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AMERICAN'S EXPLOITS, Issue 15665, 2 December 1914
I INVADES BATTLEFIELDS. I TN SEARCH OF WAR PICTURES. On a recent morning «■ little man, wearing; an American army shirt, a pair of British officer*' breeches, French puttees, and a, Seaforth Highlander's helmet, and carrying a. camera the size- of a parlor -phonograph, blew into the Ameiican Consulate at Ostend (writes K. A. Powell from Antwerp to the Chicago 'Tribune'). He announced that his nam© was Donald C. Thompson, photographer, from Topeka., Kansas. Europe is chock-a-block with war photographers, but Thompson is tho only man I have come across who has seen war and actually photographed it. Thompson made- nine attempts to getfrom Paris to the fiont, was anosted nine times, and spent nine nights in prison. Each time he was taken before a military tribunal. Utterly ignoring subordinate offi&ars, he would demand to see the. officer commanding He would grasp the astonished official by the hand and nearly wring it off, meanwhile inquiring solicitously after the general's health and that of his family. "How many languages do you f-pealc?" I asked. "Three,'' said he—"English, American, and Kanras." —Threatened with Death.— When at last he was within the. sound of the German gnns he was arretted for tho ninth time- tried by a military tribunal, and told ho woulid bo shot if he were not out of Franco in 24 houre. He was sent back to Paris in a motor car guarded by two gendarmes, who accompanied him to the station, and saw him. buy a ticket for London. He dropped off the train, however, at Amiens. Shortly afterwards a train loaded with artillery being rushed to tho front pulled into the station. Thompson crawled nndor the tarpaulin covering a field gun and fell asleep. When he woke up next morning he was at Mans. —Goes Into Trenches.— A regiment of Highlander was passing. He borrowed a helmet and fell m with, them. He marched lour hours under a scorching sun, and then went into the trenches with the soldiers. All through that terrible day Thompson plied his trad© as tho soldiers did theirs. The British were so hard pressed ho was disregaided, so he dashed forward and lay down immediately in the rear of the British guns. He said that the German ffro was wonderfully accurate and rapid. The Teutons would concentrate their entire firfl on one battery, and when that was out of action would turn to another. When the British retired before the German onset he remained in the trenche* so as to get pictures of the charging Germans at close quarters. He snapped pictures until the Germans were within 100 yds of the abandoned trenches, and then ran for life. He said tho storm of bullets was so thick he was afraid the Kansas undertaker would nevor got the job of burying him. Ho said the British behaved with the greatest gallantry, and retired in perfect order; but they would have been wiped out if they had remained. —Fed by tho French.— That night he bivouacked with a French lino regiment, tho men giving him food and a blanket. The next morning he was arrested for tho tenth time and taken before tho general commanding the division, and stripped and searched, and sent to Amiens underguard, with ordors to leave instantly for England. As tho train for Boulogne was pulling out, packed to the doors with refugees, he noticed a first class compartment marked " reserved," and occupied only by a young woman. The train was moving, but Thompson took a running jump and divod through j an open window into tho lap of the a?- j tonisned woman. . She was considerably ] startled until he explained lie was an i American. ' Tho woman, who was young and goodlooking, proved to be a Russian of high I family leaving Paris for Petrograd. The Government had given her the com- ' partment, but she had Tost her maid and all her money. Thompson told her the Scotland Yard detectives would search him when th 9 train reached Boulogne, and asked her if she would conceal his films on her person. —Paid in Cigar Coupons.— ! j She consented, but asked for the danger j she. was incurring to be paid £4O. He I I had only £lO. so he paid her the balance in cigar coupons, which ho explained was American war currency. She seemed quite satisfied. Thompson said he paid her almost enough coupons to get a briar pipe. At Boulogne ho was arrested, stripped, and searched, but nothing was found. He was permitted to continue to London, where he v:M\t to the count-OFs's hotel and recovered his negative-. An hour later he wis on the way to the Continent ; again. ' He landed at Ostend ami managed to j got a train n< far as Mnlines. Then lie i started to walk 25 miles to Brussels, carry- j ing a huge camera, an overcoat, field- , glasses, a revolver, and ".00 lihiis. When he was 10 miles from the highway J a dozen Uhlans suddenly .'piirifd out from ' a wood and covered him with their pistols. : He pulled an American flag out of his . pocket and shouted "Modi dcr Kaiser" and "Auf Wirdersehen." which was nil . tho German he knew. Upon being examined by the Genua i; officers he explained that his Canadian credentials were merely a blind to get through tho lines- of the Allies, and that i he really represented a. syndicate of Ger- | man newspapers in Milwaukee, whereupon ' ho was released and sent into Brussels in ' a motor car. ! —Again Taken a> a Spy.— i Next day a German officer saw him j cho.tting with an English girl in front of i a cafe, and ordered his arrest as a spy. j Thompson said : " All right, I'm used to j being arrested, but just wait until I cot , your picture." I Tho officer was bo furious he >mashcd . the camera with his sword. j The Germans destroyed all tho iilnis, ! and ordered him to leave the city in an i hour or be shot. He left, and walked 50 i miles from Brussels to Ostend, where I met him ; n the Consulate. lie said he had been there overnight, was tired of the quiet life, and wanted to see some excitement. So I brought him with me in our car to Antwerp. The last I saw of him he was wringing the hand of the chief of the general staff and asking permission to take pictures from a Belgian aeroplane. They might as well give him permission, because he will do it anyway.
AMERICAN'S EXPLOITS, Issue 15665, 2 December 1914
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