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LOCKED LEVEL, Issue 15632, 24 October 1914
ON THE OSTEND LITTORAL. CHANCES BOTH WAYS. THE SUEZ CANAL EDICT. [By A. Spence.] There is a consensus of hope in the cables. The battle in West Flanders caunot bo going too well, because the Germans have not yet been dislodged from Midcllokerke. At the same time, it cannot be going badly, for the Gorman move on the seaboard is no further forward. Among the messages of hope is one by the ‘ Daily Mail.’ The Germans (says the ‘Mail') are getting “nervy. They give the impression of lassitude and exhaustion. “ Xow even the most pessimistic are counting the days until the enemy's crumpled forces are hurled back into their own territory.” It is not a bad effort for the ‘Mail.’ The ‘Mail’ knows its public, and, really, the message would have been credible if it had just struck out the last part. The spectacle of the Germans hurled back in their own territory in a few days requires some gilt of imagination to see. Amsterdam journals have something better to say. One is to the effect that the capture of Holders [by the French] is important, for it is, a. railway centre. It is move than that. It is flic backbone of the fight for the seaboard —it and Vpvcs. In respect to Ypres there Rs some mention of indundation, which is the course which the Duke of Wellington wished to pursue with that town and district when he fought the Waterloo campaign. .Belgium, protested, and the Duke gave up the idea. It may recur. If the Germans press along the coast they could be stopped by lotting in tlie water. If they tall back they could stop the Allies to some extent by adopting the same measure. The Allies would be slow to resort to this extreme, inflicting further hardship on Belgium. What the Germans may ultimately resolve on leaves one. thinking. Von Klnck. we learn, is irresolute what to do with the fortress of Lille. Guo day he is minded to hold it. next, day to let it go. 1 do not think there need be any doubt in arriving at a correct estimate of this message. The Germans will not let Lille go. A garrison will bo thrown into it, mid if the Genna-n right wing is ultimately pushed into Belgium the place will standi a siege. The ‘ Tagehlat td Amsterdam, has reliable information that the German commander in Brussels has notified German inhabitants to leave in 48 hours. This is interpreted to moan that lie is tumble to guarantee an uninterrupted occupation of the city. If is deeply important, if true. It would show that the German armies engaged on the coast have nearly had enough. Taking it on its fare value. I do not- think there is much in it, but read in conjunction with other messages it rivets attention.
Perhaps the best message of hope is one which reads as follows :—“ The consensus of British anti Erench military opinion regarding the repeated violent German attacks is that tlie German direction daily shows signs of powerless exasperation.'' Signs of powerless exasperation are decidedly not characteristic of a Gentian direction, hut, unless the whole of the messages are a campaign of falsehood their moaning is full of good cheer. The authenticity of tire cables, other than those coming from the London
• Times' is now sufficiently revealed in its nakedness to the public, so that one may bo sure that no wrong is done in balancing up the probabilities both -ways. The German side of the situation is disclosed by messages from Amsterdam. One tells of the despatch of 10.COO marines, with inachni" guns, tiom Antwerp. Another is that 2,400 sailors have gone from Liege towards Antwerp, and two Zeppelins have travelled with them. The detail about “ machine guns" looks doubtful, and the detail about Zeppelins more doubtful still. If it were desired to bring Zeppelin- to Belgium, the easiest way would be to ily them ‘here. Towed in tlie rear of a, parcel of marines, they form an uneoiivineing story. MORE ON MONITORS. What is likely out of all this guesswork is (hat the Germans will send down some heavy guns— possibly naval guns—to contend with the seaward fire of the Biiti-'i monitors. No extensive German advance along the coast is possible while, this intolerable fire, directed by airship observation. is < nlilading the Hank. It may not do much harm to the infantry firing line, but the larger blocks—icservor. massed batteries, supply trains, waggons, caissons, and what not —are targets that cannot be missed. Some town in ( anad is presenting two monitors, '[’here is nothing like being in the fashion, but before the Canadian gift is in tho water the battle of West Flanders will iik-dy he dead and '•lone with. Britain proba.bly owes the idea of Inlying up the Brazilian monitors to Mr Winston Ghutvhill. lake liL groat ancestor. John Churchill. Duke of Marlborough, ho seems to he a man of action. Tho faster the situation rails for action, the quicker ho seems to be. He was quick when Antwerp called for aid, and. after it wa, over, lie issued a complimentary bulletin to the troops engaged. He did not commit himself very fir in that bulletin, to he. sure, hut bo said as much as an honest man could say. There will, of course, be hitter recriminations over Antwerp when historians sit down to write the war. CATCH THAT' EM DEN. The London 'Time#;' is tired of the Emden. We all aie. Her last , strokes at sea mean £1,000.000 of good property gone. Pretnimably another £750.000 has to he added, for that was the figure at which British owners and underwriters returned as dead loss when this hornet first buzzed into the Bay of Bengal on September 10. Prior to that date her locality does not seem to have been known even to the. British Admiralty, which keeps a daily chart of every warship in the world, both in time of peace and time of war. 