Thomas Herbert Russell.

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was 25 years of age, had been wounded several times during the war, and
is credited with having brought down forty Allied airplanes.

The October losses of the British in the Somme campaign were announced
by the War Office to be 107,033, bringing the British total from the
beginning of the campaign to 414,202 men and officers, killed, wounded
and missing.

In the first days of November the principal activity was in the vicinity
of Sailly. The Germans effected a successful counter-attack on November
6, recapturing some of the ground won by the Allies, with 400 prisoners,
300 of them French. Next day, however, a greater number of
German prisoners was taken by the French in an advance along a
two-and-a-half-mile front south of the Somme, and on the 9th the French
strengthened their positions near Sailly, clearing out German trenches
and taking more prisoners.

On November 13 the British took a five-mile front in the German line
near the River Ancre, capturing two towns and 3,000 prisoners, the
Germans being taken by surprise in the early morning mist. Continuing
their advantage the following day, the British took Beaucourt-sur-Anere
with more than 5,000 prisoners. On the 15th German troops took the
offensive on both sides of the Somme and succeeded in forcing their way
back into some of the trenches and advance positions held by the French,
but the British continued their advance north of the Ancre. Next day the
French recovered the lost ground and their airmen engaged in fifty-four
air battles with German machines along the Somme front. On the 18th
British and French airplanes again bombarded Ostend, dropping 180 bombs,
and once more raided Zeebrugge. In an ensuing battle six German planes
were brought down.

Infantry fighting in the Dixmude sector between Belgian and German
troops occurred on four consecutive days, from November 17 to 20, with
hand-grenade battles but no definite result. There was a general lull in
operations after this, caused by heavy weather and fogs.


In a dramatic blow at Verdun, after a period of comparative quiet at
that point, the French on October 24 took the village and fort of
Douaumont, also Thiaumont, the Haudromont quarries, La Caillette Wood,
Damloup battery and trenches along a four-mile front to a depth of two
miles. The ground retaken was the same that the Germans under the Crown
Prince took by two months' hard fighting. This was the quickest and most
effective blow struck in the Verdun campaign and reflected the highest
credit on the French general commanding, General Petain, and his devoted
troops, who thus turned the tide of victory at Verdun in favor of
the French and stamped with failure the efforts of the Crown Prince,
continued for nine months, to wrest Verdun from French control and open
a road to Paris. It was a campaign in which failure meant defeat for the
Germans, and its cost in men, money and munitions was enormous.

Four thousand German prisoners were taken on the 24th and the next day
the French began encircling Fort Vaux, the only one of the outer ring of
forts at Verdun which remained in German hands. All attempts on the
part of the Crown Prince to regain the lost ground were fruitless. Four
German attacks were beaten back on the 26th, and the following day the
French advanced south and west of Vaux and tightened their grip on the
fortress. During violent artillery duels, many German attacks on the
gained ground were repulsed, and by November 1 the prisoners in French
hands numbered 7,000.

On November 4 the French began the attempt to take the village of Vaux
held by the Crown Prince, and gained a foothold in the village. Next
day they captured the whole of Vaux village and also the village of
Damloup. The fort at Vaux had been evacuated by the Germans a few days
previously. Thus the long and bloody struggle for the possession of
Verdun apparently ended, although artillery duels of varying intensity
continued at intervals, and the laurels of the prolonged campaign rested
with the French.


Brilliant work on the part of the Canadian troops on the Somme front
aided materially to gain the British successes recorded on October 21.
William Philips Simms, an eyewitness with the Canadian forces, gave a
graphic account of the attack, which was typical of much of the fighting
on the Somme. He said:

"Eight minutes of dashing across a sea of mud worse than the Slough of
Despond, of methodically advanced barrage fire, of quick work in trench
fight, sufficed for the Canadians to take Regina trench - one of the
smoothest bits of trench-taking that has been witnessed in the Somme
drive. I saw the Canadians, muddy to the eyebrows - but grinning - on the
day after they had accomplished the feat.

