sir John French's forces on the Condé-Mons-Binche line and[152] the Fifth French Army holding the line of the Sambre, and the newspaper accounts are sometimes contradictory.

I am not going to weary you with military technicalities; we will leave questions of strategy and tactics alone and direct our attention to the battlefield as seen from two points of view: that of myself, an officer in the French Army, and that of an inhabitant of Charleroi, with whom I was later thrown into contact, and by whose observations, made from the roof of his house, I was fortunate in benefiting.

Picture to yourself the sinuous Sambre, flowing in its deep bed through the densely-populated suburbs of Charleroi and the southern end of this formerly fortified town. The town itself, imprisoned by its walls, is but a small place of some thirty thousand inhabitants, but the population is swelled to five hundred thousand by the contiguous suburbs of Montigny, Couillet, Marcinelle, Gilly, Châtelet, Marchiennes, Roux, Jumet, Gosselies, and others which cluster around the ancient nucleus and stretch principally northwards. To fight a battle on such a ground as this was impossible, so the German forces, descending from the north and the east in unknown hundreds of thousands, determined to make for the open-wooded country which lies beyond the southern suburbs of the town. Two tremendous obstacles stood in their way—the closely-packed houses of the suburbs and the strongly-held river. The inhabitants soon learnt to their cost how the first of these was to be overcome. Suddenly, shortly after the appearance of the advance-guard of the German army, violent explosions were heard, accompanied by the pop! pop! pop! of machine-guns and the discharge of musketry. The Huns were blasting a broad way through the suburbs, setting fire to the houses, and—under pretense that they were being fired upon by civilians—shooting the people down in their[153] houses and in the streets. Right through the quarters of Gosselies and Jumet they penetrated; then branched off to the right and left, one band of incendiaries reaching the river through Marchiennes, the other cutting its way through the town and reaching the bridge which connects Montigny and Couillet. These two points were where the enemy first succeeded in crossing the Sambre. Later, when we had begun our retreat southwards, owing to pressure from Von Hausen's army massed in the Northern Ardennes, they crossed at two other places, east of Charleroi. Thus, on Sunday, August 23rd, the preliminaries of the great battle were carried out.

South of the river the ground rises gently until it reaches the wooded heights in the neighbourhood of Beaumont, Thuillies, Nalinnes, and Somzée. I was stationed at the first of these places—a little village on high ground, with a commanding view of the green countryside. Who would have thought, but for the deafening roar of cannon, the incessant rattle of the machine-guns, the occasional whir of an aeroplane overhead, and the puffs and rings of white smoke high in air, that we were looking on a battlefield? How empty it was! We could see from the flashes of the carefully-hidden guns whence death was springing; but in the early stages of the struggle only small bodies of the enemy, whose greenish-grey uniforms mingled well with the verdure, were from time to time visible. At night, however, it was different. The red glare of burning villages and farms, set on fire by shells, lit up the sky and provided a terrifying spectacle, night after night, for the anxious watchers of Charleroi.

II—"WE MOWED THEM DOWN WITH MACHINE GUNS"

As the Germans advanced and the battle raged from[154] morning to night, it became more and more evident that we were hopelessly outnumbered. Possessing an advantage, however, in being on high ground, it was clear that we could hold out for a considerable length of time and make the enemy pay dearly for every yard of ground we had to give away. When once the greenish-grey uniforms began to appear in any considerable number, they came on in solid masses, which we mowed down, time after time, by rifle and machine-gun fire and by showers of shrapnel from our "75's." But others quickly filled their places, and thus the human tide advanced, until at last the order had to be given for the retreat. This was on August 25th, by which date, after the enemy had been obliged to suspend operations for twenty-four hours to collect the wounded, they had lost over forty thousand men.

Ah! les gredins! how well they deserved their fate for the shooting down of peaceful citizens in Charleroi and the unspeakable crimes committed in the communes on the wooded heights of Loverval, Acoz, Montigny-le-Tilleul, and Somzée! With what satisfaction our small detachments, hidden in the woods, let the German scouts pass on in order to open fire at close quarters on the masses of troops which followed! They paid, then, for the outrages perpetrated by the Uhlans. You ask for an instance. Here is one which was related to me by my friend of Charleroi—he who viewed the battle from his house-top, and afterwards explored the battlefield to come face to face with this grim picture. A typical instance of Teutonic cruelty, I give it in his own words: "A little way out of the village of Somzée was a small farm inhabited by a young household, including three small children. Honest, courageous, and economical folk, they had toiled season after season to pay by annual instalments for their property, which they had agreed to[155] purchase some eight years ago. The last payment had just been made; the children were growing up; the little family was happy. But the German monsters came. In a few minutes this hardly-earned happiness was shattered. The Boches seized everything—the few cows, the dearly-loved horse. They set fire to the farm, shot the farmer, and drove before them, into the distance, the poor widow with her four weeping and terrified children. What a sinister picture it makes! It was at the close of a splendid August day. The little isolated farm is burning. A few yards from the door the dead man is lying on his back. On the side of the hill which descends to the main road are the silhouettes of the Uhlans disappearing in the gathering darkness of night. Tongues of flame on the horizon mark places where similar dramas had been enacted."

"Now, then, boys, let them have it hot. Pick off the gunners one by one. Marcel, Gustave, François, do you keep an eye on the officers. Ah, les gredins! we'll teach them!"

It was the day after the battle of Charleroi, and whilst our troops were retiring in good order, my men and I, after the fashion of many other small detachments, were holding a German battery in check. So near were we to the enemy that we could hear the harsh, guttural commands of the artillery officers—so different from the tone of camaraderie we adopt towards our men in the truly democratic army of France—and could see them, though indistinctly, urging on their men to the attack. From our trenches on a wooded knoll on the outskirts of Beaumont, we kept up a steady fire on those who were serving the guns, around which the Boches, falling like flies, quickly began to accumulate in heaps. Fresh men incessantly replaced those who had fallen, who at last lay in such numbers that the officers, in order to make room for the gunners, had the dead dragged away to the rear[156] by the feet. Company after company of men fell in this way until the German officers, who had either been shot or had decided to withdraw, could be heard no more. A lull occurred. Bringing my glasses to bear on the battery, I could see no sign of life save the convulsive movements of a few of the prostrate men around the guns.

"It looks as though they had had enough," said I, to my friend Marcel, a private who comes from the same place as myself—Loctudy, in Brittany. "I wonder if we could capture those guns?"

Before he had time to answer a hurricane of bullets came from a hidden machine-gun, and one of them found its billet. My poor friend, shot through the head, fell into my arms. We laid him gently down, thinking of the sad news that would have to be broken to a sorrowing mother at home, and then, anger mingling with regret in our hearts, once more directed our attention to the invisible enemy, in whose direction we hastened to send our compliments in the form of a stream of prunes. Overhead we could hear the humming of one of our aeroplanes, and through an opening in the tree-tops momentarily caught sight of it as it moved over the German lines, reconnoitering. Rings of smoke from bursting shrapnel broke far beneath it. Its mission over, it moved swiftly back to our lines, and within ten minutes Marcel and many other brave fellows were avenged. Our "75's" got the range of the battery in front of us with marvellous exactitude, and for five minutes poured upon it such a rain of shells as to make it seem impossible that anything could live within a distance of a hundred yards. The dead around the guns were scattered like chaff in a high wind. A great silence followed that series of violent explosions. For five minutes, in accordance with orders, the men were busy cutting steps with their entrenching tools in our trench, so as to spring out of it quickly and[157] proceed to capture the guns. Caution prompted another five minutes' wait, during which there was not a sign of life before us.

"Now, then, mes gars! time's up," I cried, as loud as prudence would allow. "Fix bayonets! Out of the trench as nimbly as you can. Take cover, when in the open, as much as possible. Are you ready? Forward, for the sake of France!"

III—"DEAD ON THE FIELD OF HONOUR"

We advanced towards the guns at the pas de gymnastique and reached them without mishap. Some were too shattered by the recent bombardment to be of any further use, but others were still intact, and these, as it was difficult if not impossible for us to get them away in a retreat over a hilly wooded country, we determined to destroy. Ordering some of my men to do what was necessary, and as rapidly as possible, the others and I kept a sharp look-out. The enemy gave not a sign of life. The fuses having been attached to the breeches of the guns and lit, we began to retire whither we had come, but had hardly gone more than fifty yards, and heard the successive explosions of the guns blowing up, when, on looking over my shoulder, I saw a body of Germans emerge at a run from a coppice about two hundred yards to our right, and heard them open fire upon us. At the same time I felt a sharp, burning pain in my side; a curious sensation of intense weakness filled my being; and, with a vision of men falling to the ground with extended arms, I, too, bowed down, unconscious, to Mother Earth.

That night, as I afterwards learnt, I was posted as "dead on the field of honour." After eleven hours of oblivion, I came to myself in a German ambulance. My[158] first impression on recovering consciousness was that of hearing the gruff, peremptory voice of a German Herr Doktor at my bedside; my second, when he had passed on to another sufferer, that of seeing a sweet French face bending over me.

"Where am I?" I asked.

"Hush! the doctor says you must speak as little as possible," replied the nurse, in a French which I at once detected to be that of an educated person. "I will tell you all that you need know for the present. You are in our little ambulance at Erquelinnes, on the frontier between Belgium and France—a German ambulance. But fear not"—this in a lower voice—"my country is France, and I am not without influence, or I should not be here. Your wound, though serious, will get well in time. Only you must be sage, and obey me. There, now! Cela suffit! Try to get a little more sleep; the more rest you have the better."

It needed but the invitation, the sound of her soothing voice, like that of a tender mother speaking to her child, and especially those singularly calming words: "Fear not—my country is France," which seemed to wrap me within the protective folds of the tricolour, to send me back once more into that state of semi-unconsciousness which appears to transport one to the borderline between life and death. Loss of blood during those many hours while I had lain forgotten on the battlefield had, indeed, brought me to so weak a condition that, as my benefactress told me later, the doctor had hardly expected to pull me through. My wound was one of those which have been encountered so often in this war; it exhibited the curious vagaries of which bullets are capable. The projectile entered my right side, travelled along a downward, curved path, and, avoiding any of the vital organs, came out at the other side. A millimetre to right or left,[159] and it might have either killed or paralyzed me. As it was, the injury and loss of blood were serious, and could only be repaired by many weeks of immobility, coupled with skilled medical aid (and I must do the Herr Doktor the justice of recognizing that he was highly capable) and the devoted attention of my nurse. Ah! kindly benefactress of the ambulance of Erquelinnes, know, should you ever read my words, that I can never thank you enough for all you did for me. To have shown my gratitude too openly amidst the surroundings where your lot was cast—under what circumstances I have often tried to imagine—would have betrayed you. But, knowing how one French heart can understand another without the passing of words, I doubt not that you have long since comprehended the gratitude of the soldier of the Republic whom you befriended and saved.

IV—ON THE ARM OF SISTER MADELEINE

A month in bed brought me the period when I was declared out of danger, and was allowed to sit up in a chair near a window overlooking a little garden bright with hollyhocks and sunflowers. Then came the day when, leaning on the arm of Sister Madeleine—the name under which, she said, I was to know her—I took my first walk and descended into that garden, to lie there for the best hours of the day on a chaise longue, conversing with her, or, when she was occupied with other wounded, reading and reflecting. It was Sister Madeleine who told me of passing events. But, oh! how discreetly she broke the news of the triumphant march of the German armies southward to Dinant and westward to Maubeuge! It required no great psychological insight on my part to detect where her sympathies lay. Her looks when, the wind being favourable, the faint sound of cannon[160] reached us, the tone of her voice when France was named, her significant reticence on certain occasions, told me much more than actual words. One of these occasions stands out in my mind with particular prominence, owing to my having read in her words a warning, and conceived for the first time the idea of escape.

"The Herr Doktor is immensely pleased with the progress you are making, Captain X——," said Sister Madeleine, rising from my side to pluck some Michaelmas daisies from an adjoining border. "He says you may be allowed soon to take a little gentle exercise in the garden, and do a little gardening, too, if you are a flower-lover, as I doubt not. Are you inclined that way?"

"I shall be delighted to turn my hand to weeding and planting," I replied. "The garden indeed needs attention!"

"N'est ce pas? Poor Jean, our gardener, now with the French colours, would be heartbroken if only he could see the wilderness his little earthly paradise has become. How grateful he will be to you when he returns—if he ever should return after this dreadful war—and finds that someone has been tending his beloved chrysanthemums and dahlias. When the mobilization order reached him he was in the midst of potting slips of geranium in the tool and potting shed yonder"—motioning to a little wooden construction at the end of the garden—"and everything there is just as he left it. A heap of withered slips lies side by side with rows of empty flower-pots, whilst in a corner I saw his working-clothes, which he hastily changed before he came to the house to wish us good-bye and passed into the unknown."

"I must try to prove myself to be a worthy successor to the brave fellow," I said. "Don't you think, Sister Madeleine, that in one respect—my unkempt appearance—I shall not make a bad substitute?"

[161]

Walking back to me with her bouquet, she gave me a critical look and laughed. Certainly, no one at home would have recognized me as I now was, with my long beard and moustache and uncut hair. All at once her face became serious, and, without replying to my question, she said:—

"There is no reason why you should not start to-morrow. But don't do too much to begin with. Though I should like to have you here much longer, it would grieve me if that were the result of a relapse. You must get back your strength by degrees. And I fear you will need every ounce of it in the future. No; do rather too little than too much. I have no wish to hear that the Kommandatur at Charleroi, who, I understand, is showing great severity just now towards French prisoners, should decide that you have recovered sufficiently to be included in the next batch to be sent into Germany."

And with these significant words Sister Madeleine left me, to carry her flowers to the bedsides of her other patients, and, possibly, to allow me to reflect.

Was it not clear that, indirectly, she had indicated a means of escape? A feeling of quasi-loyalty towards those who had enabled her to nurse one of her countrymen back to health and strength prevented her from bluntly saying: "There is a tool-shed, in which you will find a suit of old clothes; disguise yourself in them and flee." But her meaning was plain. The key to freedom had been placed in my hands, and it was for me to use it.

V—"I PLAN TO ESCAPE DISGUISED AS THE GARDENER"

I began pottering about the hollyhocks and sunflowers and dahlias the very next morning, taking care to alternate my spells of gardening with fairly lengthy rests, on[162] the principle laid down by Sister Madeleine. Not that they were altogether unnecessary in my still weak state. However, my strength returned with remarkable rapidity, after the first week of this light work, and every additional day found me more fit to carry out my plan, the details of which I had ample opportunity of working out. The garden was surrounded by a high wall of irregular construction, thus affording a foothold to a skilful climber, whose task could be made still easier if he chose—as I had determined to do—that portion of the enclosure which was masked by the tool-shed, between the back of which and the wall was a space of about a foot and a half, providing an additional support for one's body. My resemblance to Jean, the gardener, had, by the by, become more and more perfect, thanks to work with spade and hoe, and perhaps, at times, owing to rather too close contact with the soil. That it would be perfection itself when I had donned his garb, at the close of an afternoon's work just before turning-in time, I felt convinced.

There was another thing of which I was certain: that Sister Madeleine instinctively knew the day and hour I had fixed for my flight. For she was so unusually silent on that day in the last week of October, when, according to my calculations, there would be no moon until late in the night, she was so serious in her mien, and she left me with such suddenness after advising me to come in, "now that the sun had set and the evenings were getting chilly," that I felt sure she comprehended.

"Thank you, Sister Madeleine," I replied; and I could not refrain from adding, in the hope that she would grasp my double meaning: "You have always given me such good advice. I shall never forget your kindness. But before coming in I must put away my tools."

Without daring to look her in the face, I turned down the path in the direction of the tool-shed. Five minutes[163] later I left it, dressed in the gardener's earth-stained clothes, passed like a shadow to the rear of the building, and was over the wall in a trice.

I found myself in a field, and having not the slightest idea regarding the geography of Erquelinnes, went straight ahead at full speed. A quarter of an hour's steeplechasing across ditches and other natural obstacles brought me to a high road, and confronted me with the dilemma as to which way to turn. Without losing a moment's time, for I pictured the hue and cry my disappearance would soon be causing, I made off to the left. Fausse route! In five minutes I came within sight of the lights of the first house of a village, undoubtedly Erquelinnes itself. With a vague idea at the back of my head of gaining the Franco-Belgian frontier, and—avoiding all small places, where curiosity is most rife—reaching Maubeuge, where I might find an asylum among my own people until an opportunity presented itself of getting back to the French lines, I struck off to the right, once more across open country. The dark cloak of night had now fallen, making my progress necessarily slow. On and on I crept in the darkness. How long I continued I cannot say, but it must have been for several hours, for a great weariness suddenly came over me and impelled me to seek sleep. What was apparently a small wood lay in my path at that moment. Groping my way from bole to bole, I divined, rather than saw, a dry and sheltered spot under the trees, and, throwing myself down, quickly fell asleep, amidst the calling of the night-jars.

VII—"HANDS UP—OR I SHOOT"

I cannot tell you how long I slumbered—probably until two or three o'clock in the morning. But I was awakened by the sound of the snapping of dry twigs and muffled[164] voices. I sprang to my feet and listened. Nearer and nearer came the stealthy footsteps. I retired as cautiously as I could; but though I trod ever so lightly, it was impossible to avoid the crackling of dead wood, which seemed to my hypersensitive ears like so many pistol-shots. Even the thumping of my heart appeared audible. One curious thing, however, I noticed: whenever, after a noisy retreat, I stopped to listen, there was a corresponding stoppage and a long silence on the part of my pursuers. But, thought I, was it at all certain they were in pursuit? Would they not, in that case, have come on with a rush? "Suppose I crouch down and run the risk of them passing without seeing me?" I thought. Whilst I was reflecting; with my back to what was apparently a fairly large tree, those who were advancing, emboldened by the silence which had intervened, came on with hastened steps, and got so near that I could hear their heavy breathing. I stepped quickly behind my tree, but too late to serve my purpose, for the next moment a stern voice rapped out an oath almost in my ear and a flash of light from an electric torch struck me full in the face.

"Hands up, or I shoot!" said the voice. "Who are you?"

"A Frenchman," I replied, obeying the command and deciding, on the spur of the moment, that one who spoke to me in my native tongue could hardly be an enemy. "And in need of help."

"Good thing you're not a Pruscot, mate, or you'd have been a goner. In need of help, are you? So are we. Aren't we, mes vieuz?"

This last remark was addressed to the speaker's two companions, whose indistinct forms I could now make out.

"Very well," continued the speaker, slipping the revolver[165] with which he had covered me into his pocket, "I take it to be a bargain. One good service deserves another. You help us with some of these parcels, and we'll help you. I'm not going to ask you too many questions, and we don't expect you to be over inquisitive about our business. C'est compris? But if we're to get there and back before light we must be off. Come on!"

Taking two of the heavy packages which they were transporting, I followed them. In a flash, I saw that I had fallen in with a party of smugglers, who still continued to ply their calling in the neighbourhood of Erquelinnes and other villages on the frontier between Belgium and France. Men of nondescript nationality, though hating the Teuton with all the ardour of a Frenchman or a Belgian, and ready, if a favourable opportunity offered, to rid the world of every Boche who fell into their power, they made it their business to be on friendly terms with the Prussian officers who were in authority on the frontier. Many favours, in the early months of the war, could they obtain from them, in return for a discreetly-offered gift, such as a box of cigars, or a pound or two of tobacco. When taking any important consignment of goods to and fro between their dépôts on the road from Maubeuge to Charleroi, they had, of course, to resort to the traditional methods of their calling; and it was whilst on one of these nocturnal expeditions that I had encountered them.

VIII—THE FORGED PAPERS—TO SAFETY

They were rough individuals, but loyal to their word. Feeling that I could not be in safer company, I threw in my lot with theirs for nearly a fortnight, hiding by day in the cottage of their leader, on the outskirts of a village "somewhere in France," but not far from Erquelinnes,[166] and assisting them at night in carrying their goods along the little-known paths which intersect the Franco-Belgian frontier. Bit by bit I told mine host my tale. He was touched as much as you could expect a hardened smuggler to be, swore eternal friendship over an excellent bottle of wine, and promised that on the very next day he would bring me a surprise.

He was as good as his word. Out of his pocket he drew a paper—a duly-signed and stamped pass, obtained from the Prussian officer at the frontier village of ——, authorizing the bearer to cross into Belgium without let or hindrance. He did more than this: he gave me the name and address of a confederate at Charleroi, who would furnish me with the means of effecting my escape viâ Holland.

I crossed the frontier, wheeling a barrow belonging to a friendly peasant, who went daily to a bit of land he possessed on Belgian territory.

My twenty-mile walk to Charleroi, and a stay of a week in that city, were uneventful. On leaving, my smuggler's friend gave me a useful introduction to a person in Brussels, whence, with a little borrowed money in my pocket, I set off, towards the end of November. The train was still running the four miles between Charleroi and Gosselies. The thirteen miles to Nivelles I covered on foot; the eighteen miles past Waterloo and over ground every yard of which recalled memories of Napoleon and the closing scenes of the Hundred Days I traversed by train again.

The long sojourn which I was destined to make in Brussels was uneventful compared to my late experiences. There I obtained papers certifying that I was a Belgian commercial traveller, but discretion, you will readily understand, forbids me going into details. Oh, no; I did not put those forged papers to too severe a test by use.[167] As much as possible, I sought to remain hidden in the terrorized city, and to slip out of it for Malines and the villages near the Dutch frontier, without showing my papiers any more than was absolutely necessary.

The frontier between Belgium and Holland is of so serrated a nature that at the time of which I am speaking it was comparatively easy for a hunted man like myself to cross into neutral territory. To do so now would be almost impossible, so well do the Germans guard the irregular line, the configuration of which is such that it is difficult, in places, to tell whether you are in Holland or in Belgium. Fortunately, I had come into contact with a person who was expert in getting young Belgians across the frontier into Holland, and he agreed to help me.

Here, again, I cannot—on account of those who risked their lives in befriending me—go into too many details. Suffice it to say, that on the evening of my escape from the frontier village of A—— I was instructed to walk to a certain milestone, where I should find a man with a red muffler, sitting on a heap of stones.

There, sure enough, I found him—an elderly man with his hands folded over the top of his stick, his chin resting on his hands, and his eyes gazing innocently into the gathering dusk.

As I passed him I uttered the word "Belgica," which I had been told to pronounce, and keep on, without once turning my head.

Very soon I heard his footsteps and the tap, tap of his stick. He overtook me with alert step, and on reaching me, said: "Follow me."

We shot off from the main road into a small winding pathway, which we followed for some fifty yards. Then, suddenly stopping, the man in the red muffler exclaimed: "Holland!"

No word ever before sounded to me so sweet as that.[168] Overcome by the thought that once more I was standing on free ground—that I had but to follow the pathway on which I stood to reach a Dutch village—and that the journey thence to a port and my beloved France viâ England, was but a question of time, I remained for a few seconds lost in reverie. At last, mastering my emotion, I prepared to set off before darkness completely enveloped the wild landscape which surrounded me. Before putting my best foot foremost, however, I was seized with a desire to thank the man who had guided me there, so I turned half-round to press his hand. To my surprise, however, I found that he had disappeared, and that only the gleam of his red muffler marked his progress down the path.


[169]

TALES OF THE SPIES AND THEIR DANGEROUS MISSIONS

Revelations of Methods and Daring Adventures

Told by Secret Service Men of Several Countries

It is estimated that more than a hundred thousand spies and agents have been in the service of the various countries during the War. Several thousand have been captured and several hundred have been executed. The German spy system in the United States alone was a powerful organization at the beginning of the war. But the American Secret Service, one of the greatest organizations of its kind in existence, thwarted their plots, interned them in large numbers, and drove such men as Boy-Ed and von Papen from our shores. The interception of the Zimmerman note to Mexico, the revelations of the Swedish duplicity in Argentine, the discovery of Bolo, the French financier, the plots in India—and hundreds of others have been exposed by the genius of the United Secret Service. Most of these stories cannot be told until long after the War, but a few of them, gathered from American and European sources, are told here.

I—HOW THE SPIES WORK IN EUROPE

The extraordinary ingenuity shown by spies in securing the plans of other countries' fortifications has been amply illustrated in the war, although, of course, we know but a little part of what the spies have accomplished.

A woman was caught at the French frontier seeking to enter Switzerland and presumably intending to return to Germany or Austria. She was thoroughly searched by a matron, as is customary in such cases, but nothing was found.

[170]

Certain actions of hers, however, had given rise to serious suspicions, and one of the cleverest officers of the French Secret Service was detailed to examine her. He applied several tests to her. He finally obtained what he wanted by seating her, in an undraped condition, tied to a chair, before a warm fire.

"Brutes, you are going to burn me alive!" she shrieked as she was forced into a chair.

"Be calm, madame," said the officer. "We only want to admire your beautiful back."

There appeared on the ample back of this fair-haired lady an elaborate design. To the experienced eye of the officer it represented a plan of one of the most important French fortresses. The number of guns, their sizes and positions were shown. The angles, sallies and extent of the fortifications were clearly indicated. The weak spots in the defense were made clear. This fortress had been entirely made over since the outbreak of the war, and it was of vital importance to the Germans to know its present arrangements.

A German spy in France, evidently a man with military knowledge, had obtained access to the fortress, but there was but slight chance of his getting home with his knowledge. He had, therefore, used the young woman as an innocent looking agent.

The master spy had traced the plans on her back with sulphate of copper. This liquid leaves no mark on the skin under normal conditions, but when exposed to considerable heat it shows up dark blue. For further secrecy, it is stated, the plan of the fortress was concealed within another design in the manner described by General Sir Robert Baden-Powell. He carried with him an illustrated book on butterflies and from this he made what would appear to be specimens of butterflies seen in the surrounding country. Then when he had obtained the[171] details of a fortress he drew them in among the complicated markings on the wings of the butterfly. There they would escape notice by any but the most expert "spy trappers."

Miss Sari Petrass, the beautiful Hungarian dancer, who was for some time a great favorite in London, is reported to have been shot in Budapest as a spy. She is supposed to have been engaged in gathering military information in her native country for the benefit of England, where she made her greatest artistic success.

When war began, the actress was starring in "The Marriage Market," a Hungarian operetta, at Daly's Theatre in London. She immediately returned to Budapest, but instead of continuing on the stage began a round of social activities.

She wrote letters to the British army authorities, it is charged, which were sent by way of Switzerland in the in the care of young Austrian officers, who had been beguiled by her charms. It is said she was betrayed by one of her dupes in a fit of jealousy. Although an actress, she had a high social position and was a niece of the Countess Ilka Kinsky, one of the most prominent members of the Austro-Hungarian nobility.

Miss Petrass, according to the report which reached her friends in Cleveland, Ohio, was put to death immediately her acts were discovered. When taken to the place of execution she fainted and was unconscious when shot. The announcement of her execution was the first news her family had of the charges against her.

The method of concealing plans of fortifications on the skin of a spy, already referred to, has been employed with many variations. In time of war or when suspicion of spies is very keen, it is likely to be very useful. Then, again, women are usually called upon to carry this kind[172] of information, because they are less subject to suspicion and watchfulness.

Tattooing plans on a woman's skin has often been resorted to in past wars, but the anti-spy officers are now so keen that this way is no longer reliable. Various forms of writing on the skin, which only become visible under certain conditions, have, therefore, been tried. One form of this has already been mentioned. Plans and messages are also written in nitrate of silver, which becomes visible and black on exposure to sunlight. The writing is also done with phosphorus, so that it is only visible in the dark, but that lasts a few hours only.

Women have shown extraordinary ingenuity in carrying information during the present war. One wore a large pair of pearl earrings, which, when examined, proved to be stuffed with long messages. Another had a little woolly pet dog, whose tail was found to be artificial and filled with military plans. Another carried a message scratched on the plate of her false teeth.

When it has been found impossible for a human spy to reach a fortress, birds have been employed. Carrier pigeons are fitted with miniature cameras fastened across their breasts by exceedingly fine wires. These are fitted with a time lock which ensures their exposure at a certain time.

The pigeons are released by spies at a place from which they will be sure to fly over the fortress on their way home. A pigeon flies in circles on its journey, and it is certain that during part of its flight over the fortress the camera shutter will be released. A series of pictures taken in this way will give a very complete plan of the defenses to the enemy.

Although immediate execution follows the discovery of a spy or perhaps even the suspicion of espionage, thousands of persons are found willing to undertake the[173] work during this war. It has been truly said that the highest form of heroism is to undertake spy duty for one's country. Nothing can be more awful than the fate of the spy caught and executed amid the hate and fear of the thousands who surround him. Many photographs sent from the seat of war show how the European armies make the death of the spy terrible.

The Germans are universally admitted to be more skilful spies than the British, and yet Gen. Baden-Powell performed some remarkable spying tricks. He tells how he got into a new German dockyard and made observations under the nose of several policemen:

"Inside a great, high wall lay a dockyard, in which, it was rumored, a new power house was being erected, and possibly a dry dock was in course of preparation.

"The scaffolding of the new house towered above me, and a ladder led upward on to it. Up this I went like a lamplighter, keeping one eye on the corner of the building lest I should be followed.

"Presently I found a short ladder leading from my platform to the stage below, but it did not go to the ground. Peering quietly over the scaffolding, I saw my friend the policeman below, still at fault. I blessed my stars that he was no tracker, and therefore had not seen my footmarks leading to the foot of the ladder.

"Then I proceeded to take note of my surroundings and to gather information. Judging from the design of the building, its great chimneys, etc., I was actually on the new power-house. From my post I had an excellent view over the dockyard, and within one hundred feet of me were the excavation works of the new dock, whose dimensions I could easily estimate.

"All these duties (of espionage) are subdivided among agents of every grade, from Ambassadors and their attachés downward. Naval and military officers are sent[174] to carry out special investigations by all countries, and paid detectives are stationed in likely centres to gather information."

The General further says that the military information that a country voluntarily gives to a foreign attaché is usually of little value, and therefore he must take secret means to inform himself.—(Told in New York American.)

II—STORY OF MLLE. MATA HARI, DUTCH-JAVANESE DANCER

The story of Mata Hari, the beautiful dancing girl, who as a German spy discovered the information about the British "tanks" before they arrived at the Battle of the Somme, is one of the most romantic of the War. She was found guilty of espionage and condemned to death by a military court martial presided over by Col. Sempron.

"Accused did wilfully and maliciously, and against the interest of la Patrie, communicate information of military value to the enemy concerning our offensive of the summer of 1916," read the verdict that sent her to a cell in Saint Lazare Prison awaiting the dawn which means her death.

"Eye-of-the-Morning" is English for the Javanese pet name "Mata-Hari"—the stage name of Mme. Marguerite Gertrude Zelle Macleod, first known in Paris, and latterly all over Europe, as a dancer whose specialty was the representing of Far-Eastern legends and fables according to the terpsichorean art....

One of the most important and spectacular events of the only Allied offensive of 1916 was the appearance in action of the newest engine of war—the so-called tank. As with any innovation, the success of the tank depended[175] largely on the element of surprise attaching to its debut. Therefore, the strictest secrecy marked the planning, the construction, and the shipment of tanks to the Somme, where they first went into action. But of course a certain number of people in England and in France knew about the tanks—or "creme-de-menthes" as they were first called in Paris because each one is named like a ship and one called after the famous green liqueur. It took a good many months to construct the first fleet, and a good many weeks to train the first crews to stand the jerky, rolling, pitching, lumbering gait of the mobile forts. During that period the circle of people "in the know" increased, and Mata-Hari was one of those who heard about the curious landships.

Where Mata-Hari obtained her first tip on the tanks has not yet been disclosed. And that is one reason why the "memoirs" which she is writing in her cell at Saint Lazare prison are being awaited with fear and anxiety by at least one person, and with the liveliest interest by the world at large.

It is rumored that a Deputy inadvertently gave her the first information about tanks. And the rumor is strengthened by the fact that Mata-Hari had plenty of coal for her apartment during the fuel famine in winter. That in itself is proof enough to everybody of her intimacy with some high official, as few people short of Deputies had influence enough to obtain a hundredweight of coal during the bitter months of January, February and March.

In any event, Mara-Hari learned vaguely of tanks early in 1916, when the Krupp guns of the Crown Prince were daily booming nearer and nearer to Verdun in that terrific struggle which was to mark the turning point of the war. Mata-Hari also learned that the tanks were being constructed in England and would be shipped to[176] France viâ certain ports—and she got the names of the ports.

Then Mata-Hari decided she must return to her native country, Holland. For, with all her Javanese appellation, she was born near Rotterdam, although it is true she went to the Dutch East Indies when a tiny child. She gave as reason for going to Holland the fact that she had married a Dutch army officer with a Scotch name—Capt. Macleod, that they had divorced, and she wished to arrange a settlement of their common property.

Her passports were made out, and safe conducts granted for a trip to Holland, viâ England, of course, as that is the only way to get into the Low Countries from the Allied side.

Mata-Hari went to England. But before she proceeded to Holland, as Secret Service agents of the British and French Governments ascertained, she visited a certain English manufacturing city, where, it so happened, the tanks were being constructed.

Evidently Mata-Hari did not find out much about the tanks there, as not a man connected with their construction ever passed through the gates of the high brick wall which surrounded the factory during the six months that the first "fleet" was building. The men were boarded, entertained and employed here continually. Every letter they sent out or received was subjected to the most rigorous censorship.

The dancer proceeded to Rotterdam. Investigation there has since proved that she had no "communal rights property" to settle with any one, and further that Capt. Macleod of the Dutch Army was known among his fellow officers as pronouncedly pro-German.

