New York Times Current History: The European War, Vol 2, No. 1, April, 1915 April-September, 1915 online

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very clear, strong national mentality, a firm, self-controlled,
collective will, far more considerable in its totality than the world
has ever seen before.

We thought the United States would be sentimentally patriotic and
irresponsible, that they would behave as though the New World was,
indeed, a separate planet, and as though they had neither duties nor
brotherhood in Europe. It is quite clear, on the contrary, that the
people of the United States consider this war as their affair also, and
that they have the keenest sense of their responsibility for the general
welfare of mankind.

So that as a second chance, after the possibility of a broad handling of
the settlement by the Czar, and as a very much bigger probability, is
the insistence by America upon her right to a voice in the ultimate
settlement and an initiative from the Western Hemisphere that will lead
to a world congress. There are the two most hopeful sources of that
great proposal. It is the tradition of British national conduct to be
commonplace to the pitch of dullness, and all the stifled intelligence
of Great Britain will beat in vain against the national passion for the
ordinary. Britain, in the guise of Sir Edward Grey, will come to the
congress like a family solicitor among the Gods. What is the good of
shamming about this least heroic of Fatherlands? But Britain would
follow a lead; the family solicitor is honest and well-meaning. France
and Belgium and Italy are too deeply in the affair, or without
sufficient moral prestige, for a revolutionary initiative in
international relationship.

There is, however, a possible third source from which the proposal for a
world congress might come, with the support of both neutrals and
belligerents, and that is The Hague. Were there a man of force and
genius at The Hague now, a man speaking with authority and not as the
scribes, he might thrust enormous benefits upon the world.

It is from these three sources that I most hope for leading now. Of the
new Pope and his influence I know nothing. But in the present situation
of the world's affairs it behooves us ill to wait idle until leaders
clear the way for us. Every man who realizes the broad conditions of the
situation, every one who can talk or write or echo, can do his utmost to
spread his realization of the possibilities of a world congress and the
establishment of world law and world peace that lie behind the monstrous
agonies and cruelties and confusions of this catastrophic year. Given an
immense body of opinion initiatives may break out effectively anywhere;
failing it, they will be fruitless everywhere.



[From King Albert's Book.]

The women of Great Britain will never forget what Belgium has done for
all that women hold most dear.

In the days to come mothers will tell their children how a small but
great-souled nation fought to the death against overwhelming odds and
sacrificed all things to save the world from an intolerable tyranny.

The story of the Belgian people's defense of freedom will inspire
countless generations yet unborn.

Zeppelin Raids on London

By the Naval Correspondent of The London Times

[From The London Times, Jan. 22, 1915.]

Some doubt has been thrown by correspondents upon the ability of the
Zeppelins to reach London from Cuxhaven, the place from which the
raiders of Tuesday night appear to have started. The distance which the
airships traveled, including their manoeuvres over the land, must have
been quite 650 miles. This is not nearly as far as similar airships have
traveled in the past. One of the Zeppelins flew from Friedrichshafen, on
Lake Constance, to Berlin, a continuous flight of about 1,000 miles, in
thirty-one hours. Our naval officers will also recall the occasion of
the visit of the First Cruiser Squadron to Copenhagen in September,
1912, when the German passenger airship Hansa was present. The Hansa
made the run from Hamburg to Copenhagen, a distance of 198 miles, in
seven hours, and Count Zeppelin was on board her. Supposing an airship
left Cuxhaven at noon on some day when the conditions were favorable and
traveled to London, she could not get back again by noon next day if she
traveled at the half-power speed which the vessels on Tuesday appear to
have used. But if she did the run at full speed - that is to say, at
about fifty miles an hour - she could reach London by 9 o'clock the same
evening, have an hour to manoeuvre over the capital, and return by 7
o'clock next morning. With a favorable wind for her return journey, she
might make an even longer stay. Given suitable conditions, therefore, as
on Tuesday, there appears to be no reason why, as far as speed and fuel
endurance are concerned, these vessels should not reach London from

