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SEA GATES., Issue 15681, 21 December 1914
STEERING ACROSS MINES. HOW GERMANS DO IT. DO THESE RAIDS WIN WARS? EFFECT ON PUBLIC. * A SWORD WITH TWO EDGES. [By A. Spence.] Curiously coincident is a little note in "Hie Times,’ pen-picturing our First *Sei Lord at his daily wmk. One thinks of it the more when ha reads tho pathetic- inquests at Scarborough and Hartlepool, for it is this man who will ultimately be the. avenger. It seems that the Board Room of the Admiralty has hardly changed since Nelson’s £ime, and therein Lord Fisher, with Ids eye on the North Sea and his hand on tho button, to move or halt a navy tho like of which Time has never seen. In Trafalgar days the windows of the room overlooked a garden and a summerhouse, in which Nelson used to sit and talk sea affairs with Lord Barham. Ihe summer-house has gone and the garden also, but that is the only change. It is .Trafalgar time, and a man something of Nelson’s mould directs —a more uncompromising man, perhaps. An old man, too, like Lord Barham. The present Sea Chief is 73. and Barham was 79; but this old man lias no illusions on war. It was in 1899 that he said: If I am in command when war breaks out I shall issue in my orders: 1. Tile essence of war is violence. 2. Moderation in war is imbecility. 3-. Hit first hit hard, and hit anywhere. Truly a stern old man, and the inquests on the 77 victims at Hartlepool and at Whitby, where the verdict was “Killed by German cruise is.” will make this Spartan at Whitehall sterner than ever. If his practice is like bis doctrine—as doubtless it will be —th© Battle of the North Sea, when it comes, will be the limit even in this ferocious wav. The rate of the German, delivery of fire at Scarborough has boon given as 600 shells in 40 minutes, which was slow and deliberate; but the battle of the North Sea will bo very different. It is fure that there will be no leisurely firing on our side. Every ship will know what the First Sea Lord wants —hit first, hit hard, and hit anywhere! NIGHT RAID NAVIGATION. Twice now German armored ships have been through the minefields in the North Sea and back again. On November 3 a four-funnelled ship appeared off Yarmouth and boomed away for 20 minutes. On December 16 the act was repeated, but further north. The track from the Elbe and Jahde passes through the central minefields. It is not a safe place in tho night. How do they manage it? They must carry pilots who have been over the route a day or two before —perhaps that day. Those pilots are not hard to get. It must be realised that since November 5 there is way of entering or leaving , the North Sea—through a private channel in the Strait of Dover. Neither ingress nor ogress is possible via the Rhet'ands and Orkneys. A fairly solid wall of mines stretches from those islands to Lindesnaes lighthouse, on tho Norway coast-. Inward-bound neutrals for Norway and Denmark are picked up by a guide ship and helped through the danger spots. Outward-bounders are met near Lindesnaes light, and escorted the other wav. Some of these neutrals doubtless carry Germans, who note the tracks through the central mine /.ones. This is all tho easier .as (he, mines seem to be laid in oblongs and squares, and th© “streets” through them are straight. As soon as Hie ship reaches Christiania or Copenhagen the telegraph sends the track for the dav or. to Brunsbuttel, or wherever Von Tirpifz is. That is part- of tho plan; now for the rest. FOLLOW THE FISHERMEN. The North Sea fishermen must'use th© trawl. Obviously they cannot too it among mines, and therefore fheiv skippers must know the safe spots, even if they do not know (ho mine blocks. Those trawlers return to the roast in the early morning—just at the time that the enemv deswe to arrive- also. They therefore follow the fishermen. The haze of an autumn dawn In me on tho sea when the four-funnelled warship earn© in on Yarmouth on November 3. That was the, only chip which Yarmouth residents saw. but the Yarmouth and Lowestoft drifters saw f.evcial. No flag was flown, and the fishermen took them to be British ships. The rook in one of the drifters cheerily waved his teapot atone of the warships, which, he said, wasso close that, he could have thrown his herrings on board her. To his astonishment, the crew shock their fists at him. Rome fish-receiving ships were leaving the banks at that time, and the Germans followed on straight behind them. DO RAIDS PAY GERMANS? “Up and at ’em” seems to ho the temper of England since tiic