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Title: My Adventures as a Spy
Author: Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, Baron, 1857-1941
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "My Adventures as a Spy" ***

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_Illustrated by the Author's Own Sketches_





       *       *       *       *       *




A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship. 7th Edition. The
Official Handbook of the Boy Scouts.


Told round the Camp Fire. 2nd Edition.

    "There is no gift book that could be put into the hands of a
    schoolboy more valuable than this fascinating volume, and if
    you asked the boy's opinion he would probably add, 'No book
    that he liked better.'"--_Spectator_.


A splendid collection of Outdoor and Indoor Games specially compiled
for the use of Boy Scouts. 2nd Edition.

    "No one who, as a schoolboy, has read a word of Fenimore
    Cooper or Ballantyne, nobody who feels the fascination of
    a good detective story, or who understands a little of the
    pleasures of woodcraft, could fail to be attracted by these
    games, or, for that matter, by the playing of the games


"My World Tour." Illustrated by the Author's own Sketches.

    "Describes in brightest and most concise fashion his recent
    tour of inspection amongst the Boy Scouts.... Every boy
    will read it with avidity and pronounce it 'jolly

_Price 1/- each in Pictorial Wrapper, or 2/- each in Cloth Boards.
Postage 3d. extra._


       *       *       *       *       *







  SPY SIGNS                              39






  MORE MOUNTAIN SPYING                   86

  FOOLING A GERMAN SENTRY                91

  A SPY IS SUSPICIOUS                    95


  TEA AND A TURK                        106

  WATCHING THE BOSNIANS                 110


  CAUGHT AT LAST                        124

  THE ESCAPE                            128

       *       *       *       *       *


It has been difficult to write in peace-time on the delicate subject
of spies and spying, but now that the war is in progress and the
methods of those much abused gentry have been disclosed, there is no
harm in going more fully into the question, and to relate some of my
own personal experiences.

Spies are like ghosts--people seem to have had a general feeling that
there might be such things, but they did not at the same time believe
in them--because they never saw them, and seldom met anyone who had
had first-hand experience of them. But as regards the spies, I can
speak with personal knowledge in saying that they do exist, and in
very large numbers, not only in England, but in every part of Europe.

As in the case of ghosts, any phenomenon which people don't
understand, from a sudden crash on a quiet day to a midnight creak of
a cupboard, has an affect of alarm upon nervous minds. So also a spy
is spoken of with undue alarm and abhorrence, because he is somewhat
of a bogey.

As a first step it is well to disabuse one's mind of the idea
that every spy is necessarily the base and despicable fellow he is
generally held to be. He is often both clever and brave.

The term "spy" is used rather indiscriminately, and has by use come to
be a term of contempt. As a misapplication of the term "spy" the case
of Major André always seems to me to have been rather a hard one. He
was a Swiss by birth, and during the American War of Independence in
1780 joined the British Army in Canada, where he ultimately became
A.D.C. to General Sir H. Clinton.

The American commander of a fort near West Point, on the Hudson River,
had hinted that he wanted to surrender, and Sir H. Clinton sent André
to treat with him. In order to get through the American lines André
dressed himself in plain clothes and took the name of John Anderson.
He was unfortunately caught by the Americans and tried by court
martial and hanged as a spy.

As he was not trying to get information, it seems scarcely right to
call him a spy. Many people took this view at the time, and George
III. gave his mother a pension, as well as a title to his brother, and
his body was ultimately dug up and re-interred in Westminster Abbey.


Let us for the moment change the term "spy" to "investigator" or
"military agent." For war purposes these agents may be divided into:

1. _Strategical_ and diplomatic _agents_, who study the political and
military conditions in peace time of all other countries which might
eventually be in opposition to their own in war. These also create
political disaffection and organise outbreaks, such, for instance,
as spreading sedition amongst Egyptians, or in India amongst the
inhabitants, or in South Africa amongst the Boer population, to bring
about an outbreak, if possible, in order to create confusion and draw
off troops in time of war.

2. _Tactical_, military, or naval _agents_, who look into minor
details of armament and terrain in peace time. These also make
tactical preparations on the spot, such as material for extra bridges,
gun emplacements, interruption of communications, etc.

3. _Field spies_. Those who act as scouts in disguise to reconnoitre
positions and to report moves of the enemy in the field of war.
Amongst these are residential spies and officer agents.

All these duties are again subdivided among agents of every grade,
from ambassadors and their attachés downwards. Naval and military
officers are sent to carry out special investigations by all
countries, and paid detectives are stationed in likely centres to
gather information.

There are also traitor spies. For these I allow I have not a good
word. They are men who sell their countries' secrets for money.
Fortunately we are not much troubled with them in England; but we have
had a notorious example in South Africa.


The war treason--that is, preliminary political and strategical
investigation--of the Germans in the present campaign has not
been such a success as might have been expected from a scheme so
wonderfully organised as it has been. With the vast sums spent upon
it, the German General Staff might reasonably have obtained men in a
higher position in life who could have gauged the political atmosphere
better than was done by their agents immediately before the present

Their plans for starting strikes at a critical time met with no
response whatever. They had great ideas of stirring up strife and
discontent among the Mahommedan populations both in Egypt and in
India, but they calculated without knowing enough of the Eastern races
or their feelings towards Great Britain and Germany--more especially

They looked upon the Irish question as being a certainty for civil war
in Britain, and one which would necessitate the employment of a large
proportion of our expeditionary force within our own islands.

They never foresaw that the Boer and Briton would be working amicably
in South Africa; they had supposed that the army of occupation there
could never be removed, and did not foresee that South Africa would
be sending a contingent against their South African colonies while the
regulars came to strengthen our army at home.

They imagined the Overseas Dominions were too weak in men and ships
and training to be of any use; and they never foresaw that the manhood
of Great Britain would come forward in vast numbers to take up arms
for which their national character has to a large extent given them
the necessary qualifications. All this might have been discovered
if the Germans had employed men of a higher education and social


In addition to finding out military details about a country, such as
its preparedness in men, supplies, efficiency, and so on, these agents
have to study the tactical features of hills and plains, roads and
railways, rivers and woods, and even the probable battlefields and
their artillery positions, and so on.

The Germans in the present war have been using the huge guns whose
shells, owing to their black, smoky explosions, have been nicknamed
"Black Marias" or "Jack Johnsons." These guns require strong concrete
foundations for them to stand upon before they can be fired. But
the Germans foresaw this long before the war, and laid their plans

They examined all the country over which they were likely to fight,
both in Belgium and in France, and wherever they saw good positions
for guns they built foundations and emplacements for them. This was
done in the time of peace, and therefore had to be done secretly.
In order to divert suspicion, a German would buy or rent a farm on
which it was desired to build an emplacement. Then he would put down
foundations for a new barn or farm building, or--if near a town--for
a factory, and when these were complete, he would erect some lightly
constructed building upon it.

There was nothing to attract attention or suspicion about this, and
numbers of these emplacements are said to have been made before war
began. When war broke out and the troops arrived on the ground, the
buildings were hastily pulled down and there were the emplacements all
ready for the guns.

Some years ago a report came to the War Office that a foreign Power
was making gun emplacements in a position which had not before been
suspected of being of military value, and they were evidently going to
use it for strategical purposes.

I was sent to see whether the report was true. Of course, it would
not do to go as an officer--suspicions would be aroused, one would
be allowed to see nothing, and would probably be arrested as a spy.
I therefore went to stay with a friendly farmer in the neighbourhood,
and went out shooting every day among the partridges and snipe which
abounded there. The first thing I did was to look at the country
generally, and try to think which points would be most valuable as
positions for artillery.

Then I went to look for partridges (and other things!) on the hills
which I had noticed, and I very soon found what I wanted.

Officers were there, taking angles and measurements, accompanied by
workmen, who were driving pegs into the ground and marking off lines
with tapes between them.

As I passed with my gun in my hand, bag on shoulder, and dog at heel,
they paid no attention to me, and from the neighbouring hills I was
able to watch their proceedings.

When they went away to their meals or returned to their quarters, I
went shooting over the ground they had left, and if I did not get a
big bag of game, at any rate I made a good collection of drawings and
measurements of the plans of the forts and emplacements which they had
traced out on the ground.

So that within a few days of their starting to make them we had the
plans of them all in our possession. Although they afterwards planted
trees all over the sites to conceal the forts within them, and put up
buildings in other places to hide them, we knew perfectly well where
the emplacements were and what were their shapes and sizes.

This planting of trees to hide such defence works occasionally has
the other effect, and shows one where they are. This was notably
the case at Tsingtau, captured by the Japanese and British forces
from the Germans. As there were not any natural woods there, I had
little difficulty in finding where the forts were by reason of the
plantations of recent growth in the neighbourhood of the place.


These men take up their quarters more or less permanently in the
country of their operations. A few are men in high places in the
social or commercial world, and are generally _nouveaux riches_,
anxious for decorations and rewards. But most of the residential spies
are of a more insignificant class, and in regular pay for their work.

Their duty is to act as agents to receive and distribute instructions
secretly to other itinerant spies, and to return their reports
to headquarters. For this reason they are nicknamed in the German
Intelligence Bureau "post-boxes." They also themselves pick up what
information they can from all available sources and transmit it home.

One, Steinbauer, has for some years past been one of the principal
"post-boxes" in England. He was attached to the Kaiser's staff during
his last visit to this country, when he came as the guest of the King
to the opening of Queen Victoria's memorial.

A case of espionage which was tried in London revealed his methods,
one of his agents being arrested after having been watched for three

Karl Ernst's trial confirmed the discoveries and showed up the doings
of men spies like Schroeder, Gressa, Klare, and others.

Also the case of Dr. Karl Graves may be still in the memory of many.
This German was arrested in Scotland for spying, and was condemned
to eighteen months' imprisonment, and was shortly afterwards released
without any reason being officially assigned. He has since written
a full account of what he did, and it is of interest to note how his
correspondence passed to and from the intelligence headquarters in
Germany in envelopes embellished with the name of Messrs. Burroughs
and Wellcome, the famous chemists. He posed as a doctor, and sent
his letters through an innkeeper at Brussels or a _modiste_ in Paris,
while letters to him came through an obscure tobacconist's shop in

One of these letters miscarried through having the wrong initial
to his name. It was returned by the Post Office to Burroughs and
Wellcome, who on opening it found inside a German letter, enclosing
bank-notes in return for services rendered. This raised suspicion
against him. He was watched, and finally arrested.

He states that a feeling that he was being followed dawned upon him
one day, when he noticed in his lodgings that the clothes which he had
folded on a chair had been since refolded in a slightly different way
while he was out. With some suspicion, he asked his landlady whether
anyone had entered his room, and she, in evident confusion, denied
that any stranger could have been there. Then he suggested that his
tailor might have called, and she agreed that it was so. But when an
hour or two later he interviewed his tailor, he, on his part, said he
had not been near the place. Graves consequently deduced that he was
being followed.

The knowledge that you are being watched, and you don't know by whom,
gives, I can assure you, a very jumpy feeling--especially when you
know you are guilty.

I can speak feelingly from more than one experience of it, since I
have myself been employed on this form of scouting in peace time.


It is generally difficult to find ordinary spies who are also
sufficiently imbued with technical knowledge to be of use in gaining
naval or military details. Consequently officers are often employed
to obtain such information in peace time as well as in the theatre of
action in war.

But with them, and especially with those of Germany, it is not easy to
find men who are sufficiently good actors, or who can disguise their
appearance so well as to evade suspicion. Very many of these have
visited our shores during the past few years, but they have generally
been noticed, watched, and followed, and from the line taken by
them in their reconnaissance it has been easy to deduce the kind of
operations contemplated in their plans.

I remember the case of a party of these motoring through Kent
nominally looking at old Roman ruins. When they asked a landowner
for the exact position of some of these he regretted he had not a
map handy on which he could point out their position. One of the
"antiquarians" at once produced a large scale map; but it was not
an English map: it had, for instance, details on it regarding water
supply tanks which, though they existed, were not shown on any of our
ordnance maps!

In addition to the various branches of spying which I have mentioned,
the Germans have also practised commercial espionage on systematic


Young Germans have been often known to serve in British business
houses without salary in order to "learn the language"; they took care
to learn a good deal more than the language, and picked up many other
things about trade methods and secrets which were promptly utilised
in their own country. The importance of commercial spying is that
commercial war is all the time at the bottom of Germany's preparations
for military war.

