HIS COUNTRY'S BULLETIN.
* FACT AND FALSEHOOD. THAT RACE FOR THE COAST. INCOMPETENTS OUTED. FRENCH ARMY MODEL NOW. [By A. Spence.]
" Der Zersehhwtterer " (" The Smasher"), as loyal German subjects surname the Kaiser, is to be smashed himself. Joseph Joffr© regards it as a mathematical certainty. At least, so he says. He does not how long the Germans stay in France. Russia must tell in the end, and meantime ho himself has forged a new war machine for France. He has, for instance, removed a batch of incompetents from the higher French commands, and not for the- first time. When France placed the mantle of Napoleon on his shoulders, almost his first step was to remove four or five generals—aristocratic men, smacking of the old noblesse—from the army. It was for some time a ques tion whether lie would wreck them or they would wre~k him. He himself barely weathered the storm. Now, as wo see, he lias been on to the incompetents again. Reliable generals have taken the place of those who were found wanting. We can see that from the- mention of Foch and Mandhuy. are big fish now, but were minnows before the war opened. It was interesting ne\V6 which told us Joseph Joffre bad ieffc his station " in the cast" to meet His Majesty the King of England in Belgium, for now we know what part of the theatre of war is under the direct scrutiny of the eyes of the Generalissimo which look out from under the bushy eyebrows. What a penchant he has for Alsace and Lorraine. It was his ewing of forays that way in his first concentration which let the Germans down almost to Paris in tho early days of September, and it took time to swing them back to the west. In those black days troop trains were thundering west on the cross railways—ono every half-hour ; and they were none too soon for tho real concentration on the Marne. Judging by some of last week's cables, he seems to have sufficient men now to hold the Aisne, and ako to op3rate offensively somewhere on the Verdun-Belfort front.
Interesting, alto, was the news that H-eneral GaTlieni is to bo set free from Paris for hold duty. At the time of the Marne he had 165,000 fighting men under him in the city. They will be a -useful addition to the mobile forces. RICOCHETS.
Amusement was caused among Australians in London as to the suppression of the news that tho Australasians were going to Kgypt. Anxious relatives besieged the dumb officials, and then suddenly the wife of an officer burst in with her private telegram. 1 have on my tably the letter of a wife of a navv man earnestly asking for news. Under the now New Zealand and Australian junkerdom it is impossible to say anything. To screen the Australasian junkers the falsehood is being circulated that the little Emden was within 100 miles of the troop transports when the Sydney overtook her. It would he less like falsehood if these people would publish the names of the armored ships that escorted the transports. The. Kmden would have been blown to. pieces if she had approached them. Why, therefore, advance this falsehood now? Germans at CV.cnstochnwa, i» .Poland, are preparing for a long siege. This extemporised fortification has been going on for three months, but wo have never been told. . , , Judging by the usual silence which has come over the weird one-sided cables, it seems fair to conclude that Mar-keii.-en has got out through Strykow and joined hands with the Thorn reserves.
The sands at Zecbrucge arc blocking -up the new German submarine base in Belgium, as the Belgians removed or destroyed tho dredgers. Next week we may expect to see quite a different complexion on this news.
The Germans are seeking to besiege Petroknw, where the fighting is described as extremely violent. If so, they must have won the Czenstochowa-Cracow battle in Poland. Probably the message is another guess. It was forecasted in these notes that the battle of Lodz would be a "no decision " tight. That is just what it has proved to be. London 'Times' says tho. French artillery on the Aisne lias during the na-si month been demonstrating its superiority At last! I look back to my first article., ' Krieg Mobil.' with pleasure once more The. forecast on the French artillery, and the, magazine bunch of ('half which feeds tho assiduous readers in the libraries conies right. The cannon has slain Us_ thousands, but the magazine its tens of thousands. When will the poor English reader sec liis first gleam of light? Even tho cable to-day gives a twist to the reality. It is made to appear that the French artillerists have been firing 100 much "Tir rapide " or " i ir fauehant, ' or some' other way, and ran out oi ammunition. The news hasev.V to be broken gentlv to the man in the street. The 'Bourse Gazette' says that there is to be. heavy pressure both east and west to stop transfers of German troops from France to Poland and vice versa. It Joffre has reallv fashioned hi* new machine, it is high time that this double pressure began. A Swiss engineer says that a- network of'rifle pits and mitrailleuse stations has been built round the Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen. It is only the correspondent, guessing again. This network existed before tho war. HIS MAJESTY THE KING.