With regard also to the amount of ammunition a Zeppelin can carry, this
depends, of course, on the lifting power of the airship and the way in
which it is distributed. The later Zeppelins are said to be able to
carry a load of about 15,000 pounds, which is available for the crew,
fuel for the engines, ballast, provisions, and spare stores, a wireless
installation, and armament or ammunition. With engines of 500 horse
power, something like 360 pounds of fuel is used per hour to drive them
at full speed. Thus for a journey of twenty hours the vessel would need
at least 7200 pounds of fuel. The necessary crew would absorb 2000
pounds more, and probably another 1500 pounds would be taken up for
ballast and stores. Allowing a weight of 250 pounds for the wireless
equipment, there would remain about 4000 pounds for bombs, or something
less than two tons of explosives, for use against a target 458 miles
from the base. This amount of ammunition could be increased
proportionately as the conditions were altered by using a nearer base,
or by proceeding at a slower and therefore more economical speed, &c.

It is noteworthy that although the German airships were expected to act
as scouts in the North Sea they do not appear to have accomplished
anything in this direction. Possibly this has been due to the fear of
attack by our men-of-war or aircraft if the movements were made in
daytime, when alone they would be useful for this purpose. What happened
during the Christmas Day affair, when, as the official report said, "a
novel combat" ensued between the most modern cruisers on the one hand
and the enemy's aircraft and submarines on the other, would not tend to
lessen this apprehension. On the other hand, the greater stability of
the atmosphere at night makes navigation after dark easier, and I
believe that it has been usual in all countries for airships to make
their trial trips at night.

[Illustration: Radius of Action of a Modern Zeppelin

The above outline map, which we reproduce from "The Naval Annual," shows
in the dotted circle the comparative radius of action of a modern
Zeppelin at half-power - about 36 knots speed - with other types of air
machines, assuming her to be based on Cologne. It is estimated that
aircraft of this type, with a displacement of about 22 tons, could run
for 60 hours at half-speed, and cover a distance equivalent to about
2160 sea miles. This would represent the double voyage, out and home,
from Cologne well to the north of the British Isles, to Petrograd, to
Athens, or to Lisbon. The inner circle shows the radius of action of a
Parseval airship at half-power - about 30 knots - based on Farnborough,
and the small inner circle represents the radius of action of a
hydro-aeroplane based on the Medway.]

It is customary also for the airships to carry, in addition to
explosive and incendiary bombs, others which on being dropped throw out
a light and thereby help to indicate to the vessel above the object
which it is desired to aim at. Probably some of the bombs which were
thrown in Norfolk were of this character. It is understood that all idea
of carrying an armament on top of the Zeppelins has now been abandoned,
and it is obvious that if searchlight equipment or guns of any sort were
carried the useful weight for bombs would have to be reduced unless the
range of action was diminished. It will have been noticed that the
Zeppelins which came on Tuesday appear to have been anxious to get back
before daylight, which looks as if they expected to be attacked if they
were seen, as it is fairly certain they would have been.

Assuming the raid of Tuesday to have been in the nature of a trial trip,
it is rather curious that it was not made before. Apparently the
Zeppelins can only trust themselves to make a raid of this description
in very favorable circumstances. Strong winds, heavy rain, or even a
damp atmosphere are all hindrances to be considered. That there will be
more raids is fairly certain, but there cannot be many nights when the
Germans can hope to have a repetition of the conditions of weather and
darkness which prevailed this week. It should be possible, more or less,
to ascertain the nights in every month in which, given other suitable
circumstances, raids are likely to be made. In view of the probability
that the attacks made by British aviators on the Zeppelin bases at
Düsseldorf and Friedrichshafen caused a delay in the German plans for
making this week's attack, it would appear that the most effective
antidote would be a repetition of such legitimate operations.


[From The New Yorker Herold (Morgenblatt.)]

It has repeatedly been pointed out that 2000 years ago Julius Caesar
fought on the battlegrounds of the Aisne, which are now the location of
the fierce fighting between the Germans and the French. It is probably
less known, however, that in this present war Caesar's "Commentarii de
Bello Gallico" are used by French officers as a practical text book on
strategy. The war correspondent of the Corriere della Serra reports this
some what astonishing fact.