"The assault was over in eight minutes. It was carried out in brilliant
moonlight, and despite a terrific German counter barrage fire and a sea
of mud. Every objective the Canadians sought was won.

"Though the Germans repeatedly counter-attacked, the Canadians not only
kept every inch they had wrested from the enemy, but before dawn they
had strongly reorganized their position and dug over 250 yards of
connecting trenches."


On the eastern front in the middle of September strong Russian attacks
before Halicz were driving the Teutonic troops back toward Lemberg, and
several thousand German and Turkish troops were captured. The Russian
advance was checked, however, on September 18, after a total of 25,
prisoners had been taken by the Russians near Halicz.

The Russian offensive was shifted September 21 from the Lemberg sector
to the east of Kovel and a few days after a fresh offensive began along
the entire eastern front, heavy fighting being reported west of Lutsk
and in the Carpathians. Turkish troops at this time appeared on the Riga
front, with German equipment and led by German and Austrian officers.
The great 300-mile battle continued unabated to the end of October, with
fighting all along the line from the Pinsk marshes on the north to the
Roumanian frontier on the south.

By a sudden drive through the Russian front north of the Pinsk marshes
on November 10, the Germans succeeded in cutting the Russian first line,
taking nearly 4,000 prisoners and twenty-seven machine guns. The Russian
lines were believed to have been weakened by the transfer of troops to
Roumanian positions in the south. Following this there was terrific
fighting in the Narayuvka, where the Russian trenches were carried
by the Germans after they had been practically destroyed by high
explosives; but the ground lost, located near Slaventin, was gallantly
regained by the Russian troops on November 15.

The Russian dreadnought Imperatritsa Maria was sunk by a mine near
Sulina, at the mouth of the Danube, November 11. It was launched in
and had a displacement of 22,500 tons. On November 18 Russian troops
near Sarny, southeast of Pinsk, brought down a Zeppelin airship,
capturing the crew of sixteen and 600 pounds of bombs.

German casualties from the beginning of the war, as compiled in London
from German official lists, were set November 10 at 3,755,693. Of this
total 910,234 were killed. The total German casualties for the month of
October, 1916, reached 199,675 officers and men, of whom 34,231 were


For some time after Roumania entered the war her fighting forces were
divided between two campaigns - in the Dobrudja and in Transylvania, the
Austrian territory invaded by Roumania as soon as she declared war. On
September 15 the Roumanians began a retreat in the Dobrudja, before
advancing forces of Germans and Bulgarains led by General von
Macksensen. The Russo-Roumanian center was driven back thirty miles,
while the German and Bulgarian troops occupied several of the Roumanian
Black Sea ports.

Then came a great six-day battle in the Dobrudja, with fighting along a
forty-five mile line from ten miles south of Constanza to Cernavoda, on
the Danube, and in this battle the Russo-Roumanians were successful,
compelling the Teutonic forces to retreat southward toward the border.
For a while Von Mackesen was on the defensive, but in a counter-attack
on September 23 he gained a marked victory over the Roumanians.
Gradually the latter were forced to retire, and although they made
a desperate resistance to the forces under Von Mackensen the latter
reached the coast by October 21, advancing on Constanza, Roumania's
chief port on the Black Sea, which was captured October 23. Cernavoda
fell on the 25th.

Meanwhile in Transylvania events of a similar character had been
happening. At first successful in their invasion of Austrian territory,
the Roumanians were unable to hold their advantage, and while the tide
of battle was for several weeks in doubt, the German and Austrian troops
under General von Falkenhayn at length drove the invaders back across
the mountains. By October 8 a Teutonic invasion of Roumania from the
northwest was imminent, and two days later the Roumanians were pursued
through the passes by Austrian troops. By the 17th Teuton forces were
five miles inside the frontier.

