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ELECTRIC WALL, Issue 15658, 24 November 1914
TO STOP THE SUBMARINES. RELIGION & WAR. THE SOLDIER & HIS PRIEST, [By A. Spence.]
England is losing a little sleep over submarines. England is, indeed, restlessly awake, day and night, over submarines. "Even now," wrole a, British officer, reported in yesterday’s cables, " German submarines are outside.” If Eneland could devise a way of containing the German Bubmarine.s in their harbors'ths war at sea would ha wen. Being so wide awake as she is, it is natural to find English inventors coming forward with plans to neutralise the snipers of the sea. Out of many appearing in tiro Home papers, one is selected tor to-day's notes because it lias won some little approval from the London ‘Times.’ The sketch is intended to show what it amounts to, and it is ambitious enough. It is a scheme of elcctiio blockade. For this electric blockade the designer proposes to establish a highly electrified sheet of water round all German harbors from Borkum to the Kiel Canal. The voltage, he says, should be so powerufl that no submarine or other metal chip may pass through it without having her petrol set alight, her torpedoes exploded, or her crew killed. Buoys (says the author of the scheme) should be anchored at intervals off the German ports. Whether that interval should be 5 yards or 50 yards or 1,000 yards is a question for an electrician—a question of electro-motive force, current, and resistance. Whether 5,000 buoys or 500,000 buoys would be required is a matter for the British Government. If the scheme proved effective it would be cheap at millions of pounds.
The proposal, as given in the London ‘Times,’ and as illustrated by the ‘Evening Star’s ’ draughtsman, is that each buoy, securely moored, should serve as a point of support for a tube filled with copper wires extending nearly but not quite to the bottom of the shallow North Sea. To give each tube of wires a certain rigidity, a weight might be attached to each tube somewhere near the sea floor. These weights are shown in the sketch. The power would have to be transmitted to No. 1 buoy (say, off Borkum) by conductors charged by the most powerful electrical gencratore in England, for the voltage needed would be terrific. If the scheme could be worked, no matter at what coet, the. German offings would become one sheet of sudden death flnehing from tube to tuiie, for every tube and Iniov would form part, of an electric circuit. Fresh water is a ready transmitter of electric current, and sab, water is not bad. Thu iayintr of the buoys would require to be covered by eunfire, and this gunfire (he Englbh Navy could fnrn : sh in a way that would beat down all resistance. Once laid, the lino of buoys would have to bo covered by gunfire in the daytime and by searchlicrhtfi and nmiftte by night, so that sh ore parties might not proceed to sea and destroy the floats and mechanism. The sketch aelurnriratoK how a line of ships mi edit watch the cordon of buoys, and the task would be easy, because flic danger to h a opprehenJed from submarines would vanish after the buoys had been anchored. Neither could the eubmariner, however low they swam, approach the mechanism to destroy it without taking fevery risk of being destroyed thmmelvos. The professional e’ee.'rician may smile a. litl'e at, the idea, knowing the tendency of electric current, to short-circuit from buoy to huov. instead of spreading in a wall from tube to tube rigid down to the bottom of the sea. That, of course-, is the inventor's secret, and he has not disclosed it even to the London ‘ lint's’; but the problem of spreading a killing sheet of electricity from sea surface to sea. floor mav not'he Iwvond tho ingenuity of man. It 'will 1 m interesting to discover_ later who this ingenious man is. If be is not ’connected with the big armament, firms, his idea ’inv pori'lr in the infant stage. It w interesting however, practicable or not, because it. is the first ckam of any ferrous, rational way of meeting llio submarine. 'HIM MODERN ’RONMDFto. “ Eve-witness ” tells ns of the ordeal in Belgium, where the men stand in straw, mud, and frozen blush. \ evy difwrent now it is from tiie pin wing autumn weather when “ Tommy ’’ sat down tor ms first night on the Continent, with his hat full of flowers and each gun wheel a garland of ro.i-c and dahlias. G"t, what, must it be in Poland, where the 15.000 tons of infur,try a net cavalry stores must plough up to, tho front da* y through tho mire and snow. Uno figures tho great rrev Rm-’sian musses standing to arms an hour before oawn, nnd the colonels coming on parade with the salutation; “Good morning, children,” and tho sonorous answering shout of the men: “Good health, your Excellency,” or, if thev like their officer verv much, they call him Papashft, which means “ Lntle Father. _ _ In Belgium “Tommy” maintains his constitutional aplomb, no doubt, but the Russian soldier, never hilarious, has tiie gift of being moderately cheerful, even in tho mud. In some ways he is a replica of Cromwell’s Ironsides. Hei is, for instance, deeply religious. A Russian battalion cun move and fight without many things—without food, for instance but it would not move with the same absolute willingness without its priest. On Sundays bo brings out his vestments and bis little field altar in the mud, and on (Other days he goes forward into batt|e with the men. A witness who saw phis nation of religionists in Manchuria and has again seen jdrem in Poland gives his testimony. “ No one," he says, “who has seen tho Russian chaplain lead his regiment to the charge with raised Cross—who has seen the surpassing solemnity of the .spectacle of a large body of troops standing just outside the fire of a hundred guns with bared heads and chanting their supplications to their Maker before moving into action —no one who has witnessed such scenes will deny that tho Russian way is right.” tVe see it all very well reflected in a cable to-day. A correspondent _at Warsaw save: “ In men Russia is a millionaire who pever (feels poorer however many she
spends. The peasants are deenly calm in the presence of suffering and death. The idea of a glorious death is spiritual meat and drink to them. They love a brother soldier "when alive, and when dead he becomes Holy. This makes the Russian almost invincible.”