Carl Lody, a German ex-officer, was recently tried in London by
court-martial and shot for "war treason"--that is, for sending
information regarding our Navy to Germany during hostilities. ("War
treason" is secret work outside the zone of war operations. When
carried on within the zone of operations it is called spying or
"espionage.") Carl Lody's moves were watched and his correspondence
opened by the counter-spy police in London, and thus all his
investigations and information were known to the War Office long
before he was arrested.

The enormous sums paid by Germany for many years past have brought
about a sort of international spy exchange, generally formed of
American-Germans, with their headquarters in Belgium, and good prices
were given for information acquired by them. For instance, if the
plans of a new fort, or the dimensions of a new ship, or the power of
a new gun were needed, one merely had to apply and state a price to
this bureau to receive fairly good information on the subject before
much time had elapsed.

At the same time, by pretending to be an American, one was able to get
a good deal of minor and useful information without the expenditure of
a cent.


On getting into touch with these gentry, I was informed of one of the
intended plans by which the Germans proposed to invade our country,
and incidentally it throws some light on their present methods
of dealing with the inhabitants as apart from the actual tactical
movements of the troops.

The German idea then--some six years ago--was that they could, by
means of mines and submarines, at any time block the traffic in the
British Channel in the space of a few hours, thus holding our home
fleets in their stations at Spithead and Portland.

With the Straits of Dover so blocked, they could then rush a fleet
of transports across the North Sea from Germany, to the East Coast of
England, either East Anglia or, as in this plan, in Yorkshire. They
had in Germany nine embarking stations, with piers and platforms,
all ready made, and steel lighters for disembarkation purposes or for
actual traversing of the ocean in case of fine weather.

They had taken the average of the weather for years past, and had come
to the conclusion that July 13th is, on an average, the finest day
in the year; but their attempt would be timed, if possible, to fall
on a Bank Holiday when communications were temporarily disorganised.
Therefore the nearest Bank Holiday to July 13th would probably be that
at the beginning of August; it was a coincidence that the present war
broke out on that day.

The spies stationed in England were to cut all telephone and telegraph
wires, and, where possible, to blow down important bridges and
tunnels, and thus to interrupt communications and create confusion.

Their idea of landing on the coast of Yorkshire was based on the
following reasons:--

They do not look upon London as strategically the capital of England,
but rather upon the great industrial centres of the north Midlands,
where, instead of six millions, there are more like fourteen millions
of people assembled in the numerous cities and towns, which now almost
adjoin each other across that part of the country.

Their theory was that if they could rush an army of even 90,000 men
into Leeds, Sheffield, Halifax, Manchester, and Liverpool without
encountering great opposition in the first few hours, they could there
establish themselves in such strength that it would require a powerful
army to drive them out again.

Bringing a week's provisions with them, and seizing all the local
provisions, they would have enough to sustain them for a considerable
time, and the first step of their occupation would be to expel every
inhabitant--man, woman, and child--from the neighbourhood and destroy
the towns. Thus, within a few hours, some fourteen millions of people
would be starving, and wandering without shelter over the face of the
country--a disaster which would need a large force to deal with, and
would cause entire disruption of our food supplies and of business in
the country.

The East Coast of Yorkshire between the Humber and Scarborough lends
itself to such an adventure, by providing a good open beach for miles,
with open country in front of it, which, in its turn, is protected
by a semi-circle of wolds, which could be easily held by the German
covering force. Its left would be protected by the Humber and the
right by the Tees, so that the landing could be carried out without

That was their plan--based on careful investigation by a small army
of spies--some five or six years ago, before our naval bases had been
established in the north. If they had declared war then, they, might
have had no serious interference from our Navy during the passage of
their transports, which, of course, would be protected on that flank
by their entire fleet of warships.

At first glance, it seems too fanciful a plan to commend itself to
belief, but in talking it over with German officers, I found they
fully believed in it as a practical proposition. They themselves
enlarged on the idea of the use that they would thus make of the civil
population, and foreshadowed their present brutality by explaining
that when war came, it would not be made with kid gloves. The meaning
of their commands would be brought home to the people by shooting down
civilians if necessary, in order to prove that they were in earnest,
and to force the inhabitants through terror to comply with their

Further investigations on the subject proved that the embarkation
arrangements were all planned and prepared for. At any time in the
ordinary way of commerce there were numerous large mail steamers
always available in their ports to transport numbers even largely in
excess of those that would be assembled for such an expedition. Troops
could be mobilised in the neighbourhood of the ports, ostensibly for
manoeuvres, without suspicion being aroused.

It is laid down in German strategical textbooks that the time for
making war is not when you have a political cause for it, but when
your troops are ready and the enemy is unready; and that to strike the
first blow is the best way to declare war.

I recounted all this at the time in a private lecture to officers,
illustrated with lantern slides and maps, as a military problem which
would be interesting to work out on the actual ground, and it was not
really until the report of this leaked into the papers that I realised
how nearly I had "touched the spot." For, apart from the various
indignant questions with which the Secretary of State for War was
badgered in the House of Commons on my account, I was assailed with
letters from Germany of most violent abuse from various quarters, high
and low, which showed me that I had gone nearer the truth than I had
even suspected.

"You are but a brown-paper general," said one, "and if you think that
by your foolish talk you are to frighten us from coming, you are not


It is difficult to say where exactly a spy's work ends in war, and
that of a scout begins, except that, as a rule, the first is carried
out in disguise.

The scout is looked up to as a brave man, and his expedients for
gaining information are thought wonderfully clever, so long as he
remains in uniform. If he goes a bit further, and finds that he can
get his information better by adopting a disguise--even at the greater
risk to himself through the certainty of being shot if he is found
out--then he is looked down upon as a "despicable spy." I don't see
the justice of it myself.

A good spy--no matter which country he serves--is _of necessity_ a
brave and valuable fellow.

In our Army we do not make a very wide use of field spies on service,
though their partial use at manoeuvres has shown what they can do.

In "Aids to Scouting" I have stated: "In the matter of spying we
are behind other nations. Spying, in reality, is reconnaissance in
disguise. Its effects are so far-reaching that most nations, in order
to deter enemies' spies, threaten them with death if caught."

As an essential part of scouting, I gave a chapter of hints on how to
spy, and how to catch other people spying.


Spy-catching was once one of my duties, and is perhaps the best form
of education towards successful spying. I had been lucky enough to
nail three and was complimented by one of the senior officers on the
Commander-in-Chief's staff. We were riding home together from a big
review at the time that he was talking about it, and he remarked, "How
do you set about catching a spy?" I told him of our methods and added
that also luck very often came in and helped one.

Just in front of us, in the crowd of vehicles returning from
the review-ground, was an open hired Victoria in which sat a
foreign-looking gentleman. I remarked that as an instance this was the
sort of man I should keep an eye upon, and I should quietly follow him
till I found where he lodged and then put a detective on to report his

From our position on horseback close behind him we were able to see
that our foreigner was reading a guide book and was studying a map of
the fortifications through which we were passing. Suddenly he called
to the driver to stop for a moment while he lit a match for his
cigarette. The driver pulled up, and so did we. The stranger glanced
up to see that the man was not looking round, and then quickly slipped
a camera from under the rug which was lying on the seat in front of
him, and taking aim at the entrance shaft of a new ammunition store
which had just been made for our Navy, he took a snapshot.

Then hurriedly covering up the camera again he proceeded to strike
matches and to light his cigarette. Then he gave the word to drive on

We followed close behind till we came to where a policeman was
regulating the traffic. I rode ahead and gave him his instructions
so that the carriage was stopped, and the man was asked to show his
permit to take photographs. He had none. The camera was taken into
custody and the name and address of the owner taken "with a view to
further proceedings."

Unfortunately at that time--it was many years ago--we were badly
handicapped by our laws in the matter of arresting and punishing
spies. By-laws allowed us to confiscate and smash unauthorised
cameras, and that was all.

"Further proceedings," had they been possible, in this case would have
been unnecessary, for the suspected gentleman took himself off to the
Continent by the very next boat.

But it took a good deal to persuade my staff-officer friend that the
whole episode was not one faked up for his special edification.

It is only human to hate to be outwitted by one more clever than
yourself, and perhaps that accounts for people disliking spies with
a more deadly hatred than that which they bestow on a man who drops
bombs from an aeroplane indiscriminately on women and children, or who
bombards cathedrals with infernal engines of war.

Nobody could say that my native spy in South Africa, Jan Grootboom,
was either a contemptible or mean kind of man. He was described by one
who knew him as a "white man in a black skin," and I heartily endorse
the description.

Here is an instance of his work as a field spy:--

Jan Grootboom was a Zulu by birth, but having lived much with white
men, as a hunter and guide, he had taken to wearing ordinary clothes
and spoke English perfectly well: but within him he had all the pluck
and cunning of his race.

For scouting against the Matabele it was never wise to take a large
party, since it would be sure to attract attention, whereas by going
alone with one man, such as Grootboom, one was able to penetrate their
lines and to lie hid almost among them, watching their disposition and
gaining information as to their numbers, supplies, and whereabouts of
their women and cattle, etc.

Now, every night was spent at this work--that is to say, the night was
utilised for creeping to their positions, and one watched them during
the day. But it was impossible to do this without leaving footmarks
and tracks, which the sharp eyes of their scouts were not slow to
discover, and it very soon dawned upon them that they were being
watched, and consequently they were continually on the look-out to
waylay and capture us.

One night Grootboom and I had ridden to the neighbourhood of one of
the enemy's camps, and were lying waiting for the early dawn before we
could discover exactly where they were located.

It was during the hour before sunrise that, as a rule, the enemy used
to light their fires for cooking their early morning food. One could
thus see exactly their position, and could rectify one's own, so as
to find a place where one could lie by during the day and watch their

On this occasion the first fire was lit and then another sparkled up,
and yet another, but before half a dozen had been lighted Grootboom
suddenly growled under his breath:--

"The swine--they are laying a trap for us."

I did not understand at the moment what he meant, but he said:--

"Stop here for a bit, and I will go and look."

He slipped off all his clothing and left it lying in a heap, and stole
away in the darkness, practically naked. Evidently he was going to
visit them to see what was going on.

The worst of spying is that it makes you always suspicious, even of
your best friends. So, as soon as Grootboom was gone in one direction,
I quietly crept away in another, and got among some rocks in a
small kopje, where I should have some kind of a chance if he had any
intention of betraying me and returning with a few Matabele to capture

For an hour or two I lay there, until presently I saw Grootboom
creeping back through the grass--alone.

Ashamed of my doubts, I therefore came out and went to our rendezvous,
and found him grinning all over with satisfaction while he was putting
on his clothes again. He said that he had found as he had expected,
an ambush laid for us. The thing that had made him suspicious was that
the fires, instead of lighting up all over the hillside at different
points about the same time, had been lighted in steady succession one
after another, evidently by one man going round. This struck him as
suspicious, and he then assumed that it was done to lead us on, if we
were anywhere around, to go and examine more closely the locality.

He had crept in towards them by a devious path, from which he was able
to perceive a whole party of the Matabele lying low in the grass by
the track which we should probably have used in getting there, and
they would have pounced upon us and captured us.

To make sure of this suspicion he crept round till near their
stronghold, and coming from there he got in among them and chatted
away with them, finding out what was their intention with regard to
ourselves, and also what were their plans for the near future. Then,
having left them, and walked boldly back towards their stronghold, he
crept away amongst some rocks and rejoined me.

His was an example of the work of a field spy which, although in a way
it may be cunning and deceitful, at the same time demands the greatest
personal courage and astuteness. It is something greater than the
ordinary bravery of a soldier in action, who is carried on by the
enthusiasm of those around him under the leadership of an officer, and
with the competition and admiration of others.

The pluck of the man who goes out alone, unobserved and unapplauded,
and at the risk of his life, is surely equally great.

The Boers used field spies freely against us in South Africa.

One English-speaking Boer used to boast how, during the war, he made
frequent visits to Johannesburg dressed in the uniform taken from a
British major who had been killed in action. He used to ride past
the sentries, who, instead of shooting him, merely saluted, and he
frequented the clubs and other resorts of the officers, picking up
such information as he required from them first hand, till evening
came and he was able to ride back to his commando.


On our side various methods were adopted of conveying information
in the field. My spies employed native runners (especially the most
astute cattle-thieves) to take their despatches to me.