Soon Mata-Hari returned to Paris. She was seen at the Café de Paris and at Maxim's, and at Armenonville in the Bois with an English officer who wore on the[177] lapel of his collar, an insignia denoting his branch of service, a little twisted brass dragon. Months later, when more of these badges were seen on British officers passing through Paris, it became known that the dragon was of the official insignia denoting service with the tanks.

Mata-Hari sported a new bauble soon after taking up with the Englishman—a jewelled replica of his gold insignia—her dragon had real emeralds for eyes, and a carrot-shaped ruby for a tongue darting from its opened fangs.

In May, 1916, a little more than a month before the Somme offensive opened and tanks were first used, Mata-Hari appeared before the police magistrate of her district and requested a safe conduct to visit a certain port in France. The reason she gave was that her fiance, an English officer, was seriously wounded and in hospital there. He had sent for her to come to see him. Perhaps they would be married at his deathbed if he could not recover, she volunteered, dabbing at her eyes with a lace handkerchief.

The safe conduct was made out, and Mata-Hari arrived at a certain French port almost simultaneously with the first consignment of tanks shipped over from England.

Now a tank of the early type was 35 feet long, 12 feet wide and 9 feet high, and the caterpillar tractors rumbling under it and over it and around it made a terrible din, attracting the attention of people for great distances around. And because of the weight of the tanks they could not be moved by rail, but had to travel under their own power. It was impossible, therefore, to wholly hide the monsters from inhabitants of that particular French port, and from the townspeople in the French villages through which they passed on the way to the Somme front. Of course most of the travelling was done by[178] night, and tarpaulins were always draped over the armed and armored behemoths.

But there did not seem to be much necessity for precautions, as nearly all of the inhabitants of the districts through which the tanks passed remained stolidly right there where they were. Few indeed were as lucky as Mata-Hari and able to get safe conducts to travel about. But then few were as beautiful and alluring as the dancer.

Mata-Hari remained in the French port for a week. She strolled about the town at night and explained to the hotel clerks that she could not sleep without taking a certain amount of exercise before retiring, and that after being accustomed to gay life in Paris, she was not tired until after midnight.

It was on June 1, exactly a month before Gens. Haig and Foch began their drive astride the Somme, that Mata-Hari returned to Paris. And the first thing she did was to apply for a visé on her passport permitting her to go to Spain. San Sebastian was the place she mentioned, as she explained she wished to attend the horse races there. Her papers were stamped and sealed and she left almost immediately for the fashionable winter resort in the south.

Madrid, Spain, and Nauen, Germany, are in constant wireless communication. There are other radio stations, privately owned in Spain, which can flash messages to Germany, according to Allied intelligence officers who have investigated. And of course there are innumerable German agents, spies and propaganda disseminators infesting the land of the Dons.

Secret Service reports disclose the fact that Mata-Hari was seen much in company at San Sebastian race track with a man long looked upon with suspicion by the French Government. He was a frequent caller upon her at the hotel where she stopped, and it was reported that he[179] made good many of the big bets she placed on horses that did not materialize as winners.

Soon Mata-Hari came back to Paris and the apartment near the Bois de Bologne. And once more the limousine owned by the individual whom rumor has branded a Deputy, began rolling up to her door twice a week and sometimes oftener.

Then came the simultaneous Franco-British offensive at the Somme. Tanks went into action for the first time, and according to Gen. Haig's official communique his "land ships achieved satisfactory results."

The tanks did achieve satisfactory results. More than that, they revolutionized offensive tactics on favorable terrain by advancing immune against rifle and machine gun bullets, or even against light trench mortars whose shells exploded at a touch. They smashed by sheer weight strong points and machine gun emplacements. They straddled trenches, enfilading the occupants and crushed in entrances to dugouts.

But several of the tanks were put out of action—and not by stray shells hurtling forward from far behind the German lines. They were knocked out by small calibre PENETRATION shells, fired from 37 millimetre trench cannons—the largest guns that can be handled from advanced positions. Guns specially built and rifled, and fired at high velocity and flat trajectory, so that, unlike any shell ever coughed up by a mortar, they penetrated the object struck—even though it were steel—before exploding.

Instantly it became evident that the enemy had become aware of what was in store for him and had constructed an "anti-tank" gun. And when the booty in the captured German positions was examined, the British found they had several good specimens of Krupp's newest weapon. Several German officers of higher rank taken prisoners[180] confirmed suspicions, by explaining they had received description of the tanks several weeks before, and had been instructed how to combat them.

Now Mata-Hari is awaiting death and writing as she waits. She is penning her memoirs rapidly, filling scores of pages a day in a polyglot of French, German, Dutch, Javanese, Japanese and even English, according to the mood she is in, says the prison warder.

And because she fears her history will not be finished before that unannounced daybreak when she will be placed blindfolded before the high stone wall facing a firing squad of French soldiers, she has ordered her lawyer, M. Edouard Clunet, to plead for a stay of execution.

So Mata-Hari writes feverishly, and all Paris waits eagerly—except the one who waits apprehensively—to see if she will name the "ami" who gave her the first inkling of the tanks.

Pinned to the corsage of the Empire-cut black silk dress which Mata-Hari wears in her narrow cell in Saint Lazare Prison is a curious gold brooch. It is shaped like a twisted dragon, and its eyes are emeralds and its darting tongue a carrot-shaped ruby.

"It will be there—right over my heart—when I go away—when I stand before those men with guns aimed to kill me," says Mata-Hari. (Told in the New York World.)

(Since these stories were written Mata-Hari has gone to her death blindfolded before the firing squad. She met her execution stoically.)

III—ADVENTUROUS LIFE OF MATA-HARI

This is told by a man who for obvious reasons will not allow his name to be used:

"I knew Mata-Hari in Paris. I called on her at her[181] home at Nieully-sur-Seine. The sinister character in Dumas' great romance was not more cunning or adventurous nor played for higher stakes than did Mlle. Mata-Hari. In many respects their histories should be printed in parallel columns. But I believe that for adventure, for cunning, for her great influence over the destiny of those with whom she came in contact, Mlle. Mata-Hari was more dreadful than 'Miladi.'

"Her father was a subject of the Netherlands and her mother was a Javanese. He died when she was an infant, and in order to protect her from the dangers which beset a young girl of mixed blood in the East her mother fled from Java with her when she was three years old and entered Burma. There, to further protect her, she pledged her to celibacy and placed her in a Buddhist temple to learn dancing. Then it appeared that her destiny would be not unlike that of thousands of other young girls in that country and similar in many respects to that of the old vestals of ancient Greece. In Burma these dancers are called bayadère.

"She told me that when she was twelve years old she was disgusted with life and was determined to change it or end it. After a dance at a great Buddhist festival in Burma, when she was about fourteen years old, she saw a British officer and fell in love with him. It was her first love affair. She managed to escape from the temple and joined him. This man was a baronet and loved her. Finally they married. Two children, a boy and a girl, were born of their union.

"I do not believe that she ever loved any man. It is certain that she did not love her husband. At any event, the monotonous life of a British official's wife was more than she could stand. The climax came when a maid whom she had beaten and discharged caused one of her gardeners to poison her infant son.

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"The tragic sequence and scandal which followed the death of her son still is remembered by old timers in India. She started an investigation of the killing independent of the British authorities, and finally, in her own mind, fixed the guilt on one of her gardeners. She took a revolver, and, walking into the garden where the man was working, shot him dead.

"She was arrested, but owing to the high position occupied by her husband everything possible was done to suppress the scandal. Finally she was told that she would have to leave British India. It was just what she wanted to do. She left her home in the night, stealing her daughter from her husband. She made her way to Marseilles and thence to Holland, where she placed her daughter in a convent. Then she went straight to Paris, where she learned that she was penniless, the small fortune which her father had left her having, under the Dutch law, passed to her child. Then she set about to captivate Paris. Not satisfied with her conquest, she went to Berlin, to Petrograd, to Vienna—she travelled over all Europe—and became one of the most talked of women on the Continent.

"She met many men. One of them was a wealthy German, who was a high official of the Berlin government. He bought a home for her at Nieully-sur-Seine and furnished it in a style that was representative of what was most truly Oriental splendor. There the two of them lived. It was there that I first saw her.

"Soon she tired of this German. He was extremely jealous of her. Always her art—her dancing—called to her. He would not let her dance. There were many 'scenes' at home. Her life was not happy, despite the wealth at her disposal.

"Then she met a one-time Minister of Finance, of[183] France, and, through him, his brother-in-law. He fell in love with her and she with him.

"This man was at that time the managing director of a great Paris bank. He deserted his wife and bought a magnificent château in Touraine. For two years they lived there. Then, one day, the police entered the bank and arrested the managing director. He was charged with embezzling the funds of the institution. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to two years at hard labor. The woman then went back to the German official at Neuilly-sur-Seine. They were living there when I left France four years ago." (Told in the New York Herald.)

IV—STORY OF EXECUTION OF SUSANNA RAYNAL

This is the story of a French young woman who was executed by the French military authorities in Bellegarde, the little Franco-Swiss frontier village.... Women have figured prominently as spies in every war. In this war their rôle has also been conspicuous. Some have betrayed their country for money, others have betrayed it for the love of adventure, and still others have betrayed it for the sake of love—following blindly the men who lead them astray along the fascinating and dangerous path of crime. This young woman was a victim of love.

Not a word has been written about her death. Not a sigh, not a tear, not a prayer from her friends and relatives. For they did not know what had become of her. The French newspapers did not record the end of this woman, who paid with her life for her daring, mad desire to help her Austrian lover, who sought to secure French military secrets.

Her name was Susanna Raynal. She was the wife of Louis Raynal, a lieutenant in the artillery of the French[184] army. She was twenty-eight years old when she was put to death. The husband, twelve years her senior, was at the front when she was shot. Her lover was shot with her. He broke down, quivering and crying hysterically while she kept bracing him up, repeating: "Have no fear! Have no fear!"

She begged the officers to have them shot together, not separately. She declined to be blindfolded, held her lover by the hand and kept murmuring "Have no fear! Have no fear!"...

Several weeks ago I met in Paris a distinguished French diplomatist with whom I discussed many incidents of the war. Our conversation turned to the many varieties of spies and provocateurs and to the motives that prompted them to betray their country.

Then he told me the story of this young woman who met her end so bravely at the French-Swiss frontier. There were tears in his voice as he related the details. For he knew the woman and he knew her husband.

"I was returning from London to Paris a few weeks ago," he said. "Just as we were reaching Boulogne, on the boat crossing the Channel, while I was in line in the dining room of the boat where the passports were being examined by the military officers, I heard behind me a familiar voice, whispering in German, 'Furchte doch nicht!' (Don't be afraid!)

"I turned and saw the wife of my friend, a French lieutenant who was at the front. She felt somewhat embarrassed when she noticed me, but immediately advanced toward me and introduced to me a tall young man of rather anti-pathetic appearance.

"'This is my husband's friend,' she said to me. 'He was kind enough to help me arrange my business affairs in London. Louis is at the front....'

"Upon our arrival in Paris she asked me to visit her[185] soon. She said she wanted me to advise her in a certain important matter, that she was alone now, that I could help her with letters of introduction, for which she would be most grateful. She urged me to visit her the following evening. I promised to call on her and bade her farewell.

"On the following evening, when I came to her house, her maid met me at the door and said that madam was expecting me for dinner an hour later. I asked her to tell Mme. Raynal that I had another engagement for dinner.

"A few minutes later Mme. Raynal came out. As I mentioned before, she was a beautiful young woman of about twenty-eight. She was most charmingly dressed. She greeted me warmly and begged me to stay for dinner. I told her I had another important engagement. She implored me to stay. She said she was alone, and that she wished to talk with me about a matter of great importance, in which she desired to enlist my aid. I said that I would call on her some other evening.

"Then she told me that she wished to visit friends in Switzerland, that she had some manuscripts of a literary character she wanted to take to them, and that she wished me to give her letters of introduction to several people, among them the Minister of War. I promised to call on her the following evening.

"As I bade her good night, she kissed me and begged me to break my other engagement and take dinner with her. I repeated that it was impossible. Then I left her. As I walked down the stairs, I noticed the tall young man I had met with her at Boulogne, going up in the elevator to her apartment. That seemed more than strange to me.

"The next morning I chanced to be lunching in a café where I occasionally met my friend, the head of the[186] secret police department. In the course of my conversation I told the peculiar story of the woman and the young man, without mentioning her name. The police chief listened intently and then said:

"'I think I know the woman. We are watching her. We are also watching the man closely. He is an Austrian. They seem to be engaged in a serious political conspiracy.'

"About two weeks later I met the head of the secret police department in the same café. He said to me:

"'Do you know what has happened to that woman—Susanna Raynal?'

"'I haven't seen her since then,' I replied.

"'You will never see her again,' he said. 'She has been shot.'

"And then he told me how the police had shadowed her and her lover, how some one who had made her acquaintance recently gave her a letter of introduction to the Ministry of War. She wanted to help the Austrian carry certain documents out of France and wished to get a special letter from the Minister of War permitting her to take what she called 'manuscripts' to her friends in Switzerland.

"She came to the Ministry of War with her lover. They were taken to a room, where they met an officer who told her that he would be glad to arrange the matter for her. Then the police did what is usually done in such cases. The officer walked out of the room for a short time, leaving on the table near them a number of important-looking documents. The man took some of these documents, and after the officer had returned and had given them the letter they asked for they went away.

"On the following day they reached Bellegarde, the Franco-Swiss frontier. They were searched, and the papers taken from the War Department were found on[187] the woman. Within one hour both were shot. She met her death bravely. She held the man by the hand and tried to brace him up. He was crying helplessly and hysterically....

"A few days ago I received information that Lieutenant Louis Raynal, the husband of the woman who was executed in Bellegarde, fell on the battlefield recently. He passed away without learning of the tragedy that had befallen his home.

"He died in defense of his fatherland, which his wife, through her blind love for a spy, had endeavored to betray. Perhaps as he was dying of his wounds, his last thoughts and prayers were for his home and for his wife." (Told by Herman Bernstein in the New York American.)

V—STORIES OF THE MILITARY SECRETS

The Paris papers contained a brief paragraph telling of a young girl, a milliner, in the neighborhood of Grenoble, who had been caught playing the spy for the Germans and sentenced to a long term of imprisonment.

"We don't shoot women spies any more," said a soldier from the Somme front to whom I spoke of the story. "There have been no women shot for a long time. They generally get about twelve years at hard labor."

"Are you as much troubled as ever by spies?" I asked.

He laughed. "As long as there is war there will be spies," he replied. "You can't stamp them out. The only thing you can do is to try to catch them. It was only a few weeks ago that we caught a woman spy on the Somme.

"You remember when we took Bouchavesnes? Well, there was not much left of the village when we got it. Our artillery had knocked it pretty well to pieces, but[188] we found an old woman there. She had remained all through the German occupation, and had even managed to hide and stay behind when all the rest of the civil population had evacuated. She was in a cellar during our bombardment, and when we went into the town she came out to welcome us, the only one of the original French inhabitants of the village remaining. As it was French again, she insisted on remaining. It was her home and she had succeeded in clinging on all the time the Germans were there. She saw no reason why she should go when the French came back into occupation.

"She stayed and did our washing for us. She was busy all the time, and every morning she would take the wet clothes out and spread them on the ground to dry. You could see soldiers' shirts and underwear all around the cellar where she lived, and hanging on all the posts and pieces of wall.

"The old woman pottered around and worked most industriously at her tubs. She always came out when there were troops going through the village and she would talk to the men, find out where they were going, where they came from and how long they expected to be there. And whenever she came out from her tubs she would go to her wash, lying out to dry, examine it, turn it over, rearrange it. She was a wonderful washwoman. It was a mania with her, having everything just right for the French soldiers, who had won back her home for her in France.

"But the Germans seemed to know every concentration of troops we made in that region. Their shells received us every time. We could not make a move that they did not know all about. We set three men to the special duty of finding out how the Germans got their information. The first thing they found out was that there were more air fights over Bouchavesnes than at any[189] other part of the line. There seemed to be always a Boche aeroplane hovering over the ruins. They decided that there must be something about Bouchavesnes which made it a particularly good observation point. As the old woman was the only thing that distinguished the place from any other ruined village, they arrested her.

"At first she denied everything, but the German accuracy in bombarding our concentrations ceased with her arrest. It does not take a long argument to convince a drumhead court-martial, and the old woman saw that the game was up. She then claimed to be French, and said that she had consented to spy for the Germans partly under threats, partly because her life had been spared by them, and partly because they had paid her well, and she had no other way of getting any money to live. Finally, she acknowledged that she was German and had been purposely left behind to spy when the Germans got out. She got twelve years at hard labor."


"Spies work all kinds of tricks. There was the old fellow who came back to his farm just behind the lines and started to do his fall ploughing with three horses, a red, a white and a black. He did his signalling by changing the position of the white horse in the team. He was easy to catch, as a team, especially a plough team, always works in the same order. Some of our men who were farmers noticed how he was constantly changing his horses about. They talked about it among themselves a bit and at last one of them spoke of it to an officer. The alleged farmer was investigated and shot.

"Spies are almost sure to get a certain length of time to do their work before they are caught. We ran across a blacksmith who was one of the most congenial fellows you ever met. He had his shop right beside one of the main roads used by the troops in going back and forth[190] to the trenches and he always had a stock of wine and something to eat. His shop did not keep him very busy and he was nearly always at his door. He would talk to the soldiers, give them a drink, ask where they were going and want to know how long they would be gone, so that he would be waiting to give them another glass of wine when they came back. He was very popular with the soldiers, because he was such a good fellow, always ready with a joke and a glass of wine.

"But our concentrations were known to the Boches. Our men were being shot down. We never could prepare anything in advance and bring it off successfully, because the Boches knew just where we were getting ready to do something. Some of our spy catchers got to work to find the leak. They hunted through the sector for the best place to pick up news about troop movements and they found, of course, that all the soldiers were friendly with the blacksmith. His shop was raided one day. He had been left behind by the Germans. He had a three months' store of wine and food in his cellar. Of course, he could give our men wine. But he had, also, direct telephonic communication from his cellar with the German lines. He was shot.

"The worst case that I ever knew of—but it was not the only one of the kind—was an officer in the French army who was a German spy. You can see from that how thorough the Boches are. That man had been sent from Germany to France when he was a boy. He had been educated in France and had gone to the French military schools. He was an artillery officer and one of the best. He was a lieutenant at the beginning of the war, but when the Somme offensive began he was a captain in command of a battery. For all that time he had done his work without being suspected.

"On the Somme he was in charge of his battery, which[191] was firing ahead of our men during an advance. The battery got a signal that their range was too short and they were firing into our own men. The sergeant told the captain, but he said they were firing according to orders and not to change the range. The battery fired another round and got another signal from the infantry that they were firing short. The sergeant spoke to the captain again and the captain lost his temper and swore at the sergeant. He ordered another round at the same range and the sergeant refused. The captain tried to fire one of the guns himself.

"It was very important for the Germans to stop our advance at that point. It might have saved Combles. But the sergeant knew as much about the situation as the captain. He knew what it meant to have our troops stopped there. We might have lost a brigade. We might have lost a division. He threatened the captain with a rifle and arrested him. It is something to arrest your own captain, but the sergeant did it, and there was a drumhead court-martial and the captain was shot. He confessed, when he saw it was all up with him, and bragged of the two years he had escaped being caught and of what he had done. He was brave enough, but—Well, think of it! Educated in France, an officer in the French Army, living at the expense of France, living a lie for ten years, waiting for 'the day' to betray those who trusted him. It takes a German to do that." (Told by Fred B. Pitney in the New York Tribune.)


[192]

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE "GLENHOLME"

Adventures with Submarines in the Mediterranean Sea

The merchant seamen whose voyages take him through the war-zone lives a hazardous life nowadays, but he treats it as "all in the day's work." The 'Glenholme' was sunk by a German submarine in the Mediterranean, and her crew underwent quite a lot of adventures before they were finally rescued. This tale was first told in the Wide World Magazine.

I—SUBMARINED OFF COAST OF MALTA

These are chancy times for sailormen, both those who man our fighting ships and the crews of merchant vessels, but they must all take the sea as they find it and do their best while their country is at war. Many of them have faced death cheerfully in the execution of their duty. Some have gone under, while others have endured wounds and privation, as did the men of the British steamer Glenholme.

This staunch ship, steering wide of the land, cleared the southern shores of Malta and stuck her blunt nose into the long smooth swell that rolled up from the eastward. A ten-knot cargo-boat, deep-laden with steel rails for Alexandria, she forged steadily onward through the murky night. From stem to stern her hull lay shrouded in darkness; not a single light gleamed from any of her portholes, and even the lamp in her steering compass was veiled, for those on board knew right well that hostile submarines were operating in various parts of the Mediterranean.

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Captain John Groome leaned his elbows on the bridge-rail and gazed into the gloom ahead.

"We're all right so far," he said; "and from what I can hear of things it seems that these beastly submarines are operating quite a bit to the northward of our track. All the same, a sharp look-out must be kept or we may fall foul of some other craft running, like ourselves, without lights. I don't want to bump any of them."

"The ocean is a wide place, sir," cheerfully remarked the chief officer. "We'll keep clear of collision easy enough."

"I hope so," replied the skipper. "And now, Mr. Bolt, I'm going to lie down in the chart-room for a couple of hours, and I want you to call me at daybreak. That's the time when submarines poke up their periscopes for a morning look around."

The mists of dawn hung like grey curtains over the northern horizon when Captain Groome, in answer to a call from the chief officer, again ascended the bridge ladder.

"Anything in sight?" he queried.

"Nothing at all," replied Mr. Bolt. "It's a bit hazy to the northward," he added, "but the skyline is quite clear ahead."

Hardly had the chief officer finished speaking when a shot—apparently coming from nowhere—shrieked overhead between the Glenholme's masts. A moment later the report of a gun came rolling down the wind. Groome hurriedly snatched up his binocular glasses and peered into the haze out abeam.

"Great Scot!" he exclaimed. "A submarine! Hard-a-port, my son. Let her go off to south."

The helmsman ground his wheel over, and not a moment too soon, for a white line, like the trail of a shooting star, streaked athwart the surface of the waters. A[194] torpedo had been discharged at the Glenholme, but as she swerved and swung from her course the deadly missile passed harmlessly ahead.

"Murderous devils!" ejaculated Mr. Bolt. "Attacking an unarmed ship with both gunfire and torpedoes."

"Pass the word to the engineer to give her every pound of steam," shouted Groome.

As the morning haze lifted the submarine came into clear view—a dark, sinister shape. She gave chase while the Glenholme made off at her topmost speed. Engineers and stokers did their best, and steam hissed from her safety-valve as, on a zigzag course, she fled. Meanwhile the pursuing craft hung doggedly in her track. The submarine, however, discharged no more torpedoes; probably the German commander did not wish to deplete his stock of these expensive weapons.

Gradually the pursuer closed with her quarry, until she was not more than a mile distant, and then her twelve-pounder gun began to bark viciously. Having found the range, the Germans fairly pounded the Glenholme with bursting shell, battering her deck-houses and funnel into masses of twisted steel.

Groome and his crew did their duty well. They were game, quite game, to the finish. The captain, alert and watchful, stood beside the helmsman and directed the steering in such a manner as to keep the hostile craft dead astern. Presently a flying splinter of shell gashed his leg below the knee, and blood trickled into his boot as he bound up the wound. Nevertheless, he kept his vessel going at top speed, for he knew that British warships were patrolling the Mediterranean, and while the chase lasted there still remained the chance that a swift destroyer might suddenly loom up on the skyline and rush to the assistance of his stricken and harrassed vessel.

No help came, however, and it was not long ere a shell[195] struck the rudder-head. With steering gear completely wrecked, the steamer became unmanageable, and swung round at right angles to her course. Then, seeing escape was impossible, Captain Groome reluctantly rang his engines astern and signalled to the enemy that he was bringing his vessel to a standstill.

II—"THE PIRATES LOOTED OUR SHIP"

It must not be supposed that the Germans thereupon ceased fire. By no means. An unarmed and unmanageable British steamer wallowing helplessly in the swell presented a fine opportunity for a display of "frightfulness"; therefore, on general principles, they let drive a couple of shots at close range. These shells hulled the Glenholme forward on the waterline, and she commenced to sink slowly by the head.

Having accomplished her work, the submarine came close alongside and stopped, with her gun trained point-blank on the stricken vessel. The German commander, a stout-built man with bristly hair, emerged from his conning-tower. He was evidently very angry.

"Vy didn't you stop before?" he yelled. "I haf used plenty of petrol to catch you."

"I'm sorry about your petrol," suavely replied Groome.

"Vell now, hurry up and get your boats lowered!" shouted the Teuton. "I gif you ten minutes to leave—no more."

The crew of the submarine, armed with rifles, stood on their foredeck and watched the Glenholme's men abandon ship. Some ten minutes later three boats containing all hands—thirty-four all told—had shoved clear of the sinking craft.

"Now," said the submarine commander to Mr. Bolt, who was in charge of Number Three lifeboat, "I vant[196] to make use of your boat for a little time. So crowd your men into the other two boats, and shove Number Three alongside my craft. Hurry up, now, or I gif the order to fire."

There being no help for it, Mr. Bolt and his men had perforce to do as they were told. When the empty boat was pushed alongside the submarine half-a-dozen Germans sprang into her and boarded the Glenholme, which vessel was now deep down by the head, but still sinking slowly.

The Germans looted from their prize whatever took their fancy, while that vessel's crew sat in the other two lifeboats and watched the piratical proceedings with considerable displeasure. One man in particular, a stoker who hailed from Limehouse, became extremely indignant. Like the rest of the Glenholme's men, he had hurried to the boats with little beside the clothes he stood in. His other belongings had been left in the forecastle, and he had to some extent resigned himself to their loss; but when he saw some of his property in the hands of the Huns he could not restrain his anger.

"The dirty thieves!" he yelled. "They've got me brand-new bowler 'at and me gramophone." Then, outspoken and fluent, the Londoner stood upright in the boat and gave the enemy his kind wishes.

"I don't wish yer no harm, blow yer!" said he. "I don't want yer to get sunk, nor even captured by a British cruiser. Oh, no. I only wants yer blighted ole submarine to fall foul of a steamer's bow some dark night and get capsized. Then I hopes she'll float around for a month bottom up, with the whole crowd of yer standin' on yer bloomin' heads and yellin' 'Gott strafe England' until you choke."

Undoubtedly there were several Germans on board the submarine who understood English well enough to gather[197] the gist of the irate stoker's remarks. They looked very ugly as they fingered their rifles and glanced towards their officer for instructions; most probably the Londoner ran a grave risk of paying for his temerity with his life. It happened, however, that at this moment smoke was descried in the distance. The German commander levelled his binocular glasses and took a long look at it. Apparently this column of grey smoke caused him some uneasiness. Full well he knew the rapidity with which, during the hazy weather, a destroyer could appear on the scene and open fire. He was evidently a cautious Teuton, for he gave a short, guttural order, he and his men descended into the submarine, and she dived below the surface, and so out of this story. How and when the piratical career of this particular U-boat came to a sudden end cannot now be chronicled.

III—THEY WATCHED THE VESSEL SINK

Meanwhile the Glenholme's crew sat in their boats and watched their vessel sink. Her bows were by this time below the surface; she was going fast. Her stern rose high in air, and for about a minute the stricken and abandoned craft hung poised in this position—her fore part submerged, her rudder and propeller a hundred feet in air. Then, with a slow, slanting dive, she vanished from sight. Down she sank, like many a good ship before her, to rust and rot on the sandy-tide-swept floor of the Mediterranean.

The smoke which had been sighted previously was no longer visible. Captain Groome and his crew in their three open boats had now to face the chances of a wide and lonely sea. Each boat was well equipped, and stocked with ten days' provisions; nevertheless, the weather indications were not encouraging. Wind and sea were gradually[198] increasing, while a heavy bank of clouds in the north-west foretold a coming storm. The captain shouted a few words of advice and instruction to the officers in charge of the two other boats.

"It's no use trying for Malta against this northerly gale that's coming. We'll just have to 'up stick' and run for Tripoli. You're quite right, Mr. Bolt; the boats may get separated. If the sea becomes very heavy we must lie to our sea-anchors until it moderates, or until we get picked up."

The storm came. Black, rain-laden squalls drove across the restless waters, which a strong and rising wind soon lashed into white-crested ridges and dark green hollows. It was not safe to carry sail and run before the gale; so, tethered by their painters to the canvas drags, or sea-anchors, the boats rode head-on, lifting bravely to the charging seas. Before nightfall they had drifted far apart and were lost to one another's sight in the shrouding rain-squalls.

It must be mentioned that next day two of the boats were picked up by a French steamer and their crews safely landed. This narrative will now deal, therefore, with what befell Captain Groome and the twelve men who were with him.

For the next three days these poor castaways suffered considerably from cold and exposure; moreover, the captain had to endure great pain, his wounded leg being stiff and swollen. However, on the third morning after they had abandoned the sinking Glenholme the wind and sea abated, and the sun rose in a cloudless sky that gave promise of a long spell of fine weather. Captain Groome gave orders to hoist the sail; and, impelled by a westerly breeze, they steered for the northern coast of Africa.

Soon after sunrise land was sighted right ahead—a sandy beach with low and slightly undulating country[199] in the background. Groome ran the boat close inshore and then consulted a torn and sea-stained chart.

"Now, men," said he; "what with the gale and strong currents I figure out that we've been driven a long way east of Tripoli. The breeze is dying away, so we'll just have to get out the oars and pull to the westward."

"How far is it to the nearest port, captain?" inquired one of the sailors.

"Oh, about seventy to eighty miles."

"That's a long pull on short allowance of water," remarked the sailor, with a rueful glance at their water-keg, which by this time was three-parts empty. "Is there any fresh water around these parts, sir?"

The skipper gazed attentively along the shore before making answer. "Well," said he at length, "it's a barren-looking coast, and no mistake, but I see a clump of trees just beyond that point. Perhaps we can find water there, and refill our keg. Anyhow, we'll go and see."

IV—THE CASTAWAYS AND THE ARAB HORSEMEN

They beached their boat in a little curving bay that lay between two rocky points. Here, not more than a couple of hundred yards inland, stood the clump of trees that Groome had noted. They found, to their great satisfaction, that these trees grew around the brink of a cup-shaped hollow, at the bottom of which bubbled a spring of clear fresh water.

The overjoyed castaways drank their fill; then, with tin cups, they baled up the water and refilled their ten-gallon keg. While this job was in progress Captain Groome, accompanied by the bo'sun, clambered up the sides of the waterhole to take a look around before returning to the boat. On reaching level ground, to their astonishing and dismay, they found themselves confronted[200] by a band of about fifty Arab horsemen. These men were Bedouins of the Senussi tribe—swarthy ruffians of the desert, fierce and ruthless, who lived chiefly by murder and pillage.

They were all armed, some with old-fashioned long-barrelled guns, and a few with modern rifles, while each man had long knives stuck around his girdle. These fierce nomads saw plainly that the white men were unarmed and helpless. Nevertheless, their chief—a tall Arab who was mounted on a white horse—pointed at the two castaways and shouted aloud to his followers. Evidently he gave the order to kill, for several of the swarthy miscreants levelled their rifles and fired point-blank. The bo'sun dropped, stone dead, with a bullet in his brain, while Captain Groome, shot through the shoulder, fell to earth and lay there unconscious and apparently lifeless. For more than an hour the unfortunate ship-captain remained senseless and inert. The wonder is that he did not bleed to death; however, he lay so still that, luckily for him, the blood congealed and caked over his wounds. When at length his consciousness returned he found that in the meantime events had been happening with startling rapidity.

It might be supposed that, after shooting Groome and the bo'sun, the Arabs would have murdered the remainder of the castaways out of hand, yet it transpired that they did not do so. Most probably it occurred to these desert nomads that it would be more profitable to carry the white men inland and hold them for ransom, therefore they took them as prisoners. Next, the Bedouins looted the boat that lay drawn up on the beach, taking all her portable equipment, such as provisions, rope, and canvas. Then, apparently quite satisfied with their day's work, they watered their horses and camped, to rest awhile beside the spring.

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Half-a-dozen armed Bedouins kept guard on the prisoners, who sat in a dejected group. Things were looking very black indeed for these poor seamen when suddenly—almost by magic it seemed—deliverance came in the form of a patrol steamer flying the British flag.

Steaming quite close inshore, she glided into view from behind an adjacent point. So close was the vessel when she rounded the headland that those on board could hear the shout of delight raised by the surviving castaways.

The lieutenant in charge of the patrol boat—a keen and alert young officer—was not long in grasping the situation. He saw the boat drawn up on the beach, and heard the prisoners shouting for aid. Therefore, when the startled Bedouins hastily mounted and made off, this capable young naval officer knew just what to do—and he did it.

A band of badly-scared Arab horsemen started off inland, using whip and spur in desperate efforts to escape, but at that moment the patrol steamer's machine-gun took a glad hand in the game. The gun rattled briskly, streams of lead whistled shoreward, and the tall Arab chief who rode the white horse pitched headlong from his mount to the earth; then he lay quite still. He was as dead as salted herring; to use colloquial English, he had got "all that was coming to him."

The remaining miscreants rode hard for safety, but the machine-gun did good work, and during the following few minutes at least a dozen desert marauders finished altogether with the joys and sorrows of this world. Those who managed to escape disappeared, together with a number of riderless horses, behind a distant sand-hill.

Captain Groome and his men were promptly taken on board the patrol vessel. The bo'sun, poor fellow, was buried where he lay. The skipper's wounds were dressed[202] by the ship's surgeon, and under kind and skillful treatment he soon began to mend.

The writer saw Groome about six weeks later. He moved stiffly, like a man whose wounds have but recently healed; nevertheless, he looked well, and was certainly very cheerful.