coast was last shelled. When the invasion scare was being talked about Mr H. G. Wells, the great master of language, had said somethin! about it in print, and was twitted with the fact that he was not an “export.” This brought him on again with the following burning passage in ‘The Times’; In the first place, let the expert have no illusion as to what we ordinary people are going to do if wc find Gentian soldiers in England one morning. We are going to fight. If wo cannot fisht with rifles we are going to fight with shotguns, and if we cannot fight according to the Rules of War (apparently made by Germany for the restraint of British ’military exports) wc will fight .according to our inner licht. _ Many men, and not a few women, will turn out to shoot Germans. There will be no preventing them after tho Belgian stories. If the expert* attempt any pedantic interference wc will shoot the experts. I know that in this matter I speak for so sufficient a number of people tnat it will be quit© useless and hopelessly dangerous for any English expertinstructed minority to remain “ tame.” They will get shot, and their houses will* he burnt according to the established German rules and methods on our own account. Mr Wells goes on, still burningly, and reflecting what he calls the latent temper of the English countryside i “ And if the raiders are so badly advised as to try terror-striking reprisals on the Belgian pattern we irregulars will, of couso, massacre every German straggler we can put a gun to. Naturally- We shall bang the ©facers and shoot the men. A German raid to • England will, in fact, not be fought—it will be lynched. War is war, ana striking terror is a gam© that two can play at. Under sufficient provocation the English are capable of very dangerous bad temper.” If this had been written by an ordinary correspondent in the Plress o|a© might have admired tho,burning glow of thought and laughed at th© rest. But it is by Mr H. Q. Wells, and the London ‘Times* gives him a column and a-balf and large headlines. He is a good deal mistaken on his estimate of the experts, but he nevertheless gives us the best picture of th© temper of the people at Home—the best people at Home—that we have yet had. HOW RAIDS. PAY. Raids . pay the Germans in one way. They stir up division of public opinion on our naval control One cable states Mil AM*
grumbling a little. And, as we saw last week, the Admiralty took apodal pains to tell the public that the lost raid, must not bo permitted to interfere with present naval policy. The trend of all tne big Home papers is that some set is being made at Mr Winston Churchill, just as it was made at Louis of Battenberg. “It is probable,” says one of the great English papers, “that the outcry against Prince Louis is really associated with another campaign to force Mr Churchill from the Admiralty and replace him by a professional sailor' as First Lord. The first step to that end was the resignation of Prince Louis, between whom and Mr Churchill such close confidence exists.” If we start now to swap horses in midstream we shall never do anything worth talking of. Mr Wells mar shoot and hang experts if he pleases, but (he expert is right. These little enterprises do not matter in war, except in so far as they affect public opinion, and the sinking, of the Scbarnhorst and Gneisenau was incomparably more important than the raid of December 16. Perhaps the expert, sitting on bis garden seat, lights his pipe, thinks of the public, laughs a little, sorrows a little, and wonders greatly. “ UNDEFENDED TOWNS.” The whole world’s newspapers are talking of bombardments now. Also some Dunedin correspondents, one of whom asked the writer whv it was not, pointed out in Thursday's notes that the bombardment of undefended towns is a shabby and outrageous thing when held jip against the clear light cf The Hague Convention. He must permit, me to state that that aspect of the blow at Whitby and Scarborough seemed so obvious that it appeared to me unnecessary to comment on what I judged every reader already knew. But, since the subject has been introduced, and since it features so many of the cables, there seems one word to add which may be new It happens to be the German excuse, and is noticed now because it illustrates how they profess to view the terms of the Convention. Rightly or wrongly—but most likely wrongly—Captain Von Pape, the German Attache, holds that Whitby and Scarborough were “defended ” towns. It is hard to- see bow he makes out his rasa, but perhaps he means that some soldiers