[Illustration: _These hieroglyphics contain a secret message which
can be easily read by those who know the semaphore signalling code.
This signalling consists of swinging two arms in different positions,
either singly or together. The dots indicate where the letters join.
For example: The semaphore sign for N consists of both arms pointing
downwards at an angle of 90 degrees ^. The letter I is shown by both
arms pointing to the left at the same angle >. The next N is shown
again, and the letter E is a single arm pointing upwards on the right
at an angle of 45 degrees /._

_In each word you start at the top of the signs and read downwards._

_This form of secret message was frequently used in the South African

These were in every case naturally written in cypher or secret code,
in Hindustani written in English characters, and so on. They were
rolled up into pellets and pressed into a small hole bored in a
walking-stick, the hole being then plugged with clay or soap. Or they
were put into the bowl of a pipe underneath the tobacco, and could
thus be burnt without suspicion if necessary, or they were slipped
in between the soles of the boots, or stitched in the lining of the
bearer's clothing. These natives also understood the language of
smoke-fires--signalling by means of little or big puffs of smoke as to
the enemy's moves and strength.


The native despatch-runners whom we sent out to make their way through
the enemy's lines carried the letters tightly rolled up in little
balls, coated with sheet lead, such as tea is packed in.

These little balls they carried slung round their necks on a string.
The moment that they saw an enemy coming near they dropped the
balls, which then looked like so many stones, on the ground, and took
bearings of the spot so that they could find them again when the coast
was clear.

Then there were fixed points for hiding letters for other spies to
find. Here are some of the most frequently used:

[Illustration: _This little mark, scratched on the ground or on a tree
trunk or gate-post, was used by one scout for the information of
another. It means: "A letter is hidden four paces in this direction."_

[Illustration: _A sign used to warn another scout that he is following
a wrong direction. It means: "Not this way."_]

[Illustration: _This is another sign from one scout to another and
means: "I have returned home."_]

[Illustration: _The "blaze" on the tree trunk and the two stones, one
on the other, are simply to show that the scout is on the right trail._

_The other three sketches are to show the direction in which the scout
should go. The arrow is marked on the ground. The upper part of the
sapling or bush is bent over in the direction which the scout should
take, and the same is the case with the bunch of grass, which is first
of all knotted and then bent._]


The Japanese, of course, in their war with Russia in Manchuria made
extensive use of spies, and Port Arthur, with all its defects of
fortification and equipment, was known thoroughly inside and out to
the Japanese general staff before they ever fired a shot at it.

In the field service regulations of the German army a paragraph
directed that the service of protection in the field--that is to
say, outposts, advanced guards, and reconnaissances--should always be
assisted by a system of spying, and although this paragraph no longer
stands in the book, the spirit of it is none the less carried out.

The field spies are a recognised and efficient arm.

Frederick the Great is recorded to have said: "When Marshal Subise
goes to war, he is followed by a hundred cooks, but when I take the
field I am preceded by a hundred spies."

The present leader of the German army might well say the same, though
probably his "hundred" would amount to thousands.

We hear of them dressed in plain clothes as peasants, and signalling
with coloured lights, with puffs of smoke from chimneys, and by using
the church clock hands as semaphores.

Very frequently a priest was arrested and found to be a spy disguised,
and as such he was shot. Also a German chauffeur in a French uniform,
who had for some time been driving French staff officers about, was
found to be a spy, and so met his death.

Early in the present war the German field spies had their secret code
of signs, so that by drawing sketches of cattle of different colours
and sizes on gates, etc., they conveyed information to each other of
the strength and direction of different bodies of hostile troops in
the neighbourhood.

As a rule, these are residential spies, who have lived for months or
years as small tradesmen, etc., in the towns and villages now included
in the theatre of war. On the arrival of the German invaders they
have chalked on their doors, "Not to be destroyed. Good people here,"
and have done it for some of their neighbours also in order to divert
suspicion. In their capacity of naturalised inhabitants they are in
position, of course, to gain valuable tactical information for the
commanders of the troops. And their different ways of communicating it
are more than ingenious.

In some cases both spies and commanders have maps ruled off in small
squares. The watchful spy signals to his commander, "Enemy's cavalry
halted behind wood in square E15," and very soon a salvo of shells
visits this spot. A woman spy was caught signalling with an electric
flash lamp. Two different men (one of them an old one-legged
stonebreaker at the roadside) were caught with field telephones hidden
on them with wire coiled round their bodies. Shepherds with lanterns
went about on the downs at night dodging the lanterns about in various
ways which did not seem altogether necessary for finding sheep.
Wireless telegraphs were set up to look like supports to iron

In the South African Campaign a Dutch stationmaster acted as field
spy for the Boers for a short time. It was only a very short time. His
town and station were captured by my force, and, in order to divert
suspicion, he cut and pulled down the telegraph wires, all except
one, which was left in working order. By this wire he sent to the Boer
headquarters all the information he could get about our forces and
plans. Unfortunately, we had a party of men tapping the wire, and were
able to read all his messages, and to confront him with them shortly

Another stationmaster, in our own territory, acted as spy to the enemy
before the war began by employing enemies as gangers and platelayers
along the line with a view to the destruction of bridges and culverts
as soon as war was declared. There was also found in his office a code
by which the different arms of the service were designated in terms of
timber for secretly telegraphing information. Thus:

  Beams     meant   Brigades
  Timbers     "     Batteries
  Logs        "     Guns
  Scantlings  "     Battalions
  Joists      "     Squadrons
  Planks      "     Companies


Except in the case of the traitor spy, one does not quite understand
why a spy should necessarily be treated worse than any other
combatant, nor why his occupation should be looked upon as
contemptible, for, whether in peace or war, his work is of a very
exacting and dangerous kind. It is intensely exciting, and though in
some cases it brings a big reward, the best spies are unpaid men who
are doing it for the love of the thing, and as a really effective step
to gaining something valuable for their country and for their side.

The plea put forward by the German spy, Lieut. Carl Lody, at his
court-martial in London, was that "he would not cringe for mercy. He
was not ashamed of anything that he had done; he was in honour bound
not to give away the names of those who had employed him on this
mission; he was not paid for it, he did it for his country's good,
and he knew that he carried his life in his hands in doing so. Many a
Briton was probably doing the same for Britain."

He was even spoken of in our House of Commons as being "a patriot
who had died for his country as much as any soldier who fell in the

To be a really effective spy, a man has to be endowed with a strong
spirit of self-sacrifice, courage, and self-control, with the power
of acting a part, quick at observation and deduction, and blessed
with good health and nerve of exceptional quality. A certain amount of
scientific training is of value where a man has to be able to take the
angles of a fort, or to establish the geological formation, say, of
the middle island under the Forth Bridge, which was shown by Graves to
be readily adaptable for explosion purposes.

For anyone who is tired of life, the thrilling life of a spy should be
the very finest recuperator!


Quite another class of spy is the traitor who gives away the
secrets of his own country. For him, of course, there is no excuse.
Fortunately, the Briton is not as a rule of a corruptible character,
and many foreign spies in England have been discovered through their
attempts to bribe officers or men to give away secrets.

On the other hand, we hear frequently of foreign soldiers falling
victims to such temptation, and eventually being discovered. Cases
have only recently come to light in Austria where officers were
willing to sell information as regards a number of secret block-houses
which were built on the frontier of Bukovina last year. Details of
them got into the hands of another Power within a few days of the
designs being made.

Apparently when suspicion falls upon an officer in Austria the case
is not tried in public, but is conducted privately, sometimes by the
Emperor himself. When the man is found guilty, the procedure is for
four friends of the accused to visit him and tell him what has been
discovered against him, and to present him with a loaded revolver and
leave him. They then remain watching the house, in order that he shall
not escape, and until he elects to shoot himself; if he fails to do
so, in reasonable time, they go in and finish him off between them.


The espionage system of the Germans far exceeds that of any other
country in its extent, cost, and organisation. It was thoroughly
exposed after the war with France in 1870, when it was definitely
shown that the German Government had an organisation of over 20,000
paid informers stationed in France, and controlled by one man,
Stieber, for both political and military purposes.

To such completeness were their machinations carried that when Jules
Favre came to Versailles to treat about the surrender of Paris with
the headquarter staff of the German army he was met at the station
by a carriage, of which the coachman was a German spy, and was taken
to lodge in the house which was the actual headquarters of the spy
department. Stieber himself was the valet, recommended to him as
"a thoroughly trustworthy servant." Stieber availed himself of his
position to go through his master's pockets and despatch cases daily,
collecting most valuable data and information for Bismarck.

Somehow, on the surface, suspicion of the German spy methods seemed
to have subsided since that date, although at the time widely known
throughout Europe. But their methods have been steadily elaborated and
carried into practice ever since, not in France alone, but in all the
countries on the Continent, and also in Great Britain.


Fortunately for us, we are as a nation considered by the others to be
abnormally stupid, therefore easily to be spied upon. But it is not
always safe to judge entirely by appearances.

Our Ambassador at Constantinople some years ago had the appearance of
a cheery, bluff, British farmer, with nothing below the surface in
his character, and he was therefore looked upon as fair game by all
his intriguing rivals in Eastern politics. It was only after repeated
failures of their different missions they found that in every case
they were out-intrigued by this innocent-looking gentleman, who below
the surface was as cunning as a fox and as clever a diplomat as could
be found in all the service.

And so it has been with us British. Foreign spies stationed in our
country saw no difficulty in completely hoodwinking so stupid a
people; they never supposed that the majority of them have all been
known to our Secret Service Department, and carefully watched, unknown
to themselves.

Few of them ever landed in this country without undergoing the
scrutiny of an unobtrusive little old gentleman with tall hat and
umbrella, but the wag of whose finger sent a detective on the heels
of the visitor until his actual business and location were assured and
found to be satisfactory.

For years the correspondence of these gentry has been regularly
opened, noted, and sent on. They were not as a rule worth arresting,
the information sent was not of any urgent importance, and so long
as they went on thinking that they were unnoticed, their superiors
in their own country made no effort to send more astute men in their
place. Thus we knew what the enemy were looking for, and we knew what
information they had received, and this as a rule was not of much

On August 4th, the day before the declaration of war, the twenty
leading spies were formally arrested and over 200 of their minor
agents were also taken in hand, and thus their organisation failed
them at the moment when it was wanted most. Steps were also taken
to prevent any substitutes being appointed in their places. Private
wireless stations were dismantled, and by means of traps those were
discovered which had not been voluntarily reported and registered.

It used to amuse some of us to watch the foreign spies at work on our
ground. One especially interested me, who set himself up ostensibly as
a coal merchant, but never dealt in a single ounce of coal. His daily
reconnaissance of the country, his noting of the roads, and his other
movements entailed in preparing his reports, were all watched and
recorded. His letters were opened in the post, sealed up, and sent on.
His friends were observed and shadowed on arriving--as they did--at
Hull instead of in London. And all the time he was plodding along,
wasting his time, quite innocent of the fact that he was being
watched, and was incidentally giving us a fine amount of information.

Another came only for a few hours, and was away again before we could
collar him; but, knowing his moves, and what photographs he had taken,
I was able to write to him, and tell him that had I known beforehand
that he wished to photograph these places, I could have supplied
him with some ready made, as the forts which they recorded were now

On the other hand, the exceedingly stupid Englishmen who wandered
about foreign countries sketching cathedrals, or catching butterflies,
or fishing for trout, were merely laughed at as harmless lunatics.
These have even invited officials to look at their sketch-books,
which, had they had any suspicion or any eyes in their heads, would
have revealed plans and armaments of their own fortresses interpolated
among the veins of the botanist's drawings of leaves or on the
butterflies' wings of the entomologist. Some examples of secret
sketches of fortresses which have been used with success are shown on
the following pages.

[Illustration: _This sketch of a butterfly contains the outline of a
fortress, and marks both the position and power of the guns. The marks
on the wings between the lines mean nothing, but those on the lines
show the nature and size of the guns, according to the keys below._]

[Illustration: The marks on the wings reveal the shape of the fortress
shown here and the size of the guns.

  [Illustration: FORTRESS GUNS.]

  [Illustration: FIELD GUNS.]

  [Illustration: MACHINE GUNS.]