On October 25 Von Falkenhayn's army stormed the Vulcan Pass and pushed
nearer the railroad at Kimpolong, seventy-five miles from Bucharest.
These successes were not gained, however, without hard fighting, the
Roumanians making a desperate stand to prevent the Teuton invasion which
threatened their capital. They were aided by a French commander, General
Bertholet, and struck back hard at Von Falkenhayn, gaining some signal
successes in the last days of October and early in November and
capturing several thousand prisoners and much war material. These
successes, however, proved insufficient to do more than check the Teuton
advance toward Bucharest.

In the Dobrudja, after the capture of Cernavoda by Von Mackensen, there
were strenuous efforts by the Roumanians, aided by Russians, to regain
their lost territory. In their early retreat they destroyed the great
eleven-mile bridge over the Danube at Cernavoda and so cut off for the
time being Von Mackesen's threatened drive to Bucharest from the south.
The Roumanians that had been opposing him fell back northward to the
Danube forts. They were hotly pursued by Bulgarians, who on October
29 were reported to be at Astrovo, fifty miles north of the
Constanza-Cernavoda railway line. The possession of the latter was an
immense advantage to Von Macksensen.

General von Falkenhayn continued his advance into Roumania during
November and at the beginning of December the battle for Bucharest was
ranging on three sides of the capital, with the Roumanians successful at
some points, the invaders at others. West of Bucharest the defenders
had been pressed back to the Argesu River, while to the northwest the
Germanic forces had smashed through the Roumanian lines and were rapidly
moving down the Argesu Valley from Pitesci and down the Dombovitza from
the Kompelung region.

To the south of the capital, King Ferdinand's troops delivered a
powerful counter-attack on December 2 that forced the Teutons back from
the Argesu line and reclaimed two villages.

The Russians meanwhile were making a determined effort to relieve the
situation at Bucharest by a counter-demonstration in the Carpathians,
where on December 3 a great battle was developing in their favor. They
had gained a foothold in Kirlibaba, the key to the Rodna Pass and the
plains of Hungary, and were attacking successfully at other points on
the 250-mile front. The Russians also had seized the western end of the
Cernavoda bridge over the Danube, thus putting a check on any movement
of General von Mackensen's troops across the river from Dobrudja.
General Sakharoff's forces continued furious, attacks along the entire
line in the Dobrudja.


The Italian forces operating in the Trentino continued their activity
during the fall and early winter of 1916, continual gains being made
in their difficult undertaking. General Cadorna began a new drive on
Trieste in October, transferring the weight of his attacks from the
Carso sector to the Trentino front. The total number of Austrian
prisoners taken on the Isonzo front from August 6 to October 12 was set
by the Italian War Office at 30,880. No decided advantage was gained by
either side up to December 5, although the Italians continued to take
many prisoners and much Austrian war material in the course of their
operations, and in November compelled the Austrian generals to transfer
many troops from the Roumanian front in order to cope with the Italian
attacks, delivered in the most difficult terrain of the entire war
and often under weather conditions that tried the hardihood of troops
trained to Alpine warfare.


Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, died at
Schonbrunn Castle, near Vienna, November 21, at the age of 86. He had
ruled for sixty-eight years, his reign being marked by much turbulence
in the empire, both political and social, and by a long series of
domestic and personal disasters that culminated in the assassination of
his nephew, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the joint thrones of
Austria and Hungary, which furnished the Teutonic excuse for the great
war. Francis Joseph was succeeded by his grandnephew, Archduke Charles
Francis Joseph, of whose personality little was known outside Austria.


Several German Zeppelins were brought to earth on English soil during
the progress of aerial raids in September and November, 1916. Commander
Robinson and Lieutenants Tempest and Sowery of the Flying Corps each
accounted for one of the huge aircraft in the London district The
former received the Victoria cross for his exploit. The crew of one of
the Zeppelins was captured, but in the other cases the crews perished
with the airships, which fell flaming to earth. Two more Zeppelins were
brought down late in November on the eastern coast of England and fell
into the sea. One of these was destroyed nine miles from the coast by
naval seaplanes and a patrol boat.