"How do I feel?" said he, in answer to my query. "Oh, my shoulder is still a bit sore, but otherwise I'm feeling first class. Another week or so, and I'll be fit and ready to join another ship."


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WHAT THE KAISER'S SON SAW ON THE BATTLEFIELD

Personal Experiences of a German Prince

Told by Prince Oscar of Prussia, Fifth Son of Emperor William

His Royal Highness Prince Oscar of Prussia, fifth of Kaiser Wilhelm's six sons, has written a little book called "The Winter Battle," a translation of which is printed herewith. In this he describes the terrific fighting of the Third German Army, which formed an important part of the battle front in Champagne and had to meet a particularly desperate attack by the French. The Prince was an officer on the staff of the commanding General. As a result of his experiences he was laid up with an attack of heart failure. It is interesting to note that "Hill 196," which is one of the places particularly mentioned in the Prince's narrative as being defended by the Germans last Winter, was captured by the French on October 25, 1915, and became once more the centre of prolonged fighting. The Prince is twenty-seven years old, and was married morganatically on the day war was declared to Countess Ina von Bassewitz Levetzow, a young noblewoman not of royal birth. The proceeds of the sale of his book are given to the widows and orphans of German soldiers who fell in the Champagne. Translation for the New York American.

I—PRINCE OSCAR TELLS ABOUT BATTLE OF CHAMPAGNE

The great Winter battle in the Champagne in 1915 resulted in a brilliant victory, which I witnessed with my own eyes.

The past has already begun busily to weave her heavy veil, and side by side with the past walks her sister—oblivion![204] But we—we must not, we dare not forget. Not only because the war in the Champagne was the greatest and longest defensive battle in the history of the world and resulted in a magnificent victory for ourselves; not only out of gratitude for our heroic leaders and soldiers who accomplished the superhuman, endured the unspeakable, and yet, undaunted, fought on to victory; there is another deeper, more salient reason why we must not forget. I refer to our hero dead, who, with incomparable self-abnegation, gave their lives for king and country, for Emperor and empire, for home and nation.

As a child which one of us has not stood at the grave of some unknown hero of forgotten days, thrilling with rapturous, fearsome awe? On the heights north of le Mesnil in the Champagne there is now a grave of this sort which should be dear to every German heart, but it is not the grave of an unknown hero of bygone days. Many brave men of our own glorious army, much noble blood of our beloved German nation have found their last resting place there on French soil. Our own brothers, sons and husbands are interred there. Many thousands of heroes, who have entered the last long silence, slumbering there under the very sod which they themselves, dauntless, fearless, reckless of danger, defended to the last breath, cry to us from beyond the grave, "Do not forget the cause for which we died, for which we gladly and willingly gave our lives."

We, the living, who know what these dead heroes accomplished and how they furthered our cause, lower the sword in memory of them, and, in spirit, lay a laurel wreath upon that hill, vowing that we will go and do likewise.

In order to comprehend thoroughly the significance of the war in the Champagne and to appreciate the magnitude[205] of the achievements of our troops we must briefly summarize the circumstances which made the campaign imperative, the end which it was intended the titanic struggle should compass, and the conditions which made this victory such an important one to us. A few sentences will suffice to make all this clear. It was necessary to crush the first large aggressive movement on the part of the French, who, by hurling their finest army corps and an enormous artillery force against us in the Champagne, tried for weeks and months, at whatever cost, to force a wedge into our lines in order to break one link in the steel chain with which the German army had encircled their land.

If, as intended, they had succeeded in breaking through our lines with a strong contingent, it can readily be seen how disastrous this would have been for us. As regards consequences, our success in the Champagne was at least of as great importance as the victories of Tannenberg, the Masurian Lakes, near Augustow and on the San; but when we take into consideration the demands which were made upon individual endurance and courage in the face of the most harrowing conditions imaginable, it is doubtful whether the work done in the Champagne by our troops has ever been equalled.

II—THE PRINCE PRAISES HIS TROOPS

In order thoroughly to appreciate the heroic steadfastness and the patient endurance shown by our troops, which transcended all praise, and to appraise properly the difficulties which beset leaders and men alike during the long, bitter weeks of the battle, we must remember certain facts.

When the French offensive was begun on a large scale on February 16, our troops had already seen months of[206] the hardest sort of service in repulsing the French First and Seventeenth Army Corps, with only a few very short intervals of rest—our Eighth Army Corps having been engaged in this region since December 8, and the Eighth Reserve Corps since December 19, 1914.

Our regiments, therefore, were far from unfatigued at a moment when they were called upon to enter the severest phase of a struggle into which our foes hurled the flower of their troops. Moreover, the French had at their command an almost inexhaustible supply of ammunition, and were able, therefore, in a steadily ascending scale, gradually to reach the full amplitude of their fighting capacity in their efforts to break through our lines. If we fully visualize this fact then we must realize that an almost incredible glory accrues to the work done by our troops. Only an iron will, a discipline which had become second nature and utter forgetfulness of self could lead to victory in the face of such odds. That these qualities did ultimately assure us the victory will redound to the undying glory of all the troops which did active service in this great engagement.

The prodigious masses of iron and humanity which our foes hurled against us day and night, their marvellous ingenuity in making attacks, their doggedness in defense, all this was admirably calculated to crush larger numbers than those of our Third Army. It was a struggle between iron and steel. It is true that a heavy mass of iron can through sheer weight bend and indent a narrow band of steel, but it cannot break the steel. Thus, through continually renewing their attacks and by training upon us an artillery fire the violence of which beggars all description, the French succeeded in bending back our lines here and there. Sometimes at one part, sometimes at another they took several hundred mètres of intrenchments; but they paid a horrible, a ghastly[207] price in blood for these minor and valueless successes, which profited them nothing save that they taught them the bitter lesson that German will power and German discipline can be broken by nothing. The French had scornfully proclaimed that they had broken the backbone of our resistance, but we broke their attack and imposed upon them our own. In the end the French attempt to break through our lines was utterly foiled, and the Third Army was victorious.

During this time the French attacks were directed principally against the left, i. e., the eastern half of the Third Army, so that the Eighth Army Corps and the Eighth Reserve Corps bore the brunt of the attacks, most of which took place along the line between the position of Perthes and Beausejour.

This is a rolling, open country, in which narrow fields alternate with small patches of woodland, covered with pine trees. The country is not dissimilar in character to the country near Jueterberg and Doeberitz, in Germany, and instead of soil or sand the surface of the earth is covered with white chalk. It is a desolate, barren country. The French themselves call it the "louse Champagne" country, and never was a name more aptly given. It boasted of only a few settlements, and these have now been destroyed by the artillery fire.

During the entire time that the battle lasted the weather was vile. For weeks it rained day and night, so that the chalky soil was transformed into a grayish, soapy, slimy mire. In consequence the by-roads became almost impassable for vehicles and the main roads, connecting our trenches and camps, owing to the continuous use to which they were put by marching troops and rolling provision wagons, were soon in a condition which was almost as bad. The work of our munition and commissary columns, upon which this battle, which lasted[208] for months, entailed particularly difficult service, was thereby rendered exasperatingly hard. The horses also suffered severely through the long enforced marches, the dreadful roads, the general wetness and the insufficient food.

III—"HOW WE FOUGHT THE BATTLE—A LIVING HELL"

It is, however, the duty of the good soldier to derive some advantage from even the most unpromising conditions, and we were able to turn the frightful condition of the roads to good account in the following way. The roads which the French commanded were less numerous and in even worse condition than our own. As they expended a tremendous amount of ammunition every day in "drum-fire," as continuous systematic artillery fire is called in the army, they were forced to bring up large supplies every night, which was not the case with us. As has been said before, only the main roads could be traversed by the ammunition wagons, because the other roads had turned into a sort of morass, and we therefore trained our long-range guns upon their main roads at night, knowing that we must be doing damage to them. This circumstance probably accounted for the unusually long pauses which they allowed to occur in their "drum-fire" on the ensuing days.

In this way we gained brief periods of respite for our infantry, which was thus enabled to patch up the badly damaged intrenchments, so that the French, when they had been supplied with new ammunition, had to begin all over again.

The continuous rainfall created cruel conditions for the housing of our troops. As has been said, the few sparse settlements had been literally shot to pieces, and our troops were therefore forced to construct their own[209] huts and cave shelters. That such poor quarters, during an incessant downpour of rain, were bound to have an injurious effect upon the strength of the troops, is abundantly plain. Nevertheless, our men never complained. With admirable patience, even good humour, they endured the greatest privations and hardships which were the result of the inclement weather and the inadequate quarters, and how great these privations and hardships were can only be understood by some one who himself has lived through a rainy Winter in the "louse Champagne" country. Nevertheless, miraculously, the health of the troops remained remarkably good.

Originally only the First and the Seventeenth French Army Corps had been intrenched opposite to our Eighth Army Corps and our Eighth Reserve Corps. Both of the French army corps had suffered severely during their continuous attacks around Christmas, in January and the beginning of February. But they had been reinforced continually. Before beginning their great drive against our lines the French had gathered together materially larger forces. To cope with our two army corps gradually, in addition to the First and the Seventeenth Corps, two colonial divisions and half a territorial division—all in all almost seven and a half army corps were massed in a comparatively small territory.

Furthermore, they had greatly strengthened their artillery. On the other hand, our two army corps had been strengthened solely by the addition of individual battalions of the Fifth and Seventh Armies, as well as by the Sixth Army Corps and the Twelfth Reserve Corps (which at this time belonged to the Third Army). The Eighth Army Corps comprised the Bavarian "Landwehr" Brigade and the Hessian "Landwehr" as well. Then, finally, there was the First Guard Infantry Division, destined to play a prominent part in this battle.

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In this terrific battle sons from every principality and kingdom of the Fatherland fought shoulder to shoulder, and vied with each other in the display of courage and endurance. Prussians and Bavarians, Saxons and Hessians, men from the North and the South, from East and West, stood side by side, cheek by jowl, forming an impregnable wall against which the furious, despairing, fanatic attacks of the French were doomed to futilely spend themselves.

The French fought with marvellous valour, with reckless courage and nerve, climbing up and on over the bodies of their fallen comrades. They were excellent fighters, were these Frenchmen. But our men were better fighters, as the outcome of the battle taught us.

It was, however, not the attacks of their infantry which made this battle so hideous for us, nor was it the hand-to-hand struggle in the trenches, man against man, where the German, possessing greater physical strength, was easily the match of the individual Frenchman. What made the battle a living hell was the work of the French artillery, enormous in strength, with huge supplies of ammunition which was spent lavishly. Life in the trenches became a perpetual nightmare and stamped as unforgettable heroes the men who went through with it without flinching.

IV—"IT SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE ANY LIVING CREATURE COULD SURVIVE"

Onto a comparatively small area the French on one day threw a hundred thousand shells! We found a French document in which the commanding officer calculated that eighteen bombs must be the allowance per metre of German trench, these eighteen bombs to be used not in a day, but within one or two hours! The rapidity[211] of the artillery fire was therefore as great as that of an ordinary machine gun, but the shells hurled against us were not infantry shells, but grenades of every calibre. "Drum-fire" is the name for this sort of artillery fire, and its effects were simply dreadful—unspeakable. The barbed wire was completely annihilated, was clean wiped out of existence; the trenches were flattened into mounds, their foundations crumbled away. No known sort of earthworks were able to withstand such fire for even a short time. But German discipline, loyalty and heroism held out.

When such "drum-fire" began, a huge wall of smoke and chalk particles rose over our trenches, cutting off the men from the rest of the world. The horror of the scene was augmented by the ceaseless rumbling, thundering and crashing which filled the air, and which, even miles away, sounded like a heavy thunderstorm. It seemed impossible that any living creature should survive such a hellish turmoil. When the firing ceased abruptly, or when its direction was changed to give the French infantry a chance to attack us, then our brave fusiliers, musketeers, grenadiers crawled out of the funnels and pockets into which the enemy's grenades had ploughed the earth, made their way from among broken foundations, crumbling cement, trickling sand bags, and, grabbing their guns and wiping the dirt from their eyes, they repulsed the French attack.

And this was done not once, but dozens of times.

Occasionally our men were ordered to abandon a trench which was suffering particularly from "drum-fire" in order to avoid unnecessary loss of life, and the crew from such an abandoned trench was then placed in our second line of intrenchments. It sometimes happened that French infantrymen, under protection of their artillery fire, reached and took such an empty trench,[212] succeeding the more readily because they encountered no obstacles. Our soldiers then sprang forth from their cover and attacked the French with hand grenades and bayonets. Invariably we were successful in repulsing the enemy, causing them heavy loss of life.

If for some reason or other this counter-attack was not made at once, but was postponed for an hour or two, we were not so sure of success, and it was then never secured by us without heavy casualties, for the few hours that had elapsed had amply sufficed the French, who are exceedingly clever at every sort of intrenchment work, to change and remodel the trench for their purposes, to install machine guns, to place sandbag barriers along both sides and to make sundry other changes. This done, the "Frenchmen's nest" was complete.

The difficult task of ousting the French from their "nest" then devolved upon our regiments, and in some instances many weeks of hard, cruel fighting were required to accomplish this end. For this work we employed underground mines, artillery, bombs and hand grenades. When the time was ripe for attack, columns of volunteers were formed, which were led by officers, who, in turn, were preceded by groups of pioneers with hand grenades and intrenchment tools, to be used in demolishing the sandbag barriers. The assault was begun simultaneously from both sides. These attacks were usually conducted at night, and it will readily be seen what cool, unshakable courage was required for work of this kind. Immediately after the hand grenades were exploded our men advanced and a furious hand-to-hand fight ensued, in which not only bayonet and pick-axe, but shovel and booted foot were used to expel the enemy, to kill him or force him to surrender.

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V—BRAVERY OF THE GRENADIERS

As an example of the tremendous fury with which such a hand-to-hand fight raged I will cite one instance. A grenadier of one of our Rhenish regiments, who carried a pick-axe, had the thumb of his right hand, which carried the weapon, bitten right off by a Frenchman. The German soldier, writhing with pain, contrived to change the pick-axe to his left hand, killed both the Frenchman who had maimed him and his comrade.

In another regiment three men had discovered that in making these nocturnal attacks they could work together to splendid advantage. The strongest man of the three took the centre. In his left hand he carried two steel shields from machine guns lashed together. In his right hand he held his weapon, bayonet or pick-axe. His two companions kept to either side of him, as closely as possible. One carried as many hand grenades as he could manage, the other was equipped with a bayonet. Thus accoutred, this strange trio proceeded, striking, thrusting and throwing grenades, and literally hacking its way through the ranks of the enemy and striking terror to the hearts of the foe.

Excellent service these three men rendered. Evening after evening the man who carried the steel shields volunteered for the difficult and hazardous task. He was asked if he did not feel the necessity for resting up, or if he did not prefer to serve the hand grenades or to wield the bayonet for a change. He replied that less powerful men than he could not as easily carry the steel shields and the pick-axe as well, while the bayonet work and the throwing of hand grenades could be done readily by the others.

The sharpshooters of the Imperial Guard had formed an entire company of volunteers, who, led by officers,[214] were always sent to perform particularly dangerous and difficult tasks. They performed deeds of incredible valour, and the "Tschakos," as Germans call this picked corps, will not soon be forgotten by the French.

The men of the Saxon Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 107 were adepts in taking French prisoners. They had a system of their own and found it infallible.

Thus, at night, our brave fellows had to engage in hand-to-hand encounters, at day had to endure the frightful fire of the French artillery, and when the firing ceased there was still not a moment's rest for them, for they then had to repulse the onslaughts of the French infantrymen.

Nor was that all. The positions which had been shot to pieces by the enemy by day in the field, had to be rebuilt, as far as was possible, at night. The reserves were requisitioned to assist in this work, although they had really been sent back of the firing line to rest up. The Reserves were also frequently called upon at night to help defend with the bayonet any menaced point. Thus their supposed "resting-up" in the protected zone was somewhat problematical in nature, not alone because they were frequently called upon to help out, but because the French had a pretty trick of training their heavy artillery fire, night and day, upon these outlying points, positions and roads. Unbelievable as it seems, the men in the trenches actually suffered less from the artillery fire at night than did the men in the rear.

Alternately fighting and working by day and by night, our brave men performed the work of supermen. Each man was actuated by one thought only—to defend his position to the last, to overcome the enemy, to endure through it all, no matter what happened. Each leader, each division, conceived it to be a task of honour to hold the position, or, if it had been lost, to regain it.

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VI—THE PRINCE GIVES HIS OPINION OF HIS ADVERSARY

Let us now consider the method which our foe employed in preparing the attacks.

The French attacks must be classified as partial attacks and as attacks en masse. The former invariably preceded the latter. The numerical strength of the troops thus employed varied from a company to a division. They were never an end in themselves, but a mere link in the chain of a general, comprehensive plan. A destructive "drum-fire" was followed up by an attack upon a particular trench. Having secured the trench, they did one of two things. Either they used every effort to secure a second trench, several hundred meters further along the line, so that, working and fighting toward each other, they might reasonably expect to unite the two trenches; or, using the captured trench as a base for an attack en masse, they sought to indent our line and to break it, a thing which was never attempted when a partial attack was made.

In conducting these attacks en masse, the French always adhered to their well-known scheme. A compact line of sharpshooters at the front was followed at a distance of one hundred meters by densely packed masses of company and battalion columns.

This method, of attack, from which they never swerved, occasioned them a shocking loss of life. The losses sustained by a French regiment in storming a position may be estimated conservatively at forty to fifty per cent. French prisoners confirmed this estimate. To this wholesale slaughter to which they condemn their men the fact is probably due that the French rarely use the same regiment twice for purposes of attack. Surely they must reckon with the demoralizing effect sustained[216] by men who have been forced to climb over hillocks of their own dead in order to reach the enemy!

A French officer, whom we took prisoner, told us that the havoc wrought by the German artillery fire upon the closed columns of the French had been frightful. He added:

"These attacks constitute an insane slaughter; strictly speaking, they are not attacks, but a mad dancing in shambles, through a charnel-house, upon a cemetery. And yet we will be forced to continue this way until the French Government sees fit to recognize the futility of our method, or until we contrive to break through."

Not enough can be said in praise of our artillery. Heavy and light artillery as well performed wonders. Their co-operation with our infantry was wonderful—could not have been improved upon. Often, our well-directed artillery fire nipped in the bud French efforts at attack. Truly, the artillery which took part in the battle of the Champagne has every reason to be proud of its record.

At the beginning of the period of which I am writing, the French attacks were directed principally against our positions near Perthes (the centre and left wing of the Eighth Army Corps). Then the French concentrated their attacks upon the outer left wing of the Eighth Army Corps and the right wing of the Eighth Reserve Corps (16th Reserve-Division). Finally the French offensive degenerated into a desperate, mad, wild struggle for the now famous Hill 196 (two kilometers north of le Mesnil-les-Hurlus). At first they were probably obsessed by the idea that the hill was valuable because of the outlook which it afforded. Later, the government, or the War Ministry, seems to have issued an order that the hill must be taken at whatever cost. They paid the cost—paid horribly, suffered overwhelming losses, offered[217] hecatombs of victims, and still did not gain the Hill—thanks to the heroism of the defending regiments.

This—Hill 196—was the most seriously menaced point, and accordingly the Guard was installed there, which, together with the Rhenish, Silesian and Saxon regiments, performed deeds of great valour. True to the traditions of their race, they withstood the terrific onslaughts made by the French hordes, onslaughts for the making of which the French continually sent out fresh regiments. Attack after attack failed. Those who escaped the fire of the artillery and the machine guns fell under the butts and blades of the German bayonets.

Just as the interest and action of a drama continues to ascend until the end of the last act, so the Battle of Champagne reached its culmination and conclusion in the mad struggle that raged around Hill 196.

VII—"MAD STRUGGLE AT HILL 196"

In the last days of the frantic struggle, we had perceived that the French were gathering in largely increased numbers in their trenches. Then to our surprise the attack which we expected to follow did not occur. We therefore deemed it reasonable to conclude from this that the enemy no longer considered it expedient to push on, and that the fire of our artillery was holding them to their trenches. Therefore, on March 18, we were not expecting that any serious attack would be attempted. But the French apparently were not willing to admit defeat without one final, desperate effort.

Suddenly, on the afternoon of March 18, the attack was begun by densely massed troops, their objective being Hill 196 and the position directly east of the hill. The position of the Guards Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 133 and other troops, who received the main shock[218] of the impact, was not to be shaken, however. The Fourth Turcos Regiment and others of the French army attacked in five lines, advancing one by one, with some of their officers on horseback. We received them with a shower of hand grenades, which tore hundreds of them limb from limb and blew to atoms the first two lines.

Succeeding lines fared no better. Those who miraculously escaped the hand grenades were felled by our furious men with blows of pick-axe and bayonet. In spite of their dauntless courage, their reckless contempt of death, their marvellous persistence, the French were forced back. Front and flank of this writhing maelstrom of densely packed humanity rolling along in a disorderly retreat was swept by our heavy artillery fire from 21-centimetre mortars, heavy field howitzers, 10-centimetre cannon. The losses which the French sustained were inhuman and sickening.

With this last valiant attempt to take the Hill 196 ended the Winter battle of the Champagne. After months of frantic fighting, after paying a frightful toll in blood, the French were forced to abandon their effort to break through our lines. Their finest troops, the very flower of their army, who had fought persistently with all the dare-devil gallantry for which the French are famous, had, in the end, not only failed to win a victory, but had sustained a crushing defeat. For the fact must not be overlooked that their failure to force their way through our lines was tantamount to a very serious defeat.

VIII—WHAT THE GERMAN PRINCE CLAIMS FOR HIS ARMY

The battle of the Champagne is over. The unexampled heroism, the superhuman endurance of our troops[219] have already become things of the past. But we, the great German nation, will do well to heed the warning that was sounded in the bitter days when the frenzied battle raged in the Champagne.

What lesson shall we extract from this titanic struggle? What moral is pointed by Hill 196, whose every inch of ground was ploughed by bullets and soaked with our dearest blood? What were the underlying causes that contributed to our victory? What was it that made every beardless boy a hero, made the oldest man in the "Landwehr" forget his age and the privations he was enduring?

Let us briefly review the principal factors that made for success.

The value of iron discipline was overwhelmingly demonstrated. It is safe to assert that the most highly disciplined regiment will be the most successful in action. Youthful enthusiasm may be undermined, patriotism may be forced into temporary abeyance by hours of continual, cruel shelling; worse than that, the very power to think becomes inhibited in the witches' cauldron of "drum-fire." It is then that discipline asserts itself. Nothing else gives the same moral stamina, and in difficult positions discipline is bound to be the determining factor.

Before the war began the voices of many people were raised who, from false sentimentality, from undue softness, from ill-will or from sheer stupidity, were eager to have an end put for all time to the unconditional obedience and rigid drill of our army; in brief, to our entire military training, the value of which has been tested and proven throughout centuries. Many of our so-called comic papers made it their chief business to ridicule military training and discipline, to spatter with mud the very foundation and bulwark of our military[220] efficiency. I think the battle of the Champagne must have taught them to amend their way of thinking.

"The iron rock upon which Germany rests more securely than the earth upon the shoulders of Atlas is our glorious army." That this army has reached this glorious summit is due primarily to its splendid training, and the fundamentals of this training are to be found in the latterly much-laughed-at and sneered-at detail work done in years of peace. The standing-at-attention, the the clock-like precision, the manual of arms, the goose-step—to all of these we owe the efficiency displayed by our troops in resisting French "drum-fire," in repulsing French drives, in withstanding with iron might French alertness, in circumventing French enthusiasm and gallantry.

For instance, our Guard went through the attacks at Ypres. During the bitter month of February this same First Guard Infantry Brigade rendered futile and vain all the science and gallantry manifested by the French troops at Perthes, and won new laurels in the frantic struggle for Hill 196. Yet this crack regiment did not disdain, when ordered to the rear for a brief, much-needed rest, to continue its exercises and drills from the very first day of its holiday. In battle, even, when under cover, this regiment went through the manual of arms, practised positions and stood at attention.

One thing more. Let us educate our young men to be strong and hard. Let us guard against influences that tend to soften or make for effeminacy, so that, when future need arises, the coming generation may be able successfully to cope with conditions similar to those which confronted our troops in the Champagne. Let us weed out the poison which is eating into the marrow of our national life—the cry for pleasure or youthful liberties.

Then, too, let us instil in the youth of our nation simple[221] faith, a firm belief in the Lord God, whose will directs the destinies of mankind. Those who went through the battle of the Champagne agree in saying that without a firm belief in God they never would have been able to live through those harrowing days, and to the handful, who lacked faith, faith came amid shower of shells, during attacks of bayonets.


[222]

A DAY'S WORK WITH A FRENCH SUBMARINE

An American s Experience under the Sea

Told by Fred B. Pitney, by Authority of the French Minister of Marine

This story is told from "a certain formidable naval base on the coast of France." The American who relates it went out on scout duty on a submarine—for a single day. He tells how it feels to dive, the sensation of being shot at—not "unpleasant or trying on the nerves." Mr. Pitney is one of the war correspondents for the New York Tribune.

I—"WE FIRED NINE SHOTS AND SUNK BENEATH THE SEA"

To appear on the surface, fire nine shots at an enemy vessel and disappear in safety, untouched, below the surface, all in the space of forty-five seconds—this, I believe, constitutes a submarine record. Yet, this feat I witnessed as an observer on board a French submarine in active service.

Before this I was a passenger on a vessel that was attacked by a submarine. A torpedo was launched at us from below the surface, while we were anxiously trying to pick up the periscope of the submerged vessel, for we were in dangerous waters. We had just discovered the periscope when the torpedo was sent at us. Five minutes later the submarine came to the surface and fired a round at us from the gun abaft the turret we lay to and the passengers were transferred in a small boat from the passenger vessel to the submarine. It was then that[223] I was on board the submarine while it attacked another vessel.

Thus, on the afternoon in question I participated in all the phases of submarine warfare, including entering a harbor protected with net and floating mines, filled with warships and surrounded with land batteries. Possibly the most exciting moment of all in an afternoon filled with thrills was when one land battery, uncertain of our identity, fired three shots across our bows and we had to lie to and prove who we were with a string of signal flags before we could proceed on our tortuous path among the mines.

Our little vessel, put at our disposal by the French Ministry of Marine to view the defences of a certain formidable naval base on the coast of France, was calmly traversing the waters near the mouth of the harbor, when a young officer, standing beside me on the bridge said: "We must look out for submarines near here."

"Germans?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," he replied, "Germans, of course."

We had already passed through the net that protects the mouth of the harbor and had been warned that we were going through a mine field, and that sometimes, especially in bad weather, the mines got loose and drifted about casually, getting in most anybody's way. Now we had the added pleasure of a possible encounter with a German submarine.

"How many German submarines are there in the Mediterranean?" I asked.

"About thirty-five," he said.

Recalling my geography, it seemed we had a pretty good chance of being seen.

"Are you a submarine officer?" I asked.

He told me that he was, and added that he would not change his work for any other branch of the service. I[224] told him that I had always understood submarine service was particularly unpleasant and trying on the nerves.

"Oh, no. On the contrary, it is very restful," he said, "and extremely interesting and great sport."

"How old are you?" I asked.

He was thirty-two and unmarried.

"Perhaps that accounts for it," I said.

"Perhaps," he agreed. "I don't know. But it is the sporting interest that makes the submarine service so fine."

He told of cruising in the North Sea, watching for German torpedo boats, of weeks on guard duty in the Channel, assuring the service between France and England, and of other weeks submerged in the Adriatic, blockading the Austrian ports.

"We had to pick our way through the mine fields submerged," he said, "and then lie forty hours submerged on blockade duty. When our turn ended, we would pick our way back through the mines for a rest."

"But surely that was trying on the nerves," I said.

"Oh, no," he declared. "Not at all. We had a good rest there. There was nothing to do but sleep and watch."

"What was the worst part of that service?" I asked.

"The hydroplanes," he answered readily. "They were always flying over the harbor looking for us, and there was always the possibility that one of them would discover us and drop a bomb."

"In that event what would happen to you?" I asked.

"No one would ever know," he replied, "unless we sank in shallow enough water to be raised."

He said it in the most casual manner.

"Has there ever been a fight between two submarines?" was my next question.

He had been in two in the North Sea, he told me. "If[225] you are on the surface, you fight with your guns," he said, "but, if you are under the surface, you go at it with torpedoes; there is not much chance with torpedoes, because you can only see the periscope and you have no idea which way the other fellow is going. Nothing happened in either fight I had. We both got off safely."

During this conversation both of us and four of the ship's officers had our glasses on the sea, watching for submarines. One of the ship's officers now announced a suspicious looking white wave on the port bow. It was suspicious because it moved, but it was a very tiny little wave, only about three feet long and the breadth of a carpenter's hand. No one would ever have suspected it without expert advice.

II—ON A SUBMARINE IN A ROUGH SEA

That, as I learned, is one of the greatest dangers of the submarine. Of course, we have all been told it many times, but when the thing is once experienced it is truly appreciated, and not until then. The approach of the submarine is more insidious than the taste for absinthe.

There is merely that little white wave only occasionally to be seen—the white water curling around the periscope—and with the sea running at all high there would be no white wave that could be distinguished from the white tops of the other waves. Then, if the submarine chooses to remain near the surface one can after a long time of very close study make out the periscope as a very small stick, like a piece of lath, poking up out of the water. But it only sticks up a little more than a foot when it is the most willing to be seen, while if, as in our case, it is not willing to be seen, the submarine, having located its prey, dives deeper and all trace of it is lost, the next thing[226] being a torpedo coming from an entirely different point on the horizon.

Our officers were experts at watching for submarines, and though the little white wave made by the periscope disappeared, they caught the white wake of the torpedo coming toward the port quarter and sheered off to escape it. The torpedo passed harmlessly by our stern, but the adventure was not ended, for hardly a minute later we heard a shot from off the starboard quarter and, turning in that direction, saw that the submarine had come to the surface and was busily firing at us to bring us to.

We stopped without any foolish waste of time in argument. I asked if a boat would be sent to us, or if we would have to get our boat.

"They carry a small folding boat," said the officer to whom I had been talking, "but we will have to send our boat."

While we were getting our boat over the side, the submarine moved closer in, keeping her gun bearing on us all the time, most uncomfortably. The gun stood uncovered on the deck, just abaft the turret. It was thickly coated with grease to protect it when the vessel submerged. It is only the very latest type of submarines that have disappearing guns which go under cover when the vessel submerges and are fired from within the ship, which makes all the more surprising the speed with which a submarine can come to the surface, the men get out on deck, fire the gun, get in again and the vessel once more submerge.

III—IN THE SECRET CHAMBERS OF A SUBMARINE

I was in the first boatload that went over to the submarine. From a distance it looked like nothing so much[227] as a rather long piece of 4 x 8 floating on the water, with another block set on top of it and a length of lath nailed on the block. It lost none of these characteristics as we neared it. It only gained a couple of ropes along the sides of the 4 x 8, while men kept coming mysteriously out of the block until a round dozen were waiting to receive us. The really surprising thing was that the men turned out to be perfectly good French sailors, with a most exceedingly polite French lieutenant to help us aboard the little craft.

It was a little surprise the admiral of the port had prepared for us, and nothing could have been better prepared to give us the true flavor of submarine warfare. We had had all the sensation of being chased, fired on and captured—everything except being sunk in mid-ocean. Now we were to have the other experience of chasing and capturing the enemy.

The vessel we were in was a 500-ton cruising submarine. It had just come from eight months' guarding the Channel, and showed all the battering of eight months of a very rough and stormy career with no time for a lie-up for repairs. It was interesting to see the commander hand the depth gauge a wallop to start it working and find out if the centre of the boat was really nine feet higher than either end. We were fifty-four feet under water and diving when the commander performed that little experiment and we continued to dive while the gauge spun around and finally stopped at a place which indicated approximately that our back was not broken. I suppose that was one of the things my friend the lieutenant referred to when he said life on a submarine was such a sporting proposition.

We boarded the submarine over the tail end and balanced our way up the long narrow block, like walking a tight rope, to the turret, where we descended through[228] a hole like the opening into a gas main into a small round compartment about six feet in diameter exactly in the midship section, which was the largest compartment in the ship. Running each way from it the length of the vessel were long corridors, some two feet wide. On each side of the corridors were rows of tiny compartments, which were the living and working rooms of the ship. Naturally, most of the space was given up to the working rooms.

The officers' quarters consisted of four tiny compartments, two on each side of the after corridor. The first two were the mess room and chart room, and the second pair were the cabins of the commander—a lieutenant—and his second in command, an ensign. Behind them was an electric kitchen, and next came the engines, first two sets of Diesel engines, one on each side of the corridor, each of 400 horsepower. These were for running on the surface. Then came four bunks for the quartermasters and last the electric motors for running under the surface. The motors were run from storage batteries and were half the power of the Diesel engines. The quarters of the crew were along the sides of the forward corridor. The floors of the corridor were an unbroken series of trap doors, covering the storage tanks for drinking water, food and the ship's supplies. The torpedo tubes were forward of the men's quarters. Ten torpedoes were carried. The ammunition for the deck gun was stored immediately beneath the gun, which was mounted between the turret and the first batch, abaft the turret. Besides the turret there were three hatches in the deck, one forward and two aft.

There were thirty-four men in the crew. Each quartermaster was directly responsible for six men, while the commander and his second were responsible for five each. The men are counted every two hours, as there is[229] great danger of men being lost overboard when running on the surface, and in bad weather they are sometimes counted as often as every half hour.

The turret was divided in two sections. In the after part was the main hatch and behind it a stationary periscope, standing about thirty inches above the surface of the water when the deck was submerged and only the periscope showing. There was no opening in the forward section of the turret, but the fighting periscope, which could be drawn down into the interior or pushed up to ten feet above the surface when the vessel was completely submerged, extended through the top.

