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Title: British Secret Service During the Great War
Author: Everitt, Nicholas
Language: English
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     Not Heaven itself upon the past has power;
     But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.



                 THIS BOOK
              IS DEDICATED TO



TESTAMENTARY DISPOSITIONS                                          27



OF THE LIFE OF A SECRET SERVICE AGENT                              44









OF H.M.S. "AUDACIOUS"--SOLILOQUISING                               97



DEPORTATION--EXULTATION--NEXT, PLEASE                             107



SANCTUARY OF CONVIVIALITY                                         118















WARRANT POSTPONED                                                 170



HARBOUR--SAFE RETURN                                              180



TRAVELLING--DÉNOUEMENT--"AM TAG"                                  190



AT LAST--REMINISCENCES UNTOLD                                     200









MESSAGES--AUTHORITY FOR THE FACTS                                 235



EDWARD GREY--ASQUITH'S PROCRASTINATION                            239



A MAN--A NEGLECTED OPPORTUNITY                                    264

L'ENVOI                                                           317


There is something so mysterious and thrilling about Secret Service that
the subject must inevitably appeal to the public, and especially to the
more imaginative section of it. Secret Service is the theme of Mr.
Nicholas Everitt's book, in which he describes the exciting adventures
that he met with whilst in quest of information of use to his country
during the Great War.

In carrying out his task he proved himself to be a keen observer and a
man of resource. His experience gives point to the old saying that a
man's ability is shewn less in never getting into a scrape, for _humanum
est errare_, than in knowing how to get out of one! There is perhaps no
vocation in which it is easier to get into a tight corner and more
difficult to get out again than in the Secret Service, where the sword
of Damocles often hangs over one's head.

Besides giving an account of his adventures, Mr. Everitt devotes no
small part of his work to criticism of the Foreign Office and its
overseas branches--the Diplomatic and Consular Services. He draws
attention to what he conceives to be their defects and suggests how they
might be remedied.

While not concurring with everything said by the Author in regard to
politics and politicians, I am sufficiently in agreement with the main
features of his book to recommend it to the British Public, because I
believe that publicity is the most potent instrument of Reform.

_February, 1920._


This book is not published with the sole idea of increment to its
builder; it presumes to venture beyond.

When old machinery is continued in use year after year with no thought
for wear and tear, no effort to repair defective parts, and no attempt
to modernise or keep pace with the times, a smash usually follows.

The British Consular Service is a concrete example of such short-sighted
folly. It is so glaringly defective in its all-British efficiency that a
thorough and complete overhaul, with drastic reforms, should be put in
hand without further delay.

The British Diplomatic Service is little better. Its highest positions
are filled by men appointed (in many instances) by influence and not by

The exaggerated dignity, arrogance, and egotistical self-importance of
some ministers abroad is such that the mere mention of trade sets their
teeth on edge, the name of money is too vulgar for their personal
contemplation; while if any matter arises in which their authority or
actions are questioned they tender their resignations like sulky,
petulant children spoilt beyond measure by misguided parents.

Attached to each Chancellery abroad should be a business or commercial
expert, paid a fair and reasonable salary, who should make a study of
British trade interests and who should control the whole consular
service in the country to which he is attached. He should make it his
special business to see that every consul is a born Englishman and that
each is paid a salary commensurate with his position and duties.

Secret Service (if it is to be continued) should be a fully authorised
and recognised department having a real business minister at its head
with absolute control of its organisation, work, and finances. Service
men would naturally be appointed for each separate service department,
whilst civilians should be utilised in useful spheres. Such a
reorganisation would do much to stop the friction which arises when
military, naval, air-service, and other interests overlap, clash, or are
required to work in double harness. The pitiable jealousies with which
Whitehall is saturated have to be seen to be believed. Among the rank
and file this canker-worm has no existence. The affection of one arm of
the service for another is overwhelming, but the higher one investigates
upward in rank and officialdom, the more deep-seated are the roots of
the pernicious evil found to be.

At home our politicians have ever been much too interfering. Our
Government has for all too long been overridden by a multitude of
lawyers who have pushed aside the more efficient business man, while
they interfere with, and attempt to control, colossal matters which they
do not and could not properly be expected to understand, and which ought
to have been left entirely to experts whose lives had been devoted to
the attainment of efficiency therein.

That the Navy should have been deliberately prevented from making our
so-called blockade really effective throughout the war is as
unjustifiable as it has been exasperating to the British Public, whilst
it has been detrimental to the interests of the Empire. More than half
the nation believe that had this matter been treated with a firm,
courageous hand, the war would have been over in eighteen months at
least. Almost the entire nation believed that the war would continue to
drag its disastrous weary course until the Blockade was made really

Part of this book is devoted to this most important issue.

The public of the whole world believe we have a thoroughly active and
efficient Home Secret Service Organisation, working as a separate
independent unit. That is just what we ought to have had and for which
there has ever been an urgent want. This omission is a defect in our
armour which has been directly responsible for the undoubted loss of
valuable lives and the destruction of vast property.

Much too much is left in the hands of the police. It is true our British
Police Force is the best, the most efficient, and the least corrupt in
the whole world. But it is not fair to place upon it more than it can
properly attend to; whilst in any event its powers should be enlarged
and a more elastic discretion extended. In comparison with the police of
other nations, words quite fail the author with which to express his
admiration for our noble and exemplary police administration. Yet its
work could be made more effective if we had a separate and properly
organised Home Secret Service branch, working conjointly with the
police, which could at a moment's notice send down its agents, drawn
from any station in society, with full powers to act and to commandeer
all and every assistance that occasion might require.

Take a simple example in order that the matter may be the better
understood. It is admitted that for many years our East Coast had been
overrun with spies. There are places where two or more counties meet. A
member of the police force for one county has no power, authority, or
discretion enabling him to enter into and to act in another. Thus he
cannot follow a suspect over the county border. In 1916 a certain
female, whose cleverness was only equalled by her personal charms and
powers of fascination, started a tour of our great camps along the
Eastern seaboard. Her movements were reported by non-authorised
observers. Such a case was obviously one requiring delicate
investigation. Owing to lack of the necessary department under notice,
the case automatically devolved into the hands of the police. Our lady
fair is watched and followed. It matters not to her; she can gaily slip
over the county-border by automobile. Long reports have to be made out
and passed through slow and devious channels before the police in the
next county can act. By the time this becomes operative, the elusive one
has returned to the county she left, or she has entered another one--an
evolution which could happen several times in a very short period and
much mischief be done under the nose of authorities absolutely powerless
to act--until too late. It is not difficult to imagine how a home Secret
Service agent, with a private motor-car, would handle such a case; more
particularly when working in conjunction and perfect harmony with the
police generally.

Take another case.

On April 13th, 1916, the author wrote to Whitehall as follows:

     "In a certain Naval Base of considerable importance on the East
     Coast in the autumn of 1914, a complete plant of wireless
     installation was discovered in the private house of an English
     merchant who was known to have business connections abroad, which
     plant was forthwith removed.

     Some months after, a second visit was paid to the same premises and
     further parts of wireless telegraphy were found and taken away, and
     an assurance was given that everything in any way connected with
     wireless had been handed over.

     In the month of March, 1916, the premises were once more visited
     and another complete plant was found to have been installed, which
     was immediately removed.

     In April, 1916, a fourth surprise visit was made upon the same
     premises, when a very ingenious and complete portable wireless
     plant was discovered.

     My information records that the latter of these respective plants
     controlled a radius of only about twenty miles, that they were in
     perfect order and that they had been repeatedly used.

     The man and the occupiers of this house are said to be still at
     large! These facts have given me much food for reflection.

     "Yours, etc."

The Powers-that-be took a _whole week to consider_ this report, the
result of private enterprise; then they suggested a meeting with the
author at any convenient time, for which they added there need be _no
hurry whatsoever_.

Meanwhile on Monday, April 24th, 1916, the manipulator of these terribly
dangerous and unlawful instruments arrived at another naval
base--Lowestoft--_on the eve of its bombardment_ by the German Fleet,
_actually staying at the Royal Hotel, which overlooks the whole
sea-front_ and which was occupied by most of the officers in command of
the base.

Private agitation alone seemed to account for this gentleman's eventual
removal from the East Coast; but it took an unpardonably long time in
its successful accomplishment.

Another ridiculous muddle, which was undoubtedly dangerous to the
welfare of the nation, was the Petrol Fiasco.

Such people as rag-and-bone merchants of possible alien extraction were
permitted petrol in such quantities that they could dispose of it at
good profit, whereas the police, even those in control of big and
important areas, with enormous added responsibilities piled upon their
too willing shoulders, were actually cut down to unworkable limits (one
tin per week, equal to about forty miles)--not enough to cover a journey
of consequence. Furthermore the author was informed by the Head of our
then Secret Service that "he himself was quite unable to move in the
matter." His supply appeared to have been insanely limited.

No one ever doubted but that we should successfully pull through the
war, or that our heroic, unconquerable and magnificent Active Service
man would prove victorious in spite of all the mistakes, the clogs on
the wheels, and the disastrous blundering of interfering
politicians--those Grand Old Muddlers who so persistently blocked their
ears to the motto, "It is never too late to mend," and who so
obstinately declined to "get a move on" until positively spurred into
seemingly reluctant action by the patriotic Northcliffe Press voicing
the fierce indignation of the long suffering British nation.

I venture to predict that Lord Northcliffe will go down in history as
the one man amongst men who has done most towards the winning of the war
and the safeguarding of the future welfare of our beloved British

Regarding the chapters in this book which recount actual experiences of
Secret Service work, I can assure my readers that nothing has been
divulged which touches even the fringe of the important secrets that
every Secret Service agent would proudly guard with his life. Those
things are sacred and would never be intentionally divulged. On the
other hand the records of adventure are not mere efforts at fiction.
They are actual experiences, faintly tinted, maybe, in _couleur de rose_
to raise bald facts into readable narrative. They are also scenes which
are enacted every day on the stage of Life's Theatre, often much nearer
to the circle in which the reader moves than he or she may realise,
imagine, or dream about. They are given in order the better to excite
interest, to exemplify the work which has to be done, and which in the
future may still require attention.

Needless to add that a book of this description has not been permitted
to go to press without difficulties. Much more has been left unsaid than
is said. Much has of necessity been omitted, not only for the sake of
the maintenance of the glory of one's own beloved land, but also for the
sake of the personal future safety and well-being of others besides

Some of the readers of the MS., through whose hands it had to pass
before publication, have commented upon the political amalgam which has
been introduced into the book as not being strictly within the scope of
its title. If any apology is due under this head the author can only
plead justification by reason of his deep and earnest desire for reform
both abroad and at home. In his humble opinion the evils that he exposes
or hints at could not have been brought home to his readers had he
confined himself entirely to the perhaps more interesting narrative of
individual adventure.

So far as the statistics given regarding the blockade leakages are
concerned, he feels they are important enough to carry historical
interest, and should therefore be collated and put on permanent record.
Secret Service agents devoted much time and attention to these details,
and our then Government was or should have been fully alive to the fact
that the so-called blockade was only a ridiculous sham, long before the
_Daily Mail_ campaign opened. Why our Government made no effort to
checkmate, stop, or divert these extraordinary supplies going direct
into the enemy country, is left to the judgment of my readers.

Twice, between Christmas 1914, and Midsummer 1915, I entered German
territory from Denmark and from the sea. After my second visit I was
warned that a head-hunter was looking diligently for me in the hope of
securing a reward which the Germans had secretly offered. This
enterprising individual I sought out, and for a day and a half helped
him with another in the hunt for myself, arguing in my own mind that it
was my safest occupation at that particular time and in that particular
locality. During this short partnership a quarrel ensued regarding the
division of the spoils before they were secured, when I learned that the
sum at first offered had been 10,000 marks but it had then recently been
increased to 25,000. Some compensation remains to me in being able to
look back at this attention on the part of the Hun as a compliment of
some value to my personal activities.

In the spring of 1916, during our military operations in Belgium, a deep
and crafty Alsatian of violent disposition, and of German descent, was
captured by our Tommies, and to save his own skin admitted he had been
employed in the German Foreign Secret Service since the outbreak of war.
Much valuable information was thus obtained; by way of test evidence he
stated that _inter alia_ he had been ordered to endeavour to hold my
trail (I was known to him) during my Baltic wanderings in the late
autumn of 1914; and that although he had persisted in various disguises
he had been led a terrible dance and had been compelled to abandon the
task as hopeless. I was able to corroborate this.

Anyone who has lived a strenuous life of many ups and downs must at
times have rubbed shoulders with celebrities. In later years these
personal reminiscences invariably provide reflections of more than
passing interest.

The author has, from his teens upwards, been swayed with an insatiable
lust for travelling in foreign lands. During these peregrinations his
experiences have been somewhat unique, his adventures many. An
instinctive inquisitiveness has more than once caused his arrest for
trespassing in private places of national importance; whilst
cosmopolitan habits, imbibed from bohemian associations, may have tended
to mould a character adapted for the special work now under

Owing to a fortunate, or unfortunate, lapse of good manners he was on
one occasion--a good many years ago--given ample opportunity to survey
at close quarters the Kaiser, his Empress the Kaiserin, little Willie,
and the then entire German royal family, from the confines of a
guard-room in the grounds of their Imperial Schloss at Potsdam.

The same year Lord Roberts, with General Wood of the U.S.A. Army,
personally escorted him round the most interesting sights of Dresden.
The very next day he was arrested in Bohemia for want of a passport.

In 1895 he accompanied Dr. Leyds, then head of the South African Secret
Service, when he was on his way to Berlin to interview the Kaiser on a
mission of most serious menace to Great Britain on behalf of his master
Oom Paul Kruger; although the author was unaware at the time of the
importance of that mission. Cecil Rhodes he knew as a visitor to his
father's house. Dr. Jamieson he has sported with; Dr. Fridjof Nansen is
no stranger to him; whilst he crossed the North Sea when the submarine
season was in full swing with Ronald Amundsen, that most interesting
discoverer of the South Pole. He was within a stone's-throw of Dr. Sun
Yat Sen, in the province of Kiang So, when the northern Chinese Army of
Yuan Shi Kai surrounded and so nearly captured him during the rebellion
of 1918, on the eve of his escape to Japan. Under the Great Wall of
China on the southern limits of the Gobi desert he was within an ace of
being captured by the notorious renegade "White Wolf"; whilst part of
the band of another equally celebrated bandit, Raisuli, gave him cold
shudders down the spine in 1896, despite the scorching heats of the
Sahara. He has been an unwilling listener to treason from the lips of
one or other of the much-wanted Hardyal or Gardit Singh, who, on the
western foothills of the Rocky Mountains prophesied that Germany would
declare war in the autumn of 1914; whilst in direct contrast to these
unenviable experiences he has been the recipient of hospitality and of
sport as the guest of Royalty; although the enforced formalities
attendant upon such experiences tend to destroy the charm which may be
believed to surround the honour.

Variety has been provided by being brought in contact with Nihilists in
Russia and Siberia; with anarchists in France and Spain; as a trembling
defendant in a stump-head court-martial by backwoodsmen in Western
America, where justice is administered with lightning-like rapidity, and
fatal mistakes often result through misidentification, as was so nearly
the case in his own particularly uncomfortable experience as the unlucky
chief actor in a "hold up" on the trail in British Columbia; and more
than once he has been lost in the untrodden wilds of vast forests. But
these experiences of the ups and downs of life pale and sink into
insignificance when compared with the vortex of the rapid, rushing,
kaleidoscopic changes, the hair-breadth escapes, the blood-curdling
thrills, the risks, the dangers and excitements, which at times are part
and parcel of the life of a Secret Service agent.

Secret Service, Intelligence, Reconnaissance, Investigation Strategical
or Military Agent--use any name you will--the work of each merely
resolves itself for the time being into "the antennæ, or the senses of
fighting units"; the seeing, the hearing, the smelling, or the touching
of a fleet or an army; of what is before, behind, surrounding, or in its
midst. Without its aid few battles could be won and no ultimate victory

Military and naval officers endowed with sufficient intelligence,
brains, and philological ability are, as a rule, very keen to devote
some part of their career to foreign Secret Service. It is believed,
with some certitude, to be the surest step to early promotion; to pave
the way to future advancement. Amongst those who have risen from such a
foundation and who have proved their worth to the British Empire may be
mentioned the late Lord Kitchener, who in Egypt, under various
disguises, penetrated far into the interior. Colonel Burnaby, Lord
Roberts, Sir Richard Burton and hundreds of other distinguished and
prominent men may be included in the category; whilst Lt.-General Sir R.
Baden-Powell eulogises this branch of the service in a book entitled "My
Adventures as a Spy." He writes: "It is an undisputable fact that our
Secret Service has at all times been recruited from men of unblemished
personal honour who would not descend to any act which in their view was
tainted with meanness."