A wave of indignation swept over the civilized world, already outraged
almost beyond endurance by the unprecedented German disregard of
international law and the recognized customs of war, when it was
announced on November 10 that 30,000 Belgians had been deported into
exile by the German authorities in Belgium. It was alleged that all
males between the ages of 17 and 30 were being sent in cattle-cars to
Germany. Cardinal Mercier of Belgium protested in the name of humanity,
the men being ruthlessly torn from their families, and said the Belgians
were being reduced to a state of slavery. The Pope protested to the
German government against the reported action, and the State Department
at Washington made representations concerning it to Berlin. The total
number of Belgian males to be deported to work in German industries was
alleged to be 300,000. After investigation Viscount Bryce of England
and many other statesmen and publicists denounced the German action as


By a joint manifesto, issued on November 4 by the Emperors of Germany
and Austria, the ancient kingdom of Poland was revived and Polish
autonomy ostensibly re-established. The kingdom was proclaimed with due
ceremony in Lublin and Warsaw. The definite territorial limits of the
new nation were not set, according to the proclamation, and would not
be until the close of the war. Constitutional rule and a national army,
however, were to be established at once. The joint opinion of other
nations, neutrals and Allies of the Entente, was that Poland as captured
territory could not be recognized as a new kingdom.


By December 2 the battle for Bucharest had reached the outskirts of
the Roumanian capital and the guns of Von Mackensen's forces began a
bombardment of the outer forts, and on December 6 the armies of the
Central Powers took Bucharest, cutting off a large part of the defending
army. Ploesci, the great oil center of Roumania, and Sinaia, the
summer capital, also fell. Many thousands of Roumanian troops were taken
prisoners in the operations near Bucharest, the number being estimated
at 38,500 for the first week of the month, and the Roumanians retired to
new positions to the north and east of their fallen capital. General von
Heinrich, governor of Lille during the deportation of Belgians from that
city, was appointed military governor of Bucharest, on which the Germans
imposed a levy amounting practically to $400 a person, or a total of

Von Mackensen continued to press his advances in the Dobrudja and
eastern Wallachia during the month, though retarded by sturdy Russian
and Roumanian resistance. As Christmas approached the forces of the
Central Powers were pressing the Russo-Roumanians close to the Danube
where it runs east and west, forming the boundary between Roumania and


On December 7 Mr. Henry Lloyd-George accepted the British premiership
and formed a new Cabinet, which included an important representation
of labor and other elements of strength pointing to a systematic and
determined prosecution of the war from all angles. The Cabinet as
announced December 12 included Sir Edward Carson, the Irish Unionist
leader, as First Lord of the Admiralty, and Baron Devonport as food
controller, a new position. The size of the war council was reduced to
five, including the premier. Admiral Sir John Jellicoe was appointed
First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, being succeeded in command of the grand
fleet of Britain by Admiral Sir David Beatty, who commanded the British
battle-cruiser fleet in the battle of Jutland.

France followed suit in reorganizing her war council under Premier
Briand, also restricting the number of members to five, and General
Joffre was succeeded in command of the armies of the north and the
northeast by General Nivelle, commander of the French troops at Verdun,
where notable victories were gained by the French in December, regaining
almost all the ground lost during the previous operations of the year.
General Joffre was promoted to the high honor of Marshal of France, the
ancient rank being revived for him.


On December 12 the Central Powers simultaneously presented notes
to neutral powers for transmission to the nations of the Entente,
containing a proposal for an armistice to discuss the possibilities
of peace. No terms of peace accompanied the German notes and after
consultation with the allies of Great Britain Premier Lloyd-George
delivered a speech in the House of Commons on December 19, declaring
that the proposals of peace could not be entertained, and in which he

"I appear before the House of Commons today with the most terrible
responsibility that can fall upon the shoulders of any living man as
chief adviser of the Crown in the most gigantic war in which this
country was ever engaged - a war upon the events of which its destiny

"We accepted this war for an object, and a world object, and the war
will end when the object is attained under God. I hope it will never end
until that time.