It is with this periscope that the vessel is navigated. The submarine sails at a depth at which the fighting periscope shows about eighteen inches above the surface, while the commander, standing on two iron grips, with his head, shoulders and body in the turret and his legs sticking down into the cabin, keeps his eyes glued to the sights of the periscope, which he constantly turns from side to side to take in all points of the limited horizon. The part of the fighting periscope that extends above the water is a brass rod about two and one-half inches in diameter, while its eye is only three-quarters of an inch in diameter. It is on this tiny opening that both the safety and fighting ability of the vessel depend.

For two hours, turn and turn about, the commander and his second stand watch on the iron grips in the turret, one eye on the periscope, the other on the compass. And this goes on for weeks on end. It is only when they lie for a few hours fifty to seventy-five feet below the surface that they can get some rest. And even then there is no real rest, for one or the other of them must be constantly on duty, testing pipes and gauges, air pressure, water pressure and a thousand other things.

[230]

I met the next day another officer whose mustache and eyebrows were black as jet, but whose hair was silver white. He was thirty-eight years old. For six years and a half he had been a submarine officer, he told me.

"Why did you quit it?" I asked him.

"Too old," he said.

"Is there an age limit?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "but a man knows when he is too old for the work."

Yet nothing would induce those who have not yet found themselves too old to leave it. One would think the sailors, at any rate, would find the life tiresome or too dangerous. I talked to several of them about it, but they all agreed that they would not change.

"Is this life better than on a battleship?" I asked one sailor.

"Oh, yes," he replied. "I would not go back to a battleship."

"What makes it better?" I asked.

"It is more tranquil," he answered.

Tranquil, sixty feet under water and your life hanging on a gauge that needs a good heavy wallop to make it work.

When we dropped through the hatch into the interior of the submarine and the cover was clamped down over our heads the commander at once ordered me back into the turret.

IV—"WE RAN SUBMERGED THROUGH A MINE FIELD"

"Hurry, if you want to see her dive," he said.

I climbed into the after section of the turret and fastened my eye to the periscope. Around the top of the[231] turret was a circle of bulls' eyes and I was conscious of the water dashing against them while the spray washed over the glass of the periscope. The little vessel rolled very slightly on the surface, though there was quite a bit of sea running. I watched the horizon through the periscope and watched for the dive, expecting a distinct sensation, but the first thing I noticed was that even the slight roll had ceased and I was surprised to see that the bulls' eyes were completely under water. The next thing there was no more horizon. The periscope also was covered and we were completely beneath the surface.

"Did it make you sick?" the commander asked, when I climbed down from the turret, and when I told him no he was surprised, for he said most men were made sick by their first dive.

The thing most astonishing to me about that experience was how a submerged submarine can thread its way through a mine field. For though the water is luminous and translucent one can hardly make out the black hull of the boat under the turret and a mine would have to be on top of you before you could see it. The men who watch for mines must have a sense for them as well as particularly powerful sight.

We continued to dive until we were sixty-eight feet below the surface, too deep to strike any mine, and there we ran tranquilly on our electric engines, while the commander navigated the vessel and the second in command opened champagne in the two by four mess room. After half an hour of under-water work we came near enough the surface for our fighting periscope to stick twenty inches out of the water and searched the lonely horizon for a ship to attack.

It was not long before we sighted a mine trawler, steaming for the harbor, and speeded up to overtake her.

"Pikers!" said our commander, as we circled twice[232] around the mine trawler; "they can't find us."

Five men on the trawler were scanning the sea with glasses, looking for submarines. We could follow all their motions, could tell when they thought they had found us and see their disappointment at their mistakes, but though we were never more than five hundred yards from them I did not think they were pikers because they did not find us. I had tried that hunt for the tiny wave of a periscope.

"No use wasting a torpedo on those fellows," said our commander. "We will use the gun on them."

"How far away can you use a torpedo?" I asked.

"Two hundred yards is the best distance," he said. "Never more than five hundred. A torpedo is pure guesswork at more than five hundred yards."

We crossed the bow of the trawler, circled around to her starboard quarter and came to the surface, fired nine shots and submerged again in forty-five seconds.

The prey secured, we ran submerged through the mine field and past the net barrier to come to the surface well within the harbor and proceed peacefully to our mooring under the shelter of the guns of the land forts.


[233]

TALE OF THE CHILD OF TERBEEKE

How It Saved a British Battalion

By Oliver Madox Hueffer

In this little story the author sets down the facts of a very remarkable affair—how a child saved a British battalion from annihilation, thereby giving rise to yet more legends of the "Angels of Mons" description. A true story from the Wide World Magazine.

I—THE STORY OF HIPPOLYTE

In the days to come the historian will find fruitful scope for a work on faith, as shown in the Great War. And among the "Angels of Mons" and other celestial visitants I hope he will find a niche for the "Child of Terbeeke."

I came across the story—and the child himself, for that matter—when I was billeted with my battalion at Durdegem. Durdegem is as ugly a little Walloon village as you need look for, but, internationally speaking, it is as interesting as ugly. It stands on French soil; you could almost throw a tin of bully-beef, if you were so unpatriotically wasteful, into Belgium; what is, for all practical purposes, temporarily Germany is not more than three miles away; yet English is almost the only language you will hear in the streets. Even the children, those who are left of them, speak English; they say "Na poo" or "No bon," and sometimes, it is to be feared, a swearword, as patly as a bombardier. This is really less surprising than that there should be any children at all, with the German lines so close; but things have been comparatively quiet thereabouts for months past, and[234] though some of the houses are still ruinous and others have had their windows blocked with sandbags so long that already the grass is beginning to grow upon them, the inhabitants have settled down to the not unprofitable task of selling comforts to the British soldiers who are always passing and repassing.

I was billeted upon Madame Tavernier, who owned the Blanchisserie du Cygne and was rapidly making her fortune out of the laundry bills she rendered to British officers, who are notoriously millionaires and well able to pay for the privilege of defending Northern France. With Madame Tavernier there was also staying—while other arrangements were being made for him—Hippolyte, otherwise famous as the Child of Terbeeke.

Hippolyte was not yet six, but already he could say "Slee-o-pums" and "Stunt-ease" and "Fum-fers" so plainly that any drill-sergeant would have wept with pride to hear him. Also he wore the full uniform of a British sergeant-major, with puttees and a walking-stick and the badge of a famous Line regiment, all specially made and presented to him for his very own. Also, although he was temporarily the paying-guest of Madame Tavernier and allowed himself to be petted by a whole serial-story of British officers, he had a service-battalion to act as his father and to fight for him any battles he might wish fought. It is to be feared that a precocious understanding of these facts had made him rather conceited, and I do not think I should have liked him very much had I remained with Madame Tavernier longer than three days. Anyhow, this was his story, as related to me by that excellent lady and vouched for by a cloud of witnesses.

Hippolyte came from Terbeeke, which is in the south of flat Flanders. Madame declared that he was the son of a professor at Louvain University, and added that the[235] professor quarrelled with his wife soon after the birth of Hippolyte, and that the wife thereupon returned to her native village.

Hippolyte, therefore, at a very early age indeed, went to live at Terbeeke. Terbeeke, I understand—for I was never there—lies just at the southward edge of the Flemish flats. Northwards the country is as flat as a drawing-board, criss-crossed with dykes and little canals; to the east is a wide State forest, and to the south a range of low hills. Between the little town and the hills lies what in pre-war days was Terbeeke's one claim to fame—the Terbeeke mere or marsh, forming a crescent to the south and west. I do not know how broad or wide it is, but it has been famous for centuries as bottomless, and a whole cycle of legend has grown up round it, dealing with the notabilities of one kind or another who have been drowned in its brown, oozy depths. Perhaps because of this evil fame it has never been drained, and is to-day as darkly ominous as in the times of fairies and lubber-fiends.

The mother of Hippolyte lived in a small and lonely house at the other side of the marsh from the town of Terbeeke. She must have possessed some private means, for she seems to have carried on no business of any kind, but to have devoted most of her time to religion, crossing the marsh-arm several times daily to the parish church, which stood in the centre of the town. Otherwise her days were passed in solitude, for she lived quite alone with the child, their only companion being a large dog. She passed the time not taken up by religion in wandering about the marsh, for she had few friends, and the people of Terbeeke often saw the three moving about the surface of the quagmire in places where there was no known track.

[236]

II—IN PATH OF PRUSSIAN INVADERS

Time passed, and the war broke out. Terbeeke was not in the direct path of the invaders, and, sheltered behind the forest, it almost seemed to the townspeople as though they might escape the fate of the rest of Belgium. But the respite was not for long. The low muttering of distant guns grew every day louder; the stream of fugitives hurrying through the forest and past the town towards the French frontier grew always denser; at last the climax came. A British officer dashed into the town at three o'clock in the morning and hurried into the Mairie. The civilian population, it was announced, must evacuate their houses instantly.

There followed the usual scenes of frantic terror and chaotic haste that happened so often during the opening chapters of the Great War. The one road out of the town was blocked with every kind of conveyance, from bicycle to dog-carts; there were blocks at every corner; precious minutes were wasted in useless recriminations; and long before the last civilian had left, the turmoil of desperate fighting was heard coming always nearer through the dim mystery of the forest.

It was one of the incidents of the Great Retreat. A flank battalion of British infantry, by some mishap, lost direction. Cut off from the main body, and fighting desperately, it was driven always further from the path along which safety lay, until at last, flinging itself into the forest of Terbeeke, for a whole day and night it held off the furious attacks of a brigade of Prussians.

But the odds were too great. Slowly but surely the battalion was forced back through the forest to the very outskirts. Back from there, after another frantic assault, it reeled, reduced now to two sparse companies—some[237] three hundred men in all—-across the little edging of cornfields into the stricken streets of Terbeeke.

There, at last, it found some respite. The Prussians, having learnt by bitter experience the fighting value of the "contemptible" little force arrayed against them, jibbed at the open frontal attack across bare plough-land, and remained hidden within the forest, awaiting reinforcements.

Meanwhile the British remnant fought desperately to establish themselves within the village and turn every house into a citadel; while their commander, a lieutenant of something under twenty-one, racked his brain for some way of escape. At one time it might have been possible to skirt the northern edge of the marsh, but already the attacking Prussians had pushed forward, and the British were now enclosed within a triangle, formed as to its sides by the overwhelming Prussian force, and as to its base by the impassable fastnesses of the mere.

"Unless something happens pretty quick," said the C.O. to his second-in-command, a boy of nineteen, "things are pretty considerably all U-P." (He said something to that effect, I mean. Madame Tavernier's narrative did not, of course, fill in such details.)

They were standing in the porch of the old church, gazing disconsolately over the flat stretches of marshland. The Boche fire had temporarily ceased, and they devoted the respite to seeking some way by which the marsh might be crossed even at the eleventh hour. But there was none, or none which they could discern.

"Wonder what they are waiting for?" said the boy, lighting a cigarette.

"Bringing up the guns, of course. It will be dark in an hour." The young C.O. gazed hopelessly to where the sun was already dropping to the cloud-capped western[238] horizon, straining with ominous red the reedy pools before them.

"Moon will be up, though."

"All the better for them. I should give the village another two hours. And then——"

"You aren't going to surrender, surely?" There was the quiver of horror in the young voice.

They were interrupted by the C.S.M. of B Company.

"Not more than ten rounds a man, sir," he reported. "Machine-gun out of order." He made his report with the tranquil woodenness of his kind, without a quiver of voice or muscle. (If you say that it is impossible for me to know what these men said, or how they behaved, I can only reply that I have been through the same sort of thing myself.)

"Thanks, major. Men come in that were sounding the marsh?"

"Report there is no way across, sir."

"They certainly won't find one now it's getting dark. Better get back to your posts. They will begin again soon."

Even as he spoke there came the complaining whine of a four-inch shell high overhead.

III—THE BABE ON THE BATTLEFIELD WITH HIS DOG

Possibly it was the new sound that woke Hippolyte, or perhaps Casper, the mongrel wolf-hound, took it for the challenge of some ancestral enemy. At least, some half-hour later No. 21687 Private John Smith, of C Company, had a vision. He was not naturally an imaginative man, but he hastened to report it to the C.S.M.

"Lummy, sir," he said, "if there ain't a bloomin' angel comin' across the bloomin' marsh!"

[239]

And, sure enough, across the very centre of the shivering quag came a small figure, clothed in a long white robe very like those attributed to mediæval angels, and with a golden aureole about its head, cast by the last rays of the dying sun. Actually it was no angel, but little Hippolyte, looking for his mother. She had left him, very early in the morning, to go to Mass, trusting him, as often before, to the care of Casper. Usually she was not gone for more than half an hour or so. On that day, however, she had not returned in one hour or in three. She never would return, for before the third hour she was lying dead in the little square before the church-door—one of a group of six, men and women, who had been caught leaving the building when the Germans, in their first assault, enfiladed the main street with machine-gun fire. They lay side by side, very peacefully, just as they fell, for the hard-pressed defenders of the village had found no leisure to remove them.

Hippolyte waited very patiently—as was his wont. He cried a little from loneliness at first, but his mother, before she left him, had set out the little portion of milk and bread that was to be his breakfast. Growing hungry, he sought for it in its accustomed place, ate it, and fell asleep again. It was the dog at last that disturbed him, later in the afternoon, by whimpering and scratching at the door, and gave him the great idea of starting out to find the mother who was so long in returning.

Child and dog set out together along the imperceptible track of safety that crept and twisted across the marsh. Alone Hippolyte would almost certainly have strayed from it, but the dog's surer instinct guarded him until, just at the moment when hope was at an end, he came as a vision of hope to the spent company of Englishmen.

That is practically the end of the story, for you can imagine the rest, except, perhaps, that the child, when he[240] had almost reached the hard ground, grew afraid of the sound of firing, the noise overhead, and the gaunt, stark men staring at him in wondering silence. So he turned homeward again, Casper stalking beside him, sacrificing his lust for battle to his duty as foster-father. But they went slowly, the child often turning back to stare with wondering eyes at the increasing chaos behind him and, as the more impressionable among the soldiers would have it, beckoning them to follow him towards safety.

Follow they did, but as unbeaten soldiers should, in good order and with due precautions—and so escaped. The Germans lost time before they entered the deserted village, for they feared an ambush. When they did enter, it was long past sunset and the night was too dark to do anything before dawn. Even then they had no guide to show them the track across the marsh, and they were forced to skirt it, losing so much time that the British battalion—if you can call less than three hundred men a battalion—got clear away, and in due course picked up the main body, taking with them Hippolyte and Casper.

You would say, if you did not know human nature, that there was no room for a legend of celestial intervention. But you would be wrong. Even in the rescued battalion—long since brought up to strength and upholding its laurels elsewhere in the line—the story holds good that somewhere unspecified on the Belgian frontier an angel, mediæval in every detail down to aureole, wings, and celestial robes, did actually intervene and rescue it from under the very noses of the baffled Boches. And this although Hippolyte, adopted child of the regiment, sports his sergeant-major's uniform for everyone to see, and Casper, brilliantly caparisoned, stalks as a mascot should behind the drums. Elsewhere the legend has assumed new details, as I realized when a very excellent clergyman assured me that it was ... George himself,[241] mounted upon a white horse (so transmogrified, I take it, was black Casper), who rode up and down the line before the 2nd Battalion of the West Loamshires, shaking his sword at the advancing Prussian Guard, who not unnaturally fled in disorder. Perhaps, in Terbeeke, he has by this time become Ste. Gudule, or some other patron saint of the Belgians, with a fiery dragon or whatever be her saintly attributes. I don't know, because, as I say, I was never in Terbeeke, but here at least you have what really happened, as Madame Tavernier told it to me in the front room of her Blanchisserie du Cygne, in the village of Durdegem, and in the presence of Hippolyte himself, who afterwards begged shamelessly for sous.


[242]

A HERO TALE OF THE RED CROSS

Told by G. S. Petroff, War Correspondent of the "Russkoye Slovo," Moscow

The following incident is narrated in M. Petroff's account of a battle on the eastern front. Translated for Current History.

I—STORY OF THE WOUNDED GERMAN

One of our soldiers brought with him a German officer, who could hardly stand on his feet. His leg had been pierced by a bayonet, his shoulder was bleeding from a bullet, and his arm had been bruised by the butt end of a rifle. He was losing consciousness from pain and loss of blood. As soon as the soldier led him to our place he dropped with his whole weight to the ground. The doctor bandaged him, exclaiming: "What luck! Three wounds, and in spite of all of them he will be well soon. The wound in the leg is only a flesh wound, his arm is badly bruised but not broken, and only his collarbone at his shoulder is broken. In a month he will be all right again. Just look! what a handsome fellow, and what expensive underwear!"

The bandaged officer came to himself, looked around the yard, and, seeing the farmhouse in the background on fire, he sharply seated himself.

"Now be quiet, calm yourself," said the doctor, speaking in German and taking the man gently by the shoulders.

"My wife, my wife!" cried the German, tearing himself forward.

"Where is the wife?"

"There, in the house, in the fire!" He made an effort[243] to get off the stretcher from under the doctor's hands.

"Is he delirious or what?" muttered the doctor in Russian. "There is no one in the house," he added soothingly in German. "Your German wounded were there, but they were saved in time."

"But my wife? My wife!" cried the captive in terror.

"What wife? How did she come here?"

"She is a nurse. She was here with the wounded. We loved each other, we married only a year ago. She became a nurse. Our regiment happened to be near their hospital. Your offensive was unexpected. There was no time to remove the hospital. The other nurses left, but she would not leave when I was so near. Where is she? My wife!"

"Did any one see a German nurse in the house or yard?" asked the doctor, turning to the Russian soldiers and telling them briefly what the prisoner had said:

"There was no woman," came the response. "The house was empty. Look at the fire within. Even mice would have run out by now."

At this moment something metallic shrilled through the air. A heavy German shell flew over us.

"Scoundrels!" cursed the doctor. "They are firing on us—and their own wounded! We must get out of this. Two or three more shells and they will begin dropping in the yard. Carry our wounded first, then theirs. Hurry, or we shall remain here for eternity!"

II—A WOMAN'S FIGURE AT WINDOW OF BURNING HOUSE

The captive officer, apparently powerless, could not rise from the stretcher, where he was lying with one of his soldiers who had been wounded before him. He gazed devouringly at the blazing house. Suddenly he shouted[244] savagely: "There, at the window, under the roof! Look, she is breaking the window—where the smoke is pouring out!"

We looked at the roof of the blazing house, and, in truth, there was a woman's figure in white, with a red cross on her breast. The doctor shouted: "Eh, fellows, it is true! A woman was left in the house—a nurse—his wife!"

"What can be done?" asked the stunned soldiers. "The whole house is on fire, and she is not strong enough to break through the window frame. She must be weak from fright. But why did she go up? Why not down?"

"There's no use guessing!" shouted a bearded fellow, evidently from the reserves, throwing off his overcoat.

"Where are you going?" cried the soldiers.

But he was already out of reach of their voices. He rushed into the house. All were stupefied, fearing to breathe. A minute passed, another, a third. Then at the window appeared the bearded face of the Russian soldier. There came the sound of broken glass and wood. Above our heads something was shrilling, but no one paid attention to the German shells. The soldier broke the window, dragged the woman into the open air. She was unconscious.

"Catch!" rang from above, and a big white parcel came down. The soldiers caught it successfully on the hero's outspread overcoat. Only one of them was hurt in the eye by the heel of her shoe.

"How will our chap get back to us now?" asked the soldiers of one another. "It is hell inside."

"Oh, he will get out, all right," said some one. "It is easier to get out than to get in. He knows the way. And if he burns some of his beard, no harm; he has a large one."

"Carry her to her husband!" ordered the doctor, "and[245] get out from here immediately. The Germans are shelling us. Take away the rest, and don't forget the couple," remarked jokingly the doctor, happy over the incident. "I will wait for our hero. He may be burned."

The soldiers caught the remaining stretchers, and nearly ran out of the yard. At that moment a big German shell struck the burning house. A deafening explosion shook the air. The walls trembled, shook, and fell. The heroic soldier had not had time to get out. He remained buried under the ruins.

When the woman recovered consciousness near her wounded husband she did not understand where she was. She murmured in perplexity: "Dream, death? Otto, is that you? Are we together in heaven?"

"On earth and both alive," calmed the doctor.

"How did you get to the upper story?" asked the husband.

"I saw Russian soldiers run into the house. I feared violence, so I ran upstairs. I thought I would run down later, but then came the fire.... A soldier appeared behind me and I was terrified to death."

"But that soldier saved you!" sighed the doctor.

"How? Where is he?"

"In heaven, if there is such a place for heroes." The doctor then told them all. The German officer and his wife both cried.

"But how was it that your guns were firing at a farm which you were occupying?" asked the prisoner.

"Our guns?" exclaimed the doctor, who was already bandaging a new victim. "It was your guns that were shelling a house over which flew a German Red Cross flag. Our soldiers were saving the lives of your wounded, and your guns were firing at both ours and yours. They killed the man who saved you. That's the way the Kaiser makes war."


[246]

LIFE STORY OF "GRANDMOTHER OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION"

Triumphant Return from Forty-four Years in Siberian Exile

Told by Catherine Breshkovskaya, the Russian Revolutionist

This life story of the "Grandmother of the Revolution," Catherine Breshkovskaya, is the living symbol of the Russian people's long and hard struggle for freedom. Of her seventy-three years forty-four have been spent in prison and Siberian exile. But neither the wilderness of Siberia nor the severity of convict labor has broken the spirit of this little woman. Entering the struggle against Czarism while still in its infancy, she lived to see its complete overthrow, and the Russian people remembered their loving "Babushka." They made her journey from Siberia to Petrograd after the revolution a continuous triumphal procession, such as no Czar or King has ever been accorded. Mme. Breshkovskaya, upon her arrival home, began touring Russia in the interests of Kerensky's policies. Her love for the common people, her influence on the peasantry, her faith in the stability of the New Russia, made her a great power. She has told the story of her life in the Petrograd weekly, "Niva," which has been translated by Isaac Don Levine for the New York Tribune. Here she tells for the first time how she journeyed afoot over Russia to preach "freedom from ignorance and political tyranny" to the peasants; how she was sentenced to Siberia; how she escaped, was captured, reimprisoned and flogged; and how on the news of the Czar's downfall she began her journey home on a sledge over the snow and ice to join her people in the establishment of the republic.

[247]

I—"I ALWAYS PITIED THE SERFS"

I was born in 1844. I passed my childhood and youth in the province of Tchernigoff, and all my life I remained grateful to my parents for the good and wise training and schooling which they gave me. They pitied the serfs and never oppressed them. Nevertheless there was a sharp difference between our life, the life of landlords, and that of the peasants in their cabins, such a shocking difference that my childish soul suffered greatly from the contradiction between the reality and the teaching of Christ. My mother would often read to us the New Testament and biographies of the great apostles of truth and love for humanity.

All my life I thought so much and ceaselessly about the needs of the people, the suffering of the people, that all my sorrows and joys are bound up with the people. And I always made it my duty to serve the people and do all that is necessary to open the people's eyes to its own life and wants.

My own life was entirely composed of love and devotion to my country and people and of a passionate desire to serve them with all the powers in my possession up to the very hour of my death.

I am asked: "How did I arrive at the firm resolution to live only for the people?" I think that this resolution was always present in me, from my youngest years, from the very beginning of my conscious life.

When I turn back in my mind to review my past life, I see myself, first of all, a little five-year-old lassie, who suffered at heart for somebody: for the coachman, or the chambermaid, or the day laborer, or the oppressed peasants (at that time serfdom still existed in Russia).

The impressions of the people's suffering sank so deeply[248] into my childish soul that they never deserted me afterward in all my life.

I was seventeen when, in 1861, the peasants were freed of the violence of the landlords, but were so badly supplied with land that the laboring masses were again forced to go into slavery to the wealthy. The agitations among the peasants provoked terrible executions. Their torture was taking place before my very eyes, strengthening my aspiration to serve the people with all my might, so as to lighten their bitter lot.

No revolutionary circles and organizations were known to exist at that time in the provinces, but there soon came the activity of the Zemstvos, and I applied to it all my efforts. Ten years I labored in the peasant school and the village, organizing credit-savings banks, mutual aid, co-operative shops and campaigns on the eve of the elections of judges and rural boards. My work was progressing, the confidence of the peasants in me was helping it along, but against me and my assistants the nobility arose, reporting us to the ministers, and the labor of many years was swept away as if with a broom.

The schools and banks were closed, all the honest people of our county and the whole province of Tchernigoff were placed under police surveillance, many were exiled to the northern provinces and me they began to persecute.

II—"I DECIDED TO START A REVOLUTION"

I clearly perceived then that the government of Alexander II introduced reforms only on paper, only seeking to create the impression that it desired to better the life of the population. Actually, however, the government wickedly persecuted every attempt to help the laboring people to emerge from the darkness into light, to approach knowledge, to proclaim its own rights.

[249]

It was clearly evident, not only in our locality but throughout the whole of Russia, that the government feared knowledge in the people and endeavored to keep it in a state of rightless slavery. This compelled me to seek another path, another way of working in the interest of my beloved people, and toward the end of the '60s I decided to go to Russia in search of men with whom to start an illegal struggle, i.e., a movement forbidden under the Czar's laws.

For more than two years I wandered about Russia, ever looking for some revolutionary centre, which could exist only as an underground organization. Gradually, by changing one kind of work for another, I penetrated into a rather large organization, which had decided to get personally in contact with the people, not through books and proclamations.

At that time the difference between the sea of peasants and the little lake of intellectuals was so great that they were, entirely ignorant of one another. Besides, the moujik's suspicion of any person bearing the appearance of a "gentleman" was so deeply rooted that it was impossible to carry to the peasant and labor midst any message and retain the dress of the gentry. It was necessary to change the appearance from foot to head, to look a perfect plebeian.

I put on a peasant dress, threw a bag across my shoulder, obtained a stick and set out to tramp. Although I did not tramp the country long, only one summer, yet I succeeded in visiting many villages, and nowhere did I meet with distrust. The peasants eagerly listened to my talks and those of my comrades. We told them that the land ought not belong to the few; that it should be placed in possession of all the people, of all those who wish to toil on it; that there ought not be such a system which permits the selling, mortgaging, buying and renting of[250] thousands of acres by a few hands, while people were starving nearby because they lacked the land from which to obtain bread. The peasants would agree with us and also say that the land ought to belong to those who labor on it, who till it.

We would also tell them that the landlords were oppressing the people; that they had seized all the government in their hands; that the bureaucracy was fraternizing with the landlords, hindering the people from living a free life. In this the peasants would also agree with us.

We had difficulty only talking about one subject, the Czar. We tried to explain to the peasants that the Czar was acting concertedly with the nobility and bureaucracy, that he it was who was the chief oppressor of the people. But the peasants would not want to believe it. They were so distant in those days from understanding state affairs, being unable to read, because of general illiteracy, and lacking fundamental knowledge, that they had no idea how much evil the Czarist form of government had done to the nation.

The peasants trusted the Czar; they were convinced that the Czar was a kind master of Russia who had to maintain an army to defend her from enemies, and that the peasants had to till the land, pay taxes, for the maintenance of the army. They thought that the Czar loved his people and took care of them, and, if officials did oppress the people sometimes, it was due to the fact that they deceived the Czar. And if the Czar were only to learn the whole truth he would drive out the officials and again become a loving father to his people.

III—"I TOLD THE PEASANTS THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CZAR"

Such were the beliefs of the peasants about the Czar.[251] In spite of it all, I continued to tell them the real truth about the Czar, explaining to them that the Czar knows of all the oppressions and is in charge of every one of the oppressors. The peasants would say that I was mistaken, but, nevertheless, listened to my arguments, and not one of them insulted me with vulgar language.

I was not alone in the tramp from village to village. Three thousand youths went to the people at that time, spreading all over the thirty-six provinces of Russia, and we all talked to the people on the same subject; we all endeavored to arouse the people to a good, free life. However, the government soon discovered our activities and began to arrest many, imprisoning, exiling to hard-labor settlements and to Siberia.

I was arrested entirely by accident in 1874. I was "covering" the provinces of Kieff, Podolia, Tchernigoff and Kherson, and had in my bag detailed maps of these localities, in order to know my way and avoid arousing suspicion by questions. Whenever I stopped in the village cabins no peasant would ever look into my bag, and thus no one could ever find out who I was.

But once, while stopping in Tulchin, the Province of Podolia, the woman-laborer of the peasant who gave shelter to me looked into my bag and discovered the maps there. To an illiterate person every printed word was a rarity, especially in those days. It will be understood, of course, that the laborer was shocked by her discovery. The same day she went to do some gardening for the sheriff and told him everything. The sheriff became alarmed and hurried off to look for me.

And I, without suspecting anything, was at the time returning from the market, where I purchased a couple of apples, some pork and bread.

Suddenly I saw the sheriff racing toward me in a carriage, shouting: "Get into the carriage!"

[252]

Well, I understood immediately what the trouble was. I got into the carriage and kept still.

We arrived at the cabin. "Where is the luggage of this woman?" The peasant replied: "She has no luggage, but she has a bag."

The bag was examined and what could they find in it but maps and proclamations? Clearly, my case was closed.

The sheriff was rather inexperienced, simple-minded, so he unfolded the proclamations and started to read them aloud, before the whole crowd. The peasants, after listening to them, said:

"These are the real words. The whole truth is written there. This is the very truth which the nobles have hidden from us."

In the meantime the examining officer arrived, and there both of them began to read the proclamation aloud. Meanwhile a multitude of peasants gathered, listening even under the windows. They learned my proclamation by heart. The county police chief was notified. He arrived, immediately perceived the meaning of it all, and ordered me to prison.

IV—"I WAS HANDCUFFED AND LOCKED IN A DARK CELL"

In those days a woman propagandist was something unheard of and unseen. In fear of this new phenomenon the warden of the Bratzlau jail thought it necessary to incarcerate me immediately in a dark cell and handcuff me. A month passed in wandering about country prisons, till gendarmes came, took me away from the police and dragged me first to a Kieff jail, then to Moscow, and finally to Petrograd, where I was tried with other offenders after being kept in prison for four years in solitary[253] confinement. The condition of the imprisonment was serious. Of the 300 prisoners held for total only 193 survived, among whom there were 37 women. During all of my imprisonment I made no explanation to the judicial authorities, and I was condemned to five years of convict labor. But it was not dreadful. Nothing was dreadful when one had faith in one's righteousness.

My healthy organism and ripe age helped me endure the many years' torments at a time when the young, tender lives fell sick quickly and were carried off one after another by death, leaving a feeling of atrocious pain and indelible bitterness.

But we all retained our eagerness for activity, so early interrupted by an evil hand. The thought of returning to the party, to revolutionary work, lived in our minds in the form of a red-hot nail, and aroused all our abilities, all our power to seek a means to escape. There, to the fighters, to the bright populists, our spiritual vision was directed.

I was already in on the rights of a settler, beyond the Baikal, in Barguzin, when, together with three men comrades, I moved into the hilly taiga, with its thousands of impediments and dangers. Our daring escape, which ended in our capture while wandering about unfathomed abysses and rocks, has been described by Tiutchev. I, as a former hard-labor criminal, was condemned to four years more of penal servitude and forty whips, which, however, the authorities did not dare to apply, "in order to arouse against the administration the political exiles," as the Military Governor of the Outer Baikal said in his report.

I was thus forced to go, in 1882, after another year of imprisonment, to the same old Kara mines, at that time full of prisons for convicts and politicals. Both the first and the second perished there of scurvy, typhus,[254] endless tuberculosis, but mostly the convicts, as the officials disregarded them entirely and kept them in the most shameful conditions.

My second arrival at Kara was for me rather a joyous occasion. When I first came there I was the only woman doing hard labor; it was not fashionable yet to send women to mines. But now I found already sixteen or eighteen feminine comrades, and all of my second term I passed in the best society in the world. The annual term of convict labor consisted of eight months and my term flew past me unnoticed. Only one thing was aggravating, and that was to see how the frailer among us in health gradually sank and surely neared their graves, in the blossom of their lives.

V—"I LANGUISHED FOR EIGHT YEARS IN A DEAD CITY"

In 1885 I was again sent on the rights of a settler beyond the Baikal, in the dead city of Selenginsk, where I spent eight of the most sad years of my life. The naked steppe, the nailed-up cabins and the tireless trailing of the police became my lot. I was given neither the rights of a peasant nor a passport for travel in Siberia. And the heart burned with a passionate desire to escape, to renew the struggle with the enraged foe and take revenge for the innocently destroyed powers for good—the daughters and sons of our motherland. I sought, attempted, fought against obstacles, but all in vain. The steppe beyond the Baikal, the moundless Mongolian steppe, and, on the north, the inaccessible Baikal were the severe allies of the guard with which the authorities had surrounded me. There was no railroad nor steamship connection with the outside world. Right there then, in lifeless Selenginsk, I languished for eight whole years,[255] languished like a hawk in a cage. All alone, ever yearning, I would go out into the steppe and in a loud voice pour my tempestuous heart, longing for freedom, into space.

There was not a day on which I did not think of escaping, and I was always ready for any risk and peril, clinging to the littlest possibility to get away, but all in vain. No one, absolutely no one, promised any help. All those in whom it was possible to confide considered any attempt to escape foredoomed. My soul ached. And only the thought of my comrades—convicts who were sent to the Yakutsk huts, only the thought of their suffering made me forget my own. The eight empty years of my life in Selenginsk have remained all through my life a gray void, eating up the warm feelings of a warm heart. I filled my time with work, so as to be able to send my earnings to the dark prisons, snowbound wastes, to the hungry, forgotten comrades. I read, studied, in order to know how mankind lived, and how far or near was the possibility of transforming it into that "intelligent being" with whom it would be joyful to live. "Have patience," I would tell myself in the moments of keen grief; "be patient, endure to the end; you will get what you are waiting for."