No sane, thinking man would condemn Secret Service agents as following a
dishonourable calling. If it were so, then it would be equally--if not
more--dishonourable to employ, to guide, and to direct them. Yet all
commanders of all nations employ them and have done so from time
immemorial; and if any nation failed to do so it might as well--as Lord
Wolseley said--"sheath its sword for ever."

To quote a few well-known names at random, Catinat investigated in the
disguise of a coalheaver; Montlue as a cook; Ashby visited the Federal
line in the American Civil War as a horse-doctor; whilst General
Nathaniel Lyon visited the Confederate camp at St. Louis in disguise
before he attacked and captured it. In 1821, George III. granted a
pension to the mother of Major André, who, whilst acting as aide-de-camp
to General Clinton, was condemned as an English Secret Service agent; he
further gave a baronetcy to his brother; whilst the remains of the hero
were exhumed, brought from America to England, and buried in
Westminster Abbey.

The Japanese, one of the proudest nations in the world, whose code of
honour is stricter even than our own, accord the highest honours to
military or naval intelligence officers, whose bravery and understanding
they fully recognise; although they never fail to shoot one whenever and
wherever he may be caught acting against them.

It is sometimes puzzling to understand what is the real motive which
prompts our military and naval officers to seek so persistently to
become enrolled in the Secret Service Department. Is it solely the
desire to further their chances of advancement, or is it the bold
adventuresome activity of the service, the innate longing to take all
risks and to bring back personally the information so essential to the
successful conduct of war; or is it the feeling and knowledge that only
a brave man is ready to go out alone, unobserved and unapplauded, to
risk his life for his country's sake? For let it not be forgotten that
to accept an appointment under the Foreign Secret Service in war time is
no feather-bed occupation. The smallest slip, the slightest
indiscretion, and one's doom is sealed. Only a man to whom life was as
nothing if risking it would help his country, would dare to undertake
such perilous work. It is indeed the finest and most thrilling
recuperative tonic in the world for anyone weary of life's monotonies.
It commands the highest courage, the clearest understanding, the
greatest ability and cleverness, never-flagging persistence, and an
ever-prevailing optimism. Yet such men and women as these who have
striven, laboured, fought alone, and won through against inconceivable
difficulties and immense odds, possibly to the permanent ruin of their
health or financial status, are, although it seems inconceivable to
believe, more often than not overlooked and passed aside by the nation;
unobservantly pushed into the cold burial vaults of ungrateful
forgetfulness!--the fate, alas! of many an active Secret Service agent,
no matter how patriotically loyal, how brave, or how successful he may
have been. Such men neither seek nor expect to be bedecked with
baubles, or awarded shekels, so coveted by those who stay at home. They
know the hollowness which quickly fades or is lost in the vortex of
political upheaval or changing dynasty. They rest content in the
knowledge that they have well and truly served their country, that they
have lived in the full realism of existence; whilst they are happy in
their memories.

     One crowded hour of glorious life
     Is worth an age without a name.

                                NICHOLAS EVERITT.

British Secret Service during the Great War




The year 1914 opened auspiciously. Future prospects looked brilliant. In
the past there had been depression owing to political extravagances, but
everything pointed to a change in the minds of the people; to an
awakening, to future betterment. Money was plentiful and cheap. Labour
was an active market with plenty of it. Good business seemed to be in
the air. All around there appeared to be a general cheerfulness. Then
came the lull before the storm. An ominous calm, a dull, dead,
mysterious cloud of invisible, inexplicable, unintelligible danger
threatened. No one could penetrate it; no one could fathom what it was;
but everyone felt instinctively that something great and terrible was
going to happen.

The stock markets sagged and fell away in a most extraordinary fashion,
no matter how the Bulls or surrounding circumstances supported them.
Buyers of properties suddenly stayed their hands. Speculators by natural
impulse held aloof. Rumours began to circulate, strange stories passed
from mouth to mouth which none believed, but which left an impression of
gloom and impending disaster behind them.

The man in the street, the one and only true barometer of England's
real feelings, showed an uneasy restlessness which could not be

The multitude of German spies, who swarmed like locusts throughout the
British Isles, assured themselves that the seditious seeds they had been
sowing so energetically during the past years in the receptive and
nourishing soil of Radicalism and Socialism, plenteously manured by
liberal administrations from the vast financial resources at their
disposal, were at last bearing a rich harvest of rare and refreshing
fruit. They assured themselves that revolution would devastate Ireland,
perhaps part of England, Wales, and Scotland as well. The Unions of the
working classes they knew had been nurtured by their fond attentions
until they had grown to mighty proportions. Working men of German blood
or of strong Teutonic tendencies had agitated amongst the masses again
and yet again, for "less time, more pay, and greater and more extended
privileges." German Secret Service money had provided the sinews of an
underground labour war. Countless thousands of honest, hard-working
British labourers neither knew of, nor recognised, nor even suspected,
the traitorous hand which so gently stroked them down the back whilst
their ears were being tickled with persuasive suggestions and
argumentative reasoning, prompting a greater dissatisfaction the more
they were pandered to, and petted, and spoilt, and bribed by the Liberal
Government who were the men in power over them. It must not be forgotten
that for some years previous to 1914 prominent members of the Government
of the day had been roundly rated in the Press for encouraging and
expressing pro-German sentiments and inclinations; whilst the Government
itself had been accused of shattering the Constitution of the United
Kingdom, of muzzling the House of Lords, of trampling on the rights of
Democracy, of humiliating the Crown, and of robbing the Church of

Whether there was truth in these accusations the historian will record,
but that civil war was a seriously threatened danger there can be no
doubt; whilst the proverbial slackness of our phlegmatic British nature
is such that Englishmen permitted much to transpire which no other
nation in the world would have tolerated. Mr. W. M. Hughes, the
Australian Prime Minister, speaking in the London Stock Exchange on
March 20th, 1916, more eloquently describes us: "A people slow to anger,
unsuspicious of guile in others, foolishly generous in throwing open
their land to the world, offering sanctuary to all, even to those who
proposed first to exploit and then betray them, before we as a nation
awoke to the peril."

It was only too well known to certain members of Scotland Yard, probably
others as well, that German Secret Service agents had reported to their
respective headquarters, that "the English Radical Government would
never dare to intervene in a war waged by Germany." They knew, or rather
thought they knew, that England was utterly unprepared for a war of any
magnitude; that for years military and naval estimates had been cut down
rather than added to, which was substantiated by a collection of
innumerable press cuttings showing the violent public agitation in
consequence; that the Government did not believe a great European war
could be possible within the next fifty years; that the United Kingdom
was on the verge of revolution over Ulster's dissent from Home Rule;
that the Labour Unions had grown so vast, so all-embracing and so
powerful that they could and would paralyse the Government's action if
by any possible chance it did decide on intervening; that Egypt, India,
and South Africa were ripe for revolt and only too anxious for an
opportunity to shake off British rule; that Australia, New Zealand, and
Canada were anxious to declare their respective independence; in fact
that the whole British Empire beyond the seas was itching for
disintegration, if only "The Day" would dawn giving half a chance of
striking a blow for freedom and exemption from control of the hated
British yoke; and that the welding together of all these
(believed-to-be) irreconcilable nations and peoples in a common battle
cause was an unthinkable impossibility.

It was common knowledge to the Secret Service agents of all nations
that the Liberal-Radical Government of the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland was tottering to a fall. Its popularity with the
masses had waned; its hypocrisy with the middle classes had become a
byword; its disloyalty to the Empire with the upper classes had become
revolting; its days had become numbered. The German War party saw this
and realised the fact better than the English. It knew that it was of
vital importance to its world-power dream to make war only when a
Liberal, Radical, and Socialist party was in office in England; it would
be courting disaster to do so if a Unionist Government were in power.

Yea, verily, the Kaiser believed that the harvest of his sowing was
ready for the garnering.

All these things were reported in gloating glee by the army of Teutonic
spies in our midst to their respective headquarters, thence conveyed to
their Central Office at Berlin with an openness that might have seemed
an insult to the intelligence of Scotland Yard and those who direct and
control that very effective and efficient department; only our astute
police service happened to be much more wide awake than it appeared to

The man in power, the one and only being who really knew the truth of
what was actually happening over and beyond the horizon of our ken,
maintained an impassive silence. His motto throughout was and had been
"Wait and See."

The ruler of the waves, the noble and illustrious British Bull-dog, Lord
Fisher, knew and had known. He had never failed his countrymen. He
pushed along all and every preparation for the evil day, which a weak
and Peace-at-any-price Government had permitted.

The illustrious martial Warrior of previous wars, whose life and loved
ones had been sacrificed upon the altar of patriotism and loyalty, knew.
He had never failed to lift his voice in warning, both inside and
outside Parliament, since he returned from the South African War,
imploring support, reformation, and more attention to the Army; pleading
conscription amongst the youthful masses; working so unselfishly, so
energetically and so devotedly, and in feverish anxiety for the
protection and welfare of the Motherland and our Empire, right up to the
day of his glorious death within sound of the German guns. A fitting
dirge for so beloved and valiant a Hero.

The man of Foreign Affairs, the man who gained for himself the utmost
honour, respect, esteem, and gratitude from all the world, by reason of
his unflagging and unceasing efforts to keep and maintain the peace of
Europe, he also knew. To the very last hour, yea, even far beyond it, he
worked on, hoping against hope that such a terrible calamity as
threatened to paralyse the nations of the earth for centuries to come
might yet be averted. Noble man, working for a noble cause! History will
record your efforts, but no pen can adequately record your meritorious
deserts. Oh! the pity of it that you, a true genius in the arts of peace
and of peaceful diplomacies, did not retire at the outbreak of war in
favour of some more martial, bellicose, and iron-fisted statesman,
instead of clinging to office during the awful years that followed, when
our enemy not only torpedoed all the laws of nations, but outraged every
decent feeling of humanity. Your honourable and gentlemanly nature made
it impossible for you to realise, to understand, or to compete with
these barbaric and inhuman practices.

The man in opposition, whose duty it is to criticise and restrain the
hotheadedness of Governmental action, although he is not admitted to
share the secrets of the Cabinet, he knew. His instinct told him what
was looming behind the electrically charged atmosphere, and he at once
showed that he was a true-born Britisher first and foremost before he
was a politician.

The man of marvellous organisation abilities, who had been more than
once conveniently removed far afield from English politics in order to
straighten out our tangled skeins in the East, because such efficient
capables as himself, Lord Fisher, Lord Roberts and others did not suit
the party system of our modern Democratic Government, also knew. But
that man of action without words had to sit and look on, whilst the
late friend of the Kaiser was kept in office until the unmistakable
voice of the people arose in ugly anger to demand the change. Alas, that
your precious life should have been sacrificed by treachery which ought
to have been checkmated.

The man of mystery, who, although not admitted as a member of the ship
of state, clung limpet-like to its bottom and maintained an existence
thereon, he knew; perhaps first of all. His knowledge was but a
materialisation of reports foreshadowing such an event which had floated
to him in crescendo numbers. His office was one of semi-independence. He
could act with promptness and decision. He did, so far as he was
permitted to go.

War was in the air. This seemed to be conceived but not to be realised.
The very idea was too terrible to be true. A portentous omen had been
uttered by a great Silesian nobleman, Count von Oppersdorff, only a few
hours before it was publicly known that England would declare war
against Germany if the neutrality of Belgium was violated.

He had inquired from Mr. F. W. Wile, an Anglo-American journalist in
Berlin, if such a contingency could be possible. On being answered in
the affirmative, he muttered with great seriousness, "There will be many

The real and concise reason which forced England to join in the war is
recorded in the now famous despatch of Sir Edward Goschen, the British
Ambassador at Berlin, to Sir Edward Grey, the British Minister for
Foreign Affairs. It runs as follows:

     August 4, 1914: "I found the Chancellor very agitated. His
     Excellency at once began an harangue which lasted for twenty
     minutes. He said that the step taken by His Majesty's Government
     (the ultimatum of war) was terrible to a degree; just for a
     word--'Neutrality,' a word which in war time had so often been
     disregarded--just for a _scrap of paper_ Great Britain was going to
     make war on a kindred nation. I said that, in the same way as he
     and Herr von Jagow (the German Secretary of State) wished me to
     understand that for strategical reasons it was a matter of life and
     death to Germany to advance through Belgium and violate the
     latter's neutrality, so I would wish him to understand that it was,
     so to speak, a matter of 'life and death' for the honour of Great
     Britain that she should keep her solemn engagement to do her utmost
     to defend Belgium's neutrality if attacked."

It was on the 5th of August, 1914, that the British nation was called to
arms. It awoke, suddenly, startled as from some horrible nightmare. It
was shaken and stirred in a manner unprecedented in its history from the
day it had thrown off allegiance to Rome. Without hesitation or delay
every patriotic Britisher having no binding ties to hold him, in company
with many tens of thousands who had, rushed to seek out recruiting
officers or sergeants in order that their services might be proffered in
the service of their country. So great and clamorous were the crowds in
the big cities that the police had much ado to preserve and maintain

The Government was not prepared for anything like it. It had made no
provision in equipment or supplies to cope with the stream of men so
eager to join the colours. Long before arrangements could be made to
enrol the first batches of recruits, men from all parts of our empire
beyond the seas began to arrive in the Mother Country, all keen,
enthusiastic and eager for the fray.

The authorities had their hands more than full and were compelled to
refuse thousands, including in some instances, it is said, fully
equipped companies of Colonial recruits. Yet posters and stimulating
advertisements, appealing for volunteers, continued to be spread
broadcast throughout the land, and, as the men rolled up in increasing
numbers, confusion became worse confounded. Many went to France in order
to join up there; others returned to their homes disgusted and sick at
heart by the manner in which they had been treated.

Was the Government to blame for this? It had expressed blind faith in
Germany and the peaceful sentiments she was alleged to have expressed.
Had not Lord Haldane hobnobbed with the Kaiser, and had he not related
to Parliament what a good fellow the German Emperor really was, and how
friendly he meant to be to England? Labour members of Parliament had
been to Germany, where they also had been hoodwinked and deceived. Had
not the Cabinet argued so strenuously that a European war was
unthinkable and impossible for the next century at least, until it
seemed to believe it was actually true? _Hence no preparations for such
a disastrous calamity had been anticipated, thought out, or provided

"The Day" had dawned.

War with Germany had been declared. Every Britisher, worthy of the name,
was individually asking himself, in his heart of hearts or in public,
how he best could be of service to his country, to the Empire, and to
his King.

In the days to come, when children and children's children will seek by
interrogation enlightenment from their forebears as to the part or parts
they respectively took in the greatest war the world has ever known,
what terrible shame and misgivings will assail the craven, palsied soul
of the shirker!

To England's everlasting glory such have been very, very few, and very
far between.

       *       *       *       *       *

I apologise for the necessity of having to introduce myself, because, as
the author, I must also figure prominently in these pages. I am a
Bohemian by nature, a Sportsman by instinct, and a Lawyer by training.

Hail, fellow, well met! I believe in the old Scotch proverb, "Better a
fremit freend than a freend fremit."

Acquaintances and correspondents I have endeavoured to cultivate in
every country I have been in, whilst as a traveller, an author, and a
sportsman I believe I am widely known.

At the same time I must confess to being a man of moods, and like most
other light-hearted, happy-go-lucky individuals, who seem to be bubbling
over with an exuberance of animal spirits, there are times when
depression holds down my soul in a hell of its own making. That I never
understood myself may explain why so few really ever properly understand
me. I am said to be resourceful, ingenious, and so optimistic that I
extricate myself from difficulties under which many other people might
have capitulated as too overwhelmingly crushing to attempt to resist. My
great trouble has been that my restless, rolling-stone disposition makes
it intensely distasteful and difficult for me to anchor down for any
length of time in any one particular place. Ever and anon there comes to
me a call from the wild, a mysterious and irresistible whisper which a
true son of nature cannot hope to fight against; an imperative summons
from the vastnesses of unknown seas, from deep and pathless forests,
from the virgin snows of mountain peaks. Wanderlust has saturated my
system, yea, to the very marrow in my bones. It has lured me on, and in
obedience to periodical promptings I have travelled the world around and
experienced adventure, sport, and fighting in many a foreign land.

Early in 1913-14 I volunteered in the threatened Irish upheavals, with
countless thousands of others of my countrymen who felt so strongly the
injustice of that matter. When a better and more meritorious chance of
"scrapping" presented itself, I was one of the first to offer my
services, which were promptly declined, solely because I was over the
age limit. Not satisfied with one effort, I made others in various
quarters and in various capacities, but all in vain.

It was no consolation to learn later that someone else, an expert
engineer, had travelled 7,000 miles, from Hyderabad in India,[1] to help
in munition-making, only to be refused a job on arrival in this country;
nor that a Tasmanian,[2] with seventeen years' service in the Department
of Agriculture in Tasmania, carrying the highest credentials and having
obtained six months' leave in order to travel 13,000 miles to the Mother
Country to volunteer his gratuitous expert services to our Board of
Agriculture, had likewise butted his head against vain hopes of helping
to forward encouragement of more home-growing food for the nation.