'The Emden has now had a run of 44 days at least, and ‘The Times’ thinks that she ought to be hunted off the ocean. Like the Karlsruhe, Eber. Konigsberg. and others, she. is responsible for the high rate of insurance on bottoms and freights-, and she may even attack the Indian mail service. Catching a 24-knot cruiser is not easy, even when a faster boat is out after her. The lookout keeps a watchful eye on every streak of smoke on the. horizon. If the raider is -satisfied that lie is milling into trouble, ho sheers away, and shows bis heels. A day’s chase begins, the gain from- hour to hour being slow. When night falls the fugitive alters course, and next morning lie has passed out of view. GUARDING THE GATE. The Suez Canal, the gate between East and West, is being strictly -watched, it seems. One sometimes reads fantastic ideas about tho neutrality of this important waterway. It has, as we know, been legitimately used for the passage of four or five bodies of ships actively engaged in war. The late Lord Wolseley used it in the war against Arabi Pasha; portion of the Spanish fleet entered it during the war with the United States; two separata divisions of tire Russian Baltic fleet passed through about the end of 1994; our 44 Indian transports went through it quite reci i tly. The use of the Canal in time of war is not governed so much by general provisions of international law or conventions as by a special instrument, and. as we see from the High Commissioner’s message, the ultimata wferenc* is to the Government of Egjrpi. That, at least, is the euphemism.
The message, as we have received it, is to the effect that a number of merchantmen' liable to capture at sea are making use of the Canal as a haven of refuge. Perhaps there is more behind it than that. Four or five alleged neutrals might, for instance, be minded to sink in the Canal. If they carried «,fcc approved cargo for this kind of operation—-cement, pig-iron, or sand—the passage might be sealed up for months. We do not hear very much about this sort of enterprise, but it is always a real danger. In the few days which intervened after Germany's declaration of war o|i Russia, and before Britain herself declared, the narrow entrances to such port; as Dover were very strictly r-crutimsed. SIBERIANS ARRIVE.
We had an interesting cable yesterday intimating that some of the Siberian troops had reached the front. They fougnt at Augustowo, on Rennenkampf’s front. For some reason the Russians set a good deal of special value on their Siberian troops. The belief seems to be that these soldiers were 'Steadier in action during the Japanese War than some of the European commands. The behaviour of Orloff’s European division at Liaoyang left a bad impression, and had no counterpart in the Siberian regiments. The Siberian establishment has been augmented a good deal during the last seven years. There are now five army corps, with headquarters at Nikolsk. Tchita. Irkitsk, Vladivostok, and Khabarovsk respectively. Vladivostock is, of course, the strategic point on which the group of troops was intended to hinge mainly, but the situation has changed. The interest in the message, is that the block of troops and stores on the Russian railways, great as it must he, is not overwhelming. If the Siberian forces can get up to the front some of the lines in European Russia, must still be fairly clear, POLAND A QUAG. Ats w;*s lo hvt ■expeciocl. live catuiou ongaged in the 'battle, of the Vistula havo brought down the rain, and Poland Jr* aquagmire. If Poland is anything like the same Poland which Napoleon campaigned in in 1807 it must be the muddiest country on earth, unless, indeed it is rivalled by Northern Virginia. The soldiets of Lee's army did not find “Ole '\irginny' a cheerful terrain to march on in the winters of the American Civil War. It was boottop mud ail the time. The rain on the Vistula is bad fortune for the Russian,;. If tlie news which wo have received regarding this battle (now a. fortnight, old) is onlv moderatolv true, the Grand Duke Nicholas has held'his own. with something to spare. The first phase of the battle had gone considerably in favor of Russia, and the time had possibly arrived to press forward for the second phase. Sind will make this phase less vigorous. The German has his uniform railwav gauge to move on. He can ride when he does not desire to match. The poor Russian can. Unfortunately, only gape at his own wide railhead, and wonder why someone in high places connived at the penetration of his own country null a gauge which is now no use to him.
LOCKED LEVEL, Issue 15632, 24 October 1914
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