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UNITING THE LOVERS

AN INCIDENT OF THE WAR. “ Really it is awful what we have to go through owing to the German spies, wno simply overrun France,” my friend remarked. ‘‘ I will relate one incident which occurred, just to point out how careful wo . havo to be. Near Airas there dwelt, a Frenchwoman and her husband, whose conduct aroused suspicion. We made in-, quart 6, and found tout she had formerly had a lover, .1 lieutenant of Uhlans, who lived in the district in time of peace. We noticed that each <she would go out to a wood in the neigh ooj hood carrying a basket, and return .••.tier dark. One evening we ordered a patrol oi our cavalry to follow her They overtook her on the way, whereupon she became frightened and returned to Arras. Our cavalry went on to the wood, and there surprised eight Uhlans under a lieutenant. “ Our brave officer charged and shot two Germans, but then found he had no more cartridges in his revolver, or else that it had jammed. The remaining Uhlans fled as we approached, but we overtook the officer, who surrendered We took him Lack to Arras, intending to place him in the citadel for the night. But it was dark and wo did not know the way. You can imagine our surprise when f on enterins the town, our captive remarked: ‘You wane the citadel. I will show you the way. You have to take the first turning to the right and the second | to the left.’ We then made inquiries, and I found out that he was the identical German who had lived in the neighborhood I before the war, and who was well known as the lover of the Frenchwoman we had under suspicion. This left no doubt in on minds that she had been taking out food and information to the wood for three previous event igs. —Condemned to be Shot.— " That everting a court martial assembled, and she, together with her husband, was brought before it. Both were condemned to be shot at dawn, together with two other spies. The woman wept and declared her innocence, but the evidence was too conclusive, so we told her there was no hope. Meanwhile she had no suspicion that her former lover had been made a prisoner. This Uhlan officer was interrogated by several officers of the Staff, and became very communicative. He told us that he was born in Leipzig, and had lived in France for several years before the war, studying the district and collecting every possible piece of useful information. When the war broke out he was attached to the cavalry of ,n corps which was destined to operate in this part of France. He carefully espramed under examination the system of German scoutinu. Ifo carefully sends cut 30 or 40 miles in advance about 10 separate grmms of Uhlans, under an officer. generally six to ten men strong. Their orders are to find cut all useful information. They have instructions to terrorise the inhab'fants of the viragos bv burning houses or shooting a proni nept c’tizen. so as to mahe tb? peasants talk, and also to pretend that there ore immense numbers of Germans in the neighborhood. This they do, although they know there are pone of their comrades within 40 miles. Tf these paf-nl- are caught, they do not show fight link's; the enemy are very weak in number's. They have orders to surrender bv hold ng up their bands, while one of their number fakes advantage of the confusion to make good bis escape. Generally one soldier is left some wav in the year. Any ttws which the officer collects he t 11a imnv’dictelv to each man, so that when the patrol is caught the one who escapee is in ,a po*it ? on to go hack end tell the Staff of hi' corps all the patrol have learnt. Our Uhlan lieutenant became ve r v comp,nnicat’ve. and told us that he had ordered the summary execution of an old man in a vil’ag" because he cenVl not obtain the. information ho required. —Pool Effrontery.— “ Our Staff officers were amazed at the cool effrontery of tins man, w T ho seemed to reward such incidtnts as part of the rules 'of war. They pointed out that such conduct was unworthy of an officer, but the lieutenant merely shrugged Ins shoulders and said it, was part of the German plan of campaign to teajorise_the• inhabitants, and to frighten them into submission. Our officers asked him whether he had done such things in Franca as well as in Belgium. He replied ; ‘ I have not made women and children walk in front of my men ; hut others have done it.’ Onr officers then left him, and he was brought his dinner. That evening orders came in to clear out of Arras, and go to another town. Our general was very busy giving orders, and we bad no chance to make known jto him nil that the captured Uhlan had admitted. Our junior officers were furious at the man’s coolness and the boasting manner in which he admitted his foul deeds, and determined to take the law into their own hands. They formed themselves into a court martial, and the lieutenant seas summoned before them. Again be was carefully cross-examined. and fully admitted his crimes against the innocent. Then he was led outside, and this impromptu court deliberated. He was unanimous! v condemned to bo shot at dawn. On’ being brought back, his sentence was read out. His consternation was groat. “ ‘ You cannot shoot me. lam .an officer who has surrendered.’ “ ‘ But you have admitted acting contrary to nil the rules of war.’

“‘That is the custom of our army whan out on patrol.’ “ • Tliat excuse cannot save you. You will be shot at dawn, together with four other spies.’ —United in Death.— “ Now I will tell you the dramatic part of the story. At 5 o’clock on the following morning the Frenchwoman and her husband were brought out into the courtyard, under a strong escort of the ‘Garde Civile.’ The two other spies wore also brought out handcuffed. Then from his quarters was brought the Uhlan lieutenant who had so foolishly admitted his misdeeds. You can imagine the feelings of the lovers in suddenly finding themselves united under these awful conditions, ns neither had known that the other was a prisoner. They could exchange no last confidences, because of the presence of the husband. They gazed at one another as if unable to weak. The officer in charge gave a word of command. The prisoners were placed against a wall of the courtyard. Side by side the lovers stood facing the end. They gazed at one another seemingly dazed. A volley rang out in the still morning air. All was over. Once more they were united —in death. Half an hour later the Grand Quartier Generals moved on to its new destination. The general was very busy all day. At dusk he said: ‘Now we must settle the fate of those two spies, the woman and her husband, and also decide where to send that lieutenant we captured yesterday.’ “ ‘ But, general,’ one of our officers replied, ‘that was all settled at dawn.’ “‘What do you mean?’ replied our general. “ ‘That all were shot, after being tried last night by court martial.’ “ ‘ But the officer. You surely have not shot him ?’ “‘General, he admitted having killed an old villager because he couldn’t give the information he wanted.’ “‘Rot your wit reuses?’ ‘“General, wo had none; he condemned hires?!f- That was our justification.' “‘Gentlemen,’ replied our general, ‘you have acted in a most irregular manner. exactly as I myself would have acted under similar circumstances. I wish you gcod-night.’ ” —‘ Daily Telegraph.’

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141212.2.18

Bibliographic details

UNITING THE LOVERS, Evening Star, Issue 15674, 12 December 1914

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1,302

UNITING THE LOVERS Evening Star, Issue 15674, 12 December 1914

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