A few weeks ago he visited his friend, a commanding Colonel of a French
regiment, in his trench, which was furnished with bare necessities only.
In a corner on a small table lay the open volume of "Commentarii
Caesaris," which the visitor took into his hand out of curiosity in
order to see what passage the Colonel had just been reading. There he
found the description of the fight against the Remer, who, at that time,
lived in the neighborhood of the present city of Rheims. Principally
with the aid of his Numidian troops, Caesar at that time had prevented
the Remer from crossing the River Axona, today called the Aisne.

Caesar's camp was only a few kilometers from Berry-au-Bac, in the
vicinity of Pontavert, the headquarters of the division to which the
regiment of the Colonel belonged. This Colonel had received the order to
cross the River Aisne with Moroccans and Spahis, and for this purpose he
had studied the description of Caesar. To the astonished question of the
reporter, what made him occupy his mind with the study of Caesar, the
Frenchman replied:

"Caesar's battle descriptions form a book from which even in this
present day war a great deal may be learned. Caesar is by no means as
obsolete as you seem to think. I ask you to consider, for instance, that
the trenches which have gained so much importance in this war date back
to Julius Caesar."

[Illustration: H.M. CHRISTIAN X

King of Denmark

_(Photo from Paul Thompson)_]


Queen Wilhelmina with Her Little Daughter Juliana, Princess of Orange]

Sir John French's Own Story

Continuing the Famous Dispatches of the British Commander in Chief to
Lord Kitchener

The previous dispatches, reviewing the operations of the
British regular and territorial troops on the Continent under
Field Marshal French's chief command, appeared in THE NEW YORK
TIMES CURRENT HISTORY of Jan. 23, 1915, bringing the account
of operations to Nov. 20, 1914. The official dispatch to Earl
Kitchener presented below records the bitter experiences of
the Winter in the trenches from the last week of November
until Feb. 2, 1915.

_The following dispatch was received on Feb. 12, 1915, from the Field
Marshal Commanding in Chief, the British Army in the Field._

_To the Secretary of State for War, War Office, London, S.W._

_General Headquarters,_

Feb. 2, 1915.

My Lord: I have the honor to forward a further report on the operations
of the army under my command.

1. In the period under review the salient feature was the presence of
his Majesty the King in the field. His Majesty arrived at Headquarters
on Nov. 30 and left on Dec. 5.

At a time when the strength and endurance of the troops had been tried
to the utmost throughout the long and arduous battle of
Ypres-Armentières the presence of his Majesty in their midst was of the
greatest possible help and encouragement.

His Majesty visited all parts of the extensive area of operations and
held numerous inspections of the troops behind the line of trenches.

On Nov. 16 Lieutenant his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, K.G.,
Grenadier Guards, joined my staff as aide de camp.

2. Since the date of my last report the operations of the army under my
command have been subject almost entirely to the limitations of weather.

History teaches us that the course of campaigns in Europe, which have
been actively prosecuted during the months of December and January, have
been largely influenced by weather conditions. It should, however, be
thoroughly understood throughout the country that the most recent
development of armaments and the latest methods of conducting warfare
have added greatly to the difficulties and drawbacks of a vigorous
Winter campaign.

To cause anything more than a waste of ammunition long-range artillery
fire requires constant and accurate observation; but this most necessary
condition is rendered impossible of attainment in the midst of continual
fog and mist.

Again, armies have now grown accustomed to rely largely on aircraft
reconnoissance for accurate information of the enemy, but the effective
performance of this service is materially influenced by wind and

The deadly accuracy, range, and quick-firing capabilities of the modern
rifle and machine gun require that a fire-swept zone be crossed in the
shortest possible space of time by attacking troops. But if men are
detained under the enemy's fire by the difficulty of emerging from a
water-logged trench, and by the necessity of passing over ground
knee-deep in holding mud and slush, such attacks become practically
prohibitive owing to the losses they entail.

During the exigencies of the heavy fighting which ended in the last week
of November the French and British forces had become somewhat mixed up,
entailing a certain amount of difficulty in matters of supply and in
securing unity of command.

By the end of November I was able to concentrate the army under my
command in one area, and, by holding a shorter line, to establish
effective reserves.

By the beginning of December there was a considerable falling off in
the volume of artillery fire directed against our front by the enemy.
Reconnoissance and reports showed that a certain amount of artillery had
been withdrawn. We judged that the cavalry in our front, with the
exception of one division of the Guard, had disappeared.