"We feel that we ought to know, before we can give favorable
consideration to such an invitation, that Germany is prepared to accede
to the only terms on which it is possible peace can be obtained and
maintained in Europe, Those terms have been repeatedly stated by all the
leading statesmen of the Allies. They have been stated repeatedly here
and outside. To quote the leader of the House last week:

"'Reparation and guarantee against repetition, so there shall be no
mistake, and it is important that there should be no mistake in a matter
of life or death to millions.'

"Let me repeat: Complete restitution, full reparation, and effectual


"Did the German Chancellor use a single phrase to indicate that he was
prepared to accept such a peace? Was there a hint of restitution? Was
there a suggestion of reparation? Was there an implication of any
security for the future that this outrage on civilization would not
again be perpetrated at the first profitable opportunity?

"The very substance and style of the speech constitutes a denial of
peace on the only terms on which peace is possible. He is not even
conscious now that Germany has committed any offense against the rights
of free nations.

"Listen to this from the note:

"'Not for an instant have they [the Central Powers] swerved from the
conviction that respect of the rights of other nations is not in any
degree incompatible with their own rights and interests.'

"The note and speech prove that they have not yet learned the alphabet
of respect for the rights of others.

"The Allies entered this war to defend Europe against the aggression of
Prussian military domination, and, having begun it, they must insist
that the only end is the most complete effective guarantee against the
possibility of that caste ever again disturbing the peace of Europe.

"You can't have absolute equality in sacrifice. In war that is
impossible. But you can have equal readiness to sacrifice from all.
There are hundreds of thousands who have given their lives; there are
millions who have given up comfortable homes and exchanged them for
daily communion with death. Multitudes have given up those whom they
loved best.


"Let the nation as a whole place its comforts, its luxuries, its
indulgences, its elegances on the national altar consecrated by such
sacrifices as these men have made! Let us proclaim during the war a
national Lent! The nation will be better and stronger for it, mentally
and morally, as well as physically. It will strengthen its fiber and
ennoble its spirit. Without it we shall not get the full benefit of this

"Our armies have driven the enemy out of the battered villages of France
and across the devastated plains of Belgium. They might hurl him across
the Rhine in battered disarray. But unless the nation as a whole
shoulders part of the burden of victory it won't profit by the triumph,
for it is not what a nation gains, but what it gives that makes it


A bombshell was cast into the camps of the nations at war on December
20, when President Wilson unexpectedly addressed a message to the
belligerents, urging them to state their terms of peace and end the war
without further fighting.

An explanation of the President's message to the nations was made by
Secretary of State Lansing on the morning of its publication. In the
course of this he asserted that the United States had been brought
to "the verge of war," which was generally understood to mean that a
threatened resumption of submarine activities by Germany on a large
scale might create an intolerable situation; also that the President
desired to know the terms of peace contemplated by the powers at war,
so as to be informed as to how they would affect the interests of the
United States.

Germany replied to the President's note on December 26, giving no terms,
but lauding the "high-minded suggestion" of Mr. Wilson and proposing "an
immediate meeting of delegates of the belligerent states, at a neutral
place," continuing as follows: "The imperial government is also of the
opinion that the great work of preventing further wars can be begun only
after the end of the present struggle of the nations. It will, when this
moment shall have come, be ready with pleasure to collaborate entirely
with the United States in this exalted task."

The reply of the Entente Allies to President Wilson's message was
received January 11. While disclaiming any intention of exterminating
the Teutonic peoples, the Allies in this reply stated terms of peace
which would result in the humbling of Germany and Austria-Hungary and
the expulsion of Turkey from Europe.


The Entente peace terms enumerated in the reply to the President were:

Restoration of Belgium, Serbia and Montenegro, with the payment of
indemnities to each by Germany.

Evacuation of France, Russia and Roumania, with reparation to each by

Reorganization of Europe "guaranteed by a stable regime and founded as
much upon respect of nationalities and full security and liberty of
economic development, which all nations, great or small, possess, as

Online LibraryThomas Herbert RussellAmerica's War for Humanity → online text (page 41 of 49)