_The position of each gun is at the place inside the outline of the
fort on the butterfly where the line marked with the spot ends. The
head of the butterfly points towards the north._]

[Illustration: _A smart piece of spy-work. Veins on an ivy leaf
show the outline of the fort as seen looking west (Point of the leaf
indicates north.)_]

[Illustration: _Shows where big guns are mounted if a vein points to

[Illustration: _Shows "dead ground," where there is shelter from

[Illustration: _Shows machine guns._]

[Illustration: _Here is another of the methods by which I concealed
the plans of the forts I made._

_First of all, I would sketch the plan as shown in the picture above
giving the strength and positions of the various guns as shown below:_

  _A. Kaponiers with machine guns._
  _B. 15 cm. gun cupola._
  _C. 12 cm. guns cupolas._
  _D. Q.-F. disappearing guns._
  _E. Howitzer cupolas._
  _F. Searchlight._]

[Illustration: _Having done this, I would consider the best method of
concealing my plans. In this case I decided to transform the sketch
into that of a stained glass window, and if you will carefully examine
the picture above you will see how successfully this has been done.
Certain of the decorations signify the sizes and positions of the guns.
These signs are given below, together with their meaning._]

[Illustration: 1. 15 _cm. gun._

2. _Howitzers._

3. _Q.-F. disappearing guns._

4. 12 _cm. guns._

5. _Machine guns._

6. _Searchlight._]



[Illustration: _Another example of this method of making secret plans
is shown here._

_This sketch was made, giving all the particulars that I wanted. I
then decided to bury it in such a way that it could not be recognised
as a fortress plan if I were caught by the military authorities.
One idea which occurred to me was to make it into the doorway of a
cathedral or church, but I finally decided on the sketch of the moth's
head. Underneath in my note-book I wrote the following words:--_

    "_Head of Dula moth as seen through a magnifying glass. Caught
    19.5.12. Magnified about six times size of life." (Meaning
    scale of 6 inches to the mile.)_]


Once I went "butterfly hunting" in Dalmatia. Cattaro, the capital, has
been the scene of much bombarding during the present war.

More than a hundred years ago it was bombarded by the British fleet
and taken. It was then supposed to be impregnable. It lies at the head
of a loch some fifteen miles long, and in some parts but a few hundred
yards wide, in a trough between mountains. From Cattaro, at the
head of the loch, a zig-zag road leads up the mountain side over the
frontier into Montenegro.

When the British ships endeavoured to attack from the seaward,
the channel was closed by chains and booms put across it. But the
defenders had reckoned without the resourcefulness of the British
"handyman," and a few days later, to the utter astonishment of the
garrison, guns began to bombard them from the top of a neighbouring

The British captain had landed his guns on the Adriatic shore, and by
means of timber slides rigged up on the mountain side he had hauled
his guns bodily up the rocky steeps to the very summit of the

He fixed up his batteries, and was eventually able to bombard the town
with such effect that it had to surrender.

It was perhaps characteristic of us that we only took the town because
it was held by our enemies. We did not want it, and when we had got
it we did not know what to do with it. We therefore handed it over to
the Montenegrins, and thus gave them a seaport of their own. For this
feat the Montenegrins have always had a feeling of admiration and of
gratitude to the British, and, though by terms of ulterior treaties
it was eventually handed over to Dalmatia, the Montenegrins have never
forgotten our goodwill towards them on this occasion.

But other batteries have since been built upon these mountain tops,
and it was my business to investigate their positions, strength, and

I went armed with most effective weapons for the purpose, which have
served me well in many a similar campaign. I took a sketch-book,
in which were numerous pictures--some finished, others only partly
done--of butterflies of every degree and rank, from a "Red Admiral" to
a "Painted Lady."

Carrying this book and a colour-box, and a butterfly net in my hand,
I was above all suspicion to anyone who met me on the lonely mountain
side, even in the neighbourhood of the forts.

I was hunting butterflies, and it was always a good introduction
with which to go to anyone who was watching me with suspicion. Quite
frankly, with my sketch-book in hand, I would ask innocently whether
he had seen such-and-such a butterfly in the neighbourhood, as I was
anxious to catch one. Ninety-nine out of a hundred did not know one
butterfly from another--any more than I do--so one was on fairly
safe ground in that way, and they thoroughly sympathised with the mad
Englishman who was hunting these insects.

They did not look sufficiently closely into the sketches of
butterflies to notice that the delicately drawn veins of the wings
were exact representations, in plan, of their own fort, and that the
spots on the wings denoted the number and position of guns and their
different calibres.

On another occasion I found it a simple disguise to go as a fisherman
into the country which I wanted to examine.

My business was to find some passes in the mountains, and report
whether they were feasible for the passage of troops. I therefore
wandered up the various streams which led over the hills, and
by quietly fishing about I was able to make surveys of the whole

But on one occasion a countryman constituted himself my guide, and
insisted on sticking to me all the morning, showing me places where
fish could be caught. I was not, as a matter of fact, much of a
fisherman at that time, nor had I any desire to catch fish, and my
tackle was of a very ramshackle description for the purpose.

I flogged the water assiduously with an impossible fly, just to keep
the man's attention from my real work, in the hope that he would
eventually get tired of it and go away. But not he! He watched me with
the greatest interest for a long time, and eventually explained that
he did not know anything about fly fishing, but had a much better
system of getting the fish together before casting a worm or

His system he then proceeded to demonstrate, which was to spit into
the water. This certainly attracted a run of fish, and then he said
that if only he had a worm he could catch any number.

I eventually got rid of him by sending him to procure such, and while
he was away I made myself scarce and clambered over the ridge to
another valley.


Spying brings with it a constant wearing strain of nerves and mind,
seeing that it involves certain death for a false step in war or
imprisonment in peace. The Government promises to give no help
whatever to its servant if caught. He is warned to keep no notes, to
confide in no one, to use disguises where necessary, and to shift for
himself entirely.

[Illustration: _The matter of disguise is not so much one of
theatrical make-up as of being able to secure a totally different
character in voice and mannerisms, and especially of gait in walking
and appearance from behind. A man may effect a wonderful disguise in
front, yet be instantly recognised by a keen eye from behind. This is
a point which is frequently forgotten by beginners, and yet is one
of the most important. The first and third figures show an effective
make-up in front, but the second figure, a back-view, shows how easily
the man may be recognised by a person behind him. The fourth and fifth
sketches show, by means of dotted lines, how the "back-view" can be
altered by change of clothing and gait._]

The matter of disguise is not so much one of a theatrical
make-up--although this is undoubtedly a useful art--as of being
able to assume a totally different character, change of voice and
mannerisms, especially of gait in walking and appearance from behind.

This point is so often forgotten by beginners, and yet it is one of
the most important.

I was at one time watched by a detective who one day was a
soldierly-looking fellow and the next an invalid with a patch over
his eye. I could not believe it was the same man until I watched him
from behind and saw him walking, when at once his individuality was

For mannerisms, a spy has by practice to be able to show an impediment
in his speech one day, whereas the next a wiggle of an eyelid or a
snuffling at the nose will make him appear a totally different being.

For a quick change, it is wonderful what difference is made by merely
altering your hat and necktie. It is usual for a person addressing
another to take note of his necktie, and probably of his hat, if of
nothing else, and thus it is often useful to carry a necktie and a
cap of totally different hue from that which you are wearing, ready to
change immediately in order to escape recognition a few minutes later.

[Illustration: _This illustration shows how the writer was able to
disguise himself at very short notice when he observed that he was
recognised on a railway station. The first sketch shows him as he
entered a waiting-room shortly after his suspicions were aroused.
The second depicts him on his exit a few minutes later. The disguise,
simple though it may seem, was entirely successful._]

I learnt this incidentally through being interviewed some years ago at
a railway station. A few minutes after the ordeal I found myself close
up to my interviewer, when he was re-telling the incident to a brother
journalist, who was also eager to find me. "He is down there, in one
of the last carriages of the train. You will know him at once; he is
wearing a green Homburg hat and a red tie, and a black coat."

Fortunately I had a grey overcoat on my arm, in which was a travelling
cap and a comforter. Diving into the waiting-room, I effected a "quick
change" into these, crammed my hat into my pocket, and tottered back,
with an invalid shuffle, to my carriage. I re-entered it under the
nose of the waiting reporter without being suspected, and presently
had the pleasure of being carried away before him unassailed.

On a recent occasion in my knowledge a man was hunted down into a back
street which was a _cul-de-sac_, with no exit from it. He turned into
the door of a warehouse and went up some flights of stairs, hoping to
find a refuge, but, finding none, he turned back and came down again
and faced the crowd which was waiting outside, uncertain which house
he had entered.

By assuming extreme lameness in one leg, hunching up one shoulder,
and jamming his hat down over a distorted-looking face, he was able
to limp boldly down among them without one of them suspecting his

In regard to disguises, hair on the face--such as moustache or
beard--are very usually resorted to for altering a man's appearance
but these are perfectly useless in the eye of a trained detective
unless the eyebrows also are changed in some way.

[Illustration: _Another instance of how an effective disguise can be
assumed on the spur of the moment. This disguise was effected in two

[Illustration: _The use of hair in disguising the face is perfectly
useless unless the eyebrows are considerably changed. The brow and the
back of the head are also extremely important factors in the art of

_The second picture shows the effect of "improving" the eyebrows of
the face on the left, and also of raising the hair on the brow, while
the third sketch shows what a difference the addition of a beard and
extra hair on the back of the head, can make._]

I remember meeting a man on the veldt in South Africa bronzed and
bearded, who came to me and said that he had been at school with one
of my name. As he thrust his hat back on his head I at once recognised
the brow which I had last seen at Charterhouse some twenty-five years
before, and the name and nickname at once sprang to my lips. "Why, you
are Liar Jones," I exclaimed. He said, "My name is Jones, but I was
not aware of the 'Liar.'"

"In altering your face you must remember that 'improved' eyebrows
alter the expression of the face more than any beards, shaving, etc.
Tattoo marks can be painted on the hands or arms, to be washed off
when you change your disguise.... Disguising by beginners is almost
invariably overdone in front and not enough behind.... Before
attempting to be a spy first set yourself to catch a spy, and thus
learn what faults to avoid as likely to give you away." [_Aids to
Scouting_, p. 136.]

It fell to my lot at one time to live as a plumber in South-east
London, and I grew a small "goatee" beard, which was rather in vogue
amongst men of that class at that time.

One day, in walking past the Naval and Military Club in Piccadilly
in my workman's get-up, I passed an old friend, a major in the
Horse Artillery, and almost without thinking I accosted him by his
regimental nickname. He stared and wondered, and then supposed that I
had been a man in his battery, and could not believe his eyes when I
revealed my identity.

I was never suspected by those among whom I went, and with whom I
became intimate. I had nominally injured my arm in an accident and
carried it in a sling, and was thus unable to work, or what was also a
blessing, to join in fights in which my friends from time to time got
involved. My special companion was one Jim Bates, a carpenter. I lost
sight of him for some years, and when next I met him he was one of the
crowd at a review at Aldershot, where I was in full rig as an Hussar
officer. It was difficult to persuade him that I was his former friend
the plumber.

Later on, when employed on a reconnaissance mission in South Africa,
I had grown a red beard to an extent that would have disguised me from
my own mother. Coming out of the post office of a small country town,
to my surprise I came up against the Colonel of my regiment, who was
there for an outing. I at once--forgetting my disguise--accosted him
with a cheery "Hullo, Colonel, I didn't know you were here," and
he turned on me and stared for a minute or two, and then responded
huffily that he did not know who I was. As he did not appear to want
to, I went my ways, and only reminded him months later of our brief


Undoubtedly spying would be an intensely interesting sport even if no
great results were obtainable from it. There is a fascination which
gets hold of anyone who has tried the art. Each day brings fresh
situations and conditions requiring quick change of action and
originality to meet them.

Here are a few instances from actual experiences. None of these are
anything out of the common, but are merely the everyday doings of the
average agent, but they may best explain the sporting value of the

One of the attractive features of the life of a spy is that he has,
on occasion, to be a veritable Sherlock Holmes. He has to notice the
smallest of details, points which would probably escape the untrained
eye, and then he has to put this and that together and deduce a
meaning from them.

I remember once when carrying out a secret reconnaissance in South
Africa I came across a farmhouse from which the owner was absent at
the moment of my arrival. I had come far and would have still further
to go before I came across any habitation, and I was hard up for a
lodging for the night.

