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FLEET LOOMS, Issue 15630, 22 October 1914
ON GERMAN RIGHT REAR. PATH TO NIEUPORT STOPPED BY NAVAL SHELL. WAR OFFICE NEWS. SOME CABLES & THE TRUTH[By A. Spence.] Allowing for the usual exaggerations, the day’s news is good. Some small part of the English fleet is taking a hand in the land battle on the low toasts of Belgium. Niouport, 10 miles south of Ostend, seems to have been the storm centre for the day. It is the stepping-stone to Dunkirk, 17 miles further on, and then comes Calais. Ihe object of operations between Lille and the Strait of Dover is to block the German march along the coast. Everyone knows how much that means. The shelling from the sea caught the 'Germans in a way that docs not amuse, generals. Their seaward flank was taken in rear. British warships raked areas south of Middlekirke. This village is the halfway house between Ostend and Nieuport, fivo miles each way. It is like Burkes on the railway between Dunedin and Port Chalmers, only ther are no steep-to hills fringing the sea. Conjoined with tho bombardment there was the usual co-operation of all arms on land. Machine guns were brought up, the infantry threw out its shooting lines, painfully and bloodily endeavoring to build up 105 rifles to the 100 yds at 600 yds, and then, when every man was doing his utmost, we read that “the cannonade from, the soa increased.” Tho Germans seem to have got their guns back in the direction of Ostend. It is only a partial and very local victory, but the locality is important. There is no need to doubt that the Allies have made “excellent progress” in Belgium. The cable adds, probably without exaggeration, that the ranging of the British naval guns was marvellous. It really requires no ranging worth, speaking of. A 6in naval gun can have five shots in tho air at once, and the bursts show the gunner in one minute how far he is on or off the target. News that the Germans are fortifying Ostend must nob be read too seriously. Redans, lunettes, and other open works on the land side of the city are likely. Rumors of permanent fortification on the seaward side should be accepted with reserve.
Unfortunately, it does not seem clear ibat the Germans have finally to let go Middlekerke. The ‘ Telegraaf ’ has fotmed the opinion that 30,000 Germans are still entrenched between that village and Niouport. Belgians and French have apparently locked hands in the plain of West Flanders, and there may be British, for we have been told in a convincing message, that Sir John French has quitted the Aisne. The supporting points for this battle are Ypres and lloulers, each about 25 miles back from the coast. These points will be 'assaulted soon. DEEPLY IMPORTANT. German teeth are deep in Belgium. I doubt if the coming winter will see them out of it. My first forecasts, months ago. were to the effect that tbs Germans would refortify the line of the Meuse and then drop the j«et of Belgium. They show no symptom of dropping any part of it. Today we receive the very natural news that they are refortifying Namur. It had about 800 guns in it Viren it was taken. It will most likely ha ve, not 800' but 1,800 guns when the German engineers are done with it. The chief interest in the day’s news is that tho Germans are building four Zeppelin sheds at Antwerp and three at Brussels. Any hangar constructed further forward towards the coast than Liege is a bold bit of building, and if the Germans push these mighty revolving sheds far forward to the sea the eountorstroke. by our own aeroplanes will come. The aeroplane, as Britain knows it. cannot carry the quantity o: special explosive which seems desirable. At the same time half a ton of it squarely dropped is calculated to set a hangar on fire. In the operations which are coming there will bo combat after combat in the air. When we win we will bear all about it. There will be what may be called a. dignified silence when we lose. One rigid dirigible of the German type will beat many aeroplanes, but the dirigible it; not without her element of weakness. The inflammable hangar is one. UNTERSEEBOOTE. fine message is worth looking at, because it is likely. A German official aerogram indicates some vague engagement, took
place at sea-, and a cub marine figured. Naturally, it is shackled by the 'War Office, which has long been eye pain to the best in the Army. Sir "William Butler exposed it in hrs last book. These who wish to look below the surface will find good reading in that book. To-day the nation hails Kitchener. It is not so long ago since an aristocratic party—an intensely aristocratic parly—bv the name of Curz.on of Keddeistone was I doing his best to put Kitchener into the i background for good and all. Indeed, i when the present war began Kitchener was i knocking about the world practically "out I of .1 job.” ] To return to the submarine story, over ! which the War Office and the censor hare j passed the billing pad. It does seem I that some “ ume.iceebootc ” wan near when the British light cruisers began to shell the, seaboard. All that we know to date is that she was: headed off by some- faction of our destroyer flotillas. GIVE US THE TRUTH. Each morning we know what is conii ing in the cables. Me hardly need to read them. Wc are ynito sure, that there will be a yard or more of German defeats. One wonders if all this comes under the, broad heading “ British fair play.” When the war began an excitable person, who moves in political circles, rushed into the ' Evening Star Office to impress the writer with the following . ■ 11 The thing is that you must say that Britain must win; we. will muddle through ; you'll stop recruiting if you don't say that. To-day a correspondent sends me a. very interesting clipping from an English paper. It reads Too much has been heard of German defeats and Belgian and French victories to make it- appear that- England militarily is in desperate ease. If the Belgians and the French and Russians are sufficient for the task of reducing Kaiserism to sanity, England’s contribution to the desired end may well stop at the Navy and the Expeditionary Force. The Government must take the nation more completely into their confidence. In that event, and were the country convinced of the need, recruiting would ho almost universal. Every reputable paper in England is saying the same thing. England has been “militarily” in desperate vase for many vears. Clear eyes and heads saw it, but there- was always the marplot, the optimist. the man Jed on our shocking magazine literature, who was mud on the wheels of progress. It _ seems, for instance, that the Canadians must stay two months in England beiore they are fit to be passed to the front in a Continental war. Two months, in a war which is life or death to usl The 44 transports with the Indian troops only reached Marseilles 60 days after the declaration of war. We have not even heard yet that they have been passed, up to the front. If we could get the truth, or anything like the truth, there would at once be a boom in recruiting unprecedented in the annals of the world. The pathetic, aristocratic English War Office thinks differently, however. It was never a believer , in jiving the public much light on war.