In 1890, after living for four years on the rights of a peasant, I finally received a passport to travel all over Siberia, and on the same day I departed from the suffocating place so as to gradually approach the boundary of European Russia as my term was nearing its end. My health was much undermined by the severe trials I had undergone in solitariness. Anæmia and strong neuralgia had tormented me in Selenginsk. But the inherited vigor of the organism soon returned to me, and the last four years of my life in Siberia, spent in journeying from town to town, I succeeded in having many conversations[256] with young and mature people—succeeded in making allies of some of the leading citizens of Siberia. And when in September, 1896, I returned to Russia I found there many students of both sexes whom I taught in Siberia the theories and the urgency of regenerating the old watchwords. They soon tackled the work of liberation, and many of them remain loyal to this date to our principles.

VI—"WHEN I CAME BACK FROM SIBERIA"

Again I arrived in Russia in September. But upon my arrival I encountered a new movement, which was rapidly conquering a place for itself. Marxism was taking hold of, capturing, the minds of the youth, and the old fighters were regarded as dead forces. But faith in the force of personality, faith in the healthy strength of the people, a knowledge of their aims and needs lent so much firm confidence to my energy that, without hesitating a moment, I began to do some practical work, which had ripened in my mind as long before as the celebrated trial, in 1878, when I declared to my judges that "I have the honor of belonging to the Russian socialistic and revolutionary party, and consequently do not recognize the authority of the Czar's courts over me."

Eighteen years passed after that, and my adherence to the party of socialism and revolutionism lived in me as freshly and ardently as in the days of my arrest and trial. Confidence that the peasant masses, these pillars of the state government, will obey the voice of their friends and will not be slow to follow their leaders—this confidence urged me to hasten the consolidation of the various forces likely to join the Social Revolutionary party, as it has been christened from its very beginning.

It is necessary to bear in mind that from Siberia I[257] came back to Russia all alone. I did not even have the addresses of the old comrades who remained in safety in the gloomy folds of Alexander III's reign. And it took considerable time, care and patience before my tireless but modest little journeys about Russia netted definite results as to acquaintance with people and opportunities. The readiness of the peasants to join the party became ever clearer, and on the fourth year of endeavor the party loudly proclaimed its existence, and in the fifth year all the separate committees recognized one centre. Both the increase in membership and growth in activity attracted the savage attention of the Czar's government.

In 1903 the party suffered an enormous wreck. Wholesale arrests and searches robbed it of many of its leading workers, of its best printing shops and stores of literature. It was necessary to replace all that. By this time the work of the party had developed and grown strong abroad, thanks to our talented and zealous emigrants, who bent all their energies for the publication of party organs and popular books and pamphlets.

In order to recall this youth to immediate activities at home, in Russia, I went abroad for the first time. In May, 1903, I boarded a steamer in Odessa and accompanied by an experienced contrabandist-intellectual, went, by way of Rumania, Hungary and Vienna to Geneva, Switzerland, where there centred the group of the party workers who were scattered in Paris, London and Switzerland. At this conference we were fully joined by the old fighters of the past '70s, Shishko, Volkhovskoy, Lazaroff, Tchaikovsky.

The youth, which frequented all our lectures and debates, listened attentively to the voices of our speakers. Victor Tchernoff, the editor-in-chief of our central organs (and Minister of Agriculture in Kerensky's first Cabinet), victoriously defended the position of the party[258] against the attacks of our opponents. At the same time I persistently spoke of the necessity to tackle the real task, to propagate our ideas among the peasants and workmen, to organize all the forces capable of and ready to enter into a battle with the old régime, ready to sacrifice their lives for a free Russia. And thus it was that a stream of young people of both sexes began to flow back to Russia, carrying with them Social Revolutionary literature, and the booklets "In Battle Shalt Thou Obtain Thy Rights" were lavishly spread on all the roads of the Fatherland.

VII—"I VISITED AMERICA—MY FRIENDS OF FREEDOM"

This task, the labor, of directing the forces of young Russia occupied two whole years of my life. It is true I succeeded in the meantime in visiting America, where I was urgently called by the friends of freedom. I sent out from there considerable sums of money to cover the expenses of the organization, mainly for literature, the import of which into Russia was very expensive. In the United States I acquired many genuine friends, who have remained faithful to me ever since. They proved it by profuse attention to all my needs during the last years of my exile and imprisonment, and from 1907 to 1917 they never ceased even for a week to take care of me.

When the blows of the open struggle of 1905 had reached me I again crossed the boundary into my country, but this time I passed it on foot, running across in the company of two "contrabandists" and a comrade who carried with him a supply of dynamite.

That was the Russian revolution marching, challenging all Russia to an unequal combat.

Everybody knows the events of 1905, 1906 and 1907.[259] The efforts of the revolutionists of all parties were unable to withstand the physical force of the evil government, but they have not only shaken up the paralyzed mind of the great people, but enticed them into demonstrating their power and seeing themselves as a victor, though temporarily. The combat was already nearing its end; the banners were already lowered and hidden for the next spiritual and physical upheaval; already the executioners were hanging and slaughtering, shooting and torturing the best champions of freedom; but my spirit was yet far from submission, my heart was still heaving with hope, and with head forward I threw myself into the thick of events. After the wreck of the second Duma I anticipated a new outburst of indignation on the part of the people. But apparently the cup of doubts had not yet been exhausted, and the people ponderingly looked into the future, not risking to sacrifice their remaining feeble forces.

VIII—"THE HANGMAN'S ROPE WAS AT MY THROAT"

It was in the days of such oppression on one side and vain strainings of all energies, on the other that I was arrested in Samara in 1907, again in the month of September.

It seemed to me that this time I would be unable to escape alive from the hands of the hangmen. This was what I thought. But I felt otherwise. Two years and nine months I was kept in the fortress of Peter and Paul, thinking not of that, but of the time when Russia, after the inevitable victorious and triumphant second revolution, would take up the work of construction and transform our powerless country, our almost illiterate people, into an exemplary state, which could serve as a[260] model to other peoples in culture as well as in social reform.

Faith in the possibility of seeing my country free, my people developing in material and spiritual plenty, gave me strength, exalted my powers. I found myself still able to work with the people and for the people and was grieved to waste time in exile, in the listlessness of the Siberian taiga. I again made preparations for an escape, aiming to join my party comrades, who called me, in revolutionary activity. And again my escape failed. Only two or three hours separated me from my goal from a sure shelter and it was painful to fall again into the hands of the enemy after a thousand miles' journey in the winter.

The thought occurred to me again that they would not pardon me my attempts to escape, my efforts to identify myself again with the revolutionary movement. At the same time there pulsed so much life in my heart that I could not imagine the end of my activities. Neither the long terms passed in jail nor my exile in Yakutsk had dimmed my spirit. "I will live through all this," said an inner voice to me; "I will live through everything and live to see the bright days of freedom." From Yakutsk I was brought to Irkutsk, and my life here was filled with the same persecutions as my exile in Kirensk. I fell very ill and observed how the physicians carefully concealed from me the danger of my malady. It seemed so strange to me that people could think of my fatal end when my soul was full of complete faith that time was bringing me nearer daily to a different kind of end, the triumph of the revolution.

The longer the war continued the more horrible its consequences grew, the clearer the rascality of the government manifested itself, the more patent appeared the[261] inevitableness of the rise of democracy all over the world, the nearer advanced also our revolution.

I waited for the sound of the bell announcing freedom, and wondered why this sound was tardy in making itself heard. When in November of last year explosions of indignation followed one another, when irate calls were exchanged among the several groups of the population, I was already planted with one foot in the Siberian sleigh, feeling sorry only that the snow road was beginning to melt.

The 17th of March a telegram reached me in Minusinsk announcing freedom. The same day I was on my way to Atchinsk, the nearest railroad station. From Atchinsk on began my uninterrupted communion with soldiers, peasants, workmen, railroad employees, students and multitudes of beloved women, who to-day all bear the burdens of the normal and now also abnormal life of a great state.


[262]

TALE OF AN AMAZING VOYAGE

German Officers Escape from Spain in a Sailing Vessel

Told by Frederic Lees

The Spanish Premier, Count Romanones, recently stated that the sensational story of the escape from Spain in a sailing vessel of a number of interned German officers, as briefly reported in El Liberal, of Madrid, is officially confirmed. With extraordinary assurance, the fugitives set out to sail right round the coast of Great Britain and reach a Belgian port, but the elements and the British Navy intervened, and the audacious scheme miscarried. The author's private sources of information have enabled him to throw light on a number of episodes which, in the Spanish and German newspapers, were intentionally left obscure. Related in the Wide World Magazine.

I—AT OFFICE OF GERMAN VICE-CONSUL IN SPANISH PORT

One sunny morning in July, 1916, the German Vice-consul of Vigo was sitting in his office opposite the wharves of the little Spanish port. The voluminous contents of his mail-bag lay before him, and at the moment in question his eyes were intently fixed on a long, official-looking document—a type-written folio sheet bearing a list of names, preceded by a memorandum. As he read on, his expression became more and more serious. Twice he read the document through, pondering awhile over one of the names. Then he hastily pressed the electric-bell button on his desk.

[263]

The Vice-Consul's clerk, Hermann Fischer, appeared instantly, note-book and pencil in hand.

"It's too soon yet for the correspondence, Fischer," said the Vice-Consul, "but I've got here a list of those eleven officers who were arrested the other day, and who are interned at Pampeluna. I want you to fetch the Navy List and look up one of the names—Lieutenant Karl Koch. It looks familiar to me."

Fischer was back in a trice with the desired volume, and, having hunted out the right man from a multitude of Kochs, proceeded to read forth the biographical information to the attentive Vice-Consul: "Karl Koch, born 1873, at Düsseldorf; educated Frankfort and Heidelberg; joined the Imperial Navy 1890; U-boat lieutenant 1914."

"That'll do!" interjected the official. "I thought it must be the same man. He and I were at Heidelberg together. Dear old Karl! To think it has fallen to my lot to do him a good turn! As a matter of fact, Fischer, we've got to see that Koch and certain others are made as comfortable as possible during their captivity amongst these blessed Spaniards. And if there's a chance of doing something more than that—well, all the better. On that point I've got an answer to this official communication to dictate to you. Perhaps, as you're here, you'd better take it down at once; then you can code it and get it on the wires for the Embassy at Madrid without delay."

Whereupon the Vice-Consul of Vigo proceeded to dictate his secret message, which showed how very wide his consular duties had become in wartime—duties such as only Teutonic diplomatic agents are expected to carry out.

Some people, in relating the part the Vice-Consul played in the adventure in which Lieutenant Karl Koch and his companions became involved, contend that it was[264] this officer who was the prime mover; that it was he who got into touch with the Vice-Consul, who promised all possible support. But I have reason to believe it was the other way about, and that the deus ex machina of the whole affair—from the very moment that the German Vice-Consulate received official information anent Koch's arrest and internment to the purchase of the Virgen del Socorro and her departure on her perilous Odyssey—was the Vice-Consul, whose fortuitous acquaintanceship with the lieutenant of the submarine (captured and interned in circumstances which need not here be dwelt upon) redoubled his official zeal. If that is not so, what of the indiscretions of his clerk Hermann Fischer? What of those of the intermediaries through whom the Vice-Consul got possession of the Virgen del Socorro? What of the convincing evidence of the hotel and lodging-house keepers of Vigo who, all unknowingly, harbored the fugitives? What of the incriminating documents in the Vice-Consul's own handwriting, or that of his clerk, which I am assured came into the possession of the Spanish authorities?

II—SECRET MESSAGE TO GERMAN EMBASSY IN MADRID

But I will not anticipate events any further. Enough has been said to enable me to take up the thread of my narrative from the time the Vice-Consul dispatched his coded message regarding Lieutenant Karl Koch to the German Embassy in Madrid.

Having signed his despatch and given Fischer sufficient work to keep him busy until noon, the Vice-Consul sallied forth with a satisfied mien and walked leisurely, almost aimlessly, towards the quays, gazing out occasionally over the bay. In the distance could be seen two[265] German vessels, interned since the beginning of the war, one of which was the steamship Wehrt. At last, on reaching the deserted end of one of the quays, the Vice-Consul, glancing quickly over his shoulder, stopped and gave a low whistle, which was answered almost immediately by a similar signal and the sound of a boat grating against the side of the quay.

"Ach so! There you are, José," said the official, as the boatman became visible. "I was afraid you would be late. You can row me this morning to the Wehrt."

And with a final precautionary look to right and left, the German Vice-Consul disappeared over the side and clambered down the iron rungs of a ladder into the boat.

The captain of the steamship Wehrt, condemned to a captivity which eternally rankled in his breast, was always ready to extend a hearty welcome to the Vice-Consul of Vigo. Their periodic meetings, arranged as far as possible in secret, constituted a safety valve. The captain could fulminate to his heart's content against the tyrant of the seas—Great Britain; the Vice-Consul could give full rein to his taste for intrigue.

Behold these two, then, tête-à-tête in the captain's private room, and exchanging confidences over the luncheon table. The captain, deprived of official information for the past three or four days, was thirsting for news regarding fresh developments in the war, and his lean, bronzed face lit up with eagerness when he inquired if the Vice-Consul had anything new and special to report.

"Ya wohl! Something of the greatest importance," replied the official. "A matter for consultation, and in which your advice will be valuable."

And the Vice-Consul proceeded to put the skipper au courant with the bare facts concerning the predicament in which Lieutenant Koch and his companions found themselves at Pampeluna, the official request for whatever[266] assistance he could render them, the strange coincidence of Koch and himself being old college chums, and so on.

III—THE CONSPIRACY IN THE CAPTAIN'S CABIN

"It's very evident, captain, that we must do something for them," continued the Vice-Consul. "Pampeluna is a long way from Vigo, but I think something can be done if we put our heads together. I can't read all that's in the official mind which inspired that memorandum, but it's quite clear the authorities regard Vigo as the most convenient open door for Koch and his ten brother-officers. An open door, provided it is held open for them. The question is, how are we going to do that? I can see a way of solving part of the difficulty. You can leave the Pampeluna portion to me. There are plenty of ways of opening prison doors in a country like this. As a landsman, I am convinced I can open the land door without much trouble, but it requires a sailor like you to attend to the sea door. That's way I've come to you."

"And you couldn't have come to a more willing man," replied the captain, emphatically. "Try and realize what I've had to suffer on this infernal ship during the last twenty-three months, with the eyes of the authorities continually on me and the Wehrt, and every little jack-in-office sniffing around at unexpected moments, and you'll understand how I feel for your friend and his companions. Yes, we've got to do what we can for them. The submarine is the only effectual weapon left to Germany, so if we succeed in returning to her eleven of her brave U-boat men we shall truly have done good patriotic work. Now, at the back of my brain I've got[267] a plan. You're welcome to it. You know, I suppose, that the Virgen del Socorro is for sale? She's as tight a little schooner as ever left the port of Vigo. I've often admired her lines and speed as she sailed past the Wehrt. Now, when this war is over and we've reduced everybody's tonnage, save our own, to a minimum, the Virgen del Socorro will be worth her weight in gold. At the price she is going at to-day the boat is a splendid speculation. Why don't you buy her? You'd find it worth your while, I think, to be the sleeping partner."

"Not at all a bad idea, captain. But are you certain the Virgen del Socorro is in the market? I thought it was owned by the brothers Z——, who have always looked upon the schooner as a sort of child of theirs."

"That is so. But ties of the closest affection have to be broken in these troubled times, and the brothers Z—— have decided to dissolve partnership. I dare say your boatman José, who ought to be well up in harbor gossip, will be able to tell you all about that. There's no doubt my information is correct. I can even tell you the exact figure at which the owners are willing to sell—eleven thousand five hundred pesetas."

"Dirt cheap, considering the times," said the Vice-Consul, thoughtfully. He took an extra long pull at his beer tankard, and then, bringing the blue earthenware vessel down on the table with a bang, exclaimed, "By Jove, captain, you've put me on the right track! I'm beginning to see the way to do it. Listen!"

The plan unfolded was as follows. Using his boatman as an intermediary—José was generally believed to be fairly well-to-do—he would enter into negotiations with the brothers Z—— for the purchase of the Virgen del Socorro. One of the conditions of the agreement would be particularly tempting to the owners. On the understanding that the purchase was kept secret—the[268] rumor might indeed be set afloat that the brothers had decided not to part with their dearly-beloved boat—they should be allowed to retain possession until the very last moment before the schooner was required by the new proprietors. There was evidently a double advantage in this: it would allay any suspicions which inquisitive harbor authorities or other officials might have whilst preparations were being made on board the Virgen del Socorro for the reception of the fugitives from Pampeluna, and it would enable the Vice-Consul, the captain, and other helpers to carry out those preparations at their leisure. No one could say how long it would take them to prepare the road to the "open door" of Vigo. Though the Vice-Consul's secret service fund was still well supplied, it was no good to minimize the difficulties, which were greater than the captain of the Wehrt could possibly comprehend until he had explained the full extent of his plan.

The Virgen del Socorro was to be sent right round the British Isles, in order to descend the North Sea unobserved, and, flying the Dutch flag, reach a Belgian port. It was a risky plan, but, the British Navy notwithstanding, the conspirators thought it had possibilities of success. The Vice-Consul, in assisting the scheme, proposed to make the Fatherland a present of more than the eleven officers at Pampeluna.

It was advisable to get as many able-bodied German subjects on board as possible, and so he planned to include in the party of fugitives nine others, including four officers from the Goeben, a naval doctor, a law student, and two sailors, none of whom was interned, in addition to a sergeant interned at Alcala de Henares, seventeen miles north-east of Madrid. Twenty was certainly a large crew for a schooner of the Virgen del Socorro's size, but the voyage was to be undertaken during the[269] summer—and an exceptionally fine summer, too—so the risk of a mishap, provided there was good seamanship, was slight. As this question of weather was important, the Vice-Consul proposed to see to the purchase of the vessel without delay, and to communicate at once with Lieutenant Koch.

IV—SECRET PURCHASE OF SHIP—TO ESCAPE

Within the next few days the secret purchase by the Vice-Consul of Vigo of the Virgen del Socorro was an accomplished fact, and he had had his first interview at Pampeluna with his old friend, Lieutenant Koch. Other meetings followed, at intervals of a week or so, and before the end of the month, thanks to a lavish "greasing" of palms, the arrangements for the escape of the eleven officers and their concentration with other fugitives at Vigo were all made. The captain of the Wehrt, as surreptitiously as possible, bought inordinate quantities of provisions and stores during July, in order that José and the others might, at the opportune moment, tranship a part of them to the Virgen del Socorro.

At last everything was ready. Nothing remained to be done but for someone to send a signal from Pampeluna to the Vice-Consul at Vigo, who was to pass it on to other quarters. But the signal, so eagerly awaited on the appointed day, August 4th, never came!

Instead, two days later came a letter of explanation, stating that Lieutenant Karl Koch had fallen ill at the critical moment. The plan of escape, therefore, had to be indefinitely postponed. It was a bitter disappointment to the Vice-Consul, who pictured himself being reproached by his superiors for building castles in the air, if not being saddled with the whole of the expenses. But he consoled himself, in the presence of the captain[270] of the Wehrt, with the argument that it was "just as well, since it would allow the authorities time to go to sleep." The astute seaman could not, however, quite agree with this. He knew the advantage of fine weather for such a perilous voyage as the one projected, and feared that if the escape were not effected soon it might be too late or too full of risk to be worth undertaking.

Lieutenant Koch's illness dragged on for week after week. August went by, September came, and the hopes of the Vice-Consul of Vigo fell lower and lower. In the first three weeks in September the officer entered the convalescent stage. One result of his breakdown was, indeed, in his favor; he was allowed greater and greater liberty, and, on the plea of taking the air, got out several times in a motor-car, with the authorization of the governor and doctor of the prison and under the discreet eye of an official. Soon even this supervision was relaxed, and then, when October came in, the U-boat lieutenant saw the chance for which he and his companions had been waiting. It was about this time that the Vice-Consul of Vigo (now almost on the verge of despair) unexpectedly received the long-awaited warning.

V—PLOT LAID FOR THE FLIGHT

On the morning of October 5th, Lieutenant Koch and his companions, having obtained a pass for an unofficial "joy ride" in two motor-cars, set out for a little country village some twenty miles from Pampeluna. As they were all on parole and the chauffeurs of the hired cars were connected with the police, permission was given to the party to remain at their destination for luncheon. It was understood, however, that as soon as the meal was over the return journey should be made, so as to be back well before the day was declining. Koch and his friends,[271] through intermediaries introduced to him by the Vice-Consul of Vigo, laid their plans very cleverly. Just outside the village is a rustic inn where excellent luncheons are served. The dining-room looks out, at the back of the house, on to a garden with a bowling-alley and arbor, and this garden adjoins meadows, bordered by the railway line. Not far away is the little country railway station. What happened can easily be imagined.

The eleven officers had their luncheon served in the restaurant proper; the chauffeurs were served in a smaller room adjoining, looking out on to the front and the road. The landlord had been instructed (and had been well paid in advance for this and other little services) to ply these two worthy fellows with as much liquor as they could hold, with the result that they were deep in their cups long before the boisterous officers had got through their coffee and liqueurs. They were in such an advanced state of intoxication, indeed, that they took no heed when a singular silence followed the noise of voices and laughter in the adjoining room; and it was not until the appointed hour for departure had long since passed that they recovered their senses sufficiently to learn the truth. Their erstwhile "joy riders" had flown! They might have been seen, fully three-quarters of an hour before, strolling down the garden and making their way, as unobstrusively as possible, across the fields to the countryside railway station, where, provided beforehand with tickets for different stations on the line to Vigo, they boarded the train, once more in as nonchalant a manner as possible in groups of twos and threes, in different carriages. By the time the chauffeurs came to their senses and realized they had been fooled, the fugitives were well out of danger and, having got together again at the first big stopping-place, had put themselves en règle as regards through tickets for their common destination, to which[272] they continued to travel, however, separately, in order to minimize the risks of capture. The outwitted chauffeurs had another unpleasant surprise on rushing to their cars, with the object of dashing back to Pampeluna and recounting to the authorities their sorry tale of misadventure. Though they cranked their machines like madmen, the motors stubbornly refused to work. The reason soon became evident: the sparking-plugs had been removed by the far-seeing Koch.

Meanwhile, on October 2nd, the interned Sergeant Dietrich Gratschuss had slipped away from Alcala. His escape, facilitated by the four uninterned officers from the Goeben, who provided him with a suit of civilian clothes, thrown over a wall into the prison-garden where he worked daily, was made doubly sure by certain judicious bribes to a sentry, who kept his back turned and eyes averted at the critical moment. Gratschuss slipped into his disguise in a tool-shed, and calmly walked out of the prison-yard—saluted by the unsuspecting man on guard—as though he had been a visitor. His friends were waiting round the corner for him with a hundred horsepower motor-car, in which, with the other uninterned Germans (the naval doctor, the law student, and the two sailors), he was whirled away at sixty miles an hour. The whole of the journey to Vigo was made in this powerful car, which the owners had been able to provide with an amply supply of petrol and food for a long and rapid flight, lasting well into the night.

The whole of the machinery of the Vice-Consul of Vigo was now in motion. All the fugitives reached that port in safety and scattered themselves over hotels and lodging-houses.

A hue and cry was, of course, set up from Pampeluna and Alcala de Henares; but the Spanish police went off on various wrong tracks before they thought of ordering[273] a watch to be set at all the ports. Even when this tardy step was taken, no one ever suspected—so well had the Vice-Consul and his accomplices laid their plans—that Vigo was the port from which the escape was to be effected.

VI—MIDNIGHT—THE FUGITIVES BOARD THE SHIP

On October 6th the Virgen del Socorro, to allay any suspicion, made a voyage to sea, and, on returning, moored alongside the Wehrt. Then, one pitch-black night, the fugitives left their hiding-places. One by one they slipped out into the darkness and, following the narrowest and most deserted streets leading to the harbor, reached the quays unobserved. At such an hour of the night—it was getting on for eleven o'clock—they could be fairly certain of meeting no one, save, perhaps, a drunken sailor or two. These revellers took no more notice of Koch and his companions than they did of their own dim shadows. One by one, under cover of the darkness, the fugitives disappeared down the same iron ladder the Vice-Consul had used so often, into José's boat.

By midnight all the fugitives were on board the Wehrt, from whose well-replenished store-rooms they immediately began transhipping the provisions to the Virgen del Socorro. All through the night and until 2 A.M. this work continued. The Virgen del Socorro was then towed out a little farther into the bay, and on the first signs of daylight appearing her bow was turned north-east. Soon afterwards a fresh early morning wind sprang up from the land, her sails filled, and she set off on her long voyage.

What happened to the Virgen del Socorro I will now[274] relate, in accordance with details furnished by various members of her crew.

The little vessel had no sooner left Vigo and got out into the open than the land wind suddenly increased in strength and drove her into exceedingly rough and treacherous water. Some of the crew were for turning back, despite the risks that step would have entailed, and the matter was discussed at some length by Lieutenant Koch and the other leaders. They came to the conclusion, however, that they were "between the devil and the deep sea," and must keep on. It seems doubtful, indeed, whether, had they decided to make an attempt to get back to Vigo, they could have accomplished it.

That first day, and for many days afterwards, the Virgen del Socorro became a veritable plaything of the waves, which soon began to rise mountain-high. The sufferings of the crowded fugitives in this terrible weather were intense. All were drenched to the skin, and for more than three days and nights they had to remain in this miserable condition. To these tortures were added the craving for sleep and adequate nourishment, for, amidst the continual buffeting of the waves and wind, they could neither sleep nor get anything cooked. Under these conditions, it was not surprising that the twenty occupants of the Virgen del Socorro were finally reduced to the state of not caring what happened. One of the two sailors on board, on whose shoulders devolved much of the work of navigation, said that, "old seaman though he was, he had never before experienced such weather." He felt at times that "all his strength and hope were sapped," and hourly, during those terrible first six days, when the little schooner was tossed about like a cork, "expected death would relieve him of his tortures."

The storm then calmed down a little and gave the fugitives[275] a respite. They were able to dry their drenched clothes and attend to the needs of the inner man. At the same time they could pay more attention to the question of their course. On this score they were soon to receive a shock, for there hove in sight a vessel that was undoubtedly a British patrol. For a couple of hours there were many anxious searchings of heart on board the Virgen del Socorro. Would she, thanks to her insignificance and the Dutch flag flying from her mast, be taken for an inoffensive fishing smack, and be allowed to go unchallenged? That had been part of their plan all through.

At one moment it looked as though the patrol was bearing down upon them at full speed; but when the dreaded vessel got no bigger, but instead gradually receded into the distance, the crew of the Virgen del Socorro realized that for the time being they were safe.

VII—FOILED BY A STORM—THE CAPTURE

Safe from the clutches of their human enemies, perhaps, but by no means safe from the angry sea. Had some of the crew been able to foresee what was in store for them, they would perhaps have welcomed the arrival of that British patrol with outspread arms and expressions of joy. Once more they were caught up in the embrace of a furious storm, and driven helplessly westward, expecting every moment to be their last.

On October 24th another brief calm set in, enabling the navigator to ascertain his position. The little vessel was found to be some distance west of Bantry, on the south coast of Ireland. Here the storm again increased in violence, and once more the ill-fated Virgen del Socorro seemed likely to founder. A consultation was held by Koch and the other leaders. They came to the conclusion[276] that it would be madness to attempt to continue with the original plan. In such seas as were running, they would run the risk of being shipwrecked a hundred times before they got halfway round the British Isles. The only thing to be done, if they were to prevent the Virgen del Socorro from being smashed to matchwood on the British coast, was to keep as much as possible in the open sea and steer for the English channel, in hope of making the Belgian or Dutch coast unobserved.

Six more terrible days followed. By this time more than half the crew of the Virgen del Socorro were in a parlous condition. Their store of provisions had shrunk to such an extent that everybody had to be placed on rations, and the fresh water had dwindled so alarmingly that it was reserved for those who were actually on the point of collapse. Several of the crew, through the cold and constant seasickness, were utterly helpless.

It was about this time that the coast of Cornwall came into view, and on November 4th the crew found themselves in sight of Lundy Island, at the entrance of the Bristol Channel. From there, proceeding with a slowness which must often have driven them to the verge of despair, they circled the Scilly Islands, and it took them two more dreadful days before they had rounded the Lizard.

The Odyssey of the Virgen del Socorro had now stretched over no less a period than a month. Three of the crew had by now become delirious; all were reduced to half their ordinary weight, and with the exception of the hardened seamen were on the point of collapse. Although they had experienced several alarms, they had so far succeeded—no doubt owing to the awful weather—in avoiding the vigilant eyes of the British patrols. But now they no longer cared one way or the other; all the[277] fight had been knocked out of them by their sufferings.

On November 8th the little vessel approached the Goodwins. Shortly after dawn a British destroyer was sighted and reported by the man at the helm. Hardly a man on board, unless it was Lieutenant Koch, took the trouble to raise his glassy eyes when he heard the danger announced. Nor did they manifest any concern when it further became evident that there was no avoiding the vigilant war vessel. Nothing expressed so eloquently the fact that they regarded themselves as beaten as their attitude of utter indifference when they were challenged by the British destroyer. One and all were evidently heartily glad to confess their nationality, the circumstances in which they came to be there, and the extraordinary dangers through which they had passed.

The Virgen del Socorro was taken into Ramsgate, says El Liberal, the Madrid newspaper which published the first brief account of the adventures related above, and there we may well leave Lieutenant Koch and his companions. They are henceforth in safe keeping, for, with all their ingenuity and daring, the only thing they succeeded in doing was to exchange one prison for another, and at the same time drag eight free German citizens with them into durance vile.


[278]

THE POET'S DEATH IN BATTLE—HOW ALLEN SEEGER DIED

A Young American in the Foreign Legion

Told by Bif Bear, a Young Egyptian in the Foreign Legion

The artists of Europe—the painters, poets, singers—the æsthetes of France and Italy, of Britain and Russian, and of Germany, the Hungarian musicians—all answered the "call of war" and threw their souls into the "rendezvous with death." Thousands of them died on the battlefields. Among them is the young English poet, Rupert Brooke, and the American poet, Allan Seeger, who "loved France and gave his life to her." This young American enlisted early in the war in the Foreign Legion. He was fighting in the battles in Champagne in July, 1916, when he fell. A young Egyptian, who was with the poet in the trenches, tells of his end. After the battle, he wrote this letter to Mrs. Caroline L. Weeks, of Boston, who has acted in the rôle of "marraine" (godmother) to many American volunteers. The following is a translation from the French forwarded from Paris.

I—STORY OF THE AMERICAN POET

It was in the Thiescourt Woods, I remember, that I saw Alan on his return from convalescent leave. My section was in first line trenches and his, in reserve, in the second line. I was on soup fatigue and was going to the Chauffour Quarry when I saw him in front of me, walking along alone. Throwing down the marmites (tin receptacles) with which I was loaded, I rushed to shake him by the hand. He had, it seemed to me, grown slightly thinner, his pale face seemed slightly paler, and his eyes,[279] his fine eyes with their far-away look, ever lost in distant contemplation, were still as dreamy as ever.

He told me how sorry he was not to be still with me as he had been transferred to the first section and I belonged to the third. But we saw each other every day. He would recount the joys of his two months' convalescent leave, and I shall never forget how one phrase was often on his lips, "Life is only beautiful if divided between war and love. They are the only two things truly great, fine and perfect, everything else is but petty and mean. I have known love for the last few weeks in all its beauty and now I want to make war, ... but fine war, a war of bayonet charges, the desperate pursuit of an enemy in flight, the entry as conqueror, with trumpets sounding, into a town that we have delivered! Those are the delights of war! Where in civil life can be found any emotion so fine and strong as those?"

And we would exalt our spirits with hopes of making an assault with the bayonet, hopes that were not doomed to disappointment, for a few weeks later we were to attack.

II—AN ODE TO AMERICAN PATRIOTISM

One day while we were in reserve at the Martin Quarries Alan came to look for me. He was full of joy and showed me a telegram that he had received from Paris, asking him to compose a poem which he himself was to read in public at a Franco-American manifestation, for which he was to receive forty-eight hours' leave. Alan was overjoyed at the opportunity of obtaining leave, but was too retiring to think of reading his poem himself; he would try, he told me, to have it read by some one else.

The eve of the ceremony arrived—I cannot recall the[280] date—but no leave came. We were in the trenches and chance had placed me near Seeger in "petit poste" (the small outlook post, some yards in advance of the first line trench). He confessed that he had lost all hope of going, and I tried to find all sorts of arguments to encourage him, that his leave might come at dawn, and that by taking the train at Ressons at 7 A.M. he could still reach Paris by noon and would have plenty of time, as the ceremony was at 2.

The morning came, and instead of bringing the much desired permission to leave it brought a terrible downpour of rain, and the day passed sadly. He found consolation in the thought that July 4 would soon arrive, when the Americans with the Foreign Legion might hope for forty-eight hours' leave, as last year. Alas! He little thought that on that date....

[The ceremony referred to was held on May 30, in connection with Decoration Day celebrations. Wreaths to the Americans killed for France were placed around the statue of Washington and Lafayette, in the Place des Etats-Unis, Paris. By an unfortunate mistake the forty-eight hours' leave granted for the event was made for June 30 instead of May 30. The ode which Alan Seeger composed for the occasion was printed in The Sun a few days after the author had fallen in battle.]