After off-saddling and knee-haltering my horse, I looked into the
various rooms to see what sort of a man was the inhabitant. It needed
only a glance into his bedroom in this ramshackle hut to see that he
was one of the right sort, for there, in a glass on the window-sill,
were two tooth-brushes.

I argued that he was an Englishman and of cleanly habits, and would do
for me as a host--and I was not mistaken in the result!


The game of Hide-and-Seek is really one of the best games for a boy,
and can be elaborated until it becomes scouting in the field. It
teaches you a lot.

I was strongly addicted to it as a child, and the craft learned in
that innocent field of sport has stood me in good stead in many a
critical time since. To lie flat in a furrow among the currant bushes
when I had not time to reach the neighbouring box bushes before
the pursuer came in sight taught me the value of not using the most
obvious cover, since it would at once be searched. The hunters went at
once to the box bushes as the likely spot, while I could watch their
doings from among the stems of the currant bushes.

Often I have seen hostile scouts searching the obvious bits of cover,
but they did not find _me_ there; and, like the elephant hunter among
the fern trees, or a boar in a cotton crop, so a boy in the currant
bushes is invisible to the enemy, while he can watch every move of the
enemy's legs.

This I found of value when I came to be pursued by mounted military
police, who suspected me of being a spy at some manoeuvres abroad.
After a rare chase I scrambled over a wall and dropped into an orchard
of low fruit trees. Here squatting in a ditch, I watched the legs of
the gendarmes' horses while they quartered the plantation, and when
they drew away from me I crept to the bank of a deep water channel
which formed one of the boundaries of the enclosure. Here I found
a small plank bridge by which I could cross, but before doing so I
loosened the near end, and passed over, dragging the plank after me.

On the far side the country was open, and before I had gone far the
gendarmes spied me, and after a hurried consultation, dashed off at
a gallop for the nearest bridge, half a mile away. I promptly turned
back, replaced my bridge and recrossed the stream, throwing the plank
into the river, and made my way past the village to the next station
down the line while the horsemen were still hunting for me in the
wrong place.

Another secret that one picked up at the game of Hide-and-Seek was,
if possible, to get above the level of the hunter's eye, and to
"freeze"--that is, to sit tight without a movement, and, although not
in actual concealment, you are very apt to escape notice by so doing.
I found it out long ago by lying flat along the top of an ivy-clad
wall when my pursuers passed within a few feet of me without looking
up at me. I put it to the proof later on by sitting on a bank beside
the road, just above the height of a man, but so near that I might
have touched a passer-by with a fishing-rod; and there I sat without
any concealment and counted fifty-four wayfarers, out of whom no more
than eleven noticed me.

The knowledge of this fact came in useful on one of my investigating
tours. Inside a great high wall lay a dockyard in which, it was
rumoured, a new power-house was being erected, and possibly a dry dock
was in course of preparation.

It was early morning; the gates were just opened; the workmen were
beginning to arrive, and several carts of materials were waiting to
come in. Seizing the opportunity of the gates being open, I gave a
hurried glance in, as any ordinary passer-by might do. I was promptly
ejected by the policeman on duty in the lodge.

I did not go far. My intention was to get inside somehow and to see
what I could. I watched the first of the carts go in, and noticed that
the policeman was busily engaged in talking to the leading wagoner,
while the second began to pass through the gate. In a moment I jumped
alongside it on the side opposite to the janitor, and so passed in and
continued to walk with the vehicle as it turned to the right and wound
its way round the new building in course of construction.

I then noticed another policeman ahead of me and so I kept my position
by the cart, readapting its cover in order to avoid him. Unfortunately
in rounding the corner I was spied by the first policeman, and he
immediately began to shout to me (_see map_). I was deaf to his
remarks and walked on as unconcernedly as a guilty being could till
I placed the corner of the new building between him and me. Then I
fairly hooked it along the back of the building and rounded the far
corner of it. As I did so I saw out of the tail of my eye that he was
coming full speed after me and was calling policeman No. 2 to his aid.
I darted like a red-shank round the next corner out of sight of both
policemen, and looked for a method of escape.

[Illustration: _The dotted line in this plan shows my route, small
figures are policemen looking for me._]

The scaffolding of the new house towered above me, and a ladder led
upwards on to it. Up this I went like a lamplighter, keeping one eye
on the corner of the building lest I should be followed.

I was half-way up when round the corner came one of the policemen.
I at once "froze." I was about fifteen feet above sea level and not
twenty yards from him. He stood undecided with his legs well apart,
peering from side to side in every direction to see where I had gone,
very anxious and shifty. I was equally anxious but immovable.

Presently he drew nearer to the ladder and, strangely enough, I felt
safer when he came below me, and he passed almost under me, looking in
at the doorways of the unfinished building. Then he doubtfully turned
and looked back at a shed behind him, thinking I might have gone in
there, and finally started off, and ran on round the next corner of
the building. The moment he disappeared I finished the rest of my run
up the ladder and safely reached the platform of the scaffolding.

The workmen were not yet upon the building, so I had the whole place
to myself. My first act was to look for another ladder as a line of
escape in case of being chased. It is always well to have a back door
to your hiding place; that is one of the essentials in scouting.

Presently I found a short ladder leading from my platform to the
stage below, but it did not go to the ground. Peering quietly over the
scaffolding, I saw my friend the policeman below, still at fault. I
blessed my stars that he was no tracker, and therefore had not seen my
footmarks leading to the foot of the ladder.

Then I proceeded to take note of my surroundings and to gather
information. Judging from the design of the building, its great
chimneys, etc., I was actually on the new power-house. From my post
I had an excellent view over the dockyard, and within 100 feet of me
were the excavation works of the new dock, whose dimensions I could
easily estimate.

I whipped out my prismatic compass and quickly took the bearings of
two conspicuous points on the neighbouring hills, and so fixed the
position which could be marked on a large scale map for purposes of
shelling the place, if desired.

Meantime my pursuer had called the other policeman to him, and they
were in close confabulation immediately below me, where I could
watch them through a crack between two of the foot-boards. They had
evidently come to the conclusion that I was not in the power-house as
the interior was fully open to view, and they had had a good look into
it. Their next step was to examine the goods shed close by, which was
evidently full of building lumber, etc.

One man went into it while the other remained outside on the line
that I should probably take for escaping, that is, between it and
the boundary wall leading to the gateway. By accident rather than by
design he stood close to the foot of my ladder, and thus cut off my
retreat in that direction. While they were thus busy they were leaving
the gate unguarded, and I thought it was too good a chance to be
missed, so, returning along the scaffolding until I reached the small
ladder, I climbed down this on to the lower story, and, seeing no one
about, I quickly swarmed down one of the scaffolding poles and landed
safely on the ground close behind the big chimney of the building.

Here I was out of sight, although not far from the policeman guarding
the ladder; and, taking care to keep the corner of the building
between us, I made my way round to the back of the lodge, and then
slipped out of the gate without being seen.


I was once in a country where the mountain troops on their frontier
were said to be of a wonderfully efficient kind, but nobody knew much
about their organisation or equipment or their methods of working, so
I was sent to see if I could find out anything about them, I got in
amongst the mountains at the time when their annual manoeuvres were
going on, and I found numbers of troops quartered in the valleys
and billeted in all the villages. But these all appeared to be the
ordinary type of troops, infantry, artillery of the line, etc. The
artillery were provided with sledges by which the men could pull the
guns up the mountain sides with ropes, and the infantry were supplied
with alpenstocks to help them in getting over the bad ground. For
some days I watched the manoeuvres, but saw nothing very striking to

Then one evening in passing through a village where they were billeted
I saw a new kind of soldier coming along with three pack mules. He
evidently belonged to those mountain forces of which, so far, I had
seen nothing. I got into conversation with him, and found that he
had come down from the higher ranges in order to get supplies for his
company which was high up among the snow peaks, and entirely out of
reach of the troops manoeuvring on the lower slopes.

He incidentally told me that the force to which he belonged was a
very large one, composed of artillery and infantry, and that they
were searching amongst the glaciers and the snows for another force
which was coming as an enemy against them, and they hoped to come
into contact with them probably the very next day. He then roughly
indicated to me the position in which his own force was bivouacking
that night, on the side of a high peak called the "Wolf's Tooth."

By condoling with him on the difficult job he would have to get
through, and suggesting impossible roads by which he could climb, he
eventually let out to me exactly the line which the path took, and I
recognised that it would be possible to arrive there during the night
without being seen.

So after dark, when the innkeeper thought I was safely in bed, I
quietly made my way up the mountain side to where the "Wolf's Tooth"
stood up against the starry sky as a splendid landmark to guide me.
There was no difficulty in passing through the village with its groups
of soldiers strolling about off duty, but on the roads leading out of
it many sentries were posted, and I feared that they would scarcely
let me pass without inquiring as to who I was and where I was going.

So I spent a considerable time in trying to evade these, and was at
last fortunate in discovering a storm drain leading between high walls
up a steep bank into an orchard, through which I was able to slip away
unseen by the sentries guarding the front of the village. I climbed up
by such paths and goat tracks as I could find leading in the direction
desired. I failed to strike the mule path indicated by my friend
the driver, but with the peak of the Wolf's Tooth outlined above me
against the stars, I felt that I could not go far wrong--and so it
proved in the event.

It was a long and arduous climb, but just as dawn began to light up
the eastern sky I found myself safely on the crest, and the twinkling
of the numerous camp fires showed me where the force was bivouacked
which I had come to see.

As the daylight came on the troops began to get on the move, and,
after early coffee, were beginning to spread themselves about the
mountain side, taking up positions ready for attack or defence, so
as it grew lighter I hastened to find for myself a comfortable little
knoll, from which I hoped to be able to see all that went on without
myself being seen; and for a time all went particularly well.

Troops deployed themselves in every direction. Look-out men with
telescopes were posted to spy on the neighbouring hills, and I could
see where the headquarters staff were gathered together to discuss
the situation. Gradually they came nearer to the position I myself was
occupying, and divided themselves into two parties; the one with the
general remained standing where they were, while the other came in the
direction of the mound on which I was lying.

Then to my horror some of them began to ascend my stronghold.

I at once stood up and made no further efforts at concealment, but got
out my sketch book and started to make a drawing of "Dawn Among the
Mountains." I was very soon noticed, and one or two officers walked
over to me and entered into conversation, evidently anxious to find
out who I was and what was my business there.

My motto is that a smile and a stick will carry you through any
difficulty; the stick was obviously not politic on this occasion; I
therefore put on a double extra smile and showed them my sketch book,
explaining that the one ambition of my life was to make a drawing of
the Wolf's Tooth by sunrise.

They expressed a respectful interest, and then explained that their
object in being there was to make an attack from the Wolf's Tooth on
the neighbouring mountain, provided that the enemy were actually in
possession of it. I on my part showed a mild but tactful interest in
their proceedings.

The less interest I showed, the more keen they seemed to be to explain
matters to me, until eventually I had the whole of their scheme
exposed before me, illustrated by their own sketch maps of the
district, which were far more detailed and complete than anything of
the kind I had seen before.

In a short time we were on the best of terms; they had coffee going
which they shared with me, while I distributed my cigarettes and
chocolates amongst them. They expressed surprise at my having climbed
up there at that early hour, but were quite satisfied when I explained
that I came from Wales, and at once jumped to the conclusion that I
was a Highlander, and asked whether I wore a kilt when I was at home.

In the middle of our exchange of civilities the alarm was given that
the enemy was in sight, and presently we saw through our glasses long
strings of men coming from all directions towards us over the snows.
Between us and the enemy lay a vast and deep ravine with almost
perpendicular sides, traversed here and there by zig-zagging goat

Officers were called together, the tactics of the fight were described
to them, and in a few minutes the battalion and company commanders
were scattered about studying with their glasses the opposite
mountain, each, as they explained to me at the time, picking out for
himself and for his men a line for ascending to the attack.

Then the word was given for the advance, and the infantry went off in
long strings of men armed with alpenstocks and ropes. Ropes were used
for lowering each other down bad places, and for stringing the men
together when they got on to the snows to save them from falling
into crevasses, etc. But the exciting point of the day was when the
artillery proceeded to move down into the ravine; the guns were all
carried in sections on the backs of mules, as well as their ammunition
and spare parts.

In a few minutes tripods were erected, the mules were put into slings,
guns and animals were then lowered one by one into the depths below
until landed on practicable ground. Here they were loaded up again and
got into their strings for climbing up the opposite mountains, and in
an incredibly short space of time both mules and infantry were to be
seen, like little lines of ants, climbing by all the available tracks
which could be found leading towards the ice fields above.