Half of Kitchener's time must now be devoted, to cleansing those Augean stable*. He cannot cleanse them. Nobody could. In the meantime we hear that restrictions on newspapers are presently to be relaxed in New Zealand. That is to say* - tiiat tiie puVAioataoti of xte’ws -wSai-cli. everyone already knows is to become permissible. And they call it a people’s war. NORTH SEA-FINE PROPOSALSTwo good items about tie North Sea. One is done; the other suggested. The thing that is done is very good. Every seaman and officer is to receive a swimming collar capable of rapid inflation. Capital idea. Given a future submarine attack—and they will be thick enough—the business for the ships in line is to sheer off, train guns, and watch; also to lower away all boats to pick up the drowning. For the struggling man in the water the ordeal is to keep afloat for a quarter of an hour,* or maybe half an hour, or maybe a little longer. The swimming collar, capable of rapid inflation, is just the thing which will enable him to come through this purgatory. If war were not war, but' something more like ‘ Alice in Wonderland,’ it would be easy to keep stocks of cork jackets and flotillas of rafts and boats on board ship. Unfortunately, these are very inflammable, and so the fewer the better. When the German cruiser Leipzig was boarded by American reporters outside San Francisco the Pressmen noticed that all woodwork had been hacked out of the ship, and there were no boats. These had been set adrift and used for target practice. Conflagration is the last thing which any captain desires. Even the paint on a steel plate is apt to catch fire, as happened on the Russian ships at Tsushima So the less wcod, cork, and paint and the more bare iron the better. The swimming collar, however, can do no harm. The other item of good news is a suggestion which comes from an influential quarts'-, Yesterday the double duty which has been thrown on the fleet was mentioned in these notes. They have had to sweep commerce tracks, as well as the tracks for war. The naval correspondent of the London ‘ Times ’ now suggests that the North Sea might advantageously be closed to neutral commerce to lighten the work of the fleet. This would close most of the Scandinavian ports to anything except British merchantmen. We would be slow to do it, but it is a happy suggestion. Indeed, if England were to ca-e to take an extreme step, she has only to fill the North Sea with mines and retire the whole fleet to their bases. She probably would not do so, but sha could exhaust the naval situation if she did. “ASTONISH EUROPE.” A German journalist at Rotterdam ears that if the quantity of German ammunition were known it would astonish Europe. The arsenals are working night and day on heavy guns. This will bo true, for of such is the kingdom of Thoroughness. At the same time, the armament makers of England will not fail asleep altogether. Last week we heard that Cossacks had captured a Zeppelin. The globe-trotter in Germany can be shown over a Zeppelin for a shilling, but her secrets could not be bought. If, however, one is captured, and her parts opened, England and France would know all things necessary. In connection with the armament question, moral effect must be viewed. The Beilin correspondent of ‘ Tyd ’ thinks that the Germans are depressed by the o5 days’ 'stationary combat on the Aisne. The capture of Antwerp has failed to soften that strong gloom. True. But he goes on to say -that the Germans are unable to disguise the fact that the opportunity for a Zepelin raid on England has passed owing to the approach of the winter storms. He rambles. He does not seem to know much about Zeppelins. THE DAILY AFFRONT. The great battle on the Vistula goes on. Warsaw or Pul tusk ts its north flank, Przemysl the south. It is almost certain that the Podolia and Odessa armies have had to retrace their steps, and the march on Cracow has been halted. • One of the main points to watch is whether the siege of Przemysl is dropped. Russia is strategically beaten for the moment. If aha lets go her grip on Przemysl she will be tactically beaten too. Daily we, learn that a number of corpses weie seen floating down the Vi stud a'. If Lord Northcbffe, as well as the figureheads of old-world trusts which control our news, would pay for it, this message could be sent to London dailv from New Zealand without shadow of fear of contradiction. It would relieve the unemployed-question a good deal. REAL OR CABLE GUNS? ' Tiie affrighting French 75-miiimetre gun has bobbed up again. This time there were a battery of these monsters, and they appear to have found only a modest target—ls German machine guns and a “ heavy battery (calibre unstated| at St. MihieL A centimetre is 39-100 th of an inch, so that, the diameter of this new gun, if ifexists, would be about, 29Jiu, and the shell would weigh about- two tons. Generally speaking, it looks like a. cable mistake for 7.5-centimetre pun, which is less than oin in ealibic. and is, in fact, the 75-millimetre gun.
FLEET LOOMS, Issue 15630, 22 October 1914
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