His Majesty the King—Cod bless him ! has. as we have known for long, been in Belgium. There has been speculation what it meant, and perhaps it meant no more than that he went across to lend a general air of encouragement to the third phase of tho battle of the Yscr. Tho cables :
At a certain point of his visit to the trenches the King was told that it was unsafe on account of artillery fire. The Kin* replied : " All tho more reason why I should go there." Majesty, in its great moments—and its moments*are always great —transcends the grey democracy, and, when Majesty ends-, the Democracy goes too, lock, stock, and barrel. You get Committees of Union and Progress (as in Turkey), and the inside story of Joffre fighting hard for the expression of his own immediate and necessary monarchy in disunited France. The French fountain orators thought that they had done a great stroke when they shore off the head of Louis XVI. Many million Frenchmen have paid for it since. The Revolution of 1792 let France loose both on its Monarchy and on its Church. They have paid since, and will pay more. In Turkey, too, they have had souno trial of the same Democracy, trial of the young assassinator, who will sweep away the traditions of ages at the point of the revolver. Well, how fares Turkey ''. Mr Asquith save that the Sick Man is on the edge of tho tomb.
MAPS' THAT MEAN. Maps have been found on the bodies of German officers with Italian.place-names, showing how the Italian armies could advance through .Switzerland and help Germany by invasion south of Belfort. I don't thmk. If these maps had been prepared they would not have been given to German regimental officers to lie about the field. I'leet Street, London, has taken its usual long-range shot on the maps that mean. MORALE AND SUICIDE. It would, of course, be very wonderful if the \lerman morale had not been affected now, and there must bo some proportion of suicides, especially amongst married men who realise that they are impaired for ever, and wish, as a laet act, to leave thei: wives free. 'lt is as sad a cable as we have yet received. We must, however, havo had our own suicides. Indeed, wc saw lately that General Kekewich had taken his life, and the coroner"*; jury had leturned some verdict or other. He quarrelled with the late Cecil Rhodes at Knnberley, and the late Lord Roberts flashed to him.the message: " If he soes on that way, do not hesitate to put him under arrest." Confronted with this, Rhodes said that he had never meant any harm, and would henceforth be docile-*-ovcr so docile. But Kekewich hud flaunted a powerful man, and the private "damning dossier" was for ever against him. So, like the true warrior, he saw the battle afar, realised that he could no longer join it, and passed on to his rest. I think the late Cardinal Newman put it very well in his ' Apologia,' especially on behalf of the man who has tried and failed: "Thciv comes at length the Beatific V : sion; there comes the Great White Throne." P7OU-PTOU AND HTB LEADERS.
Like Sir John French's despatch, the French bulletin reviewing the war tells us more than a ton of cables. It is a pity that it leads off with a transparent falsehood in the first 20 lines. The points of the bulletin will be clearer, perhaps, if they are summarised:
1. The French knew that the main struggle -would be in the north, and until the British came into line they sought to retain as many army corps as possible in Alsace and Lorraine. [This is the falsehood. They could not tell which way the main German advance was coming, and the heavy deployment of troop's towards AlsaceLorraine was merely a shot in the dark—a bad shot, too. That was why Sir John French was left so salient at Mods.] 2. From September 8 onwards General Manourny's new army's attack against the German right hegan to take effect. [Reference is to the battle of the Marne, and is possibly attributable to the visit of Earl Kitchener to France. Our Secretary of State for War seems to have told the French that, since a " muss up " had been made over the first concentration, the real concentration must be effected far back behind the Marne.] 3. The enemy shifted front, thus presenting their weak point to the British Army [This was the opening phase of the Marne, and the direct result of the "far back" concentration. The pressure of General Manourny from the direction cf Paris obliged Von Kluck to face west in order to cover the main battle. In wheeling that way he presented the southern wing of his local flank guard to the British. They sailed in gaily, advancing northward from Coulommiers.] 4. Manourny was on the British left, but General Foch was on their right. It was upon this army that the Germans sought to avenge the check. It was attacked heavily till the evening of September 4. [Foch was the true centre of the battle of the Marne. It was pointed out in these notes at the time that if the French sth Army had retaken Montmirai] the co-ordi-nated pressure on front and flank was beginning to tell. To-day's cable definitely iilares Foch as commander of the sth French Army.] 5. From September 13 onward the real race to the sea began. The Germans had (lie advantage of a concentric front. [History has an inveterate habit of repeating itself, and modern generals seem to be no bolter than imitators. It was the duel between Grant and Lee, in the spring of 1864. enacted again. The " concentric front" is only another name for the inside running. At this stage Foch pressed, and "the audacious manoeuvre" decided the i. ; sue. Tt means that Foch's pressure cut away the advantage of a concentric front hv penning the Germans down frontally. Thev had the inside running, to be sure, hut they could not move: Foch had them locked up in battle. While Foch fought on both Manourny and the British sidled up towards the north. It was dangerous, moving as they were on exterior lines, but safe so long as Foch and the sth French Army held thpir gronnd.] The bulletin