The actual results of the field day no longer interested me; I had
seen what I had come for--the special troops, their guns, their supply
and hospital arrangements, their methods of moving in this apparently
impassable country, and their maps and ways of signalling.

All was novel, all was practical. For example, on looking at one of
the maps shown to me, I remarked that I should have rather expected to
find on it every goat track marked, but the officer replied that there
was no need for that; every one of his men was born in this valley,
and knew every goat track over the mountain. Also a goat track did not
remain for more than a few weeks, or at most a few months, owing to
landslips and washouts; they are continually being altered, and to
mark them on a map would lead to confusion.


My mountain climbing came into use on another occasion of a somewhat
similar kind. A map had been sent me by my superiors of a mountainous
district in which it had been stated that three forts had recently
been built. It was only known generally what was the situation of
these forts, and no details had been secured as to their size or

On arriving at the only town in the neighbourhood, my first few
days were spent strolling about looking generally at the mountains
amongst which the forts were supposed to be. I had meantime made the
acquaintance through my innkeeper of one or two local sportsmen of the
place, and I inquired among them as to the possibilities of partridge
or other shooting among the mountains when the season came on.

I told them that I enjoyed camping out for a few days at a time in
such country for sketching and shooting purposes. I asked as to the
possibilities of hiring tents and mules to carry them, and a good
muleteer was recommended to me, who knew the whole of the countryside,
and could tell me all the likely spots that there were for camping

Eventually I engaged him to take me for a day or two in exploring the
neighbourhood, with a view to fixing on camping grounds and seeing the
view. We went for a considerable distance along a splendid high road
which led up into the mountains. As we got into the high parts he
suggested that we should leave the road and clamber down into the
ravine, along which we could go for some distance and then reascend
and rejoin the road higher up.

He then explained that this was a military road, and that it would be
desirable to leave it for a space in order to avoid the guard-house
upon it, where a sentry was posted with orders to allow no one beyond
that point.

We successfully evaded the guard-house according to his direction, and
eventually found ourselves on the road again, in a position well up
towards the top of the ridge; but on our left as we progressed up the
road was a steep minor ridge which we presently proceeded to ascend.

When we were near the top he said to me with a knowing grin:--

"Now if you look over there, you will see before you exactly what you

And as I looked over I found below me one of the new forts. It was
exactly what I wanted to see spread before my eyes like a map. I
simply had to take a bird's-eye view of it to get its complete plan.

Beyond it on another ridge lay another fort, and almost behind me I
could see part of the third, while beyond and above were still more
forts up on the heights. I had got into a regular nest of them.
My position on the ridge gave me a splendid view of mountains, and
referring to them I said:--

"Yes, indeed, you have brought me to exactly the right spot."

But he grinned again maliciously, pointing down to the fort, and

"Yes, but that is the best view of all, I think."

He seemed to grasp my intentions most fully. Far below the forts
lay the straits which they were designed to protect for the vessels
steaming through them. I started at once to make a sketch of the
panorama, carefully omitting that ground where the forts lay, partly
in order to disarm my friend's suspicions, and partly to protect me in
the event of my arrest.

Presently my companion volunteered to go down to the fort and bring
up his brother, who, he said, was a gunner stationed there, and could
give me every detail that I could wish about their guns, etc.

This sounded almost too good to be true, but with the greatest
indifference I said I should be glad to see him, and off went my
friend. The moment that he was out of sight I took care to move off
into a neighbouring kopje where I could hide myself in case of his
bringing up a force of men to capture me.

From here I was able to make a pretty accurate sketch of the fort and
its gun emplacements on the inside of the lining of my hat, and when I
had replaced this I went on as hurriedly as possible with my sketch to
show that I had been fully occupied during the guide's absence.

Presently I saw him returning, but as he was only accompanied by one
other man, I crept down again to my original position and received
them smiling.

The gunner was most communicative, and told me all about his guns and
their sizes and what were their powers as regards range and accuracy.
He told me that once a year an old vessel that was about to be broken
up was towed along behind a steamer down the straits to afford a
target to the defence forts as she passed on. He said regretfully:--

"We are number three fort, and so far, no vessel has ever successfully
passed one and two--they always get sunk before they reach us"--and he
gave me the exact range and the number of rounds fired, which showed
that their shooting was pretty good.

Many other details I found out as to the number of the men, their
feeding and hospital arrangements; and a few days later I was able
to take myself home with a good stock of valuable information and
the good wishes and hopes of my various friends that I some day would
return to shoot the partridges. But I am certain that one man was not
taken in by my professions, either as an artist or as a sportsman, and
that was the muleteer.


On another occasion I wanted to ascertain what value there was in the
musketry training of a foreign infantry. Also it had been reported
that they had recently acquired a new form of machine gun which was a
particularly rapid firer and very accurate in its effects. Its calibre
was known, and its general pattern (from photographs), but its actual
capabilities were still a matter of conjecture.

On this occasion I thought the simplest way would be to go
undisguised. Without any concealment I went to stay in garrison towns
where I happened to know one or two officers. I obtained introductions
to other officers, and gradually became their companion at meals and
at their evening entertainments. They mounted me on their horses, I
rode with them on their rounds of duty, and I came to be an attendant
at their field days and manoeuvres; but whenever we approached the
rifle ranges I was always politely but firmly requested to go no
further, but to await their return, since the practice was absolutely
confidential. I could gain no information from them as to what went on
within the enclosure where the rifle range was hidden.

Two of my English friends one day incautiously stopped at the entrance
gate to one of the ranges, and were promptly arrested and kept in the
guard-room for some hours, and finally requested to leave the place,
without getting much satisfaction out of it. So I saw that caution
was necessary. Little by little, especially after some very cheerful
evenings, I elicited a certain amount of information from my friends
as to what the new machine gun did and was likely to do, and how their
soldiers could of course never hit a running target, since it was with
the greatest difficulty they hit the standing one at all. But more
than this it was impossible to get.

However, I moved on to another military station, where as a stranger
I tried another tack. The rifle ranges were surrounded by a belt
of trees, outside of which was an unclimbable fence guarded by two
sentries, one on either side. It seemed impossible to get into or even
near the range without considerable difficulty.

One day I sauntered carelessly down in the direction of the range at
a point far away from the entrance gate, and here I lay down on the
grass as if to sleep, but in reality to listen and take the rate of
the shooting from the sound and also the amount of success by the
sound of the hits on the iron target. Having gained a certain amount
of data in this way, I approached more nearly in the hope of getting a
sight of what was going on.

While the sentry's back was turned I made a rush for the fence, and
though I could not get over, I found a loose plank through which I was
able to get a good view of what was happening.

While engaged at this, to my horror the sentry suddenly turned on his
tracks and came back towards me. But I had been prepared against such
eventualities, and jamming back the plank into its place, I produced
from my pocket a bottle of brandy which I had brought for the purpose.
Half of it had been already sprinkled over my clothes, so that when
the man approached he found me in a state of drunkenness, smelling
vilely of spirits, and profuse in my offers to him to share the

[Illustration: _The above sketch shows the writer in a tight place.
He was discovered in close proximity to a rifle range by a German
sentry. He pretended to be intoxicated, and so escaped. But it was a
close shave._]

He could make nothing of me, and therefore gently but firmly conducted
me to the end of his beat and thrust me forth and advised me to go
home, which I did in great content....


The practice of spying has one unfortunate tendency: it teaches one
to trust no one, not even a would-be benefactor. A foreign country
had recently manufactured a new form of field gun which was undergoing
extensive secret trials, which were being conducted in one of her
colonies in order to avoid being watched. I was sent to find out
particulars of this gun. On arrival in the colony I found that a
battery of new guns was carrying out experiments at a distant point
along the railway.

The place was by all description merely a roadside station, with not
even a village near it, so it would be difficult to go and stay there
without being noticed at once. The timetable, however, showed that
the ordinary day train stopped there for half an hour for change of
engines, so I resolved to see what I could do in the space of time

We jogged along in the local train happily enough and stopped at every
little station as we went. At one of these a Colonial farmer entered
my carriage, and though apparently ill and doleful, we got into
conversation on the subject of the country and the crops.

At length we drew up at the station where the guns were said to be.
Eagerly looking from the window, my delight may be imagined when I
saw immediately outside the station yard the whole battery of guns
standing parked.

Everybody left the train to stretch their legs, and I did not lose
a moment in hurrying through the station and walking out to have a
closer look at what I had come to see.

The sentry on the guns was on the further side from me, and therefore
I was able to have a pretty close look at the breech action and
various other items before he could come round to my side. But he very
quickly noticed my presence, and not only came himself, but shouted to
another man whom I had not so far seen behind a corner of the station

This was the corporal of the guard, who rushed at me and began abusing
me with every name he could lay his tongue to for being here without
permit. I tried to explain that I was merely a harmless passenger by
the train coming out to stretch my legs, and had never noticed his
rotten old guns? But he quickly shoo'd me back into the station.

I betook myself once more to the carriage, got out my field glasses,
and continued my investigations from the inside of the carriage, where
I had quite a good view of the guns outside the station, and was able
to note a good deal of information painted on them as to their weight,
calibre, etc. Suddenly in the midst of my observations I found the
view was obscured, and looking up, I found the face of the corporal
peering in at me; he had caught me in the act. But nothing more came
of it at the moment.

My farmer friend presently returned to his place, the whistle sounded,
and the train lumbered on.

When I resumed conversation with the Colonist I remarked on his
invalid appearance and enquired about his health. The poor man, with
tears running down his cheeks, then confessed to me it was not illness
of body, but worry of the mind that was preying upon him.

He had utterly failed in his attempt at making a successful farm, and
had entered the train with the idea of cutting his throat, and would
have done so had I not been there to prevent him. Life was over for
him, and he did not know what to do. I got him to talk about his
losses, and offered suggestions to him based on the experiences of a
friend of mine who was also a farmer in that country, and who for ten
years had failed until the right method came to him in the eleventh
year, and he was now making his business a huge success.

This put hope at once into my volatile companion. He bucked up and
became cheerful and confidential. Finally he said:

"You have done me a good turn. I will do something for you. I know
that you are a German spy, and I know that you are going to be
arrested at the station where this train stops for the night. You were
spotted by a non-commissioned officer at the last station, and while
I was in the telegraph office he came in and sent a telegram to the
Commandant of the terminal station, reporting that a German spy had
been examining the guns and was travelling by this train in this

I at once laughed genially at the mistake made, and explained to him
that I was not a German at all. He replied that that would not avail
me--I should be arrested all the same if I went on to the end of the

"But," he suggested, "I shall be getting out myself at the very next
station to go back to my farm, and my advice to you is to get out
there also. You will find a good inn where you can put up for the
night, and to-morrow morning the early train will take you on clean
through that very station where the military commandant will be on the
look-out for you to-night."

I replied that, as an Englishman, I had nothing to fear, and I should
go on.

At the next station accordingly he got out, and after an affectionate
farewell, I went on. But there was yet another station between this
and the night stop, and on arrival there I took the hint of my friend
and got out and spent the night at the little inn of the place.
Following his advice still further, I took the early train next
morning and ran through the place where they had been looking out
for me. I had not got out when he invited me to at his station lest
his invitation might merely have been a trap to test whether I was a
spy; had I accepted it, no doubt he might have had friends at hand
to arrange my arrest. As it was, I came away scot free with all the
information I wanted about the new gun.


A big new Turkish fort had been recently built, and my business was to
get some idea of its plan and construction. From my inn in the town
I sauntered out early one morning before sunrise, hoping to find no
sentries awake, so that I could take the necessary angles and pace the
desired bases in order to plot in a fairly accurate plan of it.

To some extent I had succeeded when I noticed among the sandhills
another fellow looking about, and, it seemed to me, trying to dodge
me. This was rather ominous, and I spent some of my time trying to
evade this "dodger," imagining that he was necessarily one of the
guard attempting my capture.

In evading him, unfortunately, I exposed myself rather more than usual
to view from the fort, and presently was challenged by one of the
sentries. I did not understand his language, but I could understand
his gesture well enough when he presented his rifle and took
deliberate aim at me. This induced me to take cover as quickly
as might be behind a sandhill, where I sat down and waited for a
considerable time to allow the excitement to cool down.

