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THE LILLE BATTLE, Issue 15633, 26 October 1914
THE LILLE BATTLE
STRIPPED OF MYTH. HAS SECOND ARMY LANDED? PANICS OF THE SEA. SEVENTY SHIPS HUNT NINE. [By A. Spence.] Obligingly a German strikes the note of hope. This is the military writer of the ' Berliner Tageblatt.' His word is that the greatest battle of the war is raging between Lille and Dunkirk, on a 40-mile front. It is, he says, a question of life or death for the Germans. On it depends the success or failure of their operations. If the message means anything it implies that if ihe Germans are driven back in West Flanders they will lose the last of that which i 6 so dear to them—the offensive. The west of Belgium gives them the base for airship and other attack on England. Strong public (or rather private) pressure is doubtless being brought to bear on the Government of Britain to see that this does not happen. In the sense that this is so 1 the message may not be far astray. Otherwise it is a puff of air against a wall. If the Germans finally surrender Belgium, the refortified Meuse will sufficiently shield their flank. Both sides are making battle royal of it. The enfilading English ships are still no j further south than Middlekerke. This ! discloses where the true German flank is. There has been very violent fighting at ] Nieuport. This indicates the seaboard position of the German van. The Allies i nave been repulsed on the Lille side. This hints that reinforcements have reached Von Kluck. There are very few Germans I now in Ostend. Naturally. They have gone forward to the line of the Yser, close I to the frontier. There have been terrible | spectacles in the woods north of Roulers. This is most likely, for Roulers is the | railway junction which forms the key to the battle. Belgian railway rolling stock is being brought down to feed the battle. With, Brussels in German hands, Antwerp German, Bruges and Ostend German, and only a few miles of country in Belgium which is non-German, the natural wonder is where this rolling stock came from. This is the summary of the battle of West Flanders. The ~'Lokal AnzeigerV writer thinks that the battle will only finish when one or the other is exhausted. Well, why state the obvious? SECOND ARMY SAILED? It begins to look as if the Second British Army of half a million were near to France or on it. The High Commissioner starts off by .-aying that "the time has come to announce tlii.ijjs." The High Commissioner, with his "reliable" and "official," is generally a long way late in his messages. The time does not come for him so soon as it would come to an ordinary reporter. However, the time has come, as it came to some character in ' Alice in Wonderland," and the High Commissioner puts it thus: The time lias come when light can be thrown on the strategic part of the operations. Since the fighting on the Maine a gradual progressive extension northwards by the Allies has been one of the features. Till recently this was carried out by the French alone. Now, thanks to the arrival of reinforcements, the British have been enabled to take a hand in this prolongation, so that a portion of the forces is acting much further north than heretofore. Then he goes on to indicate that some British forces are still on the Aisne, and some towards Nieuport on the Belgian coast, which is so dangerous to England. He has got in the ancient word that the French are keeping up the pressure on the Aisne to prevent withdrawal of forces from that Line towards what is now called the battle of Li lie. He adds, honestly enough, and belated enough, that the results in both '■ theatres" are still indecisive. , What lie calls the " prolongation, to the north'' has been evident long ago. Even the cables forestalled him on that point about a fortnight since, and the files from Home are much further ahead, old as they are. ' Tho Times' of September 17 has the following : The fiv.-t new army of 500,000 is nearly readv. London's contribution to date is 70,000. Since the standard was raised to sft 6:n the number of recruits fell in london. On Monday the figures were 2,000, on Tuesday only 1,000. The rejections have averaged one in five. It" is 39 davs since this appeared in print. Perhaps the second army has sailed. The Germans kne.v long ago whether it has mailed o- not. Wo are left to guess. _lf it were only a question of waiting patiently for the news one might not object. I here is an uglier feature of the case than that, and not a mere war question, either. ELOQUENT IN MEANING. Such a lot of news about the New Zealand forces—news which many thousands know—is suppressed at this end. They are publishing it in England, however, and England is much nearer to the enemy than New Zealand is. The London ' Times of September 17 has the following, for instance:—" Hutments have been erected at Bulford for the accommodation of the NewZealand Expeditionary Force. New Zealandcrs resident in England can join. OUR " ALL YOUNG " NAVY.