In the early stages there was a vast army of rejected would-be helpers
turned down ignominiously and left to kick their heels in fretful
idleness. What a wicked waste of time and good material!

I begin to believe that my American associations have made me a bit of a
hustler. Anyway, I approached the celebrated Shikar of many trails, the
famed big game hunter, the late Mr. F. C. Selous.[3] I wrote to him
suggesting that a corps of Big Game Hunters should be mustered, to
consist only of men who had had at least three years' experience of that
exciting and dangerous sport; that each man should provide and
personally pay for the whole of his individual equipment, including
horse, rifle, uniform, and appendages; that Mr. Selous should take
command and then offer the services of the corps to the War Office.

Mr. Selous grasped the idea and agreed that a body of quite 500 could
probably be raised. He communicated his willingness to take the whole
work of raising the troop, but the War Office was neither encouraging to
the proposal, nor willing to accept the services of such a body of men
when ready to serve. Sorrowful was the tone of the letter from Mr.
Selous conveying this news to me, its very much disappointed recipient.
He added in the P.S. that he had a friend in command of an infantry
regiment who expected soon to be ordered to France, and he had extracted
a promise from him to take him along in some capacity or another, in
spite of the fact that he was over sixty years of age; and he advised me
to look out for a similar loophole through which I might hope to crawl
into the catacombs of Yprès and the Meuse, with or without the knowledge
or sanction of the Red Tape artists at Whitehall.

About this period many amateur spy hunters were actively on the
war-path, and it was suggested to me by friends of high standing in the
sporting world that my connection with Northern Europe and my varied
experience at home and abroad might be acceptable to the Secret Service;
furthermore it was pretty plainly hinted to me that if I wrote a
personal letter to Sir Edward Grey it would not be ignored.

Not a moment was allowed to elapse after this. On October 16th, 1914, I
wrote, setting out my believed qualifications in concise terms, adding
that my age had unfortunately precluded my eagerly proffered services
from acceptance in other spheres; that I was keen and eager to be of
service to my country; and that I was eating my heart out through
inactivity. If there was a chance of my being any use, I prayed that my
services might be commanded.

I had been cautioned with impressive seriousness that if my services
were accepted it might be only for enrolment in the "Forlorn Hope
Brigade" and that my chances of survival might be very remote indeed.

Rather than damping my ardour, this warning merely added fuel to the
flames of my desires. In early life I had been most bitterly
disappointed. A somewhat sensitive nature had received a shock from
which it never properly recovered. With the fatuity of early youth I had
placed a whole family upon an idealistic pedestal--including a mere
child of thirteen years of age. When that theoristic fabric fell,
shattered to a million invisible fragments, at my feet, I could not
understand, but I felt for years afterwards that life for me held
nothing of worth.

Time heals wounds, and I survived in bodily health. In 1912 I lost a
man's best friend on earth--my mother. At Christmas, 1913, my father, my
dearest pal, followed her to the grave. I was unmarried. My brother and
my sisters had homes of their own, far away. What mattered it to anyone,
least of all to myself, if I crossed the Great Divide before my allotted
time? I was at best a mere worthless atom of humanity dependent upon no
one, with no one dependent upon me.

Here at least was a chance of doing something worth the while. 'Twas a
far, far better thing to do than I had ever done.

Yea, indeed. I was ready, and willing, and eager, for the service,
whatsoever that service might be, and withersoever it might take me,
even to the jaws of death itself.

Having regard to all the circumstances, I do not believe I shall be
accused of presumptuousness or of egotism if I say that I fully believed
myself to be a fit and qualified person for the service for which I then
had volunteered.

On October 17th, 1914, I received a letter from the Under Permanent
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir Arthur Nicholson--now Lord
Carnock), acknowledging my letter of the previous day's date and saying
Sir Edward Grey appreciated my offer, although he regretted there were
no such appointments at the disposal of his department; but he added
that my name had been noted in case my services might be utilised in any
capacity at some further date.

On October 19th, I received a letter on War Office paper referring to my
letter to Sir Edward Grey of the 16th, saying: "I should be very glad if
you would arrange to come and see me here one morning. If you will let
me know when I may expect you I shall arrange to be free." This letter
was signed "P. W. Kenny, Captain"[4] and on its left-hand top corner
specified a certain room number. I subsequently ascertained that this
gentleman (and a real gentleman in every sense of that embracive word I
found him) was the "Acting Buffer" between the Secret Service
departments for both the War Office and the Admiralty to anyone who
might attempt to approach either of these departments. It will be
remembered that his name figured in the public Press as acting in that
capacity when Admiral W. R. Hall, C.B., brilliantly defeated and
frustrated the clever schemes so carefully yet vainly laid by the then
notorious ex.-M.P. Trebitsch Lincoln, whose apparent intention and
purpose was to work the double cross against the British Empire.

I promptly answered this communication by a special journey to London,
of which I gave due notice as requested.

After passing the Police Guards at the entrance to the War Office, I
traversed a long corridor to the inquiry room, where a number of
attendants were busily engaged issuing forms to be filled up by
applicants for interviews. Of course it was impossible to escape the
inevitable form, on which I inserted the name of Captain P. W. Kenny,
his room number, my name, address, and the nature of my
business--private and confidential. It was a bit of a staggerer to hear
from the attendant that he did not know Captain Kenny, nor of him, nor
did he believe there was any officer of that name in the building.
Inquiries, however, from others of his class elicited the information
that someone had heard a name somewhat like it and if I went up to the
floor on which the room was numbered as before-mentioned, and applied to
the porter or commissionaire at the lodge up there, he might be able to
locate him for me.

After a wait of some minutes in an ante-room where were collecting a
large number of officers and others on errands of various natures, I was
sent away in charge of a boy-scout, with about ten other form-fillers,
whom he dropped at various floor lodges on the way. The system was for
each boy-scout to conduct a whole bunch of followers, who carried their
forms in their hands until the desired floors were reached, when the
boy-scout guide handed one or more of his followers to the
commissionaire in charge of the lodge on each floor sought, who in turn
sent them off again in charge of another attendant to the desired room.

I was the last one to depart from our diminutive guide. But when I got
to the lodge on the floor on which the room I was seeking was numbered,
the commissionaire in charge said he knew nothing of the officer named
on my form. After arguing the matter discreetly with him I persuaded him
to take me to the room specified on my form, which we found unoccupied,
although there were a table and chairs there, as I saw them through the
half-open door.

As the bona fides of my quest seemed to be doubted I produced the letter
I had received, when he politely escorted me to two other lodges on the
other floors; but only one of the men in charge could help me at all,
and in that he was very vague. He believed there had been an officer,
whose name he did not know, using the room so numbered or another room a
day or so ago, and he was not certain which it was; he had since changed
his room, but where he could not say. Anyway, as he expressed himself,
he was a mysterious kind of person, and what he did, or what functions
he performed, no one seemed to know. I must confess I was at a loss to
understand the position. Suddenly, however, the thought struck me that
it might be a possible stunt to test one's capabilities for a research
or investigation; so I listened with interest to the conversations of
the various commissionaires and gleaned that the gentleman I sought, if
such an individual had any business in the War Office at all, was tall,
thin, and aristocratic. The one man who described him thought he knew
whom I meant--"A horficer as spent his time a-dodging back'ards and
forrards betwixt the War Hoffice and the Hadmiralty, who never said
nothink to nobody, so one didn't know which he did belong to; one who
'ardly ever was in 'is room and one who 'ad some queer blokes come to
see 'im."

I thanked the commissionaires politely and said I would try another
floor on my own account, as once inside the building with a form in
one's hand it seemed one could wander anywhere at will and without

Accordingly I at once made up my mind what to do. I went to the floor
below, to the lodge there, and I asked for Lord Kitchener. There was no
hesitation in answering that inquiry; within a few minutes I had reached
the desired portion of the building, where I asked to see his Lordship's
principal secretary. I have forgotten his name, but I was not kept
waiting for a moment. I was accorded an opportunity to explain my
mission. I showed him the letter I had summoning me to the War Office,
and told him the difficulties I had met with in attempting to locate the
elusive "Go-Between." This officer received me very graciously; he
smiled at the short description I gave him of my wanderings, and said:
"I think I can put you on the right track straight away; please follow
me," and getting up he took me to another room at the far end of the
corridor we were then in, where we interviewed another officer who also
laughed and told us that Captain Kenny had just changed his room and
would now be found in room number ---- which was on the floor above.
Having thanked these officers for their kindly services I ascended once
more, and within ten minutes from abandoning my false scent I ran my
quarry to earth and was tapping on his oak.

I explained the difficulty I had been placed in to Captain Kenny, who
expressed some surprise. Whether he really felt it or not I do not know,
but when I showed him the room number given at the top of his letter he
admitted the recent change and made apologetic amends for the
inadvertence, adding that the attendants in charge of the inquiry bureau
below should certainly have known both his name and room number.

_Quien sabe_, thought I to myself. Anyway, I held my peace and we
proceeded to business.

For about an hour Captain Kenny questioned me regarding my knowledge of
Northern latitudes, their peoples and my linguistic capabilities. Then
he suggested in the most charming and persuasive manner that I should
remain awhile in London, like Wilkins Micawber of old, "in the hope of
something turning up."

I did so. During this period I called at the War Office at various
appointed times and on each occasion was put to further interrogation.
Captain Kenny rather reminded me of Dr. Leyds. He seemed to possess that
same pleasing persuasiveness which made one feel that one was under deep
obligation to him personally for being permitted to relieve him of the
smallest matter in hand--indeed, a valuable asset to the person
possessing such skill. Within a week of my advent in London a letter
came to me from Captain Kenny in which he wrote: "For the moment there
are no vacancies in the Intelligence Service, but if you will exercise a
little patience I really believe I shall be able to do something for
you. I shall see that your name and special qualifications are kept well
in view and I trust that we shall be able to make use of your
exceptional abilities."

This was followed about the day after by another short note from his
private address, asking me to call at the war office next day, adding:
"The delay arose through a temporary interruption of certain foreign
communications, but he was almost sure he would be able to do

I lost no time in answering this letter in person and within half an
hour I was fixed for the Foreign Secret Service under the Admiralty in
the north of Europe. My remuneration, I was informed, would be rated on
the scale appertaining to a naval captain in full commission; in
addition to which I should be allowed £1 per day to cover my personal
expenses, with a further allowance up to £1 per day to cover travelling
expenses; but if I exceeded this amount I must bear the extra payments
myself. I was delighted beyond measure: I would gladly have accepted any
offer, on almost any terms, I was so keen to "do my bit" to help my
country in whatever capacity I could be thought of any use. I
subsequently found, however, that these allowances by no means covered
one's travelling expenses abroad at that time, which daily mounted
higher and higher until they assumed alarming dimensions. True it is,
there were times, when one was obscuring oneself from too observant and
inquiring persons, that one's expenses could be kept well below these
amounts, but at other times, when speed in travelling was of vital
importance, expenditure had to be a secondary consideration, and the
average daily balances vanished beyond recognition.

At this, last but one, interview with Captain Kenny he produced a large
map of Northern Germany and the Baltic. Pointing with his finger to
various parts of it he kept asking me whether I could and would go to
the places indicated, which included the outskirts of Kiel harbour.

So in order to free his mind from any doubts he may have had as to my
venturesomeness, I clinched matters by saying "If you assure me it will
in any way benefit my country, I am ready and prepared to go to Hell
itself. So why waste breath on these pleasure resorts?"

"Ah!" replied this most exceedingly polite interviewer. "That, my dear
sir, is the very answer I have been told, by a certain sporting
nobleman who recommended you, I should receive if I pressed you on this.
From what he said, and from what I have ascertained about you, I can
quite believe it. How long do you require to put your affairs in order?"

"I am ready to start at once," was the reply. I had come to London
prepared for such an emergency.

"Good! On Monday at 11 a.m. call upon me again. I shall give you a
sealed despatch to deliver at a time and place to be named, and enough
money to enable you to reach a certain town. There you will meet a
certain gentleman who will give you further instructions. You can now
apply for a passport, and I wish you every luck."

"Excuse me, sir. But you do not give me any idea of what my duties will
consist--to whom I am to report, or how? I really don't quite follow
you; unless, of course, the despatch contains more enlightenment."

"Naturally the despatch will give full instructions to the gentleman you
are to meet. He will seek you under the name of Mr. Jim. You will reply
by mentioning two other names or words which you must now commit to
memory, but not to paper. So far as your duties are concerned, _you have
the fullest discretion; remember to use discretion_. You will work
entirely on your own initiative. Henceforth you will be known to the
Service as 'Jim.' And in saying good-bye, I may as well add, if you have
not already done so, it might be advisable to seriously consider such
testamentary dispositions as you are minded to complete."


[1] _John Bull,_ January 29th, 1916.

[2] _Ibid._, February 12th, 1916.

[3] This gentleman subsequently died a glorious death in the service of
his country. He was shot when on active service in South Africa.

[4] The author would not have felt at liberty to mention this gentleman
by name except for the fact that his connection with the Secret Service
was made public in the Press on the Trebitsch Lincoln affair.




Not until the reign of Henry VII. and the days of the great Cardinal
Wolsey do we hear speak of organised systems of Secret Service. Cromwell
encouraged the department, whilst Charles II. seems to have arranged
grants for its continuance equivalent to £500,000 per annum. Pitt was a
firm supporter of the service, and Canning is said to have paid £20,000
for the treaty of Tilsit.

In earlier times, British Intelligence Agents were attached to the
Chancelleries of our Ministers abroad, as is the case to-day with nearly
every nation, except our own. Remuneration was given commensurate with
the risks and service. But from the 'sixties the pay diminished and the
department faded away from being an asset of much general valuable

The present British Secret Service Department was founded about 1910 by
an officer, a man of untiring energy, pluck, and perseverance, who has
rendered noble service and willing sacrifice. Since its initiation this
department seems to have been harassed, attacked, and shot at by petty
jealousies, which, during the agony of the crisis of war were ignoble
and contemptible in the extreme. An observer behind the scenes can
therefore admire the more the men who ignored this and worked on,
unheeding all, with but a single thought, and that the welfare of their
King and Country.

England never seems to have had any real organisation for Secret Service
propaganda which can compare in thoroughness with the German effort. It
has had no schools of instruction, nor does it send its members to
specialise in any particular branch. It is an unwritten rule of the
department that a naval or a military officer must be at the head of
every branch or sub-division of any importance; and the service of
civilians or of those from other professions than the Navy and the Army
is neither sought nor welcomed, however capable or however clever the
persons available may be. The exceptional civilian is soon made to feel
this. Whether the idea is to instil discipline, or to impress upon the
newcomer the superiority and importance of the right to wear a uniform,
it is difficult to imagine. The main work of the department, however, is
on a par with the collection of evidence, the unravelling of secret
mysteries, and the study and handling of character--which any man of the
world would have probably at once concluded was more fitted to the
controlling influence of experienced Criminal and Commercial
Investigators rather than to long-service officers who have been
strapped to their stool by strict disciplinary red-tapeism from their
teens upwards. Admitted that officers must be at the top of the Service
to direct the information required, and to deal with it when obtained,
nevertheless for the direction and control of ways and means of its
attainment, the financial part, both inside and out, the selection of
the executive staff, the tabulation of facts collected, and
correspondence, a member of the Government of some standing and with
experience of this class of work should be commissioned as special
Minister in full control of the department; because its importance to
the State cannot be overstated or exaggerated.

Not only should this department have, as near its chief as possible, a
man who has had an extensive experience of active criminal and
commercial affairs, but he should also, if possible, be one who has
specially qualified himself in the commercial world as a _thoroughly
efficient business man_.

It may perhaps be added that it is by no means the only Government
department which has suffered acutely for want of an efficient business
man on its directorate.

So far as office work is concerned, a Service officer may understand
book routine and discipline, but when it comes to rock-bottom business
this war has produced overwhelming proof that a Service officer is lost
against an efficient business man. Speaking broadly, the former has no
idea of the general value of things, or of the worldly side of the
business world. How can it be expected of him? He is trained, specially
trained, in his profession, which has naught to do with the struggle of
the money-makers. He is not accustomed to rub shoulders with the man in
the street, whilst there are thousands of minor details which he would
probably ignore when brought to his notice, but which a business man
would recognise as floating thistledown showing the direction of the
wind. The business man knows that a knowledge of his fellow-man is the
most valuable knowledge in the world. He is not saddled with fastidious,
obsolete forms of etiquette, the waiting for the due observance of which
has cost millions of pounds sterling and thousands of much more valuable
lives. He is not tied down to the cut-and-dried book routine, probably
unrevised for years, which it is an impossibility to keep thoroughly

He is not afraid of the wrath of his immediate superior officers, which,
unless being an officer himself he could modify or smooth it over, might
put on the shelf for ever all chance of his future success in life. He
is not shackled with incompetents whom he dared not report or remove
because they hold indirect influences which might be moved to his
disadvantage. He is not hampered by the importunities of
brother-officers who are pushed at him continually by place-seekers, or
by feared or favoured ones. He is not handicapped by the jealous spite
of machination of other departments, because an efficient business man
will have none of this from anyone, whether above or below him. Should
it arise, he eradicates it root and branch at first sight, which an
ordinary Service officer is generally utterly powerless to do; nor dare
he dream of its accomplishment.