There did not, however, appear to have been any great diminution in the
numbers of infantry holding the trenches.

3. Although both artillery and rifle fire were exchanged with the enemy
every day, and sniping went on more or less continuously during the
hours of daylight, the operations which call for special record or
comment are comparatively few.

During the last week in November some successful minor night operations
were carried out in the Fourth Corps.

On the night of Nov. 23-24 a small party of the Second Lincolnshire
Regiment, under Lieut. E.H. Impey, cleared three of the enemy's advanced
trenches opposite the Twenty-fifth Brigade, and withdrew without loss.

On the night of the 24th-25th Capt. J.R. Minshull Ford, Royal Welsh
Fusiliers, and Lieut. E.L. Morris, Royal Engineers, with fifteen men of
the Royal Engineers and Royal Welsh Fusiliers, successfully mined and
blew up a group of farms immediately in front of the German trenches on
the Touquet-Bridoux Road which had been used by German snipers.

On the night of Nov. 26-27 a small party of the Second Scots Guards,
under Lieut. Sir E.H.W. Hulse, Bart., rushed the trenches opposite the
Twentieth Brigade, and after pouring a heavy fire into them returned
with useful information as to the strength of the Germans and the
position of machine guns.

The trenches opposite the Twenty-fifth Brigade were rushed the same
night by a patrol of the Second Rifle Brigade, under Lieut. E. Durham.

On Nov. 23 the One Hundred and Twelfth Regiment of the Fourteenth German
Army Corps succeeded in capturing some 800 yards of the trenches held by
the Indian Corps, but the general officer commanding the Meerut Division
organized a powerful counter-attack, which lasted throughout the night.
At daybreak on Nov. 24 the line was entirely re-established.

The operation was a costly one, involving many casualties, but the enemy
suffered far more heavily.

We captured over 100 prisoners, including 3 officers, as well as 3
machine guns and two trench mortars.

On Dec. 7 the concentration of the Indian Corps was completed by the
arrival of the Sirhind Brigade from Egypt.

On Dec. 9 the enemy attempted to commence a strong attack against the
Third Corps, particularly in front of the trenches held by the Argyll
and Sutherland Highlanders and the Middlesex Regiment.

They were driven back with heavy loss, and did not renew the attempt.
Our casualties were very slight.

During the early days of December certain indications along the whole
front of the allied line induced the French commanders and myself to
believe that the enemy had withdrawn considerable forces from the
western theatre.

Arrangements were made with the commander of the Eighth French Army for
an attack to be commenced on the morning of Dec. 14.

Operations began at 7 A.M. by a combined heavy artillery bombardment by
the two French and the Second British Corps.

The British objectives were the Petit Bois and the Maedelsteed Spur,
lying respectively to the west and the southwest of the village of

At 7:45 A.M. the Royal Scots, with great dash, rushed forward and
attacked the former, while the Gordon Highlanders attacked the latter

The Royal Scots, commanded by Major F.J. Duncan, D.S.O., in face of a
terrible machine gun and rifle fire, carried the German trench on the
west edge of the Petit Bois, capturing two machine guns and fifty-three
prisoners, including one officer.

The Gordon Highlanders, with great gallantry, advanced up the
Maedelsteed Spur, forcing the enemy to evacuate their front trench. They
were, however, losing heavily, and found themselves unable to get any
further. At nightfall they were obliged to fall back to their original

Capt. C. Boddam-Whetham and Lieut. W.F.R. Dobie showed splendid dash,
and with a few men entered the enemy's leading trenches; but they were
all either killed or captured.

Lieut. G.R.V. Hume-Gare and Lieut. W.H. Paterson also distinguished
themselves by their gallant leading.

Although not successful, the operation was most creditable to the
fighting spirit of the Gordon Highlanders, most ably commanded by Major
A.W.F. Baird, D.S.O.

As the Thirty-second French Division on the left had been unable to make
any progress, the further advance of our infantry into the Wytschaete
Wood was not practicable.

Possession of the western edge of the Petit Bois was, however, retained.

The ground was devoid of cover and so water-logged that a rapid advance
was impossible, the men sinking deep in the mud at every step they took.