wore stationed at these points. On this line of reasoning one policeman with a revolver would constitute a “ defended ” town. This construction of The Hague Convention would be twisting its terms very much indeed. The more you look into this bombardment the more evident it becomes that poor blundering man blunders more badly than usual when he comes with a peace convention in one hand and a cannon ball in the other. Perhaps there is a good time coming when man will throw the cannon ball away for good, and come to an honest reading of the Conventions which he is for ever attending, and at which ho ia for ever framing rules. Just a little more honesty between man and man would make Conventions supreme and the cannon ball nothing at all. But this is. splitting words, and meantime cannon balls split heads and houses and are paramount. A similar visitation of the shores of England may come, though, as I think, the next one will bo fraught with greater risk than that of December 16. Mr Winston Churchill' was slapped in the face to some extent by the result of the naval engagement off Coronel on November 1, but, ns we know now, ho did not turn the other cheek to he slapped also. Instead, he came with a punch in both hands —one north of the Falklands and one south. That double punch of converging ocean sweeps punched Count Von Spee off the ocean. BOMBARDMENT INSURANCES. Lloyd’s is quoting bombardment risks from Harwich northward at 40s per cent., Harwich to Dover at 20s per cent., and other risks smaller. I do not know that these figures mean much, for the special situation calls for the special risks, and the special situation is only what Lloyd’s may judge it to be. The Zeppelin danger, for instance, is a fairly real one, but when the mails left Home the public had somehow or other been reassured that Zeppelins could not hurt much, and at that time underwriters on air attack had ordained insurance rates on London buildings at only from 2s 6d to 3s 4d per cent, j but “coastal insurances are, however, higher, for they including invading risks as well.” There never was, and never will be. an invasion risk, and when the mails left the bombardment risk had apparently not been foreseen by the public at nil. NEW STYLE OP SEA PURSUIT. Identical as two pas, therefore, are these two Gentian raids. The night, the aid of mist, and the clue furnished by the trawlers were parts of both plans. There is one difference, however, and an important one. On November 3 our Navy I lost submarine D 5, which struck a mine when following up directly behind the enemv. This time thero. was no naval loss,'and this may ho attributable to a rew method of pursuit which the Admiralty seems to hare ordered. British vessels never follow up a retreating German from straight aetern now. They keep a little to poit or starhoard of _ her wake. The sting of the scorpion is in it* tail, but there is no need to be stung. MANOEUVRE OF A MASTER.
All to-day’s cables speak of very fair progress in Belgium, tho beat advance being near ieuport—an advance which will ho described lower down. No word came to tell us how Sir John French got away unmolested from the Aisno and began* his-lateral move in the race for the sea, hut a British officer describes it in ‘ The Times.’ “It was a wonderful move. Jt war, night, and French troops appeared out of tho darkness and took our places. Wo marched down the hill, and, joy of joys 1 we were allowed to smoke and talk, it' was bitterly cold. We nodded half asleep as wc trudged along, and saw visions of the mm in front or us as if it were of trees walking! Mine were geraniums and 'palm branches—omens of victory. Wo entrained wedged by forties in trucks, with clean straw for a bed. We awoke in Paris! There it was, with the Church of the Sacre Coeux on Montmartre. All was peace, and ws passed slowly through, and slept again until we stopped for water at Amiens. There we heard nows. It appears that we won the battle of the Aisne without knowing it. We were at Calais by evening, but a murrain on the foggy weather winch prevented us from catching a glimpse of the heights of Dover town !’’
Ro there it all was. Half the British First Army was passed far round the rear of the Frenchmen in about 36 hours, from (he Aisne to Calais, and tho Germans never discovered it till they appeared in Belgium. Thus they crossed many of the French lines of supply, shifted their own lines, and perhaps changed their base—all difficult tilings to do. It is very like Sir John French. Such moves madden the enemv. RICOCHETS.