It is the existence of this terrible canker-worm of jealousy, false
pride, petty spite, or absurd etiquette, which in the past has gnawed
into the very vitals of our glorious Services, sapping away much of
their efficiency and undermining future unity, which always tends to
turn victories into defeats or colossal disasters. It is devoutly to be
hoped that this world-war will level up the masses and kill and for ever
crush out of our midst this hydra-headed microbe, the greatest danger of
which is that on the surface it is invisible.

Members of the Secret Service knew all along that the War Office and the
Admiralty were like oil and water, because they would not or could not
mix.[5] If one required anything of importance from the War Office it
might have blighted the hopes of success to have blurted out that one
came from, or was a member of, the Admiralty, and _vice versâ_. These
two mighty departments never seemed to work in harmonious unity. Hence,
whenever Jim had business at the War Office he advisedly concealed that
he had any interest in the Admiralty; and whenever he was at the
Admiralty he denied all connection with the War Office. It saved so much
friction and avoided so much unnecessary formality, trouble, and delay.

That this friction was bad for the country, detrimental to the
shortening of the war, and most expensive to the taxpayer, goes without
saying; but perhaps the fault lay with our system, which permits so many
men over sixty years of age to remain in, or to be suddenly placed into
positions of such terrible responsibility and such colossal and
continual accumulation of work; men who hitherto had had a slack time
and who perhaps had hardly ever been contradicted or denied in their
lives; men who constantly demonstrated to those around them that their
dignity and self-importance must be admitted and put before almost every
other consideration; men who ought to have taken honorary positions and
not for a single hour kept from the chair of office more efficient and
younger officers; men who knew only the old routine, who were long past
their prime, and who were consistent upholders of the greatest curse
that ever cursed our island Kingdom--the Red-tapeism of the
Circumlocution Office.

Volumes could be filled with examples of the pernicious results arising
because this country has not adopted modern and up-to-date methods.
Volumes could be written to prove the reckless waste and extravagance
that has been allowed to run wild and caused by our not providing for a
department having a Minister of Conservation and Economy. Volumes could
be written to prove that if jealousies could be stamped out, false
dignity crushed, and red-tapeism abolished, our nation would rise far
above the heads of all other nations in the world, and our taxpayers'
burdens, both now and in the future, would be materially reduced.

Although thousands of examples could be given it is submitted that for a
book of this description an example from two or three departments should
be sufficient to illustrate the argument.


Some time in the autumn of 1915, two fields were acquired by the
Admiralty at Bacton, on the Norfolk coast, for use as an aviation
ground. In order to give a sufficiently large unbroken and even surface
for aeroplanes, it was deemed necessary to level a hedge-bank of
considerable length, dividing the fields in question.

Within a few miles of these fields were stationed a thousand soldiers,
who were chafing at and weary with the monotony of their daily routine,
an unvaried one for over a year. The majority of these men would have
welcomed the acceptance of such a task as this. But follow the events
which happened, and it is proved convincingly that some silly,
ridiculous reason prevented any approach, by those who sit in Chairs at
the Admiralty to those who sit in Chairs at the War Office, to utilise
this unemployed labour, or to save the nation's pocket in so simple a

The expenditure of money seemed to be of no consideration whatsoever,
although the House of Commons was at this particular period shrieking
for economy in others, which they were quite unwilling to commence
themselves; whilst the Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith) addressed a great
economy speech to the massed delegates representing 4,000,000 organised
workers at Westminster on December 1st, 1915. So a contract was offered
and entered into with a civilian to do the work. Owing to Lord Derby's
scare-scheme system of recruiting instead of National Service (which
ought to have been enforced immediately after the Boer War, as pressed
by Lord Roberts and others), the unlucky contractor lost most of his
young men and was quite unable to get more than a very few old men who
were past the age of strenuous labour. His job progressed so slowly that
the Admiralty realised the work might not be finished for months and
months to come if permitted to continue on the then present line.

What was it that prevented the Admiralty, on this second occasion of
necessity, from approaching the War Office, or even one of the officers
in command of the thousands and thousands of troops stationed in
Norfolk, a few of whom could and would gladly have completed the work in
a few hours without a penny extra expense to the country?

Instead of incurring any possible suspicion of an obligation from the
War Office, an appeal was made to the newly-formed City of Norwich
Volunteers for their men to put down their names for this work. That
loyal, energetic, and patriotic body of Englishmen, which was drawn
from all ranks of society, although working at their various vocations
all the week, immediately acquiesced, without stopping to reason why,
and agreed to go to Bacton the next ensuing Sunday.

The distance from Norwich to Bacton is twenty miles, but the nearest
station is about three miles from the fields in question.

By reason of the War Office having taken over control of the railways,
these men could, by a simple request from the Admiralty to the War
Office, have been provided with free travelling passes. They had
expressed their willingness to walk the remaining three miles of the
journey, do the work gratuitously (although quite unaccustomed to any
such rough manual labour), find their own rations, and walk the return
three miles to the station afterwards. Such, however, was not
acceptable, nor permitted.

At North Walsham, five miles from the aerodrome site, at least a
thousand troops were stationed. They were provided with motor vehicles
capable of travelling thirty miles per hour. A few of these vehicles
could have carried the whole party from North Walsham station to the
fields in under half an hour; or they could have fetched them from
Norwich in about an hour. But no; such an arrangement might incur the
obligation of a request and a compliance.

_So the Admiralty arranged to send some of their own motor lorries from
Portsmouth to Norwich in order to convey this small party of civilian
volunteer-workers twenty-one miles to the job_.

It was said that five lorries were ordered, but only three were sent.
They were of the large size, extra heavy type, which cannot, with
general convenience, travel at a speed beyond ten miles an hour--if so
fast; whilst their petrol consumption might be estimated at about a
gallon per hour. They arrived at Norwich on Sunday morning November
28th, 1915, apparently after several days on the road. They took part of
the small party of enthusiasts to Bacton, who worked all through the
Sabbath; whilst other Admiralty motor-cars were ordered specially over
from Newmarket which took the remainder of the party to and from the

The three lorries avoided London, thus the full journey of each must
have approximated 500 miles.

Consider: the running expenses of a private two-ton motor-car would not
be less than a shilling a mile; compare the petrol, oil consumption, and
wear and tear. It is thus not difficult to estimate this absurdly
unnecessary and recklessly extravagant waste of the taxpayers' money;
and all because of some ridiculous personal prejudices, or of the sacred
cause of red-tapeism; or the possible touching of some false sentiments
of dignity or hollow pride, assumed by those who sit on Chairs on one
side or the other of Whitehall, and who direct the details of war


Every Englishman must deeply regret the memory of countless examples of
reckless waste, incompetent management, and riotous extravagance which
particularly marked the first two years of the war; and which, alas,
appeared much more flagrantly in connection with the Army than with the

During the progress of the war groans arose in this strain from every
county. The Yorkshire £10 to £15 tent-pegs case, as recorded in the
Press, December 18th, 1915, was never denied.

A motor trolley accidentally smashed about half a score of tent-pegs at
---- camp. Instead of replacing them at the cost of half a crown or
less, the C.O. ruled that a report must be drawn up and submitted to the
War Office requesting a new supply of pegs. In due course the answer
arrived saying: "Loose pegs could not be sent, as they were only
supplied with new tents, but a new tent would be sent, value £150, _with
the usual quantity of pegs_." Which course in all seriousness was
actually adopted.

       *       *       *       *       *

In June, 1916, a chimney at a Drill Hall in the town of Lowestoft on the
east coast required sweeping, and an orderly suggested to the
commanding officer that he should employ a local man residing a few
doors away, who offered to undertake the job efficiently at the modest
outlay of 1s. But the commanding officer was shackled body and soul in
red-tape bonds. Following his duty he reported the matter to
headquarters. Further particulars were required and given and in the
course of a few days the army chimney-sweep arrived, did the work and
departed. _He came from and returned to Birmingham_, and stated that his
contract price was 10d. The third-class return fare from Birmingham is
26s. 7d. It probably meant two days occupied at an expense which could
not have been much less than 30s. A total of £2 16s. 7d., plus payment,
postages, paper and possible extras, to _save 2d._ and to do a local man
out of a 1s. job in a town admittedly ruined by the unfortunate
exigencies of the war!


The Leicester correspondent of the _Shoe and Leather Record_, wrote on
February 25th, 1916:

"The Government have intimated, through the medium of the usual official
document, that they are willing to receive tenders for twenty-four emery
pads, the total value of which would be one shilling and four pence. The
tender forms are marked 'very urgent' and firms tendering are warned
that inability of the railway companies to carry the goods will not
relieve contractors of responsibility for non-delivery.

"The goods are presumably intended for the Army boot-repairing depôts,
but in view of the admitted 'urgency' it will, I think, strike most
business men as strange that there is not an official connected with
this branch of the service possessing sufficient authority to give the
office boy sixteen pence with instructions to go and fetch the goods
from the nearest grindery shop.

"Up to the time of writing I have not heard which local firm has been
fortunate enough to secure this 'contract.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

After this gigantic tussle of titanic races is over and the bill of
costs has to be met, perhaps the nation will realise the cry, that for
some years past has been lost like a voice crying in the wilderness--_We
want business men_: business men in all Government departments which
have to handle business matters. England's colossal financial
liabilities, pyramided up during recent years, are practically all
traceable to her lack of efficient business men in her business

In the Navy, in the Army, in the Transport, in the supplies, and
throughout, let the head of each department be chosen from a member of
its body, if believed best so to do; but let the business side thereof
be presided over by an efficient and fully-qualified business man--a man
who knows the purchasing power of a pound; more important still, who
knows how hard it is to earn one. The men entrusted with such
responsible positions should have full responsibility placed upon their
shoulders; they should be highly paid and they should be free to act
without being tied down by the fetters of "the book," by red-tape
precedents, and by the counter-consents of so many others who in nine
cases out of ten are men of no previous business training nor
qualification concerning the majority of details which they are called
upon to handle.

Recent Army and Naval administration, as the public have seen, requires
little further comment here. The hundreds of thousands of pounds
absolutely squandered in surplus rations, billeting, pay, and transport,
etc., should have impressed the minds of observers in a manner that this
generation is never likely to forget. A business man in each department,
with a free hand to economise and arrange its details, in a
business-like way, would have saved the country the salaries paid to
them ten thousand times over, with a gigantic surplus to spare.

The British Intelligence Department probably suffered least of any in
this respect. Its actual managing chief never wasted a shilling where he
could personally see a way of saving it. To my knowledge he never
overpaid anyone, whilst he was not at all adverse to using the
persuasive argument of patriotism, in order to get a mass of useful work
done for nothing at all. To quote an instance. It was the case of a man
who, at his country's call, had sacrificed an income of considerably
over £1,000 per annum, together with all his home and business
interests, and who in the chief's absence had accepted a thankless and a
dangerous task on the active foreign executive at a remuneration less
than he had been paying a confidential clerk.

The chief on his return to office did not hesitate to ask him to waive
altogether his remuneration, and to pay out of his own pocket
twenty-five per cent. of his personal travelling expenses in addition!
Loyally he agreed, and for months he thus served, although those in
authority above him showed no sign of appreciation or gratitude
afterwards for the sacrifice.

If other Government departments were half as careful over their
expenditure as the Secret Service, the British public would not have
much cause to find fault nor even to grumble. But what hampered its
efficiency, and was neither fair, nor politic, nor economic, was the
policy of the Foreign Office, which permitted others, in no way
whatsoever connected with the Service, or with the Intelligence, to
interfere (during 1914 and 1915) with its work and with members of its
executive both at home and abroad. This was not the worst of it. Not
only was the organisation of a whole and important branch of the
department on two occasions brought to a complete standstill, owing to
the interference of one vainly conceited incompetent who had collected a
string of high-sounding qualifications behind his name, but he caused
money to be scattered in thousands where hundreds, and probably tens, or
a little judicious entertaining, would have been more than sufficient.
If these monies were debited to the Secret Service Department, such a
wrong ought to be righted. In due course the colossal indiscretions of
this interfering bungler involved matters in such a dangerous tangle
that he apparently lost his head, and for a period of time was quite
inaccessible for business. On recovery he coolly announced that he
should wash his hands entirely of all Secret Service affairs. Imagine
the feelings of the patient chiefs of the Foreign Secret Service
Department. They had silently sat for months watching the efforts of
their captured staff hampered at every turn whilst they were
persistently building up a sound, practical, useful organisation, which
a fool and his folly overturned, like a house of cards, in one day. They
had been actually stopped from controlling the movements of their own
men, yet they were responsible for their pay and their expenses; whilst
possibly they had had a heavy load of extravagant outside expenditure
heaped upon their department without any equivalent advantage. They had
been compelled to endure this indignity, because, as Service officers,
they dared not, for the sake of their then present position and possibly
their future, openly remonstrate or criticise, or even report the bare
facts concerning the all-too-palpable incompetence of this somewhat
Powerful Gentleman who had insisted on poking his officious and
inefficacious nose into a department which did not concern him, and the
existence of which it was his loyal duty to ignore.

Without a word of complaint (except to members of his executive, to whom
his language was as emphatic as it was sultry), our good old managing
chief set to work afresh. Within a couple of months he had straightened
out the line, when, to the astonishment of all concerned, the old enemy
appeared once more upon the scene. Moved either by jealousy, or by
vindictive spite at the success which followed where he had failed, he
again attacked the department by hitting at individual members of its
actively working executive! Remember, England was at war at the time;
thus a more unpatriotic action could hardly have been conceived. Yet the
Foreign Office, although impressively advised of the wrong-doing and the
probable consequences, either dared not or would not trouble itself to
investigate the details of the matter.

Yes, verily, my friends, _suppressio veri_ has much to answer for. It is
well for some of those who sit in high offices that a rigid censorship
and secrecy was maintained throughout the war; or the very walls of
England might have arisen in fierce mutiny.

Mr. Le Queux touches the point in his book on "German Spies in England,"
page 92:

"We want no more attempts to gag the Press, no evasive speeches in the
House, no more pandering to the foreign financier, or bestowing upon him
Birthday Honours: no more kid-gloved legislation for our monied enemies
whose sons, in some cases, are fighting against us, but sturdy, honest,
and deliberate action--the action with the iron hand of justice in the
interests of our own beloved Empire."

Whilst Burnod--"Maxims de Guerre de Napoléon"--quotes: "It is the
persons who would deceive the people and exploit them for their own
profit that are keeping them in ignorance."

Napoleon's greatness was achieved by employing only the best men
obtainable for positions of the highest responsibility. His most
important officer in the Secret Service Department seems to have been a
German, by name Karl Schulmiester, who drew the princely salary of
£20,000 per annum. Proved efficiency was the little Corsican's only

Germany has learnt well from this lesson. Soldiers, sailors, and
business men waged her war. Not a lawyer or professional politician took
part in it except in the trenches. Germany entrusted the administration
of her affairs to experts. Blue blood, patronage, and reputation carried
neither weight nor meaning. It was ruthless, but it was business--it was
war. The magic of a great military name did not save Lieutenant-General
Helmuth von Moltke from dismissal from the Head of the German staff when
the Kaiser was convinced of his inefficiency. Vice-Admiral von Engenohl,
Commander-in-Chief of the High Canal Fleet, had to retire in favour of
Admiral von Pohl owing to failures; whilst the septuagenarian father of
bureaucrats, Dr. Kuhn, had to vacate finance in order to make way for
the professional banker, Dr. Helfferich, who although quite unknown to
distinction was appointed Chancellor of the Imperial Exchequer.

From the very commencement, Germany appointed experts over each
department of her colossal war machine--_expert business men_. Every
solitary industry which has aught to do with war-making was linked up
with the Government. By way of example there was a Cotton Council, a
Coal Advisory Board, a Motor and Rubber Committee, a Chemical Committee,
etc., etc.

That able journalist, Mr. F. W. Wile, has proved again and again by his
articles that war is and always has been a scientific business with
Germany. He argues that there is nothing hyperphysical or mysterious
about the successes she achieved. They were essentially material. German
soldiers are not supermen, or as individual warriors the equal to those
of many other nations. Their victories have been due to a chain of very
obvious and systematic circumstances: to organisation, strict
discipline, thoroughness, and far-sighted expert management; in other
words, making a business of their business and employing therein only
business men who know the business.

Apologising for this partial digression from the main subject matter,
the French Secret Service of modern times has been principally conducted
on the Dossier principle, which came to light in the Dreyfus affair. In
the present war this system has seemingly been of little practical
value, and France has had to depend almost entirely upon her Allies for
foreign intelligence work. Eighteen months after the war commenced her
foreign Secret Service department was said to have practically closed
down for want of finances, so far as the north of Europe was concerned.