Presently, who should I see creeping round the corner of a
neighbouring sandhill but my friend the "dodger"! It was too late to
avoid him, and the moment he saw me he appeared to wish to go away
rather than to arrest me. We then recognised that we were mutually
afraid of each other, and therefore came together with a certain
amount of diffidence on both sides.

However, we got into conversation, in French, and I very soon found
that, although representatives of different nationalities, we were
both at the same game of making a plan of the fort. We therefore
joined forces, and behind a sandhill we compared notes as to what
information we had already gained, and then devised a little plan by
which to complete the whole scheme.

My friend took his place in a prominent position with his back to the
fort and commenced to smoke, with every appearance of indifference to
the defence work behind him. This was meant to catch the sentry's eye
and attract his attention while I did some creeping and crawling and
got round the other side of the work, where I was able to complete our
survey in all its details.

[Illustration: _A sketch showing how I and another spy managed to
obtain drawings of a fort absolutely under the eyes of a sentry. The
spy on the right of the picture is doing nothing more than attracting
the attention of the sentry while on the left of the picture I am
making the necessary drawings._]

It was late that night when we met in the "dodger's" bedroom, and we
made complete tracings and finished drawings, each of us taking his
own copy for his own headquarters. A day or two later we took steamer
together for Malta, where we were to part on our respective homeward
journeys--he on his way back to Italy.

As we both had a day or two to wait at Malta, I acted as host to him
during his stay. As we entered the harbour I pointed out to him the
big 110-ton guns which at that time protected the entrance, and were
visible to anybody with two eyes in his head. I pointed out various
other interesting batteries to him which were equally obvious, but
I omitted to mention other parts which would have been of greater
interest to him.

He came away from Malta, however, with the idea that, on the whole, he
had done a good stroke of business for his Government by going there,
and convinced of his luck in getting hold of a fairly simple thing in
the shape of myself to show him around.

It was my good fortune to meet him a few years later, when perhaps
unwittingly he returned the compliment which I had done him in Malta.
He was then in charge of a large arsenal in one of the colonies of his
country. This was situated in a citadel perched on a high ridge with a
rapid river flowing around the base.

My orders at that time were to try and ascertain whether any
organisation existed in this colony for mobilising the natives as
a reserve, should the regular troops be called away for action
elsewhere. Also whether there was any means arranged for arming these
natives; if so, in what way and in what numbers.

Knowing that my friend was quartered in the place, I called upon him
as the first step, without any definite plan in my mind as to how I
was to set about getting the information. He was kind enough to take
me for a tour of inspection round the town, down to the river, and up
in the citadel.

By a lucky chance I got on to the idea that the citadel ought to be
lit with electric light since the water power produced by the torrent
below could work a dynamo at very low cost if properly engineered.
This was so much in my thoughts that as we went through the barracks
and buildings in the fort, I kept pointing out how easily and
inexpensively places might be wired and lit. And I gradually persuaded
him that it was a matter that he should take up and suggest to his

Finally, when he had seen almost everything, my friend remarked: "I
don't suppose you would care to see inside the arsenal, it is so much
like many others you must have seen before." But I assured him that
it would interest me very much; in fact, it was rather essential to
forming any approximate estimate for the lighting; and so he took me

There was gallery after gallery filled with racks of arms, all
beautifully kept, and over the door of each room was the name of
the tribe and the number of men who could be mobilised in the event
of their being required, and the number of arms and the amount of
ammunition that was available for each.

After taking me through two or three rooms, he said: "There are many
more like this, but you have probably seen enough." But I eagerly
exclaimed that I must see the others in order to judge of this
electric lighting scheme. If there were many more rooms it might
necessitate an extra sized dynamo, therefore a greater expense, but
I hoped that by due economy in the number of lamps to be able to keep
down to the original estimate which I had thought of.

So we went steadily through all the rooms, looking at the places where
lamps might be most economically established, and I made calculations
with pencil and paper, which I showed him, while I jotted on my shirt
cuff the names of the tribes and the other information required by my
superiors at home--which I did not show him.

The armament of native auxiliaries and their organisation and numbers
were thus comparatively easily found out--thanks to that little stroke
of luck which I repeat so often comes in to give success whether in
scouting or spying.

But a more difficult job was to ascertain the practical fighting value
of such people.


Reports had got about that some wonderful new guns had been installed
in one of the forts on the Bosphorus and that a great deal of secrecy
was observed in their being put up. It became my duty to go and find
out any particulars about them.

My first day in Constantinople was spent under the guidance of an
American lady in seeing the sights of the city, and when we had
visited almost all the usual resorts for tourists she asked whether
there was anything else that I wanted to see, and to a certain
extent I let her into my confidence when I told her that I would give
anything to see the inside of one of these forts, if it were possible.

She at once said she would be delighted to take me to see her old
friend Hamid Pasha, who was quartered in one of them and was always
willing to give her and her friends a cup of tea.

When we arrived at the gate of the fort the sentry and the officer in
charge would on no account allow us to pass until the lady said that
she was a friend of the Pasha, when we were at once admitted and
passed to his quarters.

He was a charming host, and received us with the greatest kindness,
and after showing us his own quarters and the many curiosities he had
collected he took us all round the fort and pointed out its ancient
and modern devices for defence, and finally showed us its guns. Two
of these, in a somewhat prominent position where they could easily be
seen from outside, were covered with canvas covers.

My excitement naturally grew intense when I saw these, and I secretly
begged the lady to persuade him to allow us to look at them, and he
at once acquiesced, thinking I was an American, and, grinning all over
his face, said, "These are our very latest development."

I almost trembled as the covers were drawn off, and then I recognised
guns, truly of a modern make but not very new nor powerful, and then
he gave away the whole secret by saying: "Of course, we are trying to
impress a certain power with the idea that we are re-arming our forts,
and therefore we are letting it be known that we are keeping these
guns a dead secret and covered from view of any spies."

On another occasion it fell to my lot to inspect some of the defences
of the Dardanelles, and I found it could best be done from the
seaward. This involved my taking passage in an old grain steamer
running between Odessa and Liverpool, and my voyage in her was one of
the most charming and original that it has been my lot to take.

A tramp steamer loaded down with grain until its cargo is almost
running out of the ventilators is--contrary to all expectations--quite
a comfortable boat for cruising in. The captain and his wife lived
in comfortable cabins amidships under the bridge; the after deck was
stocked with pigs and chickens, which fed liberally on the cargo. The
captain's good lady was a Scotch woman, and therefore an excellent

Everything was most clean and comfortable, and the captain most
thoroughly entered into my various schemes for observing and examining
the defences of the coast as we went along.

He allowed me practically to take command of the ship as regards
her course and anchoring. From side to side of the Dardanelles we
wandered, and when we came abreast of one of the forts that needed
study we anchored ship.

Our erratic procedure naturally invited investigation, and when a
Government pilot boat put off to enquire our reason for anchoring in
a certain bay he came to the conclusion that our steering gear was not
in very good order and that we had stopped to repair it.

While the ship was at anchor a boat was lowered and I whiled away the
time, nominally in fishing, but really in cruising about close to the
forts and fishing for information rather than for fish by observing
the different types of the guns employed and sketching their position
and the radius of fire allowed to take them by the splay of their
embrasures; also we took soundings where necessary and made sketch
maps of possible landing places for attacking or other purposes.


Bosnia and Herzegovina were under Austrian protection and were
supplying a new contingent of infantry to the Austrian army. This
force was said to have most marvellous powers of marching and
endurance, something hitherto unheard of among European nations. I was
told off to ascertain how great these powers might be and what was the
secret of their success.

I visited them in their own country. But before I arrived there I
had passed through Montenegro, and I had there received reports from
Montenegrins, which to some extent discounted the high praise given to
them. When I asked a Montenegrin his opinion of his neighbours in the
matter of marching and hill climbing, he could only contemptuously
spit. And then he explained to me that any fool can go uphill, but a
Montenegrin is the only man who can go downhill.

He pointed to the round tower in Cettinje, and told me within it lay
several piles of Turks' head, for the reason that every Montenegrin
who could show a heap of nine Turks' heads gathered by himself was
entitled to a gold medal from the Prince.

Their method of gaining Turks' heads was this:

A party of them would make a raid into Turkish territory and get a
few cattle or women. They would then be pursued by the Turks into the
mountains, and they would make their way hurriedly up the mountain
side just sufficiently far ahead to lead the Turks on to pursue them
eagerly. When the Turks had become well strung out in the pursuit, the
Montenegrins would suddenly turn on them and charge down the mountain

There was no escape for the Turks. They were only ordinary mortals,
and could not run downhill. And he showed me his great bare knee, and
slapping it with pride, he said: "That is what takes you downhill,
and no other nation has a knee like the Montenegrins. And as for the
Bosnians--" then he spat!

However, as the Bosnians were reported to be doing such great things
in the marching line for the Austrian army, my next step was to visit
the Austrian manoeuvres and watch them.

It is usual for a military attaché to be sent officially to watch such
manoeuvres, and he is the guest of the Government concerned. But in
that position, it is very difficult for him to see behind the scenes.
He is only shown what they want him to see. My duty was to go behind
the scenes as much as possible and get other points of view.

I accordingly attached myself to a squad of infantry, with whom I
spent a couple of days and nights. I had come to a certain town, and
could find no room in the place where I could sleep. The hotels were
crammed, and even in the shops men were billeted to sleep on and under
the counters, as also in every garret and archway in the place.

Finally, I went to the station and asked the stationmaster if I could
sleep in a railway carriage. He informed me that all these were filled
with troops; but one of the railway men who came from the signal-box
a short way down the line took pity on me, and told me if I liked
there was his cabin, which I could share with his brother, who was a
corporal, and his squad of men, and that I might find room to lie down

I gladly climbed the steps into the signal-box, and was made welcome
by the corporal and his men in sharing their supplies, and after
supper and a chat I bedded down amongst them.

It was interesting to see how conscientiously this little party did
its work. At every hour during the night the corporal went out and
inspected his sentry, just as if on active service, and patrols were
frequent and reports handed in, although no officer ever came near the

During the next two days we had plenty of experience of marching and
counter-marching, firing and charging; but going along in the rear
of the immense mass of troops one soon realised what enormous wastage
there is in stragglers, and especially those with sore feet. So much
so was this the case that wagons came along, picked up the sore-footed
men, and carried them back to the railway, where every evening a
special train was in attendance to convey them back to their garrison.

A few that were missed out by this operation on the field were
collected into their field hospitals, and thus the numbers shown every
day to the general staff of men admitted to hospital for sore feet was
very small indeed compared with the number that were actually put out
of action from that cause.

It was soon quite evident that my friend the Montenegrin had not spat
without reason, and that the Bosnians were no harder in their feet
than the other nationalities in that variegated army.


I had a very strong fellow feeling for the Austrian army and its
officers. They were so very much like our own, but far more amateurish
in their knowledge and methods of leading; as old-fashioned as the
hills, and liable to make mistakes at every turn.

The only one who seemed to realise this was the aged Emperor himself,
and when he came flying along it was very like the Duke of Cambridge
at his best with a thunderstorm raging.

The army was then commanded by Arch-Dukes, aged men as a rule, and all
intensely nervous as to what the Emperor would think of them when he
came along. One could tell when he was coming by watching the feathers
in their helmets. An Arch-Duke would look very brave in all his war
paint, but if you watched the green feather above him closely you
might notice it trembling with a distinct shiver when the Emperor was
anywhere in the neighbourhood.

Their old-fashioned methods and amateurish leading seem to be paying a
heavy price in the present campaign.


A new method of illuminating the battlefield at night had been
invented on the Continent.

A chemical substance had been manufactured which enabled the user to
turn on a strong light over a wide space at any moment.

Rumour said that it was as powerful as a searchlight, and yet could be
carried in your pocket. But great secrecy was observed both regarding
its composition and its experimental trials.

In the same army a new kind of observation balloon was said to be on
trial equipped with some very up-to-date apparatus.

Also it was reported that, in addition to these aids to effective
reconnaissance, a new method of swimming rivers by cavalry had been
invented by which every man and horse in a cavalry division could
cross wide rivers without difficulty or delay.

Owing to political strain going on in Europe at the time there was the
possibility that these rumours might have been purposely set on foot,
like many others, with a view to giving some moral prestige to the
army concerned.

It became my duty to investigate as far as possible what amount of
truth lay in them.