Sir David Beatty has been honored m despatches. The mention of the name of the commander of the first battle cruiser squadron—lion, New Zealand, and two others—recalls our "all young navy. Rear-Admiral Beatty has climbed fast to the front. He became captain at 29, and reached flag rank before he was 40. The "Beatty touch" in the battle ot Heligoland Bight on August 27 was effective, if simple. The chances were that the Uerman Mainz, Koln, and Ariadne would run for port as soon as the "big fellows appeared, but Admiral Beatty got there somehow. He. came up very fast, rounded to, and sent home one broadside from the LionT It proved enough. The operation is similar to that which Admirals Togo and Dcwa endeavored to ca-ry out on the morning in May, 1904, when the PetropavJosk was su'nk. In that case, however, the mist lifted too soon, and the Japanese did not succeed. This action off Heligoland is the one in which a British destroyer commander addressed his crew with the words : " Now, boys, we are all men together, and there is no saluting in this job." The hearts of these young commanders were in their work that morning, and a very welldeserved honor is that which has been bestowed on Commander Frank F. Rose, of this destroyer Laurel. The cables say that he was wounded in both legs, but remained on the bridge. This is a little out. The Home papers indicate that he was "*-"?*"y severely in one* leg. Members of tJie crew desired to carry him below, but he was not minded that way. He stood on one leg for hourß, and directed the fight, so far as the Laurel was concerned, to the end, THE INSHORE SEARCHERS. The report of Commodore Roger J. B. Keyes on British submarine work is plain enough reading. The submarines are our extreme inshore searchers, the most venturesome part of our fringe after fringe of blockade. In an article—'Unseen Fleets* —written at the start of £he war, the writer felt sure that these boats would go in daily and nightly to peep through the German windows. Commodore Keyes states that this operation has been incessant. The British have reconnoitred the German anchorage, and, in short, feared nothing except, no doubt, the German harbor booms. Probably our submarines have been far into the Ja-hde— up to the
booms at Wilhalmshayen, in f*ot. No one seems to have been more sensible of it than Admiral'Von liKjenobL The British officer states that the German battle vessels have never and the German cruisers seldom emerged from a fortified harbor. The roost interesting part of the- report is tliat ■which states that the British have had to face "skilled anti-submarine tactic*." What were they? one wonders. Guns are no good, and submarines very little good, against the stealthy inroad of a hostile submarine. Probably Commodore Keyes refers to some subtle arrangement of mines. COMMERCE, PANIC, ETC. The true meaning of thes long message which the High Commissioner has sent regarding German raiders on commerce is simple to read through. The shipping companies at Home and the insurance concerns have been making a noise. Why not catch these cruisers—catch them m 10 minutes 7 So the High Commissioner goes into figures which are intended to reassure. In some respects he is too modest; he understates our own side. We have, he says captured 133 German merchantmen. 100 low. ine British commerce-watchers had caught no fewer than 191 German merchantmen as long ago as September 17, and there were another lot, computed at 124, lying m neutral harbors afraid to put to sea. It is nice to notice that the message walks over the usual magazine myth about the "coaling difficulty.*' Dear magazine myths'. \v£en will we cut clear from them' When the Russian Baltic fleet, went out to the East the magazine Solomons at once rushed in witTi he™ shake of the head. How could it get to the East? How could it coal? Where were its coaling stations? _ Well, it did get to the East, not only with a good coal tupplv. but actually stacked with coal right 'up to the boat decks The High Commissioner states that in spite of everv effort to cat off the coal supplv, it has hitherto been maintained." ft would be interesting to know where this coal is coming from, borne from America, no doubt, but the rest——. Thet German bituminous coal smokes too much for fleet purposes, but the German fleet will not smoke much when it comes to sea. It will burn Welsh steaming coal. Great stocks were accumulated at Wil« helmshaven before the war began. There are some very good point* in the High Commissioner's message, too. If the German raiders keep the sea it may be necessary to marshal merchantmen in fleets, as was done in the Napoleonio wars, and give each a suitable convoy. There is, however, no need yet to harass shippers and shipping companies by the delays which accumulated fleets of merchantmen would impose on all. The ship first loaded would have to wait for the last. The message savs that nine German cruisers are "believed" to be at sea. These must be the Karlsruhe (Atlantic), Eber (unknown), Konigsberg, Emden (Indian Ocean}, and Scharnborst, Gneisenau, Numbers, and Leipzig (Pacific). The Gier is laid up at Honolulu. Against these there are 70 British, Australian, Japanese, French, and Russians on the look-out, but. as the cable indicates, the ocean is a wide place, and abounds with archipelagos and tortuous channels. Besides the general hunt for these Germans, the Admiralty seems to have done its best for merchant captains and owners. Every information and direction in its power is given to owners and -captains. It has even gone «o far as to keep tracks in the North fc>ea swept for commerce, thus placing a double duty on the fleet. . We. heard last week tnat the towii■ of Jibutil, on the African side of the Red Sea, had been bombarded by a German ship. If true, this ship must have been the Konigsberg, last heard of in action with the British cmiser Pegasus at Zanzibar. The date of that unfortunate affray was given as September 20. SOLDIERS AND SLEEP. We hear a good deal of the German exhaustion ; little of our own. An English doctor, however, supplies a word to-day. He has noticed that, no matter how painfully injured, our wounded soldiers often drop asleep on reaching hospital. Since Mens, theso men liave been fighting for 64 days with hardlv a break, and (some of the soldiers' letters in Home papers say) the Germans have a habit of going on with the firing right up till midnight. It is not so many weeks since we were informed that the English, French, and Belgians were working in relays to keep the Germans out of sleep. I did not set any store on the message, for two can play Chat game, if indeed it was ever played by set design. During the earlier stages of the battle of the Aisne, the soldiers in the allied camps would usually stand to arms about 5 a.m. The serious infantry and artillery combats, with all their nervous exhaustion, would terminate about 6 p.im After that theTe would be six hours' firing of some sort. After that again some body of troops would be required to furnish the outpost line. It would stand fast in the morning while the shooting line passsed through to I the front again. It would gradually say; away to the roar if things- went well on the front. But. if things did not go well. ! the outpost troops would stand to arms once nior:', while the infantry firing line I came ba-ck through their intervals. In one ' flash this rear (seeking sleep) would again become the van. It is possible that many regiments have been required to furnish the outpost lino for two or three nights in succession. The maximum penalty for falling asleep is dea.th. It is wonderful how. in certain contingencies, the sentries manage to keep awake at all. VOICE FROM THE GRAVE. Ono of the saddest stories of the war is told by the London 'Times.' Prior to leaving England Major Yate, of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, wrote a magazine article on ' Moral Qualities in War.' Among the points which he made were belief in the justice of the struggle; physical fitness of the nation's manhood ; "absence of materialism among the nation at large; the spirit of the offensive. Then he added : "This is the spirit in which soldiers must go forth to feht—not dreaming of the homecoming, the medal, the batta. These are distant and problematical. Nearer and more probable are the enemy and the tomb." Before the matter was in typo the writer was dead. His name came through in the very first list of casualties. "The Times' adds that if this massage from the grave is as widely read as it deserves to b<% a gallant soldier will not have died in vain. HOW CITIES ARE COWED. Mention was made of Paris hostage* last week-. The Germans had the list drawn up. The life of a hostage in German hand* must be a continued shudder. From the moment of seizure till the time of release the unhappy one's neck is in the noose. One shot from a window send* him to the grave. The line pursued in these cases never varies, and here is a copy of an actual proclamation put up at Rheims on September 12. It has just come in files to hand : In the event of an action being fought the inhabitants are warned that they must remain absolutely calm. They must in no way take part in the fighting, the erection of barricades, the taking up of paving, in no way to hinder the movements of troops. Any action that may embarrass the German army is formally forbidden. The persona named bejow have been eeixed as hoefcß<je« by the Commander-in-Chief of the German army. These hostages will he hanged at the slightest attempt at disorder. Also the tow» will be totally or partly burnt, and the inhabitants will be hanged for any infraction of the aibove. By order of the German authorities, The Mayob (Da Langlet). Here follow the names of 81 of the prirv cipal inbabitanto of Rheims (with their addresses), including four priests. The list ends with the words " and soma others."
THE LILLE BATTLE, Issue 15633, 26 October 1914
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