Harking back to before the South African War, we find that Paul Kruger,
the late President of the South African Republic, was a great believer
in an efficient up-to-date Secret Service department, and vast sums were
expended by him with little, if any, inquiry or vouching. Messrs. D.
Blackburn and Captain W. Waithman Caddell, in their book on "Secret
Service in South Africa," record how Tjaard Kruger, a son of the
President of the Transvaal Republic, who was for a short time Chief of
the Secret Service Bureau, paid £2,800 in one afternoon in 1906, out of
the many thousands of pounds in gold coinage which he always kept in his
office, to casual callers only, to men who came accredited by some
person in authority as being able to supply valuable information.

Tjaard Kruger was succeeded in office by a most clever and interesting
celebrity, Dr. Leyds, Secretary of State, who was the only man who made
the department a success. He showed the unfailing tact of the born
diplomat. He was a great reader of character and formed a pretty
accurate estimate of a person in a surprisingly short time. He conducted
his affairs so delicately and diplomatically that he won universal
esteem and the staunchest and most loyal adherents. He would hand over
disagreeable work to a subordinate so gracefully that it gave the
impression that he was relegating the work, not because it irked him,
but because he had found a man more capable than himself--the man whom
he had long sought.

Dr. Leyds' letters of instructions to his agents were clear, precise,
and exacting, and provided for every possible contingency; yet had they
fallen into the hands of the unauthorised they would have conveyed
little. These letters bespoke the diplomat. They would have come safely
out of an investigation by a committee of suspicious spy-hunters.

When he required to "draw" any person he would instruct his agents to
ascertain carefully that person's tastes, habits, prejudices, and
amusements. These he would study to the minutest trifle, and by skilful
play upon a weakness, or by the evidence of a similar taste, he would
successfully penetrate to the most exclusive and jealously guarded
sanctum sanctorum.

Mr. Hamil Grant is an author who may be congratulated upon his
carefully-compiled work, entitled, "Spies and Secret Service," which
contains the history of espionage from earliest times to the present
day. He shows how the practice was used by Joshua, David, Absalom, and
the mighty warriors whose deeds of valour are recorded in the Old
Testament. He quotes Alexander Mithridates, the King of Pontus, who
made himself the master of twenty-five languages and spent seven years
wandering through countries he subsequently fought and vanquished. He
traces developments from Alexander the Great, who lived 300 years before
Christ and was the first known to start secret post censorship; from
Hannibal, who could never have crossed from Andalusia over the Pyrenees
and the Alps into the plains of Piedmont to fight the battle of Trebia
(218 B.C.) without the assistance he received from the intelligence
scouts who preceded him. He points out how Cæsar and the great generals
who conquered Europe invariably used scouts and intelligence agents. He
quotes Napoleon's admission of indebtedness to Polyænus for original
strategic ideas of espionage; whilst he has much to say in proving that
no war of either ancient or modern times was successful without it.

His most interesting chapters are those dealing with the rise of the
Prussian empire, which he claims to have been built almost entirely upon
such an unenviable foundation. The author has taken the liberty of
quoting somewhat numerous extracts as follows:

     "The Modern System of espionage seems to have been originally
     conceived by Frederick the Great of Prussia and subsequently
     elaborated into a kind of National Philosophy by writers like
     Nietzsche, Treitschke and Bernhardi. But a nation which is ruled as
     if it were a country of convicts actual or potential cannot fail
     inevitably to develop in a pronounced degree those symptoms of
     character and predisposition which land its converts in the
     correction institutions where they are most commonly to be found.

     "Baron Stein, a well-known statesman of the Napoleonic period, was
     responsible for the practical application of the theories in the
     philosophy of Frederick the Great. He was followed by the
     celebrated Dr. Stieber, who had the handling of millions of pounds
     at his discretion and whose character had all those elements which
     were associated with the criminal who operates along the higher
     lines. He was a barrister, born in Prussia in 1818, and he first
     curried favour with the officials by persuading his friends and
     relations to enter into illegal acts in order that he might betray
     them for his own advantage. The German word _stieber_ seems
     appropriate; in our language it means sleuth-hound. In appearance
     he represented an inquisitor of old. His eyes were almost white and
     colourless, whilst there were hard drawn lines about his mouth.
     With subordinates he adopted the loud airs of a master towards
     slaves. In the presence of high authorities he was self-abasing and
     subdued, with a smile of deferential oiliness and acquiescence,
     with much rubbing of hands.

     "He seemed to have commenced Secret Service work with a standing
     salary of £1,200 a year, in addition to which he received side
     emoluments. He organised an internal and external service with
     complete independence from all other official bodies, subsidised by
     full and adequate appropriations from Parliament. His system was
     thorough. He commenced by spying into the privacies of the Royal
     family and Court and Government officials, Army and Naval officers,
     and everybody of the slightest importance, down to the labourers'
     and the workmen's organisations. In a very few years his nominal
     salary had risen to £18,000, but about 1863, in spite of his having
     been honoured with every German decoration conceivable, he was for
     a couple of years suspended from office, during which period he
     organised the Russian Secret Police.

     "With Stieber's assistance, Bismarck struck down Denmark in 1864,
     Austria in 1866, and France in 1870. Even Moltke, the great
     Prussian organiser of victory, was astonished and astounded at the
     vast amount of valuable military information by which Stieber had
     facilitated the rapid advance of his armies.

     "As a preliminary journey into France in 1867, Stieber appointed
     1,000 spies, within the invasion zone, with head centres at
     Brussels, Lausanne, and Geneva; and on his return he handed over to
     Bismarck some 1,650 reports which contained full military and
     original maps of the French frontiers and the invasion zone. Year
     by year this army of spies was increased, until in 1870 Stieber
     had between 30,000 and 40,000 on his pay-roll.

     "In 1867 an attempt was made on the life of Alexander the Second of
     Russia when on a visit to Paris in order to create a closer
     Franco-Russian Alliance, which dastardly act was planned by Stieber
     in order to be frustrated by him. When the assassin was tried for
     his life the jury were bought by Prussian gold to acquit the
     accused in order that the two nations could be kept apart and the
     object of the journey thereby frustrated, but whether it was the
     fertile brain of Bismarck or Stieber who planned the scheme of the
     plot will never be known.

     "In 1870 Stieber boasted that he controlled the opinions of some
     eighty-five writers in the French daily and weekly newspapers,
     furthermore that he had paid sympathisers on the Austrian, Italian,
     and English Press in addition.

     "By 1880 Stieber and Prince Bismarck had extended their organised
     system materially as well as personally, which can be seen in the
     present day network of railway lines and stations controlled solely
     for militarist uses rather than for the development of the country;
     whilst the funds demanded yearly from the Reichstag for Secret
     Service work increased proportionately.

     "No one but a native of Prussia was allowed to hold any responsible
     position in Prussia, yet in 1884 there were 15,000 Germans or
     semi-foreigners serving on the French railways, all of them more or
     less in the employ of the German Espionage Bureau and prepared to
     destroy the plant, the lines, the buildings, and to paralyse French
     mobilisation at the word of command.

     "In addition to this, Stieber's plans embraced upheavals in all
     industrial classes.

     "It was German gold which instigated and carried through the
     Dreyfus agitation, also the Association Bill which brought about
     the disestablishment of the Church of France and the so-called
     Agadir incident in the spring of 1911, which coincided so
     remarkably with the devastating strikes in Great Britain.

     "It is a cry of the Fatherland that every good citizen is required
     to pay taxes, build barracks, and shut his mouth.

     "The recent agitations in Ireland and practically all the strikes
     in England have been indirectly supported by German gold; to which
     the circulation of the extraordinary manifesto in August, 1914, was
     also directly traceable. £4,000 was used for the purposes of the
     French Railway Strike of 1893; in the same year a local
     subscription of £48 was raised for a bootmakers' strike at Amiens,
     whilst an alleged sympathetic £1,000 was sent from Frankfort.

     "The English suffragettes are also said to have received thousands
     of pounds from unknown sources which in reality were German.

     "Stieber died in 1892, possessed of over £100,000.

     "As a part of his deep-rooted policy multitudes of Germans were
     sent to France, England, and elsewhere to establish small
     businesses, practically every one of which was subsidised by the
     German Secret Service Office; as also were German clerks and others
     who could obtain positions giving access to information of any
     value. Stieberism practically demoralised the entire German nation,
     whilst it inoculated its poison into other European countries in
     such a manner that their energies and sound judgment seem to have
     been paralysed in more ways than one.

     "Stieberists follow the same creed as Jesuits, 'All is justifiable
     in the interests of the future of the Fatherland.'

     "Major Steinhauer succeeded Stieber, and the present Secret Service
     Bureau of Berlin was in his hands when this war started. He also
     was a past master in the art of organisation. The entry into
     Brussels of 700,000 men without inconvenience or mishap was
     practically entirely due to his organisation. Over 8,000 spies had
     been placed on the various routes between Aix-la-Chapelle and Saint
     Quentin, whilst those in the Belgian capital had some two or three
     years previously actually worked out on paper the billets and
     lodgings for all those troops in advance.[6]

     "The ordinary German Secret Service agent started with a salary of
     £200 a year and 10s. a day expenses, with a bonus for each job to
     an unlimited amount. Whilst abroad or on any matter of delicacy,
     out-of-pocket allowances were increased to £2 a day, but 33% of all
     current monies owing was kept back as a safety-valve until he left
     the service.

     "Amongst the members were to be found Princes, Dukes, Counts,
     Barons, Lawyers, Clergymen, Doctors, Actresses, Actors, Mondaines,
     Demi-Mondaines, Journalists, Authors, Money-lenders, Jockeys,
     Printers, Waiters, Porters; practically every class of society was

     "The remuneration cannot be considered high when compared with the
     dangers undertaken, and since no official countenance was ever
     given (nor indeed expected) on the part of the agents once one of
     them fell into the hands of the enemy, the game was far from being
     worth the worry and strain it entailed.

     "The training and examination before efficiency was reached were
     far more difficult than our cadets would have to pass at Woolwich
     or Sandhurst, or even officers for a staff college appointment."

The head offices of the German Secret Service Department, which was
presided over by the Kaiser himself, were situated in Berlin at
Koenigergratzerstrasse No. 70. So far as callers were concerned the same
routine was followed as at our War Office and Admiralty: the portals
were guarded by commissionaires who kept records of every visitor, with
such particulars as they could gather. Army or Naval officers were in
charge of all departments. They planned the work, but they never or very
rarely executed it. The secretaries and general assistants were all
civilians. No Ambassadors, Ministers, secretaries of legation, envoys,
plenipotentiaries, consuls, or recognised officials were permitted to
interfere in any way with the work of this department, although they
undoubtedly gave it every material assistance whenever they could.
History has clearly proved this. No jealousies or acts of favouritism to
relatives and the nominees of indirect influences were countenanced.
For such an offence the very highest in office would at once be deposed
and punished, whilst there was no appeal to a Parliament, Congress,
Chamber of Deputies, or political newspapers, against the Kaiser's
decision. He was not only the supreme head of what he himself described
as "My army of spies scattered over Great Britain and France, as it is
over North and South America, as well as the other parts of the world,
where German interests may come to a clash with a foreign power," but he
took a very keen interest in their individual work. Efficiency and
obedience only counted in his estimation.

The persons selected for this work were specially trained in preparation
for the prospective tasks ahead of them. For days, weeks, and months, as
the case may be, they were grounded in topography, trigonometry,
mechanics, army and naval work; with a mass of detail which might be of
service, possibly when least expected. Their studies embraced visits to
the big Government construction works and yards; they were made familiar
with all necessary knowledge concerning war-ships, submarines,
torpedoes, aircraft, guns and fortifications; silhouettes of vessels;
uniforms of officers; secret surveys of interesting districts; signals,
codes, telegraphs and multitudinous other matters which the
thorough-going German considered absolutely essential to the training of
an efficient Secret Service agent.

Mr. Le Queux, to whom all honour is due for his persistent and patriotic
efforts in unmasking German spies, their systems and organisations in
this country, corroborates Mr. Hamil in recording that the German Secret
Service dates back to about 1850, when an obscure Saxon named Stieber
began the espionage of revolutionary socialists, from which original
effort the present department originated. Also that the work was
fostered under the royal patronage of Frederick William, the King of
Prussia, which guarded it against anti-counter plotting from both
militarism and police, and which permitted it to grow and flourish until
it ultimately became the most powerful and feared department of the
State. In August, 1914, with an income approximating £750,000 per
annum, the agents of the German Secret Service extended all over the
world, organised to perfection as are the veins and arteries
perambulating the flesh and tissues of a man's body.

Herr Stieber's present-day successor, Herr Steinhauer, also seemed to
enjoy the full confidence of His Majesty the Kaiser. He was then between
forty and fifty years of age, charming in manners, excellent in
education and of good presence. This officer of the Prussian Guard is
well known throughout the capitals of Europe. He has collected
information concerning every foreign land which is almost incredible. He
had maps of the British Isles which in minute detail and accuracy
surpass our own Ordnance Survey. The Norwegian fiords were better known
to German navigation lieutenants than to the native pilots and fishermen
who daily use them. These are facts which practical experts in many
countries have seen put to successful tests since the world-war started.

For some years Mr. Le Queux made it his hobby to follow up the movements
of German spies in England. He collected information of value and
importance which he says he placed in the hands of our Government
officials, but that our Government departments were so hopelessly bound
up and entangled by red-tapeism that for years his communications and
warnings fell upon ears that would not listen, eyes that would not see,
brains that would not believe, and hands that would not act.

The late Lord Roberts, who devoted his life to his country, referred to
this in the House of Lords some ten years before the present war, but
the Liberal and Radical politicians scoffed and laughed at him; as they
did when he urged other reforms so sound, so urgent, and so necessary
for our very existence. Now prayers are offered for the dead who never
would have died had these warnings been accepted in time.

German espionage in England has been worked from Brussels, the chief
bureau being situate in the Montagne de la Coeur; whilst Ostend and
Boulogne were favoured rendezvous for those engaged in the work and the

Large English towns and counties were divided into groups or sections.
In each were selected numerous acting agents who received small
periodical payments for services rendered. Such sections acted under the
supervision of a Secret Service agent, the whole system being visited
from time to time by agents higher up in the service, who paid over all
monies in cash, collected reports, and gave further instructions. The
favourite cloak or guise to conceal identity was usually that of a
commercial traveller.

It is a great pity that full reports of various trials of German spies
captured in England have not been permitted to be made public in the
Press, passing, of course, under a reasonable censorship which would
have deleted only such parts as referred to matters affecting the safety
of the realm. The scales would then perhaps have fallen from the eyes of
our fatuous and blinded public. And many another secret enemy who was,
or had been, working throughout the war, would have been reported and
laid by the heels; as well as many a noble life spared which has fallen
through such short-sighted folly.

If the public are under the impression that the great round-up of over
14,000 German, Austrian, and foreign spies so actively at work in
England at the outbreak of war, and within a few weeks thereof, was due
to our Secret Service Department, it is labouring under a great
delusion. The credit for this exceedingly valuable work is due to the
energy, zeal, and intelligence of Scotland Yard, backed up by thoroughly
efficient police officers throughout the country, which force is without
doubt the finest in the world.

Our censorships are also separate departments run on their own lines and
quite apart from any direct control from the Secret Service.

On January 7th, 1916, Mr. J. L. Balderston, the special correspondent of
the _Pittsburg Despatch_, U.S.A., published data he had collected in
Europe showing that German propaganda had been carried on with feverish
energy in eighteen neutral countries, two of which had been won over at
a cost of £19,000,000, and one lost after a vain expenditure of
£10,000,000. During the first eighteen months of war, Germany had spent
no less than £72,600,000 to foster intimidation, persuasion, and
bribery, in conjunction with her colossal Secret Service system.

The following extract gives the estimated expenditure in each country
where German agents were at work:

     United States   £15,000,000
     Turkey           14,000,000
     Italy            10,000,000
     Bulgaria          5,000,000
     Greece            4,000,000
     China             4,000,000
     Sweden            3,000,000
     Roumania          3,000,000
     Persia            3,000,000
     Spain             3,000,000
     Holland           2,000,000
     Norway            1,600,000
     Denmark           1,000,000
     Switzerland       1,000,000
     Argentine         1,000,000
     Brazil            1,000,000
     Chili               600,000
     Peru                400,000
               Total £72,600,000

The moderation of the estimate that only £15,000,000 has been spent in
influencing the United States, a figure half or one-third of that often
mentioned in America, is also characteristic of the other estimates, all
of which are probably too low, since they deal only with expenditures
which have been traced or have produced observable results, such as
harems for Persian potentates, or palaces for Chinese mandarins, or
motor-cars for poor Greek lawyers who happen to be members of Parliament
on the King's side.