On June 21 we left the sector of the Thiescourt Woods for an unknown destination, which proved to be the Somme. We took the train at Estrees St. Denis and on June 22 about 10 A.M. reached Boves. Under a blazing sun, in heat that seemed to have escaped from the furnace of hell, we started for Bayonviller. We had undergone no such march since the war began.

Weighed down by their sacks, prostrated by the heat, men fell by hundreds along the road. Hardly twenty of the 200 forming the company arrived without having[281] left the column. Seeger was one of these few. He told me afterward of the terrible effort he had had to make not to give up. At every halt he drank a drop of "tafia" (rum and coffee) to "give himself heart," and when he reached the end of the march he was worn out, but proud—he had not left the ranks.

We passed the eight days of repose at Bayonviller, almost always together, seeking the greatest possible enjoyment in our life at the moment and making dreams for the future after the war. Alan confided to me that "after the war" caused him fear—that he could not tell what destiny reserved for him, but that if the fates smiled on him it was toward the Orient that he would make. He loved the Orient—Constantinople, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut had a powerful fascination for him; their names would plunge him into profound reverie.

"It is in the mysterious frame of the Orient," he used to say, "in its dazzling light, in its blue, blue nights, among the perfumes of incense and hashish, that I would live, love and die."

And then the talk would turn again on the war and he would say: "My only wish now is to make a bayonet charge. After that I shall see. Death may surprise me, but it shall not frighten me. It is my destiny. 'Mektoub' (it is written)." He was a real fatalist and drew courage and resignation from his fatalism.

During the night of June 30-July 1 (1916) we left Bayonviller to move nearer the firing line. We went to Proyart as reserves.

At 8 o'clock on the morning of July 1 there was roll call for the day's orders and we were told that the general offensive would begin at 9 without us, as we were in reserve, and that we would be notified of the day and hour that we were to go into action.

When this report was finished we were ordered to shell[282] fatigue, unloading 8 inch shells from automobile trucks which brought them up to our position.

All was hustle and bustle. The Colonial regiments had carried the first German lines and thousands and thousands of prisoners kept arriving and leaving. Ambulances filed along the roads continuously. As news began to arrive we left our work to seek more details, everything we could learn seemed to augur well.

About 4 P.M. we left Proyart for Fontaine-les-Capy and in the first line. Alan was beaming with joy and full of impatience for the order to join in the action. Everywhere delirious joy reigned at having driven the enemy back without loss for us. We believed that no further resistance would be met and that our shock attack would finish the Germans. After passing the night at Fontaine-les-Capy we moved in the morning toward what had been the German first lines. I passed almost all the day with Alan. He was perfectly happy.

"My dream is coming true," he said to me, "and perhaps this evening or to-morrow we shall attack. I am more than satisfied, but it's too bad about our July 4 leave. I cannot hope to see Paris again now before the 6th or 7th, but if this leave is not granted me 'Mektoub! Mektoub'!" he finished with a smile.

The field of battle was relatively calm, a few shells fell, fired by the enemy in retreat, and our troops were advancing on all sides. The Colonials had taken Assevillers and the next day we were to take their place in first line.

On July 3 (1916) about noon we moved toward Assevillers to relieve the Colonials at nightfall. Alan and I visited Assevillers, picking up souvenirs, postcards, letters, soldiers' notebooks and chattering all the time, when suddenly a voice called out, "The company will fall in to go to the first line."

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III—LAST PARTINGS OF COMRADES

Before leaving one another we made each other the same promise as we had made before the Champagne battle (September 25, 1915), that if one of us fell so severely wounded that there was no hope of escape the other would finish him off with a bullet in the heart rather than let him await death in lingering torture. He showed me his revolver, saying, "I have more luck than you. If I can still use one arm I shall have no need of any one," and then we rejoined our different sections.

About 4 o'clock the order came to get ready for the attack. None could help thinking of what the next few hours would bring. One minute's anguish and then, once in the ranks, faces become calm and serene, a kind of gravity falling upon them, while on each could be read the determination and expectation of victory.

Two battalions were to attack Belloy-en-Santerre, our company being the reserve of battalion. The companies forming the first wave were deployed on the plain. Bayonets glittered in the air above the corn, already quite tall. Scarcely had the movement begun when the enemy perceived them and started a barrier fire (artillery fire to bar any advance), the quick firers started their rapid, regular crackerlike rat-tat. Bullets whizzed and shells exploded almost as they left the gun, making a din infernal. And the wave went forward, always forward, leaving behind the wounded and the dead.

The losses were heavy and the enemy made a desperate resistance. The company of reserve was ordered to advance with the second wave of assault. "Forward!" cried the Captain, and the company deployed "in files of squadron," advancing slowly but surely under the enemy's intense and murderous fire.

The first section (Alan's section) formed the right[284] and vanguard of the company, and mine formed the left wing. After the first bound forward, we lay flat on the ground, and I saw the first section advancing beyond us and making toward the extreme right of the village of Belloy-en-Santerre. I caught sight of Seeger and called to him, making a sign with my hand.

He answered with a smile. How pale he was! His tall silhouette stood out on the green of the cornfield. He was the tallest man in his section. His head erect and pride in his eyes, I saw him running forward, with bayonet fixed. Soon he disappeared and that was the last time I saw my friend.

"Forward!" And we made a second bound, right to the wave of assault, which we left behind a little, and down we threw ourselves again. The fusillade became more and more intense, reaching a paroxysm. The mitrailleuses mow men down and the cannons thunder in desperation. Bodies are crushed and torn to fragments by the shells, and the wounded groan as they await death, for all hope of escaping alive from such a hell has fled.

The air is saturated with the smell of powder and blood, everywhere the din is deafening; men are torn with impatience at having to remain without moving under such a fire. We struggle even for breath and cries resound from every side. Suddenly a word of command, an order of deliverance, passes from mouth to mouth. "Forward! With bayonets!"—the command that Seeger had awaited so long.

IV—THE POET'S DEATH ON THE BATTLEFIELD

In an irresistible, sublime dash we hurl ourselves to the assault, offering our bodies as a target. It was at this moment that Alan Seeger fell heavily wounded in[285] the stomach. His comrades saw him fall and crawl into the shelter of a shell hole. Since that minute nobody saw him alive.

I will spare you an account of the rest of the battle. As soon as the enemy was driven back and Belloy-en-Santerre won I searched for news of Seeger. I was told of his wound and was glad of it, for I thought he had been carried away and henceforth would be far from the dangers of bullets and shells.

Thus ended this Fourth of July that Seeger had hoped to celebrate in Paris. On the next day we were relieved from the first lines and went into reserve lines. A fatigue party was left to identify the dead.

Seeger was found dead. His body was naked, his shirt and tunic being beside him and his rifle planted in the ground with the butt in the air. He had tied a handkerchief to the butt to attract the attention of the stretcher bearers. He was lying on his side with his legs bent.

It was at night by the light of a pocket electric lamp that he was hastily recognized. Stretcher bearers took the body and buried it next day in the one big grave made for the regiment, where lie a hundred bodies. This tomb is situated at the hill 76 to the south of Belloy-en-Santerre.

As I think of the circumstances of his death I am convinced that after undressing to bandage himself he must have risen and been struck by a second bullet. I asked permission on the night of July 6 (1916) when I heard of his being wounded, to go and see him, but I was refused.


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THE GUARDIAN OF THE LINE—HERO TALE OF LITHUANIA

Told by Frederic Lees

One of the most remarkable facts connected with the war on the Russian front is the large number of women who have distinguished themselves by conspicuous bravery, sometimes in the actual fighting-line, but more often in a civilian capacity. This story deals with the ordeal undergone by a humble railway-crossing keeper's wife in Lithuania, as told in the Wide World Magazine.

I—"THE LONELIEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD"

One morning in April, 1915, Stephania Ychas, the wife of the keeper of a railway-crossing to the north of the Lithuanian town of Shavli, felt the saddest and loneliest woman in the world. Do what she could, she found it impossible to rid herself of the feeling that a catastrophe was imminent—that the terrible war into which her country had been plunged meant the end of all things. Poor Lithuania! Once so fair a place, now so desolate a wilderness!

Stephania's duties, in these troubled times, kept her continually on the qui vive. At all hours of the day—and latterly during many of the night—she had to be in and out of her little house, in order to see that the rails were clear, or to note the numbers of the troop trains as they swept past towards the north. Backwards and forwards, from her door to the telephone, fixed against the wall on the right-hand side of a little window through[287] which she could overlook a big sweep of the line in the direction of Shavli, she went, welcoming the never-ending succession of trainloads of soldiers, wounded, or mere war material passing on to the new line of defence, and reporting their progress to the railway and military authorities.

Day after day, night after night, the great retreat of the Russian forces continued, until, single-handed as she was, Stephania Ychas was almost dropping with fatigue. A hundred times she told herself that human flesh and blood could never stand such a strain. It was not the fatigue alone which was crushing her. Added to her physical tortures were mental ones, the feeling of being alone, so horribly alone, and the knowledge that the enemy, as announced by the retreat and the nerve-racking booming of the guns, was rapidly advancing on Shavli, and that until Russia had had time to recover, the hated Teutons would inevitably overrun Lithuania as far as Vilna. At night her brain was filled with pictures of burning farms, ravaged orchards, and indescribable scenes of brutality such as she knew the German soldiers had been guilty of in Belgium and Poland.

A dozen times a day, dizzy and sick at heart, she had been on the point of staggering to the telephone to inform the commander of a neighbouring station that she could continue no longer. But a sense of duty had held her back. When it came to a point of renunciation, her stout Lithuanian heart said "Nay," and she recalled the parting from her husband and his final adjurations.

Buried in thought, while waiting for a train which has just been signalled from Shavli, she recalled the morning when Michael Ychas, suddenly called to the Colours, had left her. It seemed like an eternity since those days of the mobilization.

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II—"GOOD-BYE, STEPHANIA—GUARD THE LINE WELL!"

"Good-bye, Stephania," he had said. "Be of good cheer whilst I am away, and guard the line well. It is sad to leave you here all alone. Sad to be obliged to leave one's native country and abandon it to unknown dangers. How much better I should have liked to have defended Lithuania, I, a Lithuanian bred and born, than to have been drafted into a regiment bound for the Caucasus. As if the Government could not trust us in our own country! However, Stephania, you are left, and you are doing a man's duty. It makes me happy, in the midst of my misery, to think that you are there to look after the home and the crossing and the rails. Guard them well, Stephania, and rest assured that, in my absence, I shall constantly pray to the Virgin to watch over you."

Her reflections were interrupted by a shriek from the locomotive of the expected train, which was made up partly of compartments packed with soldiers, partly of wagons filled with the most heterogeneous collection of things she had ever seen in her life—pieces of machinery piled one on the top of the other, heaps of metal articles of every imaginable description, and every scrap of copper or lead, apparently, which Shavli contained. A waving of hands from the soldiers, a friendly yell from a hundred throats, and the train had sped on its way.

Stephania Ychas had no time now to waste over daydreaming. Hurrying into her cottage, she went straight to the telephone and rang up the commander of the station farther up the line. After ringing in vain for fully a minute, she got the connection and made her report.

"Train number three hundred and forty-six passed North Shavli crossing a minute ago," she said. "A mixed train, men and materials. Any news?"

[289]

"Shavli reports that things are getting warm," replied a voice. "I should not be surprised to hear that we have to leave before the day's out. You'd better 'phone to headquarters."

She lost not a moment in carrying out the suggestion.

"Halloa, halloa! Is that Shavli?"

"Yes," came a quick answer. "You're the North Shavli crossing-keeper, aren't you? Good! Well, we were just about to call you up. Matters are coming to a climax here. There are only two more trains to go through now. One with men will be with you in a couple of minutes at the latest; the other, with goods, should follow ten minutes afterwards. We are telling the driver to pick you up."

At this point the speaker was called away from the telephone, and an indistinct buzz as of a whole office in conversation, mingled with the trampling of feet and the slamming of doors followed. But finally the speaker returned.

"Halloa, halloa! Are you still there, North Shavli? Telephone forward all I have said, and prepare them for the worst."

Stephania Ychas, now tingling with excitement, did as she was bid. Once more she stood on duty to see the reported train pass, and again she went to the telephone to send her report forward. Having finished, she was about to hang up the receiver when, on looking through the window on her left, her eyes caught sight of something unusual far down the line, almost at the point where the metals curved out of view. To run and fetch a pair of glasses which, ever since the beginning of the war, she had kept hanging in their leather case by the side of the fireplace, to bring them to bear on the point in question, and at the same time to ring up Shavli, was the work of a minute. What she saw, though her calm voice in no way[290] revealed her inner emotion, made the blood run cold through her veins.

"Halloa, halloa! Are you there, Shavli?"

A reply came in the affirmative.

"For Heaven's sake remain at the 'phone. There's foul work going on near the great curve. You must give orders at once to keep back the train."

"One moment, and I will return," replied the railway official.

III—A WOMAN'S MESSAGE: "THEY ARE DYNAMITING THE RAILROAD!"

A pause, which seemed to the woman with the glasses fixed to her eyes an eternity, followed.

"You were just in time," continued the voice to her infinite relief. "Courage! Fear not. Orders have been given to pick you up, with the others along the line, when we evacuate the town by car. But tell us what is happening."

"I can see a number of men tampering with the metals," telephoned Stephania Ychas. "They have dismounted from their horses. One of them, an officer, is giving orders. Yes, I can see now. They are Uhlans, and are going to dynamite the line. There are at least twenty of them, evidently a portion of an advance guard that has made a turning movement round Shavli by way of the woods. Halloa, halloa! In the name of Our Lady of Vilna, do not leave the instrument. It is a blessing they did not begin by cutting the wire. Now they are scattering to await the explosion. There!"—as the speaker beheld the explosion, followed by a cloud of smoke and dust, which rose high in the air—"it is done. Holy Virgin! They are making off now. No, the officer is pointing here. They are coming towards me. Telephone to[291] the nearest military station to send me help immediately. And for the love of the saints, come back to the instrument!"

Stephania Ychas left the receiver dangling by its cords, and made her little home ready to withstand a siege. She locked and doubly bolted the door, and with the object of giving the Uhlans the idea that the place was uninhabited prepared to block up the windows with the boards which, as in most Lithuanian country cottages, served as shutters, fastened from the inside.

"Perhaps," she thought, "if they see the house shuttered, they will conclude it is uninhabited and will ride away."

Unfortunately, the Uhlans rode quickly, and Stephania had more than she could do with just one shutter, that which protected the little window on the left of the telephone, and which, when up, plunged the room into semi-darkness. Whilst she was fixing this barrier, the Uhlans surrounded the house and the officer momentarily caught sight of her. Simultaneously there came a violent knocking at the door with the butt-end of a rifle, a command to open, and the sharp crack of a revolver. A bullet crashed through one of the panes, traversed the centre of the shutter-board, and buried itself in the opposite wall.

The brave woman was now back at the telephone, but not before she had managed to make the entrance to her home doubly sure by dragging a heavy dresser against it.

"Halloa, Shavli! You have sent for help? Thank you. They have surrounded the house, and are trying to force an entrance. They have discovered that I am here. But they will have a difficulty in forcing open the door, unless——"

She paused and listened. There was a long and ominous[292] silence, which made her think at first that the enemy must have decided it was not worth while to waste further time over a woman. But the hope was short-lived. She heard a sharp command in German, the sound of muffled voices, a burst of laughter, and the clatter of horses' hoofs around the house. What was happening? Were they really riding off?

Again her hopes were shattered. The scampering backwards and forwards continued, one of the horses neighed, and she imagined she could almost hear the Uhlans' heavy breathing, sounds which brought back to her the danger which she had hesitated to frame in words. Very soon her fears were confirmed. A vision flashed to her brain and made her sick with fear. A faint cracking sound broke upon her ears from several points simultaneously, spreading until it seemed to envelope her on all sides, and especially over her head. By slow degrees the crackling grew to a roar, and then she fully realized what the barbarians had done.

IV—"HELP! HELP!"—A VOICE FROM THE BURNING THATCH

"Help, help!" called Stephania into the telephone. "They have fired the thatch. For Heaven's sake, send me help. But a few minutes and the rafters, I fear, will catch fire. Are you still there, Shavli? Oh, speak—speak!"

An exclamation, mingled sorrow and anger, came from the telephonist at Shavli.

"Oh, the ruffians, the abominable assassins!" he cried. "I beseech you to have courage. Help is surely on the way."

"I will try to be brave and do my duty to the end, as Michael told me," replied Stephania, as though to herself.[293] "But unless they come soon, it will be too late. The thatch has burnt like tinder. I can hear the flames roaring like a furnace underneath the rafters. There! One of them has given way and fallen on to the joists of my room. Already the heat is suffocating, the smoke almost unbearable. Holy Virgin! What a death."

"Alas, what more can we do than beg you to bear up?" returned the voice at Shavli, in an agonized tone. "We have just been informed that a party of Cossacks left twenty minutes ago to rescue you. Once more, courage! And may Our Lady of Vilna indeed protect you."

When Stephania Ychas next spoke through the telephone the roof fell in with a crash and pierced a hole, through which the burning embers fell, in the ceiling of her room. At the same time communication with Shavli was suddenly interrupted, either through the Uhlans having discovered and cut the wire, or, as is more probable, owing to the fire having fused the terminals. She could not, however, have sustained her appeals for help much longer. Indeed, it was not many minutes afterwards that, stupefied and blinded by the smoke, as she groped her way to the door in an instinctive movement towards the open air, she sank to the floor unconscious.

It is a characteristic of the Cossacks, many times admitted even by German military critics, and those who have been describing the operations in Lithuania for the enemy Press, that they rarely if ever waste a shot. Unlike the French cavalry, they do not fire from a distance, but fearlessly swoop down upon their adversaries and seek to bring them down, one by one, at a range of but a few yards. And that was the fate of the Uhlans, who, hungering to feast their eyes and ears on the suffering of a defenceless woman, lingered a little too long around the burning cottage of Stephania Ychas. Not one escaped.

[294]

Stephania Ychas did not lose her life after all. The brave Cossacks broke in the already half-consumed window and dragged her forth. She was badly burnt, but lived to tell this tale to a nurse in a Russian hospital, whither the railway officials of Shavli transported her, almost immediately after her rescue, in one of their motor-cars.


[295]

WITH A FLEET SURGEON ON A BRITISH WARSHIP DURING A BATTLE

Under Fire on His Majesty's Ship, the "Fearless"

Told by Fleet Surgeon Walter K. Hopkins, of the Royal Navy

I—ON A HOSPITAL SHIP IN BATTLE

On August 27 (1914) we were hoping to meet the enemy early on the following morning.

On August 28, at 3:45 A.M., "Action" was sounded off. Two cruisers (supposed enemy's ships) having been suddenly observed, had caused us to take up "stations" somewhat earlier than had been anticipated. It was quickly discovered, however, that the cruisers were our own. Shortly after, therefore, breakfast was piped to each watch in turn, and at about 7 A.M. the enemy's ships were actually sighted. From this time on to close upon 2 P.M., successive actions were fought between various opposing forces of the two fleets.

The day was fine and calm, while the sun gleamed through a very hazy atmosphere, in which patches of fog shortened up the visual distance from time to time.

I remained on the upper deck during the earlier part of the affair, and found it a most interesting and inspiring sight to watch our destroyers and the Arethusa and her divisions dashing at full speed after the enemy, while soon the frequent spurts of flame from their sides, the following reports, and the columns of water and spray thrown up by the enemy's shells pitching short or over,[296] began to create in most of us a suppressed excitement which we had not hitherto experienced, telling us that the "real thing" had begun, that an action was actually in progress.

Shortly our interest was to multiply fourfold, when the order to fire our own guns was given. After a time shells began to drop ominously near. I retired to my station, a selected spot just below waterline in the after bread room, one of the few available places in a ship of this class where some of my party of first-aid men could be accommodated; the other half of the party in charge of the sick-berth steward being situated at a similar station forward. This period one found trying. For knowledge as to how matters were progressing we had to rely upon fragments of information shouted down the nearest hatchway from someone in communication with those on the upper deck.

The rat-tat-tat! rat, tat, tat, tat! on our side from time to time, as we got into the thick of it, told us plainly of shells pitching short and bursting, whose fragments struck but did not penetrate the ship's skin; it was a weird sound, occasionally varied by a tremendous "woomp," which once at least made the paymaster, who was reclining near me on a flour sack, and myself, look hard at the side close by us, where we fully expected, for the moment, to see water coming in. As a matter of fact, this shell entered some forty feet away, bursting on entry into the Lieutenant Commander's cabin, while its solid nose finally fetched up in the wardroom, where later on it was christened "our honorary member." For this trophy I believe we have the Mainz or Koeln to thank. The wardroom steward found a similar piece of shell in his hammock that night. It had penetrated the ship's side and a bulkhead before finally choosing its highly suitable place of rest.

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The shells that missed us burst upon the surface of the ocean near by and, strange as it may seem to those not familiar with such things, the fragments flew from the water with sufficient force to dent the sides of the ship and to kill men when they dropped on the deck.

When a shell actually struck our ship and penetrated the structure there was a reverberating crash that roared from end to end and nearly drove our eardrums in and made work of any delicacy impossible. It was bad enough with us, but what must have been happening on some of the German ships that were now sinking and were being pierced by great shells from three sides at once I leave to some one with imagination.

II—"I WATCHED THE BURNING CRUISER SINK"

It would surely require the pen of a Dante to depict all the horrors that were happening on the German cruiser Mainz, as she went down. We knew that she was burning. The men stayed at their guns until the flames actually began to burn up their legs. The wounded lay in heaps on the deck and the flames destroyed them without help. The blood ran on the decks so that the men who were still trying to work the light deck guns slipped in it and fell.

Our shells passed through their hospital ward and killed the wounded and the surgeons as they were working over them. That any men could have passed through such an ordeal and retained their senses is a tribute to the wonderful effect of naval training and discipline.

The Fearless appears to have borne a somewhat charmed life—a large number of shells pitched just short and just over her—she was hit fair and square by seven, one of which played a lot of havoc with the middle deck[298] forward and the mess gear there. Her sides showed some twenty-three holes of varying size, and yet her list of casualties was only eight wounded, none dangerously. She also had two narrow escapes from being torpedoed, one torpedo passing just forward from an unknown source, and another aft from a submarine.

During comparative lulls I went onto the upper deck once or twice, to visit the forward station and to see that all was correct. For suppressed excitement and vivid interest I should say the seeker after sensation could scarcely ask for more than a modern naval action.

The shells were falling all about us, and why we were not sunk I can never understand. The captain kept the ship zigzagging on her course to upset the enemy's aim. At one time we came within 2,000 yards of the Mainz, which had already been partly wrecked by the long-distance fire from our big battle cruisers, the Lion, Invincible, and Queen Mary. It was our duty to help finish her without sinking our big ships.

She made two attempts to torpedo us. I watched one torpedo skimming through the water like a shark about ten yards from the bow, as it seemed to me. We just escaped it by a turn of the wheel in the nick of time. Then another skimmed by our stern, running over the spot we had left only a minute before.

"She's a goner," I heard one of our men say. The German cruiser was a burning wreck, but she kept the two small guns, one at each end, firing away to the last. Then one of our destroyers rushed in to close quarters and gave her the finishing blow with a torpedo.

III—THE WOUNDED ON THE BLOODY DECK

It was not until the latter part of the affair that I was called upon to deal with any wounded, and then a rapid[299] succession of cases were either carried or managed to walk to the main deck after, where, assisted by the first-aid party, I cleansed and dressed their wounds. Two or three returned to duty the same afternoon, the others being placed in the wardroom temporarily after dressings had been applied, a reliable first-aid man being placed in charge. In addition, one case was treated at the forward station, and later on in the day a man who had received a somewhat severe contusion and abrasion of the thigh from a spent fragment of shell reported himself. Seven of the eight cases were wounds due to fragments of shell and splinters of steel or wood from the ship. The exception was a scald of the forearm, sustained by a stoker while investigating a steam pipe burst by an exploding shell.

While I was occupied with the cases mentioned above, we had taken the destroyer Laertes in tow, she being temporarily disabled by gunfire; and the order coming to retire, we proceeded from the scene of action for some considerable distance, when I was ordered to go to the Laertes to attend to some seriously wounded, and tranship them. The Laertes was cast off, and lay some two cables away. Arriving on board I found the worst case was that of a young stoker in a serious condition from shock and loss of blood. He had sustained several shell wounds, one of which involved the left tibia and fibula, some two inches of the tibia being torn away from its middle third.

Around this patient the deck was covered with blood, and so slippery that I had to send for cloths to be put down to enable me to keep a footing. The condition of the deck enabled one to form an idea of how decks were on the Mainz, where 200 men were killed. Near by were two others, somewhat less severely wounded, lying on the deck, while just behind me lay two figures covered[300] with the Union Jack. The wounded had all received first aid, the wounds being neatly dressed, but considerable hemorrhage was going on. Returning with these cases to the Fearless I found several other wounded had already been brought on board from other destroyers. The sick bay, which had been prepared to receive the most serious cases, was soon filled, and others were sitting or lying on the mess deck near by.

Owing to the probable proximity of the enemy I had to bear in mind the necessity for all possible speed, which was awkward, as they required very careful handling. However, I hurried up as much as I was able. Sudden manoeuvring or the shock of shells hitting us might make our work impossible. Firstly, iodine was applied to the majority of wounds and their immediate area, and a fresh temporary dressing applied. Then ably assisted by the sick-berth steward and two first-aid men, I spent the next few hours in endeavoring to get these, for the most part, very dirty patients, as clean as possible. It should be added that, at this stage, morphia was administered by hypodermic injection to three or four cases, and again once or twice during the night. It was found to be very beneficial.

Many of the men had lost an arm and a leg, and in some cases both arms and legs. Several poor fellows had their faces almost entirely blown away.

I had prepared masks of lint for the faces, specially medicated, to relieve the terrible burns caused by the picric acid used in shells.

A German seaman, a brawny young fellow, suffered much pain and considerable loss of blood from a wound in his left foot. Examination showed the presence of a piece of metal, embedded in the lower part of the instep, from underneath which steady oozing of blood was occurring. I put the patient under chloroform, and he was[301] kept lightly under, most excellently, by the Paymaster, while I removed the fragment of shell and many pieces of loose bone. The removal proved more difficult than I had anticipated, owing to the numerous "talons" the piece of shell possessed. These pointed in all directions, and were embedded in the bones of the foot so firmly that it was rather like the extraction of a huge molar with a dozen or more distorted fangs. The fragment weighed some six ounces, and its removal gave the patient great relief.

A German seaman had compound comminuated fracture of right radius, ulna, and humerus, due to a huge wound in the neighborhood of the elbow. Multiple wounds of face and body and a scalp wound. This man appeared to be suffering from severe shock, was at times wandering in his mind, but at others quite clear. The wound in the scalp was found later to penetrate the skull in the left frontal region. He died after several days in hospital.

IV—"IT WAS VERY FINE SPORT"

A sub-lieutenant I discovered sitting in the wardroom with his legs upon a chair. He had sustained a "lozenge-shaped" clean cut shell wound in the middle of right thigh, about 5 inches by 2 inches, and passing deeply through the anterior muscles. He was very cheery and was only anxious to get back to his work, which he did after two or three weeks.

A captain-lieutenant of the sunken German destroyer V187 had been struck in the right side by a piece of shell, the force of the blow throwing him overboard just before his ship sank. He was taken out of the water about half an hour later. The wound was situated over the lower right rib, was oval in shape and about one and a half[302] inches in diameter. He was passing blood and had a good deal of pain in the abdomen. It was suspected that a piece of shell had penetrated the abdomen, but X-rays showed nothing.

He was a good type of officer. On asking him what he thought of the affair, he replied, "Ah, it was very fine sport."

The courage and endurance of the patients were admirable. In only one case did I hear any "grousing," as our sailors call any kind of complaining, and this was in one of the less severely injured. A suggestion that many around him were in an infinitely worse plight than he, and were enduring their troubles cheerfully, made a difference, and after a little refreshment he was as good as the rest of them. Some of the Germans were at first rather sullen, but their confidence was soon gained when they found that I could speak to them in their own language, and that we were intent upon doing our best for them.

I found beef tea, brandy, ship's cocoa made with milk, most useful and acceptable for those who could not take solid food. At first one or two of the Germans hesitated about drinking what was offered them, but they soon thawed and took their portion gratefully, and, in fact, their gratitude a little later for what had been done for them was remarkable.

I was able to report to the captain on the bridge, at about 4 A.M., that all cases had been dealt with, had been washed, dressed, fed and made as comfortable as circumstances would allow.

On arrival in harbor about midday on August 29, the more serious cases were transferred to Shotley Sick Quarters, the others to the hospital ship Liberty. I accompanied the former cases, and soon after seeing them safely disposed of returned to the ship, had some food[303] and turned in about 5:30 P.M., having been up some thirty-seven hours. Curiously enough, though tired, I could not sleep well owing to a bad cramp in both my calves, but I had passed a very interesting day and a half. (Told in the New York American.)


[304]

AIRMEN IN THE DESERTS OF EGYPT

Adventures of the Royal Flying Corps in Sinai

Told by F. W. Martindale

The land has its perils for the aviator, and so has the sea; but our "fliers" in Egypt have learnt to dread the treacherous desert more than anything else. Here are two little stories from the annals of the R. F. C.—one near tragedy, the other real tragedy, lightened only by the amazing self-sacrifice of a young officer and the dogged pluck of his mechanic, who posted up his diary while awaiting death. Recorded in the Wide World Magazine.

I—FLYING OVER THE ANCIENT HOLY LANDS

Whatever the professional distinction may be between the two branches of the aviation service, the broad difference in the public mind between the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service is that the former fly over land and the latter over sea. And whatever the relative advantages, and the reverse, of these opposite conditions may be, a certain amount of sympathy inevitably goes out to the naval airman in the supposedly more difficult element from which he starts and on which he has to make his "landing" on return. The mystery and the menace of the sea, which has always made sailors a race apart, is so real and apprehensible a thing, even to the landsman, that instinctively the sea is felt to be a source of greater peril to the airman than the land.

Be this as it may, it has fallen to the lot of the Royal[305] Flying Corps in this war to face an "element"—if one may call it such—as mysterious as the ocean, and not a whit less menacing. This is the desert—a thing which casts a spell upon those who have to dare it as potent and as fearful as any with which the sea holds the mariner in thrall.

Mutable to the eye as the face of the waters, sudden and fickle in mood as the sea itself, there lurks in the desert an even grimmer menace than that which gives the sailor his wary, vigilant eye. The cruelty of the sea is nothing to the cruelty of the desert. Ask the airman who has made trial of both, and he will tell you that better a hundred times the risk of falling into the clutches of the uncertain sea than the chance of finding himself at the mercy of the pitiless desert.

Here is a case in point—a little excerpt from the doings of the Royal Flying Corps, which it would be hard to match even in the records of that adventurous service. Pilot and observer set off in an aeroplane upon a single-handed reconnaissance towards the enemy's lines in Sinai. A long flight was made over the desert, and the machine was a long way from its base when that terrible bugbear known as "engine-trouble" developed. All attempts to right it in the air proved abortive, and a forced descent was made. The aeroplane alighted on the desert waste, and the two occupants worked feverishly to adjust the faulty mechanism. Their dismay can be imagined when they found repair impossible, and realized that between themselves and the Canal lay a stretch of some twenty miles of desert, over which no means of progress was possible to them save their own legs.

It says much for the loyalty to the duty of these two airmen that they carefully dismantled the gun which was mounted on the machine before setting fire to the latter,[306] and that they actually set off on their long tramp across the burning desert carrying the gun between them.

It soon became evident that any idea of saving the gun by taking it all the way with them was hopeless. The weight, not inconsiderable under any condition, was insupportable, and before long there was no course possible but to bury the weapon in the sand, obliterating as best they could all tell-tale traces which might reveal its hidden presence to a chance enemy patrol.

II—OVER THE BURNING DESERT WITH A GUN

Progress was easier when the cumbersome weapon had been disposed of. But it was not long before clothing had to be jettisoned also. The relatively thick and heavy garments of an aviator were intolerable under the savage rays of the sun, and one by one they had to be discarded. Even so, the going was terribly difficult and the journey most exacting. By means of a compass a direction due west was maintained, the one hope of the castaways being to keep on until some point on the Canal should be reached.

The hours went slowly by as mile after mile was laboriously covered. The strength of both men was steadily declining, but it was not until something more than half the estimated distance from their goal had been accomplished that either gave way. Then one collapsed; he could go no farther, he declared. His companion, well aware how fatally seductive a "rest" would inevitably be, bade him keep going, but without effect. The weary man's legs gave way beneath him; he sank down on the sand, and declared that he preferred to stay there rather than attempt to struggle on any longer. Advice, persuasion, cajolery, threats, and even force were of no[307] avail, and nothing remained but for the second man to continue the journey, with waning hope, alone. To stay with his comrade meant that both must inevitably perish miserably; by pressing on there was, at all events, a faint chance, not only of reaching the Canal himself, but of summoning aid to return in time to rescue the other.

For some miles the wretched survivor, now tortured by an awful thirst and so weakened that he seemed scarcely able to move his legs, staggered blindly on across the desert. He had consciousness enough to maintain his westerly direction, but as to how long he continued stumbling forward in this almost aimless fashion, or what distance he covered, he can hazard only the wildest guess. His progress became largely automatic. Force of will kept him moving, his reluctant limbs relapsing into semi-mechanical action.

At the moment of his direst extremity, as it seemed, when from sheer lack of power his body threatened to collapse altogether, the hapless wanderer espied a horse before him in the desert!

Now, if this were fiction, no writer, however cynical, would ever dare to introduce a horse at such a point of the narrative. The thing would be too absurd; the long arm of coincidence never reached so far as that! Nobody could be expected to believe it.

