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KILLING BY CABLE., Issue 15663, 30 November 1914
KILLING BY CABLE.
GERMANY DOiE. FOUR MILLION MEN GONE. BATTLE OF LODZ. HINDENBURG & NAPOLEON. [By A. Spence.] “ .May I,” said the late Earl Roberts, in the last article ho wrote, “may I give a word of caution to ray countrymen against the useless practice of abusing one’s enemies. Lot us avoid what Kipling during tho Boer War described as ‘Killing Kruger with your mouth.’ Let us rather devote our energies to defeating the foe by fighting!” One thought releases another. Killing by inouth and killing by cable is the same. What Earl Roberts wrote made one wonder how many Germans have now been killed by correspondents. I went back over the news for over 90 days, and made tho astonishing discovery that tho war cannot last another month if this killing by cable keeps up. Over four million Germans have gone already? Tho lists would fill columns, but the last two days—days in which there was less than the usual amount of “decimation” —show how fast Uhlans, Cuirassiers, Jagers, Guardsmen, Grenadiers, and what not are being made to vanish off tho map. On Friday and Saturday there were 57 messages on tho fighting, and in only one of these was any succe'ss attributed to the Germans on land, and that was one which they wrote themselves. Some of the German losses read thus : Petrograd, November 25.—Capture of 2,500 Austrians and three trains. London, November 25.—Forty-eight trains sent to Poland for prisoners, indicating the capture of an army corps (about 48,000). London, November 26.—Germans leave 4,000 dead in trenches at Nancy; others drowned in a river. London, November 26.—An Indian havildar’s detachment kills 60 Germans. Petrograd Nov. 26.—Five thousand Germans were captured advancing from Wiclun. Paris, November 26.—“ Serious” German losses occurred at Missy. London, November 26. —Artillery, firing point blank, “ annfhilated the Germans ” at Ypres, and then “ decimated ” their reserves. London, November 25.—Indians went out at night and brought back 30 sentries bound and gagged. London, November 26.—Successful drive of Gormans in the Cameroons. Petrograd, November 26.—Eight thousand Austrians captured. London, November 26.—Loss of German life by bombardment of Zeebrugge, where “every shell hit.” Paris, November 26.—Two infantry attacks badly repulsed on Yser. Paris, November 26.—Armored train laid low 150 Germans. Adding on nothing at all for tha loss of life at Lodz and Czenstochowa, for the “decimation” at Ypres, for the drownings in a river near Nancy, for the “serious” casualties at Missy, or for other spots where fighting was, such as Zeebnigge, the Cameroons, and East Africa, the tabulation works out at 31,000 per day. The war is about 100 days old, as far as actual fighting goes. That would mean a total German loss of 3,100,000 , provided the average of 31,000 were the daily average. But the cable average, especially the purple patches about tho Marne and the Aisne and Ypres, is higher still. It all adds up to over four millions. ■Satire is being poured on this class of news at Home and in America. “ Prevarication,” says one reputable magazine, I “ has ever been as much a part of warfare as blows and wounds. War being a reversion to savagery, it is to be expected that truth should be submerged among the other virtues. Though other branches of military art and science have made noteworthy progress, military prevarication has hardly advanced at all. The same old tales which did duty in the American Civil War, and the FrancoPrussian War, and the Boer War, and the Japanese War are made to do duty today. All nations use them. 'There are the old ‘ decimations ’ and paper routs, while it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the, filing of the dum-dum charge against the enemy has come to be regarded as a solemn rile without which no war could be regarded as properly launched.” NAPOLEON’S IMITATORS. “ How do you liko that news about Poland?” said, a friend this morning. “Gocd for us, eh?” It is very good, and also very confused. It is impossible to straighten the messages into a coherent account, for these contradict each other violently. In one cable Von Mackensen is tho winner ; in another ho is tho loser. We, have the official warning from retrograd telling the public that many of the exaggerated accounts of the Russian victory on the Vistula are based on private Ltl-cis. “They should,” says Petrcgrad, “be accepted with reserve ; but beyond doubt the German plan to break the Russian fiont failed.’’ Well, even that is a great deal to say, though it docs not imply an invasion of Germany soon. It docs, however, mean that Cracow is nearer. The Romo reporters were writing gaily of that place as early as .September 30, but tho battle of tho Vistula came on, and spoilt the paper flane. On November 11 the Russian lemL’i London intimated that Cracow was again insight, but on November 15 the present battle opened out. It aimed at spoiling the march on Cracow once, more, and liindenburg, stationed far to the north, led off with a truly Napoleonic move. The Russutu front was to lie broken in move places than one. Indeed, two of the armies neaiout to Cracow were to be completely enveloped. What a stroke it would have been had it succeeded! The fate which overtakes tho imitator of Napoleon always seems to be the some. Ho receives a blow on tho note. Scores of generals have tried it, the most notable ca.se iliiriuu last century being that of General I Poker at. C'har.cellorsville—a battle in which ho -was heavily countered by Stonewall Jackson and Lee. And yet it all seems so simple on paper, this role of playing Napoleon. You figure out the geometry of the theatre of war, calculate the schedules of marches, and, hey, presto ! —there it all is. Tire trouble is that you can have a Napoleonic move without having a Napoleon. Of all the imitators of Napoleon, there has only been one successful one—onr own Earl Roberta. The envelopment of tho salient corner of the Free State and tne march on Bloemfontein was Napoleon all over, and it turned the Boer Wax. There must haw bren some great magnetic genius in the late F’ "Id-marshal, for he entered a cemetery in vt -rich the tombstones of military reputations rise thickly. In this connection, sc e reference may be made to a letter recaetly received from a correspondent:
Sir,—lf, as you say, the German teeth are dug deep In Belgium, and you eee no mean* of loosening, why not emerge tho French armies through fhe fortresses between Verdun and Belfort, march north to Aix-la. Chs.jv 11- Jid fall on. the back of tho Gemiw* hi Belgium? ! There are perhaps 20 reasons against it, hut orvo may be sufficient. It Napoleonic move, .and there are no Napoleons in this -war, as war as one can. see. WithI out a Napoleon to direct it would only | maser tiemwttelle bWw oo the nose*
THE SPIDER AND THE FLT. Hindenburg wove the web very well, but the Russian fly proved such ah aggressive thing that it was herd to seal him up. The spider eve of Hindoo burg saw the fly willing to nop forward to Cracow. Disregarding poor Rennenkampf altogether, he focussed his gaze on the two Russian armies which aim at Craoow in the south and the four Russian armies which cover them in the centre. The plan was to weave the web round two out of the four central Russian armies. What armies they were we do not know, but they were the forces attacking the Czen-stochowa-pracow" line. This front is distinct from the area where three German corps are supposed to be surrounded near Lodz.
To assist the enclosure of two of the central Russian armies, threads of the web were floated out far to the north. Von Mackensen (originally commander of the Seventeenth Corps, butt now apparently commander of a full army) marched straight for Lodz. The impetus of the Danzig commander’s troops apparently “duly broke the Russian centre at Bresiny, but found his three army corps cut off,” as, naturally, he would when the rest is considered. There are some perils in driving in a wedge—that hoary old mouthful of words beloved of war correspondents—and Von Mackensen struck one.
Assisting Von Mackensen, but marching north of him, was & commander which the cables dub “General Francois.” This hint gives a good deal of information. It shows what changes are taking place in the German higher leadership. Originally Lieutenant-general Von Francois was merely the commander of 13th Division, and as such, may have taken part in the first inroad on Belgium, when Liege was the objective and Von Emmich the great man. Von Francois now commands something greater than a division or an array corps. He commands an army. It is stated that he was decisively defeated on Tuesday last, and retired in a north-east direction. If he did fall back that way he cut the painter with Von Mackensen, and left the superior man in the lurch. I am fully prepared to state that this is merely a war correspondent’s gamble on the probabilities. WHAT ?TAS HAPPENED? Von Francois, it is elated, was completely defeated on Tuesday last, thus leaving Von Mackeneen’s northern flank in the air. In the south the Varsovio and (perhaps) the Kazan armies drove homo on tiie Austro-German line between Gzenstochowa and Cracow. The point of attack was Wiodoviee, 40 miles north-west of the fortress and 25 miles south-west of Czenstochowa, and here (so it is said) a counter-wedge was driven home. To effect this the Russians forded the Raba River neck deep amid the rushing ice-floes. A correspondent’s guess, of course. It is all undecided. Those who follow it on the map will find & little interest in drawing out a triangle embracing Lodz, Lowicz, and Bresiny. This is the place where a number of Von Mackensen’s troops are said to be hemmed in. It is another gamble. Surrounding three army corps is difficult, but the Russians are co-operating to bring the surrender about as hard as they can. Even Rennenkampf’s Cossacks Lave been detailed from the Vilna army to assist. With the correspondent tho wish is often father to the thought, and he collects so many canards from “ private letters’ that ihs prophecy of surrender may pass at present. He is often a very young man. NO DAJISION LIKELY". It all comes to this : There are 4,000,0vi0 Russians (it is said) and 2,000,000 AustroGermans marching and fighting in tha mud. Railway bridges are down, and almost every furlong of the permanent way discloses the wounds where ballast, rails, and sleepers have flown skyward on thick black greasy clouds of smoke. At a very moderate estimate 30,000 tons of stores" have to be brought up each day for both sides—very likely much more. We cannot look for a quick decision in the Vistula-Warta battle, or anything approaching a decision. Perhaps it may not be out of place to mention the average rate at which the Russian armies moved during the month of September. It was two miles a day. On the hard roads of Belgium in August the German right wing, advancing on the British at) Mens, covered 40 milts a day. TO CORRESPONDENTS. Acknowledgment is made to a number of correspondents who have sent me interesting clippings from Home papers and letters. These will be referred to as opportunity offers.
KILLING BY CABLE., Issue 15663, 30 November 1914
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