goes on to describe how the Allies steadily prolonged and thickened their line to the north—on towards Belgium in the race for the sea. General Manourny stood where he was. on the flank. On September 50 General Do Cistlenau came into lino north of him. North of him again came General Mnndhuy, with more French. De Castlenau was the central commander fn the shank of the 7.. Mandhuy's forces almost touched Belgium. These three armies covered the front from Ooropicgno to Lille, but it was all very thin, and, in fact, was not even Jong rnoiK'h. At this stage Sir John French decided to pass half his force north, not so much to thicken the line as to prolong if. In this connection one part of the cable may stand out by itself: The British were unable to come into action before October 20, and the Belgians were short of munitions. Therefore General •lofTre entrusted to General Foch the frisk of co-ordinating the operations of the northern armies. French reinforcement > enabled him on November 12 tr, cnri'titiito a Franco-Belgian army under General Durhal co-operating with the British nearer the sea. ... It was obvious after November 12 that the balance was on our side. If all the cables which we had received previously —the daily yard of allied victories —had not been so obviously misleading, one could have accepted all ihi-. without (jue-tion. But there is more behind it somewhere, especially in that part whore Foch "co-ordinated" all the northern armies. Doubtless the relations between Sir John French and Genera] Jofl're are of the pleasantest, but this French bulletin, with several suggestive sentences in it, leaves one to wonder. Has the lying politician been at work in framing it? li is, of course, easy to see now that the. balance was in our favor on November 12. That was the day after Sir Douglas Haig pushed back the Prussian Guard near Ypres. THE COUP OF ONE COBB. Cobb, the journalist, and his bogus interview must have made Viscount Kitchener angry. He was never a very pleasant man with the Press —better in the Sudan than afterwards—it was the Boer War which froze him. In a despatch from South Africa to the War Office he relieved his feelings in these guarded words : I do not approve the inclination to magnify an unimportant skirmish into a British victory that exists in the Press, and though. I find it difficult to control this, I do not encourage it in any way.
The right viewpoint, but one which the nation may never achieve. Some part of the populace demands the daily victory. Gusts of stray shots on the picqnot line are sometimes made to resound with the thunder of Waterloo, and the wounding of a few outposts is referred to as " appalling losses." So the victories arrive daily —some true, some false, many retouched and colored. It does the nation no good. One of the sultriest interviews between Kitchener and a pressman was one a few years ago, the interviewer being the representative of the Paris ' Le Temps,' who found the hero of Khartoum _ and South Africa " temperamentally offensive." His manner was not merely cold, it was "suffocating." Kitchener " stands in mute unwillingness to listen or to tnlk v.lion one has at last gained an audience. He looks coldly through the visitor, never at him." Togo, of Japan, is another inaccessible. A South American journalist and an Australian called on him at Tokio about eight years ago. They have told themselves what happened. The South, Amfirfraru
rattled on about the Brazilian navy for 20 minutes, and the Australian held forth for another 20 minutes on the Northern Territory. Togo said " Yea" three times. That was the interview. It is regrettable that the breach between the War Lords and the Fourth Estate should be ever growing wider. Journalism of the Cobb type will not mend it much. SENTIMENTAL SENTRIES. Vedettes and sentries rimming the Argonne trenches do not shoot at each other now. So Saturday's news said. Such fraternities have happened—in Wei lington's wars, for instance—but sentimental sentries are a new feature in wars between French and Prussians. They stalked each other vigilantly, murderously in 1870. Outside Metz, for instance, Prince Karl's men and Bazaine's men were at it night and day, and the blood lust in the vineyards and hedgerows between the lines was as incessant as it was deadly. For every duellist on the pioqnet lines each bush and each copse was a mystery, concealing perhaps a head to hit or a chest to drive a bayonet through. Daily the armies further back looked on from their eminences on the combats of man for man, seeing, as they often did, a pal walking through the vine clumps to death, but so far away that no shout to save him could reach his ear. It must be so now. In a war a outrance it is unbelievable that the velvet day of the sentimental sentry has come. FIVE HUNDRED BARRISTERS. They say that this war—"God's plough," they call it—is going to make men think in a kindlier way towards each other. Five hundred British barristers are now at the front, and the barrister, dealing daily with the crude perjurer in court, is apt to be a merciless man, something of a* cynic. The cynicism of the barrister will be dissolved if he just keeps straight on in the firing line. He will meet millions of the most honest little entities he ever met on earth —the bullets. These have a habit of going straight to the point, and there is no Court of Appeal. Association and environment make men what they are, and the 500 barristers will probably come back to England lifted a little above the jangling of man and man. You cannot face bullets daily without having the scales lifted from the eyes. The bullets charge up nothing "to waiting, attending, and conferring with you? They sing on, perhaps the saddest, sweetest music. It is a great themtt when one comes to think of it—the association of the barrister and the bullet.
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JOSEPH JOFFRE., Evening Star, Issue 15669, 7 December 1914