It was a difficult country to work in owing to the very stringent
police arrangements against spies of every kind, and it looked to be a
most unpromising task to elicit what I wanted to know, because one was
sure of being watched at every turn. As I afterwards discovered, it
was through this multiplicity of police arrangements that one was able
to get about with comparative ease, because if one went boldly enough
it immediately argued to the watchful policeman that someone else was
sure to be observing you.

Moreover, spies generally do their work single-handed, and on this
occasion I was accompanied by my brother, and this made it easier
for us to go about as a pair of tourists interested in the country
generally. A man travelling alone is much more liable to draw
attention upon himself, and therefore to go about under suspicion.

Our entry into the country was not altogether fortunate, because while
yet in the train we managed to get into trouble with the guard over
a window which he insisted on shutting when we wanted it open. In the
same carriage with us was a gentleman of some standing in the country,
and in a fit of absent-mindedness I made a little sketch of him. I
had just completed it when an arm reached down over my shoulder from
behind and the picture was snatched away by the observant guard of the
train and taken off to be used as evidence against me.

The guard of a train in this country, I may say, ranks apparently much
the same as a colonel in the army, and therefore is not a man to be
trifled with. On our arrival at the terminus we found a sort of guard
of honour of gendarmes waiting for us on the platform, and we were
promptly marched off to the police office to account for our procedure
in the train by daring to open the window when the guard wished it
closed, and for drawing caricatures of a "high-born" man in the train.

We made no secret as to our identity and handed our cards to the
commissary of police when we were brought up before him. He was--till
that moment--glaring at us fiercely, evidently deciding what
punishment to give us before he had heard our case at all. But when
he saw my brother's name as an officer in the Guards, he asked: "Does
this mean in the Guards of her Majesty Queen Victoria?" When he heard
it was so his whole demeanour changed. He sprang from his seat, begged
us to be seated, and explained it was all a mistake. Evidently Guards
in his country were in very high repute. He explained to us there
were certain little irritating rules on the railway which had to be
enforced, but, of course, in our case we were not to be bound by such
small bye-laws, and with profuse apologies he bowed us out of the
office, without a stain upon our characters.


We did not live long without the stain. Our first anxiety was to find
where and how it would be possible to see some of this equipment
for which we had come to the country. Manoeuvres were going on at a
place some fifty miles distant, and there, as tourists, we betook
ourselves without delay. We put up at a small inn not far from the
railway-station, and for the next few days we did immense walking
tours, following up the troops and watching them at their work over a
very extended area of country.

At last one day we sighted a balloon hanging in the sky, and we made
a bee line for it until we arrived at its station. When it was hauled
down and anchored to the ground the men went off to the camp to get
their dinners, and the balloon was left without a soul to guard it.
It was not long before we were both inside the car, taking note of
everything in the shape of the instruments and their makers' names,
and so had all the information it was possible to get before the men
came back.


Our next step was to see this wonderful illuminant for night work,
and in the course of our wandering's we came across a large fort from
which searchlights had been showing the previous night. There were
notice boards round this fort at a distance of about twenty yards
apart stating that nobody was allowed within this circle of notices,
and we argued that if once we were inside any sentry or detective
would naturally suppose we had leave to be there.

We tried the idea, and it worked splendidly. We walked calmly through
camps and past sentries without a tremor and not a question was asked
us. Once within this line we were able to get directly into the fort,
and there we strolled along as if the place belonged to us.

There is a certain amount of art required in making yourself not
appear to be a stranger in a new place.

In the minor matter of hat, boots, and necktie it is well to
wear those bought in the country you are visiting, otherwise your
British-made articles are sure to attract the attention of a watchful

In the matter of demeanour you behave as a native would do who was
accustomed to being there.

Walking into a strange fort must be carried out much on the same lines
as you would adopt in entering a strange town, only more so. You walk
as if with a set purpose to get to a certain part of it, as though
you knew the way perfectly, and without showing any kind of interest
in what is around you. If you pass an officer or dignitary whom you
see everybody saluting, salute him too, so that you do not appear
singular. When you want to observe any special feature you loaf about
reading a newspaper or, if in a town, by looking at all you want to
see as reflected in a shop window.

The penalty for spying in this country was five years without the
option of a fine, or even of a trial.

Having walked in like this, and having successfully walked out
again--which is quite another matter--we felt elated with our success
and hung about till nightfall and tried it again after dark. This was
no easy job, as the place was surrounded by outposts very much on the
_qui vive_ for an enemy that was to make a manoeuvre attack during the
night. By keeping to leeward of the general position one was able to
quietly creep along, sniffing the breeze, until one could judge where
there was an outpost and where there was open ground, and in this
manner, smelling our way as we went, we were able to creep through
between the outposts and so gained the fort.


This time it meant slipping through unperceived as far as possible,
and in this we succeeded equally well. By good fortune we arrived
just before experiments commenced with the illuminating rockets.
Everybody's attention was centred on these and no one had time to
notice or observe what we were doing. We watched the preparations and
also the results, and having studied the routine and the geography of
the practice we were in the end able to help ourselves to some of the
rockets and the lighting composition, and with these we eventually
made off. Without delay we placed our treasures in the hands of a
trusty agent who transferred them at once to England.


Our next step was to see how crossing the river was carried out by the
cavalry. From information received we presented ourselves at a certain
spot on the river at a little before ten one morning. The official
attachés had received notice that a brigade of cavalry would swim the
river at this point at ten o'clock, and at ten o'clock their special
train was due to arrive there.

We were there, fortunately, half an hour beforehand, and we saw the
whole brigade come down to the river and file across a fairly deep
ford, where the horses got wet to some extent, but they did not swim.

On the far bank a few men were left behind. These, as it turned out,
were all the men and horses who could actually swim well, and as the
train arrived and the attachés disembarked on to the bank they found
the major part of the brigade already arrived, dripping wet, and the
remainder just swimming over at that moment.

Of course in their reports they stated that they had seen the whole
brigade swimming over. But this is how reports very often get about
which are not strictly true.


Emboldened by our success in getting into the fort by day and night,
we then continued the experiment for several nights in succession,
watching the further practice with searchlights, star shells, and
light rockets. We had, however, collected all the information that was
necessary, and there was no need for us to go there again. But news
reached us that there was to be a final show for the Emperor himself,
and I could not resist the temptation of going once more to the fort,
as I expected there would be a grand pyrotechnic display for this

I got there in good time before the Emperor's arrival, and made my
way into the place as usual, my brother remaining outside to see
the effect of the lights from the attacker's point of view. Inside,
however, all was not quite the same as it had been on previous
occasions. There were a very large number of officers collected
there, and a too larger number of police, officers for my liking. I,
therefore, repented of my intention and took myself out again.

Then as I walked back along the road in the dark I noticed the lights
of the Emperor's _cortege_ coming along towards me. As the first
carriage passed me I did the worst thing in the world I could have
done at such a moment--I turned my head away to avoid being recognised
in the lamplight. My action made the occupants of the first carriage
suspicious. They were some of the staff officers of the Emperor.

In a moment they stopped the carriage, rushed at me, and with scarcely
a word, seized and hustled me into the carriage with them, and drove
back to the fort again. They asked me a few questions as to who I was
and why I was there, and on arrival at the fort I was handed over to
some other officers and again asked my business.

I could only say that I was an Englishman who had been looking on at
the manoeuvres as a spectator and was anxious to find my way to the
station (which was some ten miles away). This was all fairly true, but
not quite good enough for them, and they presently packed me into a
carriage and sent me back--in charge of an officer--to the station,
with a view to my being handed over to the police and removed to the

It was in the days of my apprenticeship, and I had been exceedingly
foolish in taking a few notes, which, although undecipherable, perhaps
would none the less be used as evidence against me.

Therefore, so soon as we were under way I made it my business to
quietly tear these notes up into small pieces, and to drop them out
of the carriage window whenever my guardian was looking the other way.
When we arrived at the station there was some little time to wait, and
I asked if I might go to the inn and collect my belongings. Permission
was granted to me, and I was taken there under the charge of a police

Hastily I packed my bag, and the good officer endeavoured to help me,
packing up anything he could see in the room and thrusting it in with
my things. Unfortunately he kept packing my brother's things in as
well, and so when his back was turned I thrust them back into my
brother's bed, for I did not want it known he was about there too.

Having finally filled my portmanteau, my next care was to leave a
warning lest he too should be entrapped. So while ostensibly paying
the bill to the landlord of the house, who had been called up by the
police, I wrote a warning note on a scrap of paper, which I jammed on
the candle, where my brother could not fail to find it when he came
home later on, and then I went off to the station, and was taken back
to the capital by a Hussar officer of congenial temperament.

With all good feeling and the true hospitality of his kind,
he insisted on buying half a dozen bottles of beer for my
consumption--since I was an Englishman--and he helped me with the
ordeal during the small hours of the morning.

On reaching the capital I was put into a hotel, my passport taken from
me, and I was told that I should be expected to remain there until
called for. In the meantime I might go about the city, but was not
to take myself away without permission. I very soon found that I was
being watched by a detective told off for the purpose, and then it was
that I made the acquaintance of a foreign spy who was acting as waiter
in the hotel. He was so well informed on higher politics, as well
as on military matters, that I guessed he must be an officer of the
intelligence staff, and he was most helpful and kind to me in my

He pointed out to me who were the detectives in the hotel staff, and
informed me that their duty was merely to watch me, to ascertain what
my moves were day by day, and to report them by telephone to the head
police office. He advised me before going out each day to inform the
hall porter, thereby letting the detectives overhear what were my
plans; they would then telephone to the police, who would have their
own detectives watching me while I was out.


Within a short time my brother rejoined me from the manoeuvre area,
but by doing so he at once came under observation and under suspicion,
and we were practically a pair of prisoners. So much was this the case
that a few days later we received a visit at daybreak one morning,
from a friend in power, who was also in touch with the police, and
he advised us that the best course we could take was to escape from
the country while it was possible, he undertaking quietly to make
arrangements for us. The idea was that we should slip away to a
seaport, where we could get on to a British steamer as two of the crew
and so pass out of the country.

That was the scheme. But the difficulty was how to play it off. A ship
was found whose captain was willing to receive us provided that we
could get to him without being observed. With the aid of our friendly
waiter, we let the detective at the hotel understand that we were
tired of being under suspicion, and that we were boldly going to take
the train and leave the country.

At ten o'clock a cab was to come round to take us and our luggage to
the station, and if anybody interfered with us--why, we were freeborn
British, and subject to no man's rule, and the Ambassador and all the
rest of the Powers should hear about it! This was for the information
of the detective, and he merely telephoned it to the police office at
the railway station, where we should be arrested at the point of our

We got into our cab and drove off down the street towards the station
until we were out of sight of the hotel. Then we called to our driver
and said we should like to go to a different station. This course
involved our going to the river-side and taking the ferry.

It was an anxious time. Had we been spotted? Should we be missed? Were
we being followed?

These questions would answer themselves as we progressed with our
plot. The answer, when it came, would mean a tremendous lot to
us--triumph or five years' imprisonment; so we had every right to be
fairly anxious. And yet, somehow, I don't think we were worrying much
about the consequences, but rather were busy with the present--as to
how to evade pursuit and recapture.

Arrived at the ferry we paid off our cabman and made our way to the
quay-side. Here we found a boat which had already been arranged for;
and we made our way safely off to the ship, which was waiting under
steam in midstream to start the moment we were on board.

At this supreme moment my brother had the temerity to argue with the
boatman over the fare. Being now in the last stage of tender-hooks, I
adjured him to give the man double what he asked, if only to be free.
But the brother was calm, and for once--he was right! His display of
want of all anxiety quite diverted any kind of suspicion that might
have attached to us, and in the end we got safely on board and away.


Such are some of the minor experiences which, though not very
sensational in themselves, are yet part of the every-day work of
an "intelligence agent" (_alias_ a spy), and while they tend to
relieve such work of any suspicion of monotony, they add, as a rule,
that touch of romance and excitement to it which makes spying the
fascinating sport that it is.

When one recognises also that it may have invaluable results for one's
country in time of war, one feels that even though it is a time spent
largely in enjoyment, it is not by any means time thrown idly away;
and though the "agent," if caught, may "go under," unhonoured and
unsung, he knows in his heart of hearts that he has done as bravely
for his country as his comrade who falls in battle.

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    Mr. Applin has received considerable assistance from Lady
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       *       *       *       *       *



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