Yet the fact is as stated. At the psychological moment, when every new step taken might have proved his last, the wanderer saw before him in the desert the miraculous apparition of a horse. It can be easily supposed that at first he did not believe his eyes. In his half-demented state he feared the creature must be an hallucination—some trick of mirage, or the mere figment of his disordered brain. Only when he came nearer, and could hear as well as see the animal move, did a full realization of his good fortune begin to dawn upon him.

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III—TALE OF MODERN ARABIAN NIGHTS

A sail in unfrequented latitudes never seemed more truly a godsend to castaways at sea than this marvellous horse to the exhausted airman. It was but a stray animal belonging to some mounted unit which had drawn the peg of its head-rope and escaped from the horse-lines into the open desert, but to the incredulous eyes which suddenly perceived its presence it might well have been the famous magic steed of the Arabian Nights.

To catch the animal was the immediate thing to be done, and anyone who has tried to catch a shy horse in a paddock can imagine the hideous anxiety on the part of an exhausted man in approaching an animal which has the illimitable desert to manœuvre in, and has but to kick up its heels to vanish in a trice over the horizon. Fortunately, the creature evinced but little shyness, and suffered itself to be taken without difficulty. It is probable, indeed, that this desert encounter was not less welcome on the one side than on the other.

One wonders how the would-be rider ever managed to get astride his lucky steed. His legs had little enough capacity for a spring left in them. But necessity and hope in combination provide a wonderful incentive and spur, and somehow or other he scrambled up. He himself has hazy recollections only of this stage of his adventures, and beyond the fact that he did mount that horse, and manage to set it going in a westerly direction, his recollections are vague.

The next phase of the story is contained in the narrative of the officer commanding a patrol vessel on the Suez Canal, who relates that while on duty his attention was directed to a strange figure riding on horseback along the eastern bank of the Canal. At first sight he supposed it to be some mounted Arab or other nomad of the desert,[309] but on closer inspection the horse did not seem to be of native type, and the rider's garb appeared unusual. On nearer approach the strange apparition resolved itself into a white man, of wild and haggard demeanor, dressed in a torn shirt and very little else, who bestrode barebacked a troop-horse in distressed condition. Hailed by the patrol boat, the white horseman replied in English, and explained intelligibly, if a trifle incoherently, that he had come out of the desert, that his chum was lying some miles back in dire distress, if not already dead, and would somebody please hurry up and do something.

The conclusion of the story can be told in a sentence. A relief party was sent at once into the desert, the second airman was picked up exhausted but still alive, and at the date when the present writer last heard of them both parties of this strange adventure of the desert were little, if any, the worse for their experiences. As to the gallant troop-horse which played the part of a kind of equus ex machina, no peg in all the lines is now more firmly and securely driven in than his!

The story just related ends happily for all concerned; let me deal now with the reverse side of the shield!

IV—SHOT HIMSELF IN SELF-SACRIFICE

About the middle of June last year Second-Lieutenant Stewart Gordon Ridley, of the R.F.C., went out alone in his machine as escort to another pilot, who had with him a pilot named J. A. Garside. "Engine trouble" developed when Lieutenant Ridley had been flying for an hour and a half, and, as they could not put the matter right immediately on alighting, they decided to camp where they were for the night. Next morning, as Ridley's engine still proved obdurate, the second pilot decided to fly back alone to the base, and return on the following day to the[310] assistance of the two men. This programme was duly carried out, but when he got back the pilot found that Ridley and Garside, with the machine, had disappeared.

A search party was immediately organized to scour the desert, and on the Sunday tracks were discovered. It was not until the Tuesday, however, that the missing 'plane was discovered. Beside it lay the dead bodies of Lieutenant Ridley and Garside. A diary was found on the mechanic, and the brief entries therein tell the tragic story of those last hours better than pages of description. The diary reads as follows:—

Friday.—Mr. Gardiner left for Meheriq, and said he would come and pick one of us up. After he went we tried to get the machine going, and succeeded in flying for about twenty-five minutes. Engine then gave out. We tinkered engine up again, succeeded in flying about five miles next day (Saturday), but engine ran short of petrol.

Sunday.—After trying to get engine started, but could not manage it owing to weakness—water running short, only half a bottle—Mr. Ridley suggested walking up to the hills. Six P.M. (Sunday): Found it was farther than we thought; got there eventually; very done up. No luck. Walked back; hardly any water—about a spoonful. Mr. Ridley shot himself at ten-thirty on Sunday whilst my back was turned. No water all day; don't know how to go on; got one Verey light; dozed all day, feeling very weak; wish someone would come; cannot last much longer.

Monday.—Thought of water in compass, got half bottle; seems to be some kind of spirit. Can last another day. Fired Lewis gun, about four rounds; shall fire my Verey light to-night; last hope without machine comes. Could last days if I had water.

The captain of the Imperial Camel Corps, with which the aviators were co-operating, formed the opinion that Lieutenant Ridley shot himself in the hope of saving the mechanic, the water they had being insufficient to last the two of them till help arrived. The Commanding[311] Officer of the R. F. C. states: "There is no doubt in my mind that he performed this act of self-sacrifice in the hope of saving the other man."

The history of the R. F. C. is a short one, but it is already full of glorious deeds.


[312]

HOW SWEENY, OF THE FOREIGN LEGION, GOT HIS "HOT DOGS"

Told by Private John Joseph Casey of the Foreign Legion

I—STORY OF AN AMERICAN "WEST-POINTER"

Lieut. Charles Sweeny, of the French Foreign Legion, returned to New York to recover from a wound received during the French offensive in Champagne. Sweeny is an American, a graduate of West Point, and the son of a former president of the Federal Smelting and Refining Co., of Spokane, Wash. The following story, of a most unusual "Dutch treat," was told by Lieut. Sweeny to Private Casey, a New York artist, also fighting in the Foreign Legion, to the New York World.

You have read of the cordial exchanges of tobacco and tidbits between the men of the North and the South, who were facing each other as deadly foes in the rifle pits during the Civil War. These exchanges (the amicable ones, of course) were quaint and peculiar enough between those avowed enemies, even though both were of the same blood and spoke the same tongue. But the one which now interests us took place during the present war, between Lieut. Charlie Sweeny of the French Foreign Legion, and the Germans in the adjacent trenches; by which exchange the Germans got nothing, and Sweeny got a feast of "hot dogs!"

Sweeny, as you may infer from his name, is not a Frenchmen, even though he happens to be in the army service of France. I am also in the same service and my name is Casey. We are both Americans. Sweeny is[313] a West Point graduate, and a native of Spokane, Wash. After his graduation from West Point he married a Belgian girl and settled down in Paris. His wife and two small children are living in that vicinity at the present time.

When the war broke out Sweeny enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. He was promoted for gallantry in action; and last September, after leading us into the Boche lines during the Champagne offensive, he was decorated with the Legion of Honor. Lieut. Sweeny is the first American in fifty years who has held a commission in the French army.

But how Sweeny won his "hot dogs" is a different story.

One day when we were in the front trenches Sweeny handed me a cigarette. It looked like a Turkish cigarette and I duly remarked it.

"No," said he, and he indicated a large tin box filled with the same sort, which he had with him, "these are a present from our friends, the enemy. They were given to me by the Germans."

"Must have been sent over to you inside a 'Jack Johnson' shell," said I.

"I can see you don't believe me," Sweeny replied, "but it's a fact. They came in a hamper, together with two bottles of real Munich beer, an assortment of Westphalian ham, cheese, honey, sandwiches of roast veal and white bread, a few slabs of K bread, some pipe tobacco, and some—what do you think?—hot dogs! As sure as you're born, Casey, and if you'll believe me, I went for those frankfurters first! Oh, how many nights I have sat out here and thought how good one of those hot dogs, with a big gob of mustard on it, would be! But I never thought I'd ever taste any in the trenches. Yet only just now I have demolished four of them."

[314]

II—"LET SWEENY TELL IT"

Here was the way of it, as Sweeny told it to me:

"I started out about midnight with a patrol to have a look at a new German bayou between two fortlets beyond our lines. I strung my men out so as to give warning of any German patrol, and then led them past our sentries and the barbed wire. I was some distance ahead of my men, and had got well within the German lines without seeing or hearing anything of the Germans.

"Now this was not the first time that I had ever penetrated that far into the German lines, but it was the first time on such a mission that I had not had to dodge a German patrol; and very often their bullets. These things ran in my head continually and made me think that I had fallen into a very neat trap which the Germans had laid for me. I expected to see them rise from anywhere any minute, and hear the banging of their guns and the whistling of their bullets (if I was lucky enough to hear them, that is), and I began to wish myself well out of my predicament and back again in the comparative safety of our trench.

"This made me more cautious than ever, and presently I began to retreat. As I did so a round German helmet bobbed up out of a ravine not a dozen yards away. An instant later, at the other end of the ravine, another appeared. I squirmed away like a snake and got behind the only shelter in sight, a little scrubby tree, about three yards away.

"As I lay there quaking, wondering why the Germans did not shoot—for they must have seen me—I happened to look up, and there, hanging to a branch of the tree, was a fat, clean-looking basket. I reached up, the limb on which it hung being only a few feet from the ground, and lifted the basket down.

[315]

"Then in a flash the explanation of the puzzle was clear to me. The Germans had left that basket there and meant me to have it.

"With the basket on my arm I got up, bowed low to the round hats, and walked back to our trench without ever being fired on.

"Inside the basket was the assortment I have described to you. There was also a note something after this wise:

"'We have been in front of you for over a year, and it is not against our comrades, the French, that we are fighting, but against our enemy, the English. Let us join forces against our common enemy. We are not starving, as you may well see from the little present we send you herewith.'

"Here was something that set me thinking pretty hard. I had escaped death or capture by a miracle so far as I could see, and all in order that I might enjoy a hearty meal at the expense of the Germans.

"I set the basket down in the trench, and fell to with a will; and I give you my word, Casey, of all the good things I have eaten, I never enjoyed anything more than I did that Dutch treat—especially the frankfurters.

"They took me back to the States immediately—hot dogs, the brightness of the sea, the yawping of barkers, crowds passing, the noise of thousands of shuffling feet—not the sort of shuffling we hear now, Casey, when a bugle call or the heavy sound of guns seems the chief attraction. It was a great shame I couldn't save you one.

"The meaning of all this was a puzzle to me until I found out that our boys had left a bundle of American and English newspapers in the spot where I had found the basket, with the paragraphs plainly marked in which it was said the Germans were starving. And the basket was the Germans' reply.

"Now you know how I came to get my hot dogs."


[316]

THE DOGS OF WAR ON THE BATTLEGROUNDS

The "Four-Footed Soldiers" of France

The "friend of man" has always served his master faithfully and well in various humble capacities, but the Great War has seen his sphere of usefulness enlarged to an almost incredible extent. Our Gallant French allies have mobilized thousands of dogs for war service, and as scouts, sentries, messengers, ambulance workers, and beasts of burden these wonderfully-trained animals have rendered most valuable assistance to the armies in the field. Here is a soldier's story in the Wide World Magazine.

I—TALES OF THE DOGS

My friend, who had just come home on leave from the trenches, placed on the table in front of me a suspicious-looking parcel which left no manner of doubt that, for its size, it was extremely heavy.

"I'm going to leave this with you for a day or two, if you don't mind," he said. "I can't carry it about with me."

"What is it—bombs?" I asked, laughing, and my friend, without a smile, answered:—

"Yes, two bombs—for my dog."

Wondering what murderous intention had suddenly taken possession of the man, I looked my surprise, and then he explained. He was about to buy a dog to take back with him to the trenches, he told me, and to make sure that the animal was absolutely and thoroughly trained he had brought the bombs in order to test him. If, when the bombs exploded in the dog's presence, the latter stood the shock without fear or panic, he would know the animal was trained and would be useful to[317] him. If, on the other hand, he manifested the symptoms of unrest which I, for instance, would show if a bomb exploded just behind my coat-tails, then the animal was not properly trained and would be of no use to a soldier in the trenches.

The use of dogs in warfare is to-day a common matter. The number of dogs with the French army alone can be guessed when it is stated that one society, the Société Nationale du Chien Sanitaire, of 21, Rue de Choiseul, Paris, has trained over fifteen hundred war-dogs.

The training of dogs for warfare showed from the first of the most satisfactory results, and numbers of regiments would now find their operations very difficult indeed if they were suddenly deprived of their sagacious four-footed companions.

The Société du Chien Sanitaire, like most new movements, did not receive much official encouragement at the beginning of the campaign, but nevertheless, thanks to its efforts, under its energetic president, M. A. Lepel-Cointet, aided by private enterprise, suitable animals were soon forthcoming, at any rate for ambulance purposes, and many officers took "mobilized" dogs with them to act as scouts and watchers at night.

Dogs particularly suitable to warlike purposes are to be found in great numbers in the Lower Pyrenees and other mountainous regions of France, and to-day there are societies in different parts of the country—not enough, it is true, but still they have made a good beginning—who are collecting and training the animals and sending them to the Front. Recently a contingent of one hundred dogs was sent to the army by the Department of the Indre, which is a hunting country where dogs are particularly well trained to explore and to act as guardians. People who have given or lent dogs to the army can, by keeping the number given to them on receipt of the animal, have[318] news of their pets and their exploits, and some continue to keep in touch with their humble friends by sending them dainties from time to time.

II—DOGS AS SENTINELS AT THE FRONT

M. Mégnin, an authority on the use of dogs in warfare, says that German attacks by night on small outposts have almost completely failed since dogs have been employed to watch. The animals have a remarkably acute sense of hearing, and are able to detect the enemy at a great distance and prepare the men to receive him. Thousands of sentinels, especially in the Argonne and the Vosges, where it is difficult to see far ahead owing to the nature of the ground, have owed it to their dogs that they have not been surprised and killed or taken prisoners. In many cases they have even turned the tables on the enemy.

Captain Tolet, who is in command of the kennels of the Tenth French Army, has narrated some of the brave deeds—the word is not too strong—of dogs under his care, especially during the fighting on the Somme. On August 28th a dog called Médor, although wounded by a shrapnel shell, ran a mile and a half to carry a message from a brigade to a colonel, was again wounded in the last two hundred yards, but dragged himself to the commander's post, where he died a quarter of an hour later. Another dog, Follette, in the same month, ran nearly two miles and was wounded, but nevertheless persisted in his mission, dying five days later. In a part of the Vosges a battalion of Chasseurs which utilized a particularly intelligent animal as a sentinel did not lose a single man, while a battalion which had preceded it, and which had no dog, lost seven sentries in three days.

Another case of a dog's usefulness is recorded in the taking of a farm in the Bois Brûlé (Burnt Wood).[319] Everyone thought Germans were hiding in the farm, and no patrol had ventured to approach it. At last a man went towards it at night with a dog on a leash twenty yards ahead of him. The animal showed no signs of uneasiness, and the farm was found to be empty. Telegraphists and others were thereupon able to instal themselves, and before morning the Germans' position was satisfactorily examined and an enemy redoubt smashed up.

Some of these gallant four-footed soldiers have received decorations just like men—and an extra bone or two as well, one hopes. Why not? The intelligence shown by these animals sometimes approaches very near to that of human beings, and one feels sure they are gratified at the attention drawn to their doings. Recently there was a special public parade at the Trocadéro in Paris, when the Société Protectrice des Animaux presented prizes to soldiers who had distinguished themselves in the training of animals. Collars of honour were also awarded to a large number of dogs exhibited by the soldiers who had trained them. Three of these animals were specially fêted on account of what they had done—Fend l'Air, belonging to Sergeant Jacqemin, whose life he had saved at Roclincourt; Loustic, specially noticed for his intelligence at the Front; and Pyrame, who saved an entire French battalion by detecting the presence of an enemy column. In other cases the War Cross has been awarded to dogs that have performed conspicuous deeds, especially in the saving of life.

It was mainly owing to a number of British dogs that the French army was able to drive the Germans out of Boesinghe Woods in one of the engagements round Ypres. Prusco, a bull-terrier, serving with French motor scouts, who carried him in a side-car, was of great value in carrying[320] messages back to headquarters; while Lutz, a dog that distinguished himself in one of the Verdun engagements, was employed as an advance sentinel last February, and first gave warning of a German attack by repeated growls. The Red Cross Dog League, which began activities early in the war with eight dogs, now has two thousand five hundred animals in the field, and it claims that the lives of at least eight thousand wounded men have been saved by them.

III—HOW DOGS BECOME GOOD SOLDIERS

The training of intelligent animals like these is carried on in five different ways, for various uses.

1.—As Ambulance Dogs. The animal seeks for wounded men lost on the battlefield; he searches in holes, ruins, and excavations, and hunts over wooded places or coverts, where the wounded man might lie unnoticed by his comrades or the stretcher-bearer. The dog is especially useful at this work in the night-time, when he can often by his scent discover fallen men who would otherwise be passed over, for at night-time ambulance-men often have to work in the dark, as lights would attract the enemy's fire. Having found a wounded man still alive, the dog brings his master (or the ambulance-man to whom he is attached) some article belonging to the sufferer. This object tells the master, "I have found someone—search!" Usually the object brought is the fallen man's képi (or nowadays his helmet), and the trainers teach the dog to find the man's headgear, but if this is missing some other object must be brought. It is a fatiguing operation for the animal, as he has to return with closed mouth. The ambulance-man who receives the article at once puts the animal on a leash, and is immediately led to his wounded comrade. The leash is about two yards[321] long, so that the movements of the animal shall be hindered as little as possible.

If dogs were utilized in this service long during wartime, their value would be incalculable; and their use is all the greater when fighting takes place over an extended area. The situation of the wounded man overlooked or abandoned on the battlefield is a truly horrible one; he has to wait in the forlorn hope that he will be found, for the army has gone on, and the more victorious it is the farther it will push ahead. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1 more than twelve thousand men were thus lost to the French alone, while in the Russo-Japanese War the Japanese lost over five thousand in this manner, showing that the methods then used for the exploration of the battlefields were inadequate. In that war three dogs sent by a military dog society found twenty-three wounded men who had been abandoned after the battle of Cha-ho. In the Boer War the collie dogs taken out by the men, it is said, saved hundreds of wounded men who would never have been found by the ambulance-workers in the difficult country where fighting mostly took place.

2.—As Trench Dogs or Sentinels. The sentry or trench dog is trained to stay in the trench itself or in a small "listening-post" made for him, either on the edge of the trench, outside it, or at a little distance away. There he remains on the qui vive, ready to signal the least suspicion of a noise or the presence of the enemy. In this work both his eyes and his scent help him. He is kept on the leash, and he gives the signal of danger by a slight growl, without barking, which would give the alarm. The greatest difficulty in the training of dogs for this work has been to rid them of the habit of barking, but this has been overcome with care and patience. The training of dogs for this class of work can be—and has been—carried to great lengths. A man crawling on patrol[322] work can take a dog with him, also in a crouching position, on a leash. A little tug at the leash causes the dog to rise, to retire, or to change its direction, and a properly-trained animal will answer to the leash as satisfactorily as a horse does to the reins. Such a dog is of immense help at night, when he can be taken quite close to the enemy.

3.—As Patrols or Scouts. The dog accompanies the human scout in his reconnaissance, and helps in finding advance posts or sentinels, and locating small groups of the enemy.

4.—As Couriers or Messengers. The animal acts as a messenger, carrying written orders or information, and is used according to circumstances. He can carry messages between groups in the rear and fighting formations in the front—for example, between the artillery and the infantry, and vice versa; between two fighting forces, such as battalions, companies, or sections; between the headquarters and the various positions of the army; or between the main body and detached posts, such as patrols, scouts, etc. Taken along by a patrol or scouting party, he can be sent back to the main body with a message fixed to his collar. The note having been removed and read, a reply can be attached to his collar, and the dog sent back to the original body of men, even if they have changed their position, since he finds them again by his scent. A dog is not only much quicker in carrying these messages than a man, and can cover ground where no cycle could go, but he also has an advantage in being almost invisible to the enemy. If on a leash, he can conduct a man in charge of reinforcements or ammunition to the new position of the patrolling party—sometimes over a distance of several miles.

5.—As Dogs of Communication. This is the most difficult task to which military dogs are put, and requires[323] very special qualities, so that only a very few animals have been found capable of the work. It consists in sending him after a patrol en route with a message, or even in finding a lost patrol or scouting party and bringing it back to its base. It will readily be understood that an exceptional scent is required in a dog to do work of this sort.

In the two last-named classes of work dogs can pass swiftly backwards and forwards through brisk firing and run much less risk than a man.

IV—DOGS ARE HEROES UNDER FIRE

There are several societies in Paris which choose suitable dogs in order to make soldiers of them. The "Central Society for the Development of the Breeds of Dogs" gave three thousand dogs to the French army last August. After they have been tested, an operation which takes about three weeks, they are sent to special stations in the rear of the armies to be trained, and five or six days are all that are necessary for the training of animals for the simpler kinds of work. For more difficult tasks the training is naturally a longer business. When dogs are to be trained as communication agents the instruction may take several weeks. They are taught to go from one master to another, first by a call, then by a whistle, then simply at a mere gesture. Distances are gradually increased, obstacles are placed in the way, the animal's goal becomes invisible, and so on. Much patience is required in this kind of work; and it is found that the best results are obtained by kindness and giving rewards for good work accomplished. The animals are taught to recognize only two masters, and to obey them alone. Outsiders are not allowed to pet or feed them. When they understand that they have to obey only one[324] or two men, they have to learn to follow one or both of them when marching in a column of infantry, to recognize them when in a group, and so on. They are taught to endure the sound of gun-firing or explosions quite close to them. Above all, they are strictly trained never to pick up articles on their journey and to refuse delicacies offered them by strangers.

Specially-trained dogs only are chosen for this work, and they are mostly sheep-dogs or collies or animals whose business it was in civil life to be guardians or watchers, and always on the alert. These are all the easier to train for the special work—somewhat of the same order—which they are set to do in war.

... When the question of transport through the mountain snow had become a matter of urgent importance, the French authorities conceived the idea of using dog-drawn sleighs for carrying supplies. Some hundred "huskies"—a cross between the Eskimo dog and the wolf—and other trained dogs from Alaska, North-Western Canada, and Labrador were brought over by Lieutenant René Haas, a Frenchman who had spent fourteen years in Alaska. Mr. Warner Allen, the representative of the British Press with the French armies, describing the work of these dogs, says the snow in the neighbourhood of the Schlucht Pass was deep enough until almost the end of April for the dogs to render yeoman service. "They were able," he says, "to draw heavy loads over almost inaccessible country, and to supplement to a valuable extent the wheeled transport. But their utility has not ceased with the disappearance of the snow. They are now being harnessed to trucks on small two-foot-gauge light railways, which run everywhere behind the Front, and they are capable of drawing the heaviest load up the steepest gradient. Eleven dogs, with a couple of men, can haul a ton up some of the most precipitous slopes in the[325] mountains, and I was assured that two teams of seven dogs each could do the work of five horses in this difficult country, with a very great economy of men."

This correspondent adds that the best of these imported breeds of dogs is the Alaskan, as "his courage never fails, and he will work until he drops, though he is perhaps the weakest of them. They are all shaggy dogs, with prick ears and bushy tails, their colour ranging from black to white, between greys and browns. Their chest development, so necessary for hauling, is remarkable. They are mainly fed on rice, horse-flesh, and waste military biscuits, and this fare appears to suit them admirably, as they are always in splendid condition, and disease is practically unknown. The experiment of transporting these dogs to France has shown that they can be of real service in mountainous country, and represent a real economy."

Dogs that are specially adapted or have been trained for hunting or sporting purposes are of little use in war, as they have acquired habits incompatible with the work now demanded of them. Certain breeds, such as the Great Dane, and others of limited intelligence, are of no value at all. Some of these have the habit of rushing forward at the slightest alarm, which is of more danger than advantage to the soldiers to whom they might belong.

V—DOGS AS LOYAL COMRADES—FELLOW-WORKERS

The "dog soldier," like his master on special missions, has to see and hear without being seen or heard. It is amusing, but nevertheless true, that the dogs of smugglers and poachers, as well as those of coastguardsmen, have been found to be most useful animals in the army. A well-trained dog, acting with a sentinel or scouting party may be the means of preserving numbers of lives by saving them from unpleasant surprises.

[326]

The use of dogs in warfare was, of course, not invented in the present war, though their utility had been systematized and given more scientific scope than was ever the case before. In no previous campaign have men understood the full use that could be made of these highly-intelligent creatures.

It was the Belgians who first turned their attention to the subject of employing dogs more extensively. Everybody who has visited Belgium knows the use that is made of dogs for traction purposes all over the country. Nearly all the peasants who bring agricultural or dairy produce to market employ dogs to draw their small carts, sometimes harnessing whole teams to heavy loads. The dog is also greatly used in Belgium for sport, and from the sporting dog to the police dog is but a step. The dog in war—as sentinel, courier, scout, or ambulance worker—followed, and was the idea of Professor Reul, of the Veterinary School of Cureghem, and two journalists named Van der Snick and Sodenkampf. In 1885-6 the first dogs trained to some of these purposes were shown at a dog show at Ostend, and shortly afterwards societies were started at Brussels, Liège, Lierre, Ghent and other places, not merely for the training of dogs, but to improve the breeds. Lieutenant van der Putte, of the Belgian army, started the Société du Chien Sanitaire for the express purpose of training dogs for ambulance work and soon afterwards similar societies were organized in Paris and Berlin.

It was quite natural that the Belgians should also think of using these draught-dogs for small machine-guns, thus providing an inexpensive but efficient light artillery. The Germans wished to imitate them, but it is related that when they tried to buy dogs from the Belgians, as they had no indigenous animals suited to the purpose, the Belgians refused to sell. In other ways, however, the Germans[327] were at the beginning of the war well provided with dogs for various purposes, including the ambulance service.

Since then the use of dogs in the German army has assumed considerable proportions. The animals used are mostly of the German sheep-dog variety, and a register of these, numbering several thousands, is kept for mobilization purposes by the German Sheep-Dog Club. Other breeds used by the enemy are terriers, red-haired griffons, Doberman pinchers, Airedale terries, and a sort of bull-terrier known as a "Boxer." Dogs, it appears, have been used by the German army chiefly on the Eastern Front, where the fighting was of a more open description than on the Western Front.... The German papers published appeals from the authorities asking dog owners to offer their pets for war purposes, and many thousands were obtained as a result.


[328]

TRUE STORY ABOUT KILLING THE WOUNDED

Told by A. Pankratoff

Translated from the Russian for Current History

I—GERMANS HANGED COSSACKS ON TREES

The other day, quite unexpectedly, I ran into Lieutenant X., better known as the Junior Subaltern.

This was the fourth time I had run across him since the beginning of the war—at Insterburg, where the Junior Subaltern was leading his company toward Königsberg; then in the trenches beyond Tarnovo; then in the vicinity of Lublin, during the great retreat; and now, the fourth time.

"I am stationed twelve versts from Czernowitz," he went on to explain. The Junior Subaltern is really so young that you can't help envying him. His face shines with health. His eyes are always laughing. His speech is very simple, but impressive; but he does not like to talk; he would rather listen, and laugh responsively with his eyes.

Fortune had brought us together; several men sitting down to a common meal. We talked freely about everything. The conversation turned to the German habit of finishing all the wounded enemies they find after a successful battle. During the forest fighting last August one of us had come across sixty Cossacks who had been but slightly wounded, and whom the Germans had hanged on the trees.

"We avenged them, however; the Germans got something to remember!" said the narrator.

[329]

Lieutenant X.'s eyes sparkled with animation.

"Well," he said, "of course they deserved it! Of course it is a crime to kill the wounded. But, gentlemen, there are cases when it is impossible not to kill the wounded!"

"What on earth do you mean?"

"Just what I said! There is such a thing as rightful killing of the wounded!"

We insisted, and the Junior Subaltern narrated a recent experience of his, "somewhere in Bukowina." He had been in command of a party of scouts. His regiment had just arrived to take the place of another infantry regiment. And the first thing to do was to become acquainted with the locality and to learn the dispositions and intentions of the enemy. The Junior Subaltern was sent out with his company. At one place the opposing armies were separated by a ravine, which forked out toward our trenches. Lieutenant X. knew that the men of the regiment his was replacing had become acquainted with the Austrians, and that the enemies by day came together at the bottom of the ravine by night, entertained one another, and gossiped.

"War is burdensome, gentlemen!" explained the Junior Subaltern, "and we all longed for even the semblance of human intercourse with the other chaps. * * * And there happened to be a prolonged and tiresome spell of calm between battles, and so the men of the regiment we were replacing and the Austrians had long smokes together, exchanging pipes. But every one remembered—and nobody held it against any one—that the course of cigarettes must be closely interwoven with the course of bullets on the morrow. * * * Yet, yet—oh, if we were only chivalrous knights, conducting a picturesque tournament, instead of common Russian cannon fodder fighting common Austrian cannon fodder. * * *"

Of course our young friend wanted to do the magnanimous[330] thing by the enemy, sending round word to them, "Here we come! Get ready!" But what he did do was to take advantage of the quiet exchange of the two Russian regiments and the total ignorance in which the Austrian members of the nightly smoking club in the ravine still remained, and to creep noiselessly forward to the spot where the friends of the night before were on guard. The Austrian sentinels—three of them—dozed, wrapped in their blankets. The Russians crept stealthily forward. * * *

"What else could we do?" asked the Junior Subaltern. "Humanitarian ideas are in blank contradiction to the present war. Civilians at home may try to judge everything in accordance with these ideas. Well, we know they are mistaken. Oh, they are simply ridiculous!" ended the Junior Subaltern, his good-natured, broad face blushing at making such a bold statement in company.

II—"WHEN WE LEAVE NO WOUNDED ALIVE"

"Such nonsense!" he went on. "Of course, at the back of our minds the horror of it is always present. But what else can you do? Standing in blood up to your throat, and knowing that you have to protect your men, to protect yourself. * * * And what difference does it make to them whether you shoot them or throttle them? * * * About a hundred paces from those three sentinels there were at least a hundred others, and two hundred yards off were the Austrian trenches. The least noise, a groan, the stifled cry of a wounded Austrian would be the end of everything for my scouts; and there were only thirty of us. That was when I gave the order not to leave any wounded alive. * * *"

It was an evident relief to him to be interrupted.

"Oh, yes, I remember!" said one of us. "I was in[331] camp when the Austrian officer, routed out in his sleep, was brought in on the run in his nightshirt. The whole thing went rapidly and well, and you took a machine gun from the Austrians!"

Another of us said:

"I don't see what you are driving at! There's no analogy at all! What you did was no hitting of those who were down already. All sorts of conventions and international law would justify you!"

"Well," answered the Junior Subaltern, "did I not say that there was such a thing as justifiable killing of the wounded, for us as for the Germans? Besides, I got decorated for the job! Ouch! It is going to thaw! I know, because my wounded leg aches!"

His smile was so frank and his face so full of the bloom of youth as he thus changed the subject that it was quite evident that he did not change it from any false modesty, but simply because the subject—including his own distinguished part in it—had no further interest for him.

"You have been wounded?"

"Yes. Two bullets in my leg, one in my arm, one in the abdomen."

"And you are still alive?"

"As you see! It was that devilish machine gun! The bullet that entered my abdomen cut through the intestines, touched my stomach, and came out by my back. When I regained consciousness I heard the doctor saying: 'Put this one aside; he will die in a minute or two!' And some of my men dug a nice grave for me and wrote my name and the date on a board, and sat down patiently to wait for my funeral. But I didn't die. So the surgeon had to send me to hospital. But when the ambulance was starting I heard him say: 'It's not a bit of use! He'll[332] die on the way there!' But I cheated the doctors. I'm quite a rare specimen!"

"You are indeed!" And we all laughed, so contagious was Lieutenant X.'s laughter.

"The Medical Council," he went on, "explained it by the fact that, for two whole days previously, I had had nothing to eat. * * * hadn't had time! It was on the Stripa. The moment our regiment arrived at —— we had to fight."


[333]

HOW WE FOILED "U 39" IN THE SUBMARINE ZONE

Adventures Aboard a Horse Transport

Told by H. O. Read, Late First Officer S.S. "Anglo-Californian"

This story relates what happened when the horse transport "Anglo-Californian" met the "U 39." The captain and twenty men lost their lives, and eight more were wounded; but the heroism of the commander and his officers saved the ship and her valuable cargo. Personal experiences recorded in the Wide World Magazine.

I—"WE CROSS THE ATLANTIC ON THE ANGLO-CALIFORNIAN"

Ever since the 18th of February, 1915, when a blockade of the seas round the British Isles was declared by Germany, seamen navigating in the waters of the war-zone have had a most anxious time in consequence of the activity of the German submarine and their callous methods in dealing with defenceless merchant vessels.

Our ship, the Anglo-Californian, had made a number of voyages across the Atlantic, and had so far been fortunate enough to get through the war-zone each time without encountering any of the enemy's submarines. We had always congratulated ourselves on our good fortune, but on the voyage I am about to describe our luck seemed to have deserted us.

It was the morning of the 4th of July, about eight o'clock. I had almost completed my watch and was on the point of being relieved by the third officer when, taking[334] a final look round the horizon before leaving the bridge, I noticed the small cloud of blue smoke on the surface of the water about a mile away on our port beam.

For the moment I was rather puzzled as to what it could be, there being no craft of any description in sight from which it could come. I was not long kept in doubt, however, for as the cloud of smoke gradually lifted I caught sight of the conning-tower and long, low hull of a submarine, which I knew at once must be a German, as our under-sea craft were not operating in this vicinity.

She had apparently just come to the surface after locating us with her periscope, and, seeing everything clear, immediately gave chase.