Readers of the ‘Evening Star’ may find it advantageous to cut out and keep tho week-end maps published for handy reference to the cables. These maps are brought up to date from time to time, but are not, of course, complete in detail, and are not meant to be. Some village or wood unheard of before suddenly becomes important, though it was not worth while sketching in at first. These point* will b© duly placed on the maps as th© war develops. There is refereno© in th* cables to tho Ypree-Menh' road. This is th© lateral track through which Sir Douglas Haig passes his troops, stores, and artillery from his centre to hi* right. It was shown in th© map of Saturday, and is important. Every commander who assumes the offensive likes to have a good lateral road behind him. Two strong counter-attacks by th© Germans from northwards of tho Y pres-Menin road have been repulsed, it is stated. It does not square with th© message that th© Allies have got Into Routers, Routers is 14 or 16 miles north-east of Ypres, and if there were attacks on th© Ypres-Monin road they can only refer to a flanking move from the direction of Menin. When last heard of Sir Douglas Haig was eight miles in advance of thi* important road, in which his supply vehicles jaaA tm. b«
Paris ha* told us that the alliod occupation of Holders is “ confirmed.” It indicates a sagging of the German line at this point, if true. Further sagging is indicated by the advance of the Belgians and French put Nieuport to Middlekeifce—a short march. This is the most important point in tbo progression bo far. Bat one* more—if true. _ The general inference from all the' English, Belgian, and Fiench news is that the Allies suspect that heavy German detachment* have been cent east to feed the battle in Mid-Poland. So they are baring in everywhere. That is the way to find out where the enemy is weak and where strong. This alternation of general offensiveness in west and east has featured tho war all the time, Russian news sources are endeavoring to raise the battle of Mid-Poland from a blank silence to some sort of victory. They say that it doc* not matter what happens near Lowioz (the centre) if the march to Craoow goes on unimpeded in the south. This news -would be more convincing if there was some attempt to explain why Mackersen, who was lately surrounded and routed, and otherwise maltreated south of Lodz, is now in advance of that city, and fighting hard for Lowicz. The mde-lino to this central battle the German advance on the Russian from Mlawa in the north. It is still maintained tliafc this skilful movement, wss brushed back into Prussia by the heavy Russian masses. Lowicz is the central battle in MMPoland, and Mlawa its north flank. Southward of this strife, and rdto dixtiroi from it, tho Orenrtodhowa lines vise on sombre height* capped -vith birohoa and larches. Further down owns# Cracow, and. further still tho Carpathian paofttn. Tho-e are thus five operations rutted Isuo on®. Tire first—the Mlawa move—i® said to have been repulsed. The seocc.-i—-o* Lowicz—is still as it was. Tho third—' Czenstochowa—is known to he sufficiently difficult, and cable romance haa not ventured to touch it yet, Tho fourth-Ora-cow—is the pivot on which all operations turn, and there is nothing about it, of course. The fifth—the flank move on the Russians from tho Carpathian passes in the smith—may be left where it fa at present. Russia claims to have won there, but thero is no need to believe yet. TO CORRESPONDENTS. J. Howard (Roslyn).—Your small outlook on war. and on reports and comments on war, will be considerably enlarged if you read the editorial article in the London ‘Times’ of November 11, and also a letter by Sir Barapfylde Fuller appearing in the same issue. One extract from the editorial seems to be good enough to give you to go on with at presents “Our own experience is that any attempt to discuss unpleasant factors with frankness instantly g reduces storms of protest from indignant ritons. Letters pour in complaining that such candid writers are ‘dark-riders’ or ‘ paniemongers,’ or ‘ Dismal Jimmies,’ or whatever may be the popular epithet of tho moment.” The correspondent should try to understand that the London ‘Times’ has more inside knowledge of the war than a resident of Roslyn. In a playful way the correspondent suggests that he. is about to organise a journal, to bo called ‘ The Filler, and invites me to join the staff. Might I return the compliment by stating that if he contemplates an enterprise of that kind he would (judging by In's letter) not make an unsuitable editor? R.S.S.—Thanks for appreciation. Th( printed matter will bo referred to in i future article regarding the Borne univer! shies and the war. W.A.L.—I do not agree that the bom* bardment of the coast of Belgium by tbs British ships constituted an attack on undefended towns. These towns contained German infanlry and artillery.
SEA GATES., Issue 15681, 21 December 1914
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