Yes; very true. But how differently the cables spoke of the Russian at tho time of the Japanese war! As for our own kith and kin, no doubt they have their own Divine service on odd days when tho camion cease a little, and on the. Fleet some religious ceremony every morning, with “ rigging church ” on full scale on Sundays. They are Ironsides all. Tho splendid Belgian factory owner who is providing baths and clean clothes for 1,500 Britisn every day is on Ironside of a mould not greatly differing. His factory may go up in flames any day, and he may fare badly enough. GUARDIAN OF A SALIENT. ' Przemysl (pronounce P-shem-isl) is enduring its fifty-fifth day of siege, and tho cable expectation is tliat tho final assault will be delivered on Ilia Feast Day of St. Nicholas—December 6. That is to say that the 67th day c,f the siege will see a first-class fortress down. After Antwerp —the first-class fortress which fell in a fortnight—v;e must, of course, he prepared for anything. German siege artillery, however, and Russian ordnance of that kind arc different, and tho story looks all the more doubtful when its narrator professes to have an inside knowledge of the alleged cholera raging inside tho fortress. It looks more doubtful still when the reciter of tho story goes on to say that these candidates for the hospital, weak as they must have been, made two ‘‘desperate’' sorties, and reached the main body of tho Russians seven miles from the city. A .sortie of seven miles calls for men of good health and full morale. Generally speaking, Przemysl is a fortified point which threatens tho rear of two Russian armies and the flank of four others. Any military direction must have seen to it long ago that the place was well provisioned and well gunned. TITORN-CRACOW BATTLE. All that can bo written of the ThoniCTacow battle at present is to place several moss-ages together. The front is 210 miles as the crow flies. Possibly it would measure out at 350 miles or 4CO miles if ; we could look down from an aeroplane and , measure up its salients and re-entrants. The battle (o which the Petrograd, Mos- . cow, and Varsovio armies are committed has a northern and southern phase. In
the northern sphere, between tho Wartn, and the Vistula (say a mean front of 50 miles), the German general Hindenburg has been pouring in one mass after another for tho last 10 days. The Petrograd and Moscow armies have been facing this. The High Commissioner says that this “ attempt to reach Warsaw ” Iras failed. The Hon. Thomas Mackenzie is unconvincing when he stalks the earth wearing the mantle of Mohkc. Tiie stream of German troops, ponied through the peninsula between the two rivers by Von Hindenburg, probably never had a thought of Warsaw, their object Ireing the sterner one of falling on the right flank of tho Petrograd jinny. It. is not .sure yet whether they have won or lost, but they are certainly still far forward in Poland. Tho High Commissioner, perhaps in a playful moment, govs on to cable solemnly: “ Snow is impeding the operations.” ’’■ho (southern sphere of this far-flung battle is between Czenstochnwa and Cracow, a- distance- of about 60 miles, measured in straight line. Thin must- he the front on which the heavy Varsorie .army is tight ing. _ _ The oflieial Petrograd message indicates dint the fighting in the northern sphere, between the Vistula and the Warta, continuer, with determination. On the southern fronl. from Czcnstorhowa to Cracow, the Varsovio army pushed the Austrians out of some unverifiable village named “ Newsandee.” This is the spot where the High Cominis;inner claims that the battle was decisive. COUNTER RUSSIA?