The artillery throughout the day was very skillfully handled by the
C.A.R.A.'s of the Fourth and Fifth Divisions - Major Gen. F.D.V. Wing,
C.B.; Brig. Gen. G.F. Milne, C.B., D.S.O., and Brig. Gen. J.E.W.
Headlam, C.B., D.S.O.

The casualties during the day were about 17 officers and 407 other
ranks. The losses of the enemy were very considerable, large numbers of
dead being found in the Petit Bois and also in the communicating
trenches in front of the Gordon Highlanders, in one of which a hundred
were counted by a night patrol.

On this day the artillery of the Fourth Division, Third Corps, was used
in support of the attack, under orders of the General Officer Commanding
Second Corps.

The remainder of the Third Corps made demonstrations against the enemy
with a view to preventing him from detaching troops to the area of
operations of the Second Corps.

From Dec. 15 to 17 the offensive operations which were commenced on the
14th were continued, but were confined chiefly to artillery bombardment.

The infantry advance against Wytschaete Wood was not practicable until
the French on our left could make some progress to afford protection to
that flank.

On the 17th it was agreed that the plan of attack as arranged should be
modified; but I was requested to continue demonstrations along my line
in order to assist and support certain French operations which were
being conducted elsewhere.

4. In his desire to act with energy up to his instructions to
demonstrate and occupy the enemy, the General Officer Commanding the
Indian Corps decided to take the advantage of what appeared to him a
favorable opportunity to launch attacks against the advanced trenches in
his front on Dec. 18 and 19.

The attack of the Meerut Division on the left was made on the morning of
the 19th with energy and determination, and was at first attended with
considerable success, the enemy's advanced trenches being captured.
Later on, however, a counter-attack drove them back to their original
position with considerable loss.

The attack of the Lahore Division commenced at 4:30 A.M. It was carried
out by two companies each of the First Highland Light Infantry and the
First Battalion, Fourth Gurkha Rifles of the Sirhind Brigade, under
Lieut. Col. R.W.H. Ronaldson. This attack was completely successful, two
lines of the enemy's trenches being captured with little loss.

Before daylight the captured trenches were filled with as many men as
they could hold. The front was very restricted, communication to the
rear impossible.

At daybreak it was found that the position was practically untenable.
Both flanks were in the air, and a supporting attack, which was late in
starting, and, therefore, conducted during daylight, failed, although
attempted with the greatest gallantry and resolution.

Lieut. Col. Ronaldson held on till dusk, when the whole of the captured
trenches had to be evacuated, and the detachment fell back to its
original line.

By the night of Dec. 19 nearly all the ground gained during the day had
been lost.

From daylight on Dec. 20 the enemy commenced a heavy fire from artillery
and trench mortars on the whole front of the Indian Corps. This was
followed by infantry attacks, which were in especial force against
Givenchy, and between that place and La Quinque Rue.

At about 10 A.M. the enemy succeeded in driving back the Sirhind Brigade
and capturing a considerable part of Givenchy, but the Fifty-seventh
Rifles and Ninth Bhopals, north of the canal, and the Connaught Rangers,
south of it, stood firm.

The Fifteenth Sikhs of the Divisional Reserve were already supporting
the Sirhind Brigade. On the news of the retirement of the latter being
received, the Forty-seventh Sikhs were also sent up to reinforce Gen.
Brunker. The First Manchester Regiment, Fourth Suffolk Regiment, and two
battalions of French territorials under Gen. Carnegy were ordered to
launch a vigorous counter-attack to retake by a flank attack the
trenches lost by the Sirhind Brigade.

Orders were sent to Gen. Carnegy to divert his attack on Givenchy
village, and to re-establish the situation there.

A battalion of the Fifty-eighth French Division was sent to Annequin in

About 5 P.M. a gallant attack by the First Manchester Regiment and one
company of the Fourth Suffolk Regiment had captured Givenchy, and had
cleared the enemy out of the two lines of trenches to the northeast. To
the east of the village the Ninth Bhopal Infantry and Fifty-seventh
Rifles had maintained their positions, but the enemy were still in
possession of our trenches to the north of the village.

Gen. Macbean, with the Secunderabad Cavalry Brigade, Second Battalion,

Online LibraryVariousNew York Times Current History: The European War, Vol 2, No. 1, April, 1915 April-September, 1915 → online text (page 8 of 29)