It should also be noted that no attempt is made here to deal with the
German system of espionage in hostile countries, or with the organised,
but of course secret, attempt to sow sedition among the subjects of
Great Britain, France, and Italy, in India, South Africa, Egypt,
Tripoli, and Tunis.

To the German Government, the stirring up of trouble in the dependencies
of her enemies is an aim of perhaps equal importance with that of
winning over neutrals to be actively or passively pro-German.

Returning to the actual work of the English Secret Service agents, it
is soon noted that any ordinary British Service officer of a few years'
standing is a marked man in whatever society he may find himself. His
bearing and mannerisms invariably give him away. There may be
exceptions, in which he can disguise himself for a time, but that time
will be found to be much too short. There are, of course, in the Service
many officers who are different from the ordinary standard, men whose
veins tingle with the wanderlust of the explorer or adventurer, or who
are of abnormal or eccentric temperament; men who generally hold
themselves aloof from the fashionable society vanities, which in the
past have been dangled too much and too closely round our
stripe-bedecked uniforms to be good for efficiency. But even with these
men, after they have been a few years in the Service, they find that
their greatest difficulty is to conceal that fact. It should be
unnecessary to add that for the particular work which is under
discussion it could hardly be considered an advantage for anyone to
start out labelled with his profession and nationality. What ruled Rome
so successfully in olden times should have taught the world its lesson;
namely, a triumvirate.

In this particular venture, a naval man, a military man, and a civilian
strike one as a good combination to be allotted to a given centre of
importance. A paradoxical coalition abroad, in that it should ever be
apart and yet together; each should know the other and yet be strangers;
each should be in constant touch with the others' movements and yet be
separated by every outward sign. The duties of Service men should be
limited to those of consulting experts, whilst specially selected and
trained individuals should be employed to carry out active requirements.
In some places and in some instances Service men can undertake executive
work better perhaps than anyone else could do; but these opportunities
are limited. Perhaps they may almost be classed as the exceptions which
prove the rule.

There seems to be an unwritten rule in the British Secret Service that
no one should be engaged for any position of any importance below the
rank of captain. In the head office it was a saying: "We are all
captains here." And it may be assumed that every officer so engaged in
the Intelligence also ranked as a staff officer.

Most people have an idea that the pay in the British Secret Service is
high, even princely. On this they may as well at once undeceive
themselves; the pay is mean compared with the risks run, yet officers
are keen on entering the B.S.S., as it is known to be a sure
stepping-stone to promotion and soft fat future jobs.

Germany was said to vote about £750,000 per annum to cover direct Secret
Service work, in addition to £250,000 for subsidising the foreign Press;
£1,000,000 each year in all. Yet certain members of the House of Commons
grudgingly and somewhat reluctantly gave their consent to the £50,000
originally asked for at the end of 1914 by the English Secret Service

The actual amounts voted and expended on English Secret Service work are
shown hereunder.

_Year ending 31st March._      _Grant._              _Expended._

         1912                   £50,000                 £48,996
         1913                    50,000                  48,109
         1914                    50,000                  46,840
         1915                   110,000                 107,596
         1916                   400,000                 398,698
         1917                   620,000                 593,917
         1918                   750,000                 740,984
         1919                 1,150,000               1,207,697
         1920                   200,000              (_not known_)

How much of the money was actually available for direct Secret Service
work, and how much may have been diverted into other or indirect
channels (_exempli gratia_--the Liberal solatium of £1,200 per annum to
Mr. Masterman for perusing foreign newspapers)[7] is not known; nor has
the government allowed any explanation to be given.

Mr. Thomas Beach, of Colchester, Essex, whose identity was for so many
years and so very successfully concealed under the pseudonym of Major
Henri le Caron, and by whose energies the United Kingdom was saved the
loss of many millions of money and many thousands of lives, proves, from
so far back as the year 1867 and for the twenty-five years following,
during which period he was employed in the Secret Service of the British
Government and stultifying the popular fiction which associates with
such work fabulous payments and frequent rewards, that "there is in this
service only ever-present danger and constantly recurring difficulty;
but of recompense a particularly scant supply."

At the conclusion of his somewhat interesting volume "The Recollections
of a Spy," he complains bitterly of the meanness and cheese-paring
methods of the British Government: "On this question of Secret Service
money I could say much. The miserable pittance doled out for the purpose
of fighting such an enemy as the Clan-na-Gael becomes perfectly
ludicrous in the light of such facts as I have quoted in connection with
the monetary side of the dynamite campaign." After quoting the vast sums
used by the enemy he adds: "How on earth can the English police and
their assistants in the Secret Service hope to grapple with such
heavily-financed plots as these on the miserable sums granted by
Parliament for the purpose?... Some day, however, a big thing will
happen--and then the affrighted and indignant British citizen will turn.
The fault will be the want of a perfect system of Secret Service,
properly financed.... Imagine offering men in position a retainer of £20
a month with a very odd cheque for expenses thrown in! The idea is
ridiculous. I have heard it urged that the thought of Secret Service is
repugnant to the British heart, wherein are instilled the purest
principles of freedom. The argument has sounded strange in my ears when
I remembered that London, as somebody has said, is the cesspool of
Europe, the shelter of the worst ruffians of every country and clime.
America is called the Land of the Free, but she could give England
points in the working of the Secret Service, for there there is no
stinting of men or money."

What a contrast were the life and actions of this man to Nathan Hale,
one of the heroes of the American War of Independence, who said: "Every
kind of service necessary for the public good becomes honourable by
being necessary. If one desires to be useful, if the exigencies of his
country demand a peculiar service, its claims to the performance of that
service are imperious."

When caught and sentenced to be shot he exclaimed:

"I only regret that I have but one life to sacrifice for my country."

Throughout the period that I was connected with the B.S.S. there were
constant difficulties about money. Had not my personal credit been good,
which enabled me to raise large amounts almost everywhere I happened to
travel, I, or my colleagues, might have been stranded again and again.
It was nothing unusual for appeals to be made to me to act as banker and
Good Samaritan until long-deferred payments eventually arrived.

In the early days most of the B.S.S. agents travelling abroad seemed to
labour under the same difficulty: a shortage of funds and overdue
accounts wanting payment. It may not have been any fault of, but merely
an eccentricity of, our good old managing chief; be that as it may,
impecuniosity never bothered me. Some of the others got very angry about
it, whilst their irritation increased as their banking accounts became
more heavily overdrawn.

So far as actual pay went, a B.S.S. man drew the equivalent to his
ordinary army or naval pay, with nothing over for rations or extras. He,
however, returned a list of his travelling expenses and hotel bills
which were agreed to be refunded each month. If he were a married man,
he had to pay his wife's and his family's expenses out of his own
pocket, should it be necessary for any of them to accompany him, which
often absorbed the whole of his pay and a good bit above it. If he
entertained anyone with a view to drawing out some point of useful
intelligence, it would be passed in general expenses, provided the
outlay was exceedingly moderate. But the members of the executive with
whom I came in contact were inclined to be of the parsimonious type,
much too much afraid to spend a sovereign, either because they could not
really afford it, or for fear they would never see it back again. Their
entertaining was conspicuous by its absence, which necessitated a rather
heavier drain upon my pocket and upon my good nature. It had at times to
be done, and someone had to do it; that someone was nearly always
myself. The Chief preached economy at all times and he religiously
practised it. It was paradoxical in that if a big amount was wanted for
some exceedingly doubtful purpose no limit seemed to be made; the
wherewithal was almost certain to be forthcoming to meet the demand. But
the loyal Britisher who came along to help the Service and his country
in her hour of need, who freely and ungrudgingly offered to sacrifice
everything he possessed in order to serve, who worked for nothing or
practically nothing, and who perhaps paid a good part of his own
expenses, received an absurdly small remuneration and little if any
thanks; most certainly he never received a line in writing from anyone
in high authority to express his country's gratitude.

Those who sit in chairs in Whitehall take their regular fat salaries and
periodical distinctive honours as a matter of course. They are the men
who watch the wheels revolving. They collect and hand over results, the
fruit garnered in by others working in the twilight which shades their
individuality. With the Powers-that-be these men (the gentlemen who sit
in chairs) are ever in the official limelight, whilst the reckless,
devil-may-care workers over the horizon, the men who carry their life in
their hands and who go right into the lion's den to collect facts and
data which often mean success or defeat in battles raged elsewhere, or
who manipulate and pull the strings on the spot, seem to be ignored and
forgotten. The secrecy of the Service is so absolute that no mention of
the way their work is accomplished may be made. The cloak of mystery is
drawn so completely over the whole department that no matter what
sacrifice a member may make for his country's sake, no matter what
bravery he may have exhibited in almost every instance alone and
unsupported, probably in an enemy's domain as one man facing a host of
his country's enemies, his deeds are unrecorded, unhonoured and unsung.
Whilst he is in the Service he is merely a cypher, a unit, an atom. When
he has left it he is hardly remembered as once a member. What of it? He
only did his duty. Now he is out of the Service he is no longer
interesting, he ceases to exist. The big wheel of life continues to
revolve. The B.S.S. Department is but a very minute little wheel which
cogs into the larger machinery of State in its own respective corner. As
the rim of this very minor wheel comes up from the dark recesses of the
working world and the separate cogs become revealed, those in authority
who sit watching each and every cog, upon the stamina and reliability of
which so much depends, from time to time find one that cannot stand the
strain, because it is hurt or damaged, either in body, or in mind, or in
fortune. It is at once removed. We are at war. Sentiment is dead and
buried, except with the weak, who in life's battles are crushed and
accordingly find themselves forced to the wall. Any cog believed to show
signs of weakness is instantly extracted, and those who sit and watch
the wheels revolve seek another piece of tougher and believed to be
better material which may come to hand, and which they force into the
vacant space created. For a second perhaps the discarded hard-used cog
is looked at with admiration for past and valued service when knowingly
driven at highest pressure; or with regret at having to part with such a
tried and trusted friend; then it is hurled into outer darkness, on to
the scrap-heap of broken and forgotten humanity. The new cog is pushed
in and hammered home, it is smeared with the grease of experience, and
the wheel continues its monotonous revolution.

Such is a good similitude of the short and exciting life of a Secret
Service agent.


[5] "So far from co-operating, the Army and the Navy were rival
purchasers of aircraft."--Mr. Ellis Griffith, House of Commons, February
16th, 1916. See also Air Defence Debate in House of Commons, March 22nd,
1916. At Hull, which was under military control, it was rumoured that a
certain naval officer, in command of a small warship lying in the Humber
at the time of one of the first of the Zeppelin raids, was
court-martialled because he fired at and hit one of the Zeppelins whilst
it was bombarding the town, without having first received an order from
the Military permitting him to do so. Annals of Red-tapeism, June, 1915.

[6] This fact refutes the theoristic argument that Germany was forced at
the eleventh hour to invade Belgium.

[7] Reports of House of Commons.




The only open route to Northern Europe which members of belligerent
nations could safely take was through Bergen in Norway. The Wilson Line
from Hull to Christiania continued to run one weekly boat regularly,
which carried mails, general cargo, and an occasional passenger. It was
considered advisable by most people to avoid taking this boat.

From Newcastle a Norwegian Company ran a line of small steamers daily,
which had not been molested by submarines or warships. They were
mail-boats, and although their accommodation and fittings were far from
up-to-date, and travellers had to look after themselves much more than
they should have been called upon to do, they appeared to be crowded
each trip. The neutral flag and the shortest direct passage was
responsible for this.

There were many other available ways of crossing the North Sea open to
me, and no restrictions as to route had been laid down. I had simply to
visit a certain hotel in a certain town, in a certain country, at a
certain hour, on a certain date--arranged well ahead. The margin of time
allowed was ample for a crossing by sail if desired.

With a passport, a revolver, a bundle of English banknotes (of my own
providing), and as little luggage as possible, I made my way towards
Scotland to take ship for Norway and the beyond.

There were three vessels which sailed from the port of embarkation I
selected, two Norwegians and a Swede. One of the former was fortunately
taken. It was certainly fortunate, because the latter was blown up and
sunk by a mine within a few hours of her departure. Such is the luck of

The voyage across the North Sea was uneventful. It was rough, as it
generally is. The passengers were few. They were almost entirely Russian
Poles; I was the only Englishman on board, and there was one Japanese.
All were ill with sea-sickness, which was perhaps accentuated by a
deadly fear of mines and torpedoes. Few slept, less ate, and as they
were charged for the meals they did not consume the owners must have
made money, more particularly so when it is remembered that fifty per
cent. extra was charged in addition to the ordinary fares, to cover war

The sea seemed to be utterly devoid of life. Not a sail, not a column of
smoke, nor even a bird was sighted until the ship emerged from a
fog-bank, wherein she had rolled for many hours broadside on, within a
few miles of the outer island-barrier of the Norwegian coast.

To the ultimate intense relief of everybody the fog lifted, and a few
hours afterwards a small fishing-town on the south-west of Norway was
reached. Cargo was discharged, more cargo was taken on board, and again
the chains rattled in the hawser pipes; the engines throbbed and the
siren aroused echoes from the rocks around as the voyage was renewed

Later in the day other towns were reached, and similar scenes repeated,
until near midnight the lights of the historic port of Bergen danced in
the distance.

Securing the services of a friendly native, one of the numerous
hangers-on who flit round the quays of seaport towns in every land in
the hope of picking up money with the least possible exertion expended
to earn it, I made my way to a quiet hostelry in the quietest part of
the pleasant old town and installed myself as comfortably as
circumstances permitted.

At the appointed place and hour, I strolled casually into the entrance
hall of a certain hotel and stood apparently puzzling over the railway
and steamboat time-tables which were hanging on the wall. Several people
were in evidence, but no one seemed to be particularly interested in
anyone else. I had been there quite a time, and was wondering how I
could explain my presence in order to excuse and justify a prolonged
lingering, when I observed a small-built, quiet inoffensive-looking
young man cross the hall and stop near the hotel register.
Absent-mindedly he tapped his teeth with his pince-nez, and muttered to
himself and half aloud, "I wonder if Mr. Jim has called for that

Now "Mr. Jim" was the password I had been instructed to listen for. The
unknown was to give me certain orders. Without them I would have been
like a ship in a gale minus the rudder.

The little man never looked at me nor even my way. He had stepped near
enough so that I could overhear his _sotto voce_, also within range of
two or three others who were congregated in the hall. His utterance was
low, but it was as clear as a bell, and he spoke in Norwegian.

No one took any notice of him or his remark. This, however, appeared to
trouble him not a bit. Adjusting his glasses he pulled a newspaper out
of his coat pocket and proceeded to make himself comfortable on a settee
in a remote corner, where he could observe all that passed and all who
came or went; provided he wished so to interest himself should the
contents of his paper fail to hold his attention.

Having marked down the man there was no need to hasten matters. Caution
at one's initiation is generally advantageous. Ten minutes later I
seated myself on the same settee as the stranger and also became
absorbed in a newspaper. Assuring myself that no one was within earshot
except the little gentleman before referred to, I murmured soft and low,
whilst I still appeared to be reading the paper: "I know Mr. Jim. Can I
give him the letter for you?"

"Who sent you to ask for it?" the stranger queried. I named a name which
was a countersign. "For whom does Mr. Jim require it?" I gave the third
and final word which proved beyond doubt my title to the precious
document in question.

During this short conversation both of us had been studying our
news-sheets, and unless an observer had been stationed within a few feet
of us, nothing transpired that could have given the smallest clue to the
fact that any communication had passed.

With no sign of recognition the little man got up to go. He left his
paper on the seat, and in passing me he whispered: "You will find the
letter in my _Evening News_. Good luck to you."

In the privacy of a bedroom the letter was opened. It was type-written,
with no address and no signature. It contained instructions to proceed
to another hotel two full days' journey away, where I was to look out
for, and make the acquaintance of, a certain English Staff Officer to
whom I had to deliver my dispatches.

It was fortunate I had provided myself with plenty of money. The ten
pounds for preliminary expenses, which was all I had been given, was
already over-exhausted, and travelling in those days of war scares, high
freights, and shortage of accommodation, was far more expensive than the
gentlemen who sit in easy-chairs at home would believe.

I was the only passenger on a semi-cargo boat which sailed next day for
the port desired. The weather was awful. Severe frost coated the deck
and rigging with ice, in places inches thick. Heavy snowstorms impeded
navigation, whilst again and again the vessel had to lay to for hours at
a stretch before her captain dare make any attempt at headway. Wrecks
were continually passed, not cheery encouragement to one's spirits;
whilst, generally speaking, that two days' voyage was about as severe a
shaking up as anyone could possibly expect to receive at any time, or
anywhere, during a year or more at sea.

During the night, about 2.0 a.m., the engines suddenly ceased running.
Feet pattered up and down the deck and everyone on board instinctively
became aware that something unusual had happened. Slipping on a thick
overcoat and a small Norwegian forage cap, I cautiously negotiated the
companion-way. I suspected a German war-vessel had held up the ship. If
so, I had no desire to meet any members of a boarding party until I had
destroyed the sealed dispatch entrusted to me. After turning over
possibilities in my mind I had decided to make use of the exhaust pipe
of the lavatory. It was therefore essential that one's lines of retreat
should be kept open without fear of being cut off.