Perhaps the beet cable on the whole maker is the story furnished the. London 'Daily Telegraph,’ in which an American, recently in Berlin, gives a broader view, which view is often tho best. He indicates that the Germans arc short of such commodities as saltpetre, and this may affect the euipply of .ammunition by and by. Th en ’head ds that the German military authorities are convinced that they can cntinter Russia, owing to their mobility
through the strategic railways. If the Tin’!n-Brerlau line is forced they can defend the Oder. He says nothin? of the great fortress of Posen, which intervenes between tiie frontier and the Oder, but jill there mighty fortified posts have to lie emirckd and passed before the Oder can he approached. The e.vtemporieod field fortification, rising in miles each day, is another matter so far imt seriouriy mentioned in the nows. To-day, however, a Russian doctor who has escaped from Germany reports that the Genuaiis aro preparing on an enormous scale for the defence of Berlin. Exceedingly heavy guns have been mounted at Kustrin (about 50 miles from the capital). It must not lie tok ti as evid’nce ot anything like a general retreat on 8.-; din, or to the Oder, nr even to the frontier. It- merely means that, apart from tho permanent fortresses altogether, the central Russian armies must face one Hue of fortified posts after another which never previously figured on the map. And then there is the lateral series of German railways in Silesia and East Prussia., which can wheel up troops from south to north, from north to south, from anywhere, in fact, eo that they aro apt to be stronger always at tho point of decision. This lateral effect of the railways was described in my first article, ‘Krieg Mobil,” PRECIOUS THREAD OF WATER. It was tho week-end of the last week in August when the British troops in Cairo, numbering perhaps 17,000, marched out for battle, creating an impression as they went. Since then the military junker has not furnished a word, but there are some stray items to-day. Operations at the Suez Canal are sure to be wrapped up in a great hush, for some commercial junker may possibly achieve an inside running In trade if the hush is only profound enough. However, there - are two accounts which may be glanced at. Beyond tha fact that the Turks are now near the Canal they mean nothing. The Cairo message indicates that the camel corps has been engaged not far from the precious thread of water, and 13 men are missing. It does not herald any great victory, but merely adds that “a number of Turks were killed.” This camel corps would doubtless be the command of Captain E. N. Broadbent, of the King's Own Scottish Borderers. The Turkish message regarding the affair says that the British fled. What most likely happened was that the camel corps were pushed far out into tho desert as first fan of scouts. _ They reconnoitred,, fought, lost, and retired, prigging
back valuable information. They made 1 touch with the Turkish vanguards who I have been moving down by the easy track I along tho coast of Samaria and Judea, J and over the sites of the five princely cities \ of ancient Philistia. It is 91 days since \ a concentration of 60,000 Turkish troops—partly belonging to the sth Corps which had been brought by water from Europe — began to assemble at Damascus, and the move since then cannot be regarded as rapid. As the Turkish vanguards passed such points as Jaffa they would be liable to be shelled from the sea, but we have not heard anything on that point. In another part of the Asiatic theatre of war a Rome cablegram sums np tho garrison of Smyrna as 80,000 men. Who made the count ? ON PLAN NO 2. Plan No. 2—the plan that aim* at Calais—is wrestling out its bloody coarse. A word or two may help to lift the reader a little ahead of tho confusion of the cables. It is again a matter of placing the messages together in proper relation. The London ‘ Times ’ lias warned ita readers not to mistake the lull for a German, confession of defeat. She is always most dangerous when she is quietest. It was a good forecast. To-day we see that the German transport is everywhere in motion, and large forces of cavalry and artillery are leaving Thielt for Ypres and Dixmnde. Many troops from Poland have reached Ghent and Bruges. Another cable indicates that more artillery are passing to the front both for Belgium and for SoisFons. My forecast has always been that Ypres would be the point, and that artillery concentrations would feature it. The third phase of tho great battle of Ypres. already surpassing in ferocity anything that the war has reen, seems at hand. On the left flank of the British position at Ypres lies Dhcmnde and the flooded farms. It is uncertain whether the Germans hold Dixmudo or have been driven out, but that dees not matter at present. What seems more important is that a fleet of motor boats is being assembled at Oricnd to help Plan No. 2 over these melancholy waters. Six more submarines have also arrived at Zcebrngge, but (as the cable hints) the strictness of the guard makes it impossible to say whether these have been placed in the This is in further pursuance of Plan No. 2. It makes a flotilla of seven submarines, so far as we know. The British minefield# off Zeebmgge will be given to readers of the ‘Evening Star’ in a map to-morrow. There was a message this week that the Allies felt so confident that it waa now possible to grant furlough to officers and. men. We must not be such Simple Simons as to believe this in the form in which it is given. Every man and officer must bo in supreme demand at Ypres now, and if some are obtaining furlough it means that they have broken down under the great strain, and are being invalided home.
ELECTRIC WALL, Issue 15658, 24 November 1914
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