Ordering the man at the wheel to put the helm over, thus bringing the submarine directly astern of us, I informed the captain of the presence of the enemy. He immediately came on the bridge and proceeded to take all necessary steps to try and outrace the submarine. We were quite unarmed, so flight was our only chance.

The chief engineer was summoned and told to raise all the steam he possibly could and drive the ship for all she was worth, and the extra speed that was very quickly attained was convincing proof of the way in which he and his staff carried out these orders.

Almost immediately after sighting the submarine the captain ordered the wireless operator to send out the "S.O.S." call for help. This was promptly answered, and we were informed that assistance was being sent us with all possible speed.

The captain, myself, the second officer (who was the captain's son), and the third officer were now on the upper bridge, anxiously watching our pursuer through the glasses. To our dismay we noticed that she was slowly but surely gaining on us.

It was not until a quarter of nine that she first opened[335] fire, this presumably being a warning shot, as it fell wide on our port side. The captain took heed of the summons, however; he merely smiled and gave orders to telephone down to the engineers to "keep her going" as hard as they could.

A second warning shot was fired, falling clear of the ship on the starboard bow, but this also was unheeded.

Those on the submarine, observing that our speed was increasing and that no notice was taken of their shots, evidently came to the conclusion that we were going to make a run for it, and forthwith they commenced to fire shell after shell at us. At first they tried to bring down the wireless apparatus, so as to prevent us from getting into communication with the patrol vessels, but this, as I have previously stated, we had already done, and were now in continuous communication with them, giving them our now rapidly-changing positions. Unfortunately for us, however, the patrols were some distance away, and there was not much chance of their being able to reach us for two to three hours. What would happen meanwhile was hard to say; certainly our chances of getting away from our pursuer looked very small indeed.

II—"SHELLS WERE BURSTING AROUND OUR VESSEL"

The fire from the submarine now became more rapid, but was not always effective, as Captain Parslow, heedless of the shells which were dropping and bursting all round the vessel, kept the quartermaster at the wheel constantly working his helm so as to keep the submarine almost directly astern of us, thereby making the ship as small a target as possible. Momentarily, however, the submarine drew nearer and the shell-fire more and more deadly. Almost every shot now found its mark, striking the vessel at various points on the quarters and round the stern.[336] Forsaking the wireless, their aim was now evidently the rudder or propeller, so as to totally disable us and thus have the vessel at their mercy.

When the firing first commenced our crew, including the horse attendants, and numbering about a hundred and fifty all told, had been warned to be ready to go to their boat-stations at a moment's notice in case of emergency, and consequently everybody, with the exception of the engineers and firemen working below, was now on deck.

No signs of panic were shown until a shell, bursting amidships, killed three of the horsemen. Then a rush was made for the starboard after lifeboats, and men began scrambling into and overloading them. The result would have been disastrous if the captain, drawing my attention to it, had not ordered me to go and threaten to shoot anyone who did not immediately come out and wait until orders were given for the boats to be lowered.

This had the desired effect, quelling the panic for the time being.

The submarine—she was the "U 39," we noticed—was now only about five or six hundred yards astern, and our case began to look hopeless. Not once, however, did the captain waver from his intention never to surrender. His coolness and courage were remarkable, and went a long way to inspire confidence in those under him.

The shells were now bursting all over the vessel and playing havoc with the deck structures. They tore through the horse-fittings, killing numbers of the unfortunate horses, and also wounded several of the men, who were now clustered in groups near the boats.

Just at this moment a signal to us to "abandon ship" was observed flying from the submarine, and the firing suddenly ceased, the intention apparently being to give us time to get into the boats and leave the vessel. This,[337] however, our captain had no intention of doing, and after hastily consulting the chief engineer and myself he decided to get as many of the crew away from the ship as possible, as they were in imminent danger of being killed by the bursting shells. The remainder of us were to stand by him and keep the ship going until the very last.

The man at the wheel was sent to take his place in the boats, and the majority of the crew were ordered to do the same.

The firemen—who had up to this moment been working below—now came on deck, and made a rush for the boats before the order was given. Driving them out at the muzzles of our revolvers, we persuaded them to keep cool and wait until they were told to take their places.

These firemen, who were Arabs, were now thoroughly frightened, and would on no account return to the stokehold, though the captain offered £20 to any man who would do so.

During the time the firing ceased—which was not more than five minutes—we got the port after lifeboat away, full of men, and were preparing to lower the others when we received a wireless message from the patrol steamer, saying that they could see the smoke from our funnel. They told us to keep going, and to hold the submarine at bay as long as possible, as they were coming towards us with all possible speed.

It was at this moment that the captain shouted to the firemen to return to the stokehold, offering, as already stated, £20 to any man who would do so, but this they refused to do.

The chief and second engineers, with the donkeyman, nobly responded to the captain's request, and immediately rushed down to the stokehold and engine-room, where they worked like Trojans to get as much steam as possible to keep the vessel going.

[338]

As soon as it became apparent to those on the submarine that we were not going to give in they commenced firing again, and with deadly effect, for the boat was now only about a hundred yards behind us.

One of the shells, bursting directly behind the funnel, struck the davit of the after lifeboat, which was now full of men and in the very act of being lowered. It severed the tackle, causing the boat to drop into the water, where it capsized, throwing all its occupants into the sea.

Another shell, fired almost directly afterwards, struck the davit of the port forward boat, cutting it completely in half. The boat, which was hanging in the tackle with seven men in it, was blown almost to fragments and nearly all its occupants killed.

There now only remained one boat fit for use, the other two remaining ones being too badly damaged to put into the water. This boat was now manned and rapidly lowered over the side, with the chief steward in charge; and it was chiefly due to his skilful handling that she finally got away clear of the ship, as she was in danger of being smashed to pieces by the now rapidly-revolving propeller as she floated astern.

III—STOOD AT THEIR POSTS LIKE HEROES

There were now only thirty-two of the one hundred and fifty members of the ship's company left on board, including the captain, officers, and engineers, and our chances of getting out of our present predicament certainly looked small.

The second, who had now taken the wheel, was skilfully steering the ship under the captain's orders. He kept the submarine—which was now close upon us—almost directly astern, and the position of both father and son was one of extreme danger, for fragments of the[339] bursting shells were constantly striking the navigating bridge, and the couple had frequently to lie prone on the deck to avoid being struck. Their coolness and courage, however, never forsook them, and they remained at their posts like heroes, without the slightest sign of fear.

We now noticed—greatly to our relief—the smoke of a steamer on our starboard side, and this we rightly judged to be the patrol ship hurrying to our help.

As she gradually came into sight, in response to a request by our captain over the wireless, she fired at the submarine, but the distance was too great, and the shot fell short.

We made sure that our pursuer would now give up the chase and submerge to get out of danger, but instead she crowded on extra speed and drew up alongside our steamer. She kept carefully under our lee, thus sheltering herself for the time being from any further shots from the patrol steamer. From this position she fired shell after shell into us.

It was now an impossibility to keep the submarine any longer astern, as her superior speed enabled her to keep abreast of us.

We counted thirteen men on her deck, some of them manipulating the gun, and others armed with rifles, with which they kept up a constant fire, endeavouring to pick off anyone they could see on our decks.

Those on the approaching patrol steamer, comprehending our position and expecting every moment to see the ship torpedoed, sent us a wireless message to throw lines and ropes over the side and try to foul the submarine's propeller, and thus stop her. If possible we might also try and ram her. Ramming was out of the question, on account of the German's superior speed, but, acting on the first suggestion, under the captain's orders I went along and threw some of our mooring-ropes overboard, but the[340] scheme was apparently ineffective, as the submarine still kept her place on our port side.

It was just at this moment, as I was returning from carrying out these orders, that a shell fired from the submarine, and aimed directly at the bridge, struck our gallant captain and literally blew him to pieces.

The second officer at the wheel was stunned and almost blinded by the report, and his escape from death was a miracle, as the captain was only a few feet away when killed. Fragments of the shell actually tore away some of the spokes of the wheel which he held at the time.

As I gained the lower bridge he came down smothered in blood, dazed and stunned by the shock of the explosion, and horrified at witnessing the death of his brave father.

To remain on either of the bridges now was out of the question, as the submarine was only fifty yards from us, running abreast. The Hun crew had clamped a Maxim on the top of their quick-firing gun and, using this, together with their rifles, they kept up a constant fire fore and aft.

The patrol steamer was still about two miles away, but coming towards us at top speed, with smoke pouring from her funnel. But would she reach us in time before the pirates sent us to the bottom? We were now in imminent danger of being torpedoed, the submarine being in a splendid position to launch her deadly missile.

Seeing this, I called the wireless operators away from their posts, to which they had gamely stuck through the whole of the firing, and shouted down to the two engineers to come on deck. Gathering together the remainder of my men, we made our way along the bullet-swept decks, taking shelter where and when we could. We cut everything floatable adrift in case the ship went under so as to give us a better chance of being picked up by our rescuers.

[341]

IV—"WE SAW THE SUBMARINE SUBMERGE"

The deck of our vessel was a sickening sight. Dead, dying, and wounded men lay in all directions, and blood seemed to be everywhere.

We gathered the wounded together and got them under cover, and with the able help of our veterinary surgeon attended to them as best we could.

Nothing more could now be done. We were momentarily expecting the torpedo to strike the vessel and finish her, and stood ready to jump clear of the ship when she went under.

But the torpedo did not arrive. Instead, we saw the crew of the submarine hurrying to get their gun below and preparing to submerge. The cause of this manœuvre was the sudden appearance of two destroyers, racing towards us at full speed.

The submarine rapidly disappeared under the water, and in a few moments more the two destroyers and the patrol steamer were alongside and darting all round us in hopes of getting a shot at her.

We sent up a rousing cheer when we saw our rescuers approach; we could scarcely realize that we were saved.

I at once got in communication with the commander of one of the destroyers and asked him to search for our boats and any of our crew who happened to be in the water and pick them up.

This they at once started to do, and in a very short time informed me that they had rescued ninety-seven of them and would proceed to Queenstown and land them.

On making an examination of our steamer, we found, in addition to considerable damage round the decks, that she had been badly holed below the waterline, and was taking water rapidly.

We at once set to work and plugged the holes up with[342] bales of hay and bags of fodder, at the same time giving the vessel a list so as to bring the damaged plates out of the water as much as possible.

When this had been done I informed the commander of the remaining destroyer, and told him that we were ready to proceed, but that it would be necessary to go into Queenstown, the nearest port, to land our dead and wounded.

He replied that this would be the best course to adopt, and that he would convoy us into port.

We accordingly headed for Queenstown, and duly arrived there late that night, where we were treated with the greatest courtesy and kindness by the Admiralty officials.

The dead were removed and the wounded taken to the naval hospital, where their injuries were attended to.

Meanwhile the Admiralty took the vessel in hand, and immediately commenced temporary repairs on her, and in less than twenty-four hours I was able to leave the port and proceed with her to Avonmouth, our destination, under the escort of two destroyers.

The remains of our brave captain and of those who fell with him were buried in Queenstown the following day, being accorded full naval honours. The Admiral of the port himself attended, and the respect and regard shown by the townspeople, as the remains of these heroes were laid to rest, was very marked.

No tribute is too great to pay to the memory of the late Captain Parslow, who died like the gallant seaman he was, giving his life in an endeavour to save his ship and the lives of those under his command.

His son, the second officer, for the pluck and courage he displayed in remaining at the wheel during the firing, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The chief engineer received the same decoration, and I myself[343] was the recipient of a handsome gold watch, suitably inscribed, "From the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty," as was likewise the second engineer and the senior Marconi operator.

The conduct of both the third officer and the junior Marconi operator deserves great praise, for they displayed splendid courage and coolness in carrying out their duties during the attack.

Lloyd's showed their appreciation of our efforts by presenting a substantial cheque, expressing at the same time their sincere regret for the loss of the heroic Captain Parslow.

The crew of the submarine, presumably, duly received Iron Crosses for their glorious day's work.


[344]

MY WORST EXPERIENCE IN MESOPOTAMIA

Told by a Man Who Stopped a Bullet

The writer of this vivid narrative, a British soldier, was wounded in Mesopotamia during an unsuccessful attempt to relieve Kut-el-Amara, shortly before its fall. Recorded in Current History.

I slipped my left hand into my tunic and was surprised to feel the hot blood pouring out. Then it dawned on me that I had been hit, and pretty badly, too. My equipment was hurting me, so I took it off.

I felt very dizzy, and decided to try and get back as far as I could. I stood up, a very unwise thing to do, considering that I was about 150 yards from the Turkish trench and must have made an easy mark, but I was not hit again immediately. My legs gave way and I collapsed and lay flat for a time. I thought if I was not to bleed to death I must make an effort to put my field bandage in place. So with difficulty I pulled it from my tunic pocket. The outer covering came off easily, and I took out one of the packets, but could see no way to slit it open. Finally I gripped the edge of the packet in my teeth and tore at it with both hands till it opened. I put the pad on the wound, as near as I could, but had no means of keeping it there, so I staggered to my feet and ran on, keeping the pad in place with my left hand. I believe I covered another fifty yards when I dropped again and lay in a kind of stupor.

I was aroused by the almost continuous "krock" of bursting shrapnel. Shells were dropping right and left,[345] and the air was full of moaning and screaming as the bullets flew by. I managed to get on my feet again, although the effort made the blood spurt out anew. The sodden pad had slipped down and a burning pain in the pit of my stomach caused me to double up in agony and slide onto my knees. I started crawling painfully along until I came to a small mound which would at least afford "head over." I crept behind it and lay in the only position I could, on my left side.

I passed my hand over myself to feel for a wound, but could not find one. The bullet had entered the small of my back and lodged under my breast bone. Gradually the more intense pain passed away, leaving a not unpleasant sense of numbness over all my body.

The persistent calling of a man in pain brought me back to consciousness. The pitiless sun was blazing high in the heavens, and I felt hot and dry. Somebody was shouting "Fetch the stretcher-bearers, you fools: are you going to leave me here?" At first I felt very sorry for him, but soon wished he would stop, for I had a shocking headache. I judged it to be about midday, and thought that in another six hours I had a good chance of being brought in.

I was horrified to see that the water of the Suwaicha Marsh, which was on our right flank, had risen considerably, and I feared for any of our wounded who were further out on the right and unable to crawl away from the menace. The man who was shouting stopped, and everything was strangely calm and peaceful. I felt very happy and contented then, for as long as I kept quite still the pain was very dull, so I began singing and mumbling away in a quiet voice:

"Where my caravan has rested
Flowers I'll strew there on the grass."

[346]

I sang again and again, accompanied by a strange roaring in my chest. My caravan, I thought, had rested in some very unusual places, but none so unusual as this. And what was the use of talking about the grass in the desert of Mesopotamia, where there is nothing but the yellow earth, the blue sky, the hot sun, and dirty water?

There was a water bottle, equipment, and rifle lying close to my head, and I have a vague remembrance of a Sikh lying beside me for a time and then jumping up and running back. I slowly put my right arm up, caught the sling, and dragged the bottle nearer. I pulled the cork out somehow, and propped the bottle against my face, with the neck to my lips, but was much upset to find I had not the strength to lift it up. Tears rolled down my cheeks after I had made two or three attempts, for I was very thirsty. I sang no more, as my throat was harsh and lumpy. So I lay staring at the yellow and blue till I lost consciousness once more.

This time I was roused by our own guns, and the sound was most comforting. "Giving 'em hell," I thought gleefully. They bombarded for about an hour, and then I slipped back into unconsciousness. It was getting dark when I came to again. A man was standing close to me, staring round the field. Somebody had put my sun helmet on my head. He came over to me. "Are the stretcher-bearers coming?" I asked, and he told me I was the next to be moved. It was not long before the bearers came, and they put the stretcher behind me. It was painful work getting on the stretcher, as I could not bear to have my body touched anywhere. However, it was managed at last, and I lay on my left side.

I suppose they went as gently as they could, but every step racked my body so much that I was nearly mad with pain. I cannot remember how far it was to the dressing[347] station, but I remember passing through the artillery lines, where the guns had started again. I was put on a table, still on the stretcher, and was pleased to see our battalion doctor. "Well, laddie," he said, "how are you?" I replied that I was all right, but thought it "a bit thick" having to lie out there all day. Then he started cutting my clothes up, jersey and shirt as well. The dressing was by no means painful, but they left my hand untouched. I asked for something to drink, but the doctor said they would give me all I wanted at the field hospital.

Then began the worst experience I have ever been through. I was taken to a native springless mule cart, with a few sacks and blankets thrown in the bottom, and helped off the stretcher. The slightest movement caused great pain, but when the cart started bumping off I was in a positive inferno. I will not dwell on that four-mile journey from the marsh to the riverside; suffice it to say that what little breath I could summon was used in praying the driver to stop and leave me on the ground.

We came to the field hospital at last. The natives pushed a stretcher into the cart beside me, and one intelligent fellow nimbly jumped up and stood on my smashed hand. That was the last straw. I cursed him. When I stopped for want of breath they attempted to lift me on to the stretcher, but I begged them to stop. I tried to get on by myself, but could only manage to get my knees on and could not lift my body. The natives were chattering round the cart, so I started shouting "English, English. Fetch English," and at last a "Jock" came up to see what was wrong. I begged him to put his hand under my shoulder and help me on the stretcher, and in a moment I was lying on my stomach—not very comfortable on account of my laboured breathing, but it was a rest for my left side. When my hand[348] had been cleaned and dressed I was put on a mattress in a bell tent, where I tossed about in a high fever.

In the morning I was put in a paddle-boat, and I slept till it started in the afternoon. We were taken ashore at Orah that night, and there received better attention. I was placed on the operating table and the bullet located and removed.

I will not describe my stay at Orah or the trip down the Tigris in the paddle-boat to Bussorah. My hand was a fearful size and very painful. When the ship was moored in front of Bussorah Hospital I was very weak. Two orderlies helped me on to the stretcher, and I was carried down the gangway to the entrance of the hospital. A Major took particulars and consigned me to a veranda ward on the second floor. And so I was placed in one of the whitest, cleanest, and most comfortable beds in the world.


[349]

SPIRIT OF YOUNG AMERICA—HOW WE WENT "OVER THE TOP"

Experiences of a New York Boy with the Canadians

Told by (name withheld), Wounded in France

This is a letter from an American boy at the front. It symbolizes the spirit of young America. In his frank, simple, human way, he tells with outbursts of quaint humor how he went "over the top," faced death, was wounded, and longs to get back into the fight. It is but one of the tens of thousands of private letters that are reaching friends in America every time a ship comes in from Europe.

I—"IN WAY OF FRITZ'S SHELLS"

1st Canadian Hospital, France,
August 27, 1917.

Well, at last old man, I am writing to you. I am sorry I have not answered your last letter sooner. I have no good excuse to offer, so I guess I'll still cling to the old thread-bare one of "too busy." I guess my dear Mary will have told you that I am in hospital recovering from a little wound, the penalty of getting in the way of one of Fritz's shells. I am glad to say that I am going along nicely and hope to be about again very soon. I got hit just back of the knee, over the hamstring tendon, "whatever that is." I guess I ought to be thankful it was no worse. In a week or so I shall be none the worse for the experience. Believe me, it was some experience. You know—one of those times when[350] you hear invisible bands playing "Home Sweet Home" and "He's Gone Where They Don't Play Billiards."

I guess, dear George, you would like a little of the news of how I am passing the weary months away. Well, at times it's not so bad. We have our little bit of fun, for you know I'm one of those guys that makes the best of it. We get many a laugh. We have got the knack of being easily amused. We often get a smile out of things at which if it wasn't for the surroundings we should feel like shuddering.

I cannot tell you much on account of the censor. But I can tell you a little of the experience I had last Wednesday week, the 15th, the time we had the pleasure (?) of going "over the top" and getting in close touch with Fritz. We had been expecting it to come off for a long time and I think the period of waiting was the worst part of the whole affair. We had only been out of the line a couple of days and such awful days they were; the time we had been in, it was up to our knees in mud. Well, anyway, the order came along for us to go back and make an attempt to pull the job off. The day before they tried to make things as pleasant as possible. We had a band concert almost all day long, and then as soon as it got dark we started forward to take up our position to wait for the big show at daybreak.

Our first trouble was gas. We had our masks on in about two seconds. I guess you have seen pictures of these masks. But believe me, when you get a bunch of men moving cautiously across country they're enough to scare a fellow out of a month's growth. Eventually we got there. But the position we were to take up was being peppered with Fritz's iron rations. So we were told to move to another place and dig ourselves in. Again he located us and made it unhealthy, so we had to move again. We were in a great mood then, for we had worked[351] like niggers and had just got comfortable when the order came to move. We contented ourselves that we would square matters in the morning.

At a quarter of four (daybreak) we settled down to wait for the signal for the big show to start. There certainly was some excitement in the air. Almost as much as when in a game of pool the fifteen ball's over the hole and it's your shot next. Through some cause or other matters we were delayed twenty-five minutes—the longest minutes I have ever lived. Each minute seemed like an hour. Long after the war is all over and forgotten, I think I shall remember that long, weary wait.

II—"WHAT I SAW WHEN I WENT 'OVER'"

At last, we got the signal and the barrage and bombardment started. I have read of bombardments and I have seen them described pretty vividly, but no description or imagination could make anyone realize what they are really like. Every thing we had, opened up at the same second—silent batteries that had been there for weeks without firing a shot, just waiting for this event to be pulled off. It seemed as if the very earth was swaying. But don't think we had it all our own way. For Fritz had quite a number of iron foundries he wanted to get rid of, and he started up almost as soon as we did.

We found out afterwards, that they knew we were "going over." In fact, their officers had been officially warned to be prepared for an attack at 4 A.M. So I guess they had their anxious wait as well as we. Fritz's fireworks' display was simply wonderful. Rockets and flare-lights of every color and description went up, but I didn't stop to admire it. I was too busy and scarcely in the mood to admire anything. Everything had to be done by signals. The noise was so deafening that even if you[352] shouted at the top of your voice you couldn't be heard.

The first wave went over at 4:25 A.M. Everything possible in what they call modern warfare was used—liquid fire, oil, tanks and a dozen different things to get Fritz's wind up. And believe me, we did get it up! For thirty minutes after we went "over" we had them on the run. All I am sorry about is that we could not keep them going until they reached Berlin.

Believe me, old man, it was some fight! Some of the things I saw myself, I would not have believed if I hadn't seen them with my own eyes. Some of the fellows just went crazy. One fellow was fighting away with only half a rifle in his hand, and yet there was dozens of good ones lying around if he had only taken a moment to pick one up. Others were throwing bombs just like bricks. You know the bombs we use out here mostly are the kind we saw at that New York Red Cross bazaar—perhaps you remember them. Before they explode you have to pull the safety pin out, and then they burst four seconds later. Well, some of the guys didn't pull the pins out; they just used them like bricks. Gee, it put me in mind of a good old Summer Lane scrap, but anyhow it was enough to get them on the hustle.

There were many other little incidents, some that I saw myself, and others that I heard coming down on the hospital train. One of our fellows took two prisoners only armed with a lighted candle. This happened after we had been occupying Fritz's front line several hours. Leaving his rifle at the top, he went down into one of Fritz's saps "looking for souvenirs, I guess." Well, he lit his candle and there in the corner were two great hulking fellows. I guess they were more scared than he was. Up went their hands with the same old cry: "Not me, Mister, Mercy, Kamerad." We had a laugh afterwards for the guy who brought them up, looked as if he had been[353] scared stiff. I'll bet he never goes down a strange sap again unarmed. Later on they caught another five in one of the other saps.

There were dozens of little incidents like this. So far so good—but the worst had yet to come. We had captured three villages and the famous hill. When I say there had been five previous attempts to get the hill alone, for he had occupied it for two and a half years, you will see that it was some accomplishment. They put over ten counter-attacks. I didn't count them. I was too interested and busy with other things to bother about counting anything. They came over in the old massed formation style. It seems a crazy style to me, for their losses must have been enormous. Every time they came over they got smashed, and were glad to beat it back, or at least as many of them as were able to. That continued practically all day.

III—ON AN ADVANCE POST

As soon as it was dark, I was detailed along with a bunch of other fellows to go out as reinforcements to our left flank. My friend Jones, another fellow and I, were put on an advanced bombing post. Every once in a while they would attempt to come over on us. It kept us pretty busy, and also kept us from getting sleepy.

In the early morning one of Fritz's planes came flying over us. One of our fellows couldn't resist the temptation of drawing a bead on him, although it's against all orders for us to fire on aircraft. The chances of hitting him are about a thousand to one. Well, the "son of a gun" made a dive and swooped over us with his machine gun. I don't think he got anybody, but he came so low that some of our guns got him. He dropped like a stone. I was almost sorry to see it, for I am still a sport and that guy certainly had got grit.

[354]

Well, these little events kept happening all day long. Then at four o'clock in the afternoon my friend Jones got hit. It was during one of his attacks—he got inquisitive, took a peek over the parapet, and got it in the cheek. Two hours later I got hit—this was the second time I had been hit. The first was so slight I didn't leave the line, but this time I had just had about as much as I cared for. So I got first aid and waited until things had quieted down a little, and then made my way to a dugout to wait until it got dark.

About nine o'clock, I started to beat it for the dressing station. But believe me, old man, it was easier said than done, for we had advanced over a mile over No Man's Land and I had to go all over that way again. There were three of us that started. The other two were just slightly wounded—one in the shoulder and the other in the wrist. But poor me, having it in the knee, was worst of the bunch. I couldn't move fast, it had stiffened me so.

Well, we had our little adventures going across. Once I got entangled in the barbed wire. And then when we saw several fellows ahead of us—we just dropped in a shell hole, and waited for them to move off. After a wait of about fifteen minutes, they didn't move. The fellow with the hit in the shoulder crawled forward to find out who they were. He was gone so long we were just making up our minds to make a wide circuit of them, "for none of us were armed"—we had thrown everything away so we could move quicker. Just as we had given him up he came back with the news it was one of our own working parties fixing wires. The reason he had been so long was because he had been waiting to catch some of the conversation to see whether it was English or not.

Away we started again. We were nearing our old[355] front line when Fritz caught us with one of his flare-lights. Of course the next minute it was Whiss-siss-siss-pop-pop-pop! They had turned a machine gun on us. Then came another wait in a shell hole. Eventually I reached the dressing station. I had my leg dressed and a few bits of sticking plaster put on various parts of my body. I was put on a motor ambulance and the next morning woke up in a hospital clearing station to find my old friend Jones sitting up in a bed opposite me.

Well, we had a good laugh for we are like the Siamese twins. Wherever one is the other is not far off—at least it has been that way since coming to France. And the objects we looked, he with a face as big as two, and me with my clothing all muddy and torn and various other changes. We'd have made a good picture entitled, "After the Fight." Later on we were taken on a hospital train to this place, but I shall be glad when I can get about again. I feel more lonesome here than I ever have in all my life. It's the weariness of lying here with nothing to do that gets my "goat." Nevertheless it's great to be human again and among civilization again. The first few days I appreciated it all right, for I did not have a wink of sleep from the Monday night and scarcely anything to eat or drink.

Now don't forget, old man, to drop me a line and let me know how everything is in dear old New York. So now good-bye for the present, hoping you WILL remember me to all old friends.

Your old friend,
Laban.

P. S. I am enclosing a little souvenir, one of Fritz's field cards. I was amusing myself on the back of it with a few verses.

[356]

THIS IS THE SIDE OF THE POSTCARD TAKEN BY MR. HILL THAT WAS INTENDED FOR THE ADDRESS

[357]

THE IMPRESSIONS OF AN AMERICAN BOY WHO DID NOT WAIT

Laban Hill, No. 1,054,147, Fourteenth Canadian Battery, on "Going Over the Top" in August, 1917. Written to a Friend on a Postcard Taken From a Dead German Soldier



Over The Top

1

"Did you ever go over the top?" he said,
"Did you ever go over the top?
Did you sweep along an unbroken line,
With bayonets gleaming, and eyes ashine
And a feeling that went to your head like wine,
The time you went over the top?"

2

"Did you ever go over the top?" he said,
"Did you ever go over the top?
Did the flarelights shine on a glorious sight
As they pierced the dawn in the changing light;
Did you thrill with a feeling of savage delight,
The time you went over the top?"

3

"Did you ever go over the top?" he said,
"Did you ever go over the top?
Oh, tell me" he said "how you held up your head
Of the things that you thought and the things that you said,
Of your glorious pride as with the men you sped
Far away over the top."

4

"Oh yes, I've been over the top," I said,
"You bet I've been over the top.
But I felt alone in the flare-lights glare.
And Mauser bullets were singeing my hair,
And my knees were knocking together for fair,
The night I went over the top."

5

"Oh yes, I've been over the top," I said,
"You bet I've been over the top.
But it's lonesome out there in no man's land
And you miss the crowd and you miss the band
And your feet take root in the place you stand,
The night you go over the top."

6

"Oh yes, I've been over the top
There was yards of wire got attached to my clothes
And how I got out of it God only knows
A secret I fear he will never disclose
Till I'm finally "over the top."

7

"Oh yes, I've been over the top," I said,
"You bet I've been over the top.
The artillery raised a continuous roar--
They'd been at it, it seemed for a week or more--
And old man I was sweating at every pore
The night I went over the top."

8

"Oh yes, I've been over the top," I said,
"You bet I've been over the top.
The noise and confusion, the shouts and the groans
Had paralysed action and frozen my bones
When a fellow went past me,--I think it was Jones,
He was headed back over the top."

9

"Oh yes, I've been over the top," I said,
You bet I've been over the top
And since Jones has a blighty and wasn't napoo,
If they're handing them out
"I thought" me for one too.
And blest if I didn't--in fact I got two,
The night I went over the top.

New York isn't the only place people hustle


[358]

THE SINKING OF THE "PROVENCE II"

Told by M. Bokanowski, Deputy of the Department of the Seine

The French auxiliary cruiser La Provence II, formerly a passenger liner, was sunk by a submarine in the eastern end of the Mediterranean while serving as a troop transport. Nearly 4,000 men are said to have been on board, of whom only 870 were saved. One of the survivors, M. Bokanowski, wrote this thrilling description to President Poincaré of France:

Monsieur Le President: You are doubtless familiar, in all its details, with the fate of the Provence II. I should like to describe to you—to assuage in a measure the grief of France—the noble behaviour of those who made ready at that moment, between sea and sky, to die for their country.

We had on board a battalion and some detachments of the Third Colonial Regiment of Infantry. At the moment of the explosion I was on the bridge, with the commander of the ship, his second in command, and several of the higher officers. We directed the steps to be taken, distributing lifebelts, superintending the launching of boats and liferafts. Not an outcry, not a complaint, not the slightest sign of panic—only the dignified tranquillity of men who long ago had consecrated their lives to the sublime cause that had put arms in their hands.

Everybody would have been saved had it depended only on officers and crew. Unfortunately the ship sank rapidly. The water soon found its way into the boilers.[359] When they began to explode, about ten minutes past 5, I jumped into the sea and swam as fast as I could in order to get beyond the radius of suction. A few moments later there were several deafening explosions. I turned and saw the end. The ship was going down stern foremost. Captain Vesco, still standing on the bridge, cried in a voice above the uproar: "Vive la France!" The survivors, swimming about the ship, or safe on boats and rafts, saw the Provence make a sudden plunge, her forward deck standing perpendicular in the air. They, in their turn, saluted with a cry of "Vive la France!" It was a quarter past 5.

After swimming for half an hour I succeeded in reaching an overloaded raft, the occupants of which pulled me aboard. Night was falling, the wind was chill and nipped the flesh of the men, who were almost entirely naked. Throughout the endless night, not a whimper! My companions in misfortune had no words except to lament the fate of those who were drowned and to curse the Boche, who, neither before nor after his treacherous shot, had dared to appear and show his flag. In water up to the waist, with teeth chattering from the cold, but upheld by the desire to survive and be able to punish the villains, we were picked up eighteen hours later by a trawler. Several men had died from the cold on the rafts, and several others had lost their reason.

An English patrol and a French torpedo boat divided the survivors between them, some heading for Milo, others for Malta. I was among the latter, and we arrived here about 1 o'clock yesterday. Captain Vesco, who was in command of the Provence II.; Lieutenant Besson, second in command; Colonel Duhalde, commanding the Third Colonial Regiment of Infantry, remained on the bridge until the very last second of the ship's life in the most noble spirit of self-sacrifice, giving with perfect[360] calmness precise and effective orders for saving the passengers.

The gunners of the Provence's stern gun, having loaded it when the torpedo struck, remained at their posts, trying to discover the hidden foe in order to repay him in his own coin.

Surgeon Navarre of the Third Colonial Regiment, being taken aboard a trawler nearly exhausted by his eighteen hours on a raft, refused to change his drenched clothing or to take any food until he had dressed the hurts of the wounded and looked after the sick. He was prostrated a long while after such superhuman labours.

And I must mention this other incident, which brings tears to my eyes:

Gauthier, Assistant Quartermaster of the Provence, having been taken on board a greatly overloaded raft, was hailed by a soldier asking for help; he jumped into the water to give him his place, saying: "A sailor's duty is to save the soldiers first of all."

He was picked up, twenty-one hours after the wreck, clinging to a plank.

I call attention also to the devotion and zeal—meriting our profound gratitude—of Lieutenant Sinclair Thompson, commanding the English patrol Marguerite, and of his officers and crew, by whose labours about 300 survivors were taken from the place of the wreck to Malta.

Pray pardon the form of this story, Monsieur le Président. I have written it hurriedly, with a bruised hand, and with a head still in a sad muddle. I wished, before my impending departure for Saloniki, to say to you with all my heart: "That is what these noble fellows did!"

Bokanowski.

 


 

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