It transpired, however, that my fears were groundless. The captain had
suddenly been taken ill, and an immediate operation seemed to the first
mate necessary as the only chance of saving his life. The ship had,
therefore, run to the neighbourhood of an island whereon a doctor was
known to reside, and the unfortunate captain was about to be conveyed

Poor chap! It subsequently transpired that he died the following day in
spite of every effort to save him.

During the voyage the ship touched at various small stations to deliver
and receive cargo. Sometimes a few passengers would come aboard,
generally for short trips. At one place a couple of Danes rushed over
the gangway as it was being dropped preparatory to departure. They had
made a record journey across the mountains, and exhibited intense
anxiety for expedition. They wanted to reach rail-head in order that
they could get back to their own country as soon as it was possible.

Why? That one little word gave something to concentrate one's thoughts
upon during the long hours at sea.

Danes, generally speaking, are heavy drinkers. They have a fondness for
spirits, particularly with their coffee. It was advisable to wait until
after the midday meal, when it was customary to repair to the
smoke-room, if further curiosity was to be satisfied. Securing a corner
seat I cocked up both my legs on to the settee and buried myself in a
book--the Sagas of the North. After ostentatiously appearing to drink a
number of small glasses of spirits, signs of somnolescence followed.
Soon the book dropped with a bang on the floor and intermittent snoring
became almost a nuisance to the only two other occupants of the saloon,
the Danish travellers.

The confined space of the apartment caused them by compulsion to sit
within a few feet of where I was lying. They had been whispering in so
low a tone that not a word could be heard. As the snoring increased they
raised their voices. Under the impression that the sleep was probably
alcoholic, they were soon discussing their affairs in distinctly audible
tones. And very interesting business it turned out to be.

Shortly, it concerned the purchase, transport, and delivery of some
hundreds of horses which they had been buying for and on behalf of, or
for resale to, the German Government. This business had apparently been
going on for some time. Denmark and Sweden had been early denuded of all
available horseflesh at enormous prices. Norway was now being swept

The two travellers were discussing the probabilities of any action being
taken by the British Minister at ---- to attempt to veto or put what
obstacles he was capable of in the way of this traffic.

One of the twain was a fat, good-natured man whom nothing seemed to
trouble. The other was thin and dyspeptic looking, who seemed suspicious
of his own shadow.

"He'll never be fool enough to sit quiet under the thousands we are
sending over," the latter remarked.

"Oh, he'll never trouble. Look at Consul ---- at ----. Ever since the
war broke out he has been sending hundreds of thousands of barrels of
herrings to Germany. He is shipping them off now, as fast as he can get
them. And, the devil burn me, he's the English Consul. The Minister has
never stopped him. Why should he trouble us?"

"But has he not power to remove him?" asked the thin man.

"Of course he has," replied fatty. "Ministers appoint and remove Consuls
as they please. And when an English Consul is allowed to rake in a
fortune in a few months, supplying the Germans with food, how can you
argue he will stop us dealing in horses _to go to Denmark_?"

"Anyhow, the sooner we can get ours through the more relieved I shall
be," grunted the other. "It will take them two days to reach ----, and
once they are shipped it's all right."

Their conversation drifted to other topics, and although I waited
patiently on the sofa for another hour nothing further of importance was
divulged. Some time after this an exceptionally heavy sea struck the
vessel, causing her to roll so heavily that everything on the tables was
spilt, whilst I was pitched, _nolens volens_, amongst the spittoons on
the floor. This foretaste of further rocking to come sent all three of
us to our respective berths.

On landing at the port of ---- I lost no time in searching for my
unknown Commanding Officer. The hotel which had been named to me was a
good one, its guests included many nationalities. At dinner I spotted
three men of military aspect, each of whom might well be the gentleman
in question. Coffee and a cigar in the lounge failed to procure any sign
of the expectant one; I therefore strolled out into the town to make a
few small purchases.

An hour later I returned. Only three people now occupied the lounge. One
of them undoubtedly was an army officer belonging to a smart regiment,
but it would have been difficult to guess to what country he belonged. A
first venture would probably have elicited German as the answer. All the
more reason for double caution, thought I to myself.

In nonchalant fashion I overhauled the mass of periodicals upon the
tables, and having selected a local one, settled myself down at ease in
a long deck-chair under a potted palm to watch and wait for possible

In half an hour's time two of the visitors departed, whereupon my
_vis-à-vis_ looked hard at me over the top of his newspaper and elevated
both eyebrows. I nodded. He smiled, and with a slight indication of the
head, implying that he wished to be followed, slowly left the room and
proceeded up the grand stairway. Waiting perhaps a quarter of an hour I
also took the same route. The first and second landings were devoid of
life. On the third I noticed a half-open door, which I entered as though
the room were my own; whilst I was quite prepared to apologise if a
mistake was made in my so doing.

Here, however, I found my friend of the elevating eyebrows, who received
me cordially, and I was introduced to his wife as an Englishman recently
arrived. I gave the name in which I had booked on arrival; my
newly-found friend did the same. This, of course, was not sufficient.
For some little time we talked of trivialities and verbally fenced, and
thrust, and parried, the while certain secret passwords were casually
introduced and exchanged in a somewhat similar manner as has before been
narrated in connection with the little gentleman at Bergen. When
assurance had become doubly sure, the door was locked and bolted, the
dispatch handed over, and the story of the horses told.

Thus it came to pass that I was first "blooded" in the Foreign Secret
Service of His Britannic Majesty's Government.




No reader must expect or anticipate a disclosure of the direct methods
which the British Secret Service uses for communicating with
headquarters. That is a carefully-guarded secret which no one in or out
of the Service would dream of referring to. Suffice it therefore to say
that it is difficult to conceive anything more clever or effective than
it is, both as to its efficiency and its celerity in use.

On the other hand, when Secret Service agents are working abroad they
must perforce rely upon codes of sorts, for means of intercommunication
between themselves, their friends and supporters. These codes are
invented by them entirely at their discretion. If they are wise in their
generation they never keep the same code too long in use, but change it,
at frequent intervals, for another entirely different in every respect.
Such codes cannot be too carefully prepared; whilst every user knows
that if his deception is discovered the consequences to himself might be
serious indeed. Simplicity is invariably the safest and most effective
rule to follow. In order to give the reader a good idea of how the work
was accomplished a couple of these codes are roughly outlined, with
examples of their working in each case.

One was used for sea work. It was a grammatical code, which, although
simple enough in its patent aspect, was not easy to memorise with that
strict accuracy which is so essential to future use. Shortly, this code
ran somewhat on the following lines, although English names are therein
substituted in order to give better illustration. Needless to add, these
messages were worded in the language of the country in which they were
despatched, and signed with an assumed name which would be in common use
in that country.


     I. Communications signed with _Christian Name_ refer to _War

     Communications signed with _Surname_ refer to _Merchant Ships_.

     II. _Please send a copy of_ "_The Times_" _to_ ... means "a base is
     being formed at ..."

     III. I received a letter from ... _on_ ...

     means {German auxiliary cruiser(s) in port at ...
           {German battleship(s) hanging about near ...

     IV. I received a message from ... _on_ ...

     means {German large merchant ship in port at ...
           {German cruiser hanging about near ...

     V. I am hoping to hear from ... _on_ ...

     means {German small merchant ship in port at ...
           {German torpedo-boat(s) hanging about near ...

     VI. I am expecting a message from ... _on_ ...

     means {German collier(s) in port at ...
           {German submarine(s) hanging about near ...

     VII. The _first blank_ in the sentence is to be filled in with the
     _name of the place_ at which the base is being formed, or at which
     the ships have been seen.

     VIII. The _second blank_ in the sentence, after the word "on" is to
     be filled in with a _day of the week_ indicating the number of
     ships seen (_see_ over, IX).

     IX. 1 is Monday
         2 is Tuesday
         3 is Wednesday
         4 is Thursday
         5 is Friday
         6 is Saturday
         7 is Sunday
         8 is Monday-week
         9 is Tuesday-week, and so on.
        15 is Monday-fortnight, and so on.

     X. If, _instead of the singular person_ "I am (had)," the _plural_
     "We are (had)" is written, it means that the ships in question, if
     merchantmen, have left port and are _going South_.

     XI. If neither the first person singular nor plural is written and
     the communication begins, for instance, "Letter from ... _on_ ..."
     it means that the ships in question, if merchantmen, have left port
     and are _gone North_.

     XII. Any mention of _illness_ means that the ships are _disabled_.

     XIII. _I am expecting a letter from_ ... _on_ ... means that
     several German warships (or merchantmen) of different classes (or
     sizes) have been seen.

     XIV. _Specimen message_:

     We are hoping to hear from Newcastle on Sunday.

      _signed_) CHARLES.

     _Decoded_, means 7 German warships have been observed outside
     Newcastle, proceeding South.

The week after my arrival, this code had been completed and put into
use. I was one evening sitting in the best and most popular restaurant
in a certain town. The place was crowded with customers and business was
brisk. The walls were decorated with magnificent frescoes by a
celebrated German artist. Hundreds of electric lamps added warmth and
attractiveness, whilst dreamy valse music from Wald Teufel, given by a
German orchestra, seemed to help the digestion. Between bites and sips
of German lager I was absorbed in the perusal of an evening news-sheet
wherein every belligerent army was reported to be making marvellous
forward movements, which, if half true, would have carried them
respectively quite through Europe and back again in the course of a few
weeks. Whenever my eye shifted from the newspaper to my plate an
opportunity offered to note casually my surroundings, as well as my
immediate neighbours. Two seats only were vacant. They were located next
my own and in due course were occupied by a young naval lieutenant
accompanied by an outwardly appearing charming demi-mondaine. The
champagne of sunny France soon loosened their tongues. But the more
their voices became raised the more absorbed I became in my reading.
Presently snatches of conversation drifted my way. The lady was
complimenting her gallant upon his patriotism and prowess. He, as the
Americans say, was blowing hot air. A listener's difficulty was to sift
the substance from the imaginary boasting. Subject matters dealt with
were mostly of a frivolous nature, but ever and anon the lieutenant
would return to his sea trips and the results from their patrolling.
_Inter alia_ he related the number of drifting mines taken up, vessels
sighted and submarine visitation, which matters only were of interest to
me. Presently he paused, then, sinking his voice almost to a whisper,
informed his enchantress that just before his ship entered port, that
very afternoon, a German cruiser had been sighted going full steam north
and close in shore. He proceeded by giving at length his personal
opinions and suppositions as to her destination and objective. Now I
happened to be aware of several objectives which would be very
attractive to such an enemy vessel. For some weeks I had been
over-anxious regarding the safety of a line of steamers, the
uninterrupted running of which was a matter of some importance to
England. And although I entertained considerable doubts regarding the
truth of the latter part of the young lieutenant's statement, yet I felt
that I should send the information along to headquarters for what it was
worth. So I despatched the following telegram:

     "Received letter from B ... on Monday about you from a chic lady
     although do not believe what she says.--CHRISTIAN."

Which on being decoded would run:

     "One enemy battleship is stated to be hanging around B ... going
     North. Information obtained through female source and doubtful."

It had been previously arranged that all local wires should be sent to a
certain individual at his private residence, who conveyed them to
another who had his fingers on the reins of management.

If the news contained was sufficiently important it would be transmitted
home, which would mean a duplicate communication and ensure a double
chance of safe arrival.

The first recipient at local headquarters was a man of gentle
disposition, a domesticated and homely parent, whose many years of
connubial bliss had never been marred by a single cloud of unhappiness.
He was one of those lovable personages who is generally captured by a
lady who may have enjoyed numerous innocent flirtations before marriage,
and consequently might perhaps be of a suspicious and jealous
disposition, who, knowing the goodness of heart of her spouse, might
imagine that every woman showing an amiable or friendly spirit towards
him was trying to wean his affections from herself; and who might
accordingly be always on the watch for all possible emergencies.

Never having seen, nor met, the good lady, I had no accurate data on
these points, but the fact is recorded that when the telegraph official,
who happened to be a personal friend of the addressee, received the
aforesaid message, he warned the telegraph delivery boy to give it only
to the addressee.

Unfortunately the addressee did not happen to be at home when the
message arrived, and his faithful wife answered the door. Having been
advised to a certain extent regarding these matters, and recognising the
boy who brought the message, she naturally pressed him upon the nature
of his errand and soon persuaded the reluctant youth to hand over the
missive, which she at once opened and read. Not knowing its hidden
meaning she jumped to wrong conclusions.

From the scraps of news which reached me afterwards relating to the
domestic tragedy which followed, I pieced together that the
believed-to-be wronged wife immediately donned her outdoor apparel in
order to seek out her Judas in lamb's-skin. Before she ran him to earth,
she had imagined the worst, and had worked herself up into a veritable
furore of unnecessary excitement.

What really happened when they met, what was said, or done, were details
which I never knew. But the unfortunate message-receiver implored me to
invent another code at my earliest convenience; one, for choice, which
was not quite so open to dual construction.

Most local codes, when and where possible, were worked out on domestic
lines. By way of example, familiar and commonplace names were selected
which could be found in an ordinary directory. To each was attached a
definite meaning, and the message would be worded so that anyone seeing
it would think it related to an ordinary everyday event. Christian names
might be coded to mean definite objects; to wit--Bertha, a battleship;
Dora, a torpedo boat destroyer; Sarah, a submarine; Tiny, a torpedo
boat; Mary, a merchantman; Connie, a collier; Trina, a trawler; Louisa,
an airship; and so on.

Surnames were useful to designate numerals; to wit--Oldman, one; Turner,
two; Truman, three; Smith, four; Jones, five; Robinson, six; and so on.

Knowing that every telegram was stamped with the name of the place it
was handed in at, the points of the compass, north, south, east, and
west were conveyed by including the name of some place which could be
found on any ordinary map within a reasonable radius of the place of

Time spoke for itself.

Thus, a telegram handed in at Lowestoft worded as follows:

     "Sent your housemaid Sarah Jones to Felixstowe 4 o'clock this

on being coded would read:

     "Five submarines passed Lowestoft at 4 o'clock this afternoon
     steaming south."

Any reference to an illness meant that damage had been done, or that a
vessel had been adversely affected to some extent. Any reference to a
marriage or engagement meant that a combat or battle had taken place.
"In bed" conveyed the news that a ship or ships had been sunk. "Put to
bed" meant sunk, annihilation, or defeat, according to the context;
mention of "delirium or head sickness" conveyed suspicions, or
suspicious circumstances; "doctor called in" that the enemy (or others,
as the context might convey) had retired, or been put to flight, whilst
any direct, or indirect, reference to "remaining here, or at some named
place," that the object or objects in question were still there or
likely to remain.

The above-mentioned outline should be sufficient to convey to the reader
an idea of how the stunt worked out in practice.

That these messages were often tapped and became the subject of racking
headaches to the code decipherers who attempted to unravel them, was
quite probable. When we could we tried on the same thing ourselves; such
was considered only fair in love as well as in war. Lady telegraph and
telephone operators are sometimes amenable to flattery and judiciously
administered attentions. It is also within the bounds of possibility
that an occasional one might be met with who might not object to test a
communication with a semblance of reason; whilst one of the most
interesting enemy codes we managed to intercept during our rambles was
confined to the limits of a postage-stamp. It meant not only
intercepting the letter or postcard but having to unstick the stamp and
test it before the message could be copied.

It is not at all necessary, however, to pursue this subject further,
but once upon a time during the continuance of this war a certain
message was handed in at a certain telegraph office in Holland to cable
to a certain address in the U.S.A., which ran as follows:

     "Father dead."

The telegraph operator, for some reason which we need not trouble to
inquire into, altered the wording to "Father deceased," and then
despatched the message in the usual manner.

Immediately came back the reply:

     "Is father really dead _or only deceased_?"

The following up of that simple message cost one Government a
considerable sum of money, but it was well worth the outlay.

To those who seek the sunny side of life, humour can be found in all
things. Once at a funeral, when the author was broken in body and soul
with the painful agony of dry tears, kind Providence sent relief from an
unexpected quarter. In the pew immediately in front were seated two
mourners, one a tiny man, the other about 350 lbs. in weight, whose head
was nearly as big as the puny man's whole body. On leaving the church
for the graveside each took the other's hat by mistake and they got
separated in the crowd. At the close of the service they unconsciously
and solemnly put on the hats they respectively held. That of the tiny
man did not find resting-place until it had covered his head, ears, and
face, and settled on his shoulders. That of the enormously fat man
looked like a pea on a drum.

Likewise it was with our local code messages. Their use in practice was
often the innocent cause of much trouble; more often, perhaps, the
source of some humour. The gentle cherub who had undertaken the
collection of messages and who has recently been hereinbefore referred
to, maybe received another shock to his domestic bliss; and that only a
week after the one before related. It is much to be feared that he did
not fully appreciate the humorous side. However, as it gives an
excellent illustration of the practical and simple working of the
last-mentioned code, it is narrated.

The facts are as follows:

I one day received this request.

     "I shall be exceedingly obliged if you will undertake to deliver
     this package to ---- personally. If you could start at once it
     would be very good of you; but please understand, no living soul
     may see the contents of this packet except ---- himself."

I bowed my acceptance of the mission, murmuring how honoured I felt at
an opportunity to render service to the illustrious personage soliciting
my assistance. Then I hastened to my hotel to prepare for immediate

The midnight express to ---- was crowded. On the platform a few minutes
before the scheduled time of leaving, representatives from almost every
country in Europe could have been picked out. Detectives and Secret
Servant agents glided through the crowd, observing, watching and noting
the many strange and familiar faces. Their work meant an added
consumption of current on the wires. The vacant stare, the side glance,
or the wooden far-away expression of countenance, conveyed much to these
men. To them it was always interesting to try and read the working of
the brain behind. But I was a traveller and the doings of these
night-hawks interested me but little, beyond such casual observation as
could be made during a quick passage to the train.

In the corridor of the car to which I was allotted were several Germans.
Two in particular I instinctively feared. Their faces were familiar. One
of them had secured a berth in my compartment, and addressing me in
excellent Danish, showed a desire to be affable. It was unsought, but it
would perhaps be dangerous not to reciprocate.

Soon after the train had started on its journey I politely offered to
share some refreshment with this fellow-traveller, which, however, that
astute gentleman politely but firmly declined. It was an easy matter to
guess the suspicious working in his mind. He meant to pass a sleepless
night. So did I.

In due course I retired to rest, and the German secured the door of the
cubicle before climbing to his berth, which was above mine. As soon as
he was comfortably settled I opened the door he had closed. The German
waited a while, and then, very stealthily, shut it again. I waited about
a like period and reopened it. So the game proceeded, until about four
o'clock in the morning the German complained of the draught. In the most
polite language that could be commanded I replied by commenting upon the
extreme heat and the unhygienic practice of curtailing fresh air.

At 6 a.m. the German decided to seek another car, at which I inwardly
rejoiced exceedingly. No sooner had he departed than I secured the door
and enjoyed a refreshing sleep of several hours.

Later that morning the door-closing German was observed in close
consultation with his companion. On a ferry which had to be crossed both
of them watched my every movement, and I began to congratulate myself in
that I had taken precautions before departure in order to guard against

Forearmed is forewarned. Before leaving I had prepared another packet in
exact duplicate of the original I had been entrusted with. The dummy
contained only an old newspaper, and it was placed in an inside
bank-note pocket of my waistcoat. Its outline could have been detected
by anyone on the look-out for it. The original packet was elsewhere
concealed, in a secure hiding-place, where it was least likely to be
sought or found.

On leaving the ferry a rush was made at the gangway and I found myself
involuntarily pushed forward and wedged in between the two over-night
observers. I could feel their hands run over my chest, so I took some
interest in the proceedings. I had not been on numerous race-courses,
nor participated in football, boat-race night, and other big crowds in
England, without learning something of the ropes. Every time a hand
entered the inside of my coat it encountered small steel obstacles which
lacerated and hurt. True I lost a few buttons, and my clothes were
damaged, but the dummy packet remained intact, and I noticed with some
satisfaction afterwards that one of the two gentlemen before mentioned
had a hand bound up in a pocket handkerchief when they boarded the
waiting train.

On arrival at ---- my taxi-cab was followed. Having been a constant
visitor to the town in question for many years I redirected my driver to
a public building which had a bolt hole at its back, by the use of which
my pursuers were baffled successfully, and the package was safely
delivered without further trouble or anxiety. After which I despatched
the following cablegram:

     "Child delivered safely this morning mother doing well."

Whether this message was also intercepted by the jealous wife of our
temporary receiving agent, history does not relate, but I tremble to
think of the volcanic domestic eruption which must have ensued if it
were so.

When war was declared, cables were cut, a most rigid censorship
installed, and no printed matter was allowed to leave England. Yet news,
most important news, continued to leak through to Germany, and most of
it went through neutral countries.

Before the war, Germany used cyphers, but these were soon dropped. It is
common knowledge that every Government keeps a copy of all cypher and
code messages sent over the cables from every Embassy or Consulate,
whether the countries are at peace or war. The great cleverness of
certain men at unravelling any code, however complicated, is also openly

Yet, in spite of every precaution and all science and knowledge the
country could bring to bear, news continued to leak through and to fly
across the North Sea. Scotland Yard, to which admirable institution the
whole world owes so much, was put upon its mettle. It proceeded to watch
with still closer scrutiny certain suspected persons who still claimed
the privilege of freedom. One of these was a small London tradesman
whose premises were situated in a remote and quiet back street. He
appeared to have rather more corresponding friends than his position or
his business justified. His correspondence, in and out, was intercepted,
copied, and sent along in a manner not likely to arouse his suspicions.
Nothing, however, occurred which could be looked upon as even
suspicious, until one day a telegram arrived which had been handed in at
a certain naval base of some importance in the U.K. It simply said "Been
ill three days--John," or words to that effect.

Now the sender had also been watched, an attention which had been evenly
divided amongst every one of this tradesman's correspondents. The police
knew that the sender of the message, "John," had been in perfect health
for quite a long time past, which fact was, of course, communicated to

The information caused a flutter in the official dovecots.

Copies of the message, with comments, were forwarded to the War Office,
to the Admiralty, and to other Government Departments likely to be

To shorten the story, certain gentlemen in the Admiralty were amazed
when they remembered vividly that secret orders had been issued by them
which commanded a squadron of warships to leave the port at which the
message had been handed in, and join up with the High Seas Fleet
_exactly three days_ from the date of the aforesaid message.

Needless to add that the further activities of both the sender and the
receiver of the telegram were forthwith promptly crushed, once and for
all future time.

Scotland Yard also discovered, probably with considerable assistance
from the Censorship Department, that the Germans were successfully
getting out information useful to them through open business letters
addressed to residents in neutral countries, particularly Norway,
Sweden, Denmark, and Holland, which were decoded by adding certain
geometrical figures. For example, where the sides of an added triangle
or triangles intersected one another, or cut the rim of a circle, there
would be found the words used in the secret messages.

Several of these ingenious codes were described in a most interesting
article which was published in _Pearson's Magazine_, October, 1918, with
illustrations which more clearly demonstrated their latent meaning. Two
of the most brilliant of them were the knot alphabet and the chess

In the former case a parcel sent to a supposed prisoner in a German
internment camp was found to contain, amongst other things, a woollen
sweater, or knitted sports vest. It was apparently so badly knitted, and
the wool was seen to be so full of knots, that the censor's suspicions
were aroused. Subsequent searches revealed that no such person as the
addressee of the parcel in question was known to exist. His name
certainly did not appear in any Army List. The aforesaid garment was
most carefully unravelled. The wool was found to be whole, with a
multitude of simple knots tied at irregular intervals. Alphabets were
written on a board, each letter being placed at given distances apart,
and very soon a most interesting message was read off.

The chess problem was deeper in its cunning and its intricacy. During
1917, a young and fascinating actress appeared in Paris. She was
suspected and closely watched. In due course she captivated one of the
junior secretaries of a neutral Embassy. His integrity was absolutely
beyond all doubt, but naturally he also was watched and shadowed in
order to learn what was passing, or might be passing, between them or

The watchers' notes, on being compared, revealed certain facts which
when carefully pieced together laid bare the whole plot. The actress
professed to be deeply interested in the serious game of chess. She
inspired a similar passion in the breast of the young and inexperienced
attaché. One day she produced to him a rough illustration of an alleged
chess problem which she had cut from a local newspaper; in all
probability she herself had indirectly caused its publication. She
worried her admirer unduly to help her solve what had been, or were, the
opening moves in the game which had caused the pieces to be left on the
board as shown in the sketch. No one in Paris could be found who could
enlighten or help her; at least, so she represented.

Gentle interrogation of the attaché by his inamorata caused him to admit
the existence of a chess club of some renown in the capital of the
country his Embassy represented. It was a neutral country which bordered
on Germany.

The actress then persuaded him to send this simple problem to the club
mentioned with an urgent request to unravel the problem, if possible,
and to let her know, through him, the result.

She knew, as does everyone who has had any close relationship with an
Embassy, that every Embassy has its own private letter-bag, which is
inviolate, and is passed over all frontiers uncensored and unopened, and
is generally carried personally by some trusted messenger of the
Government interested.

The actress undoubtedly relied on the almost certain chance of her
admirer sending his letters, this one in particular enclosing the
problem illustration, in the Embassy letter-bag. Which indeed he did.
But the very astute members of the French Secret Service were wide awake
to all her carefully-thought-out plans. They took measures accordingly,
and the letter in question never reached its destination.

The watchers had reported that this actress had shown strong outward
charitable dispositions, particularly towards the wounded soldiers from
the war; that she frequently visited them in the various hospitals, sung
to them, entertained them, and took them lavish presents of fruit and
flowers. On one of these most praiseworthy visits she had been observed
to linger unduly at the bedside of a young German aviation officer who
had been shot down well behind the French lines.

The French Secret Service knew that prior to the war Germans had made
many secret surveys of France, particularly of the northern territories
and provinces. Greatly to the credit of the French, and unknown to the
Germans, copies of most of these surveys had been obtained and filed
away for possible future use or reference. Probably it was remembered
that one of these survey maps had been ruled up with diagonal, lateral
and parallel lines dividing the country into squares, precisely as is
shown on a chess-board.

It was not therefore much of a surprise when it was ascertained on
comparing the sketch of the chess problem, which had been brought back
to Paris, with the copy survey plan of the Germans which had been ruled
up as before mentioned, to find that the one exactly corresponded with
the other. But the French War Office was certainly surprised to see
before it, set out on the sketch of the chess-board, an accurate
portrayal of all their reserve forces behind their front lines, posted
in the exact positions which they then held. It required little
perspicuity to understand that pawns on the board, or rather map,
represented infantry; kings, heavy artillery; queens, field artillery;
knights, cavalry; bishops, air divisions; and a castle, the military




The first work which was entrusted to me after having been granted a
rating in the Foreign Secret Service was to hunt out the hiding-places
of the large German auxiliary cruisers which had been specially fitted
out for the important service of laying special minefields off remoter
parts of the coastline of the British Isles.

Early in October, 1914, I landed at the south of Norway, and I zigzagged
my way northwards on all kinds of craft that cruised about the thousands
of fjords and islands, inquiring as unobservantly and disinterestedly as
circumstances would admit in the hope of picking up some information
which might lead me to the object of my search.

It was believed that these pests of the seas were using unknown fjords
as hiding-places, and taking advantage of the double neutral routes of
the inner and outer passage of the west coast of Norway to cover their
coming and their going from Germany to the Icelandic coast, whence they
dropped down upon the British Isles suddenly and unexpectedly, laid
their dangerous batches of eggs, and returned the same way as they came.

I had travelled almost 750 miles northward, and I was quite convinced
that no German mine-layer was concealed anywhere in that distance. Many
reports I gathered of German war and other vessels of various rig and
shape taking advantage of the neutral waterways; but they had all been
under steam.

I had nearly reached the Arctic Circle, and I meant going north to
Hammerfest, and even beyond, if the smallest clue showed itself. I was
stopped in the town of T----, because there was a German vessel of some
mystery which had been lying there quite a while. I wanted to learn more
about her, so I lingered. She was a steamer of several thousand tons
burden and loaded with coal. In spite of her disguised condition, she
had been chased into neutral waters by English warships. Having remained
over her allotted interval of time she became interned; but she was
under suspicion and watched night and day by interested parties. This
suspicion was accentuated by the fact that a strong head of steam was
always kept up in her engine-room. Why?

Her name was s.s. _Brandenberg_, and it was openly whispered that she
probably had on board supplies for submarines concealed under her coal.

The second night after my arrival, the proprietor of my hotel exhibited
much friendliness towards me. Beside volunteering a considerable amount
of interesting information about the war, Germany, and the Germans, he
commented on "the great scandal," as he referred to it, that an English
Consul at S---- was allowed to pocket hundreds of thousands of kroner by
supplying the Germans with herrings whilst they were at war with the
country he actually represented. He added, "It is no secret, the whole
country is talking about it, and every man, woman, and child considers
it disgraceful." Continuing a running fire of generalities, he went on
to state that he had several German spies stopping at his hotel, and one
who was English. He said he was quite sure about this, because they all
seemed to try to watch each other, whilst the police and the military
watched them.

"That gentleman over there with the sandy moustache, sitting at a table
in the corner by himself, is the English spy," he said, as we stood in a
secluded part of the _salle à manger_. "He goes out every night about 8
o'clock and does not return until breakfast-time. He sits in railway
trucks and woodstacks on the quays and other queer places, watching the
_Brandenberg_. He thinks no one knows, but we all know. When he comes
back in the morning, hints are dropped about amorous wanderings, and
what 'wonderful dogs with the ladies some men are to be sure.' You see,
he feels flattered in two ways, whilst we 'laugh in the trouser,' as you
English sometimes say. That man at the other end of the hall, with the
military bearing, is a German spy, and so are the two at the middle
table. Some of my servants draw money from all sides. They report to me
a great deal. Perhaps a great deal more they keep to themselves.
However, it seems to be good business for all of us, in spite of added
and extra war burdens and taxes. It's a peculiar game on the whole, yet
it's interesting."

I wondered why the proprietor should be so open with his confidences. It
was probably the old, old feint--a luring to draw to attract, or
extract, reciprocal advances. It was the proprietor's policy to
sympathise and tender make-believe unanimity and agreement with all his
guests; to humour all their troubles, whims, or fancies, so that all
believed him to be their particular friend and supporter. It was the
backbone of his business, which, needless to add, was a thriving and
lucrative one.

Within twenty-four hours of arrival I instinctively felt and knew that
I, too, had been labelled as a suspect. I was being watched and

Immediate action to checkmate this was perhaps advisable. I knew
personally the individual heads of some of the large business firms in
the town and its neighbourhood. I had acted legally for or against
several of them in England, in matters concerning the expenditure of
thousands of pounds. It would be simple to raise imaginary or other
business issues. I mentally determined that it should be done without

When next I left the hotel a couple of the wealthiest local traders
called shortly afterwards to inquire for me. They expressed annoyance at
my absence and sought the proprietor. That gentleman, at their request,
sent out the hotel porter and a page to visit the main streets, the
barbers' shops, the post-office, and other possible places wherein I
might be met with. Whilst they were chafing outwardly in their
impatience, they casually mentioned to the proprietor that I was one of
the best-known Continental lawyers in London, from Gibraltar to
Hammerfest; that I had come over specially to transact some important
business with which they were indirectly connected and which might
detain me in the country some considerable period, and that I was a
guest worthy of consideration.

An hour later I returned. I was all apologies for my absence. I had
called at the respective offices of my visitors and I had found them
out. The proprietor bustled away with the news, by which he probably
ingratiated himself a little further into the confidence of other guests
of different nationality.

Subsequent events proved that my ruse had for the time being worked
successfully against my opponents, although the local authorities, who
had known me and of me for many years past, may have entertained their
own surmises concerning my advent at that particular place and at that
particular period of the world's history.

Next day was blustering and stormy. Snowflakes fell thick in large
globules in the streets, making them almost impassable to traffic; yet a
silent and unobtrusive man ploughed his way to the hotel soon after
daylight, carrying interesting news.

The German auxiliary fast cruiser _Berlin_ had been seen entering the

This was indeed important. The news must at any cost be transmitted
home, and at the earliest possible moment.

It appeared that the cruiser, a vessel of some 18,000 tons, armed with
eight to a dozen quick-firing guns and other equipment, had, under her
enormously powerful engines, and after disposing of her cargo of mines,
laid a course northwards well into the region of floating ice, thus
outwitting the vigilance of the English patrol boats. Taking the fullest
advantage of the awful weather and frequent snowstorms, she had slipped
unobserved through the tortuous entrances and difficult channels of the
Norwegian coast; past the guard fortresses at ----; past the guardships;
and finally dropped her anchor unchallenged and unhindered under the
windows of the town of ----, which half encircles one of the most
coveted harbours in all Europe.

It was a marvellous feat of navigation, but then it is an open secret
that members of the German Navy know the ins and outs of the Norwegian
fjords even better than Norwegians do themselves. They have also much
better charts; both of which facts they proved in a startling manner in
their manoeuvres before the war.

It is another open secret that at the German War Office, in the
Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin, was kept a complete series of the Ordnance maps
of England, brought fully up-to-date by secret surveys, which gave
detail and information that our maps do not show and which our War
Office is probably quite unacquainted with. I was never more astonished
in my life, although I had the sense to conceal it, than when an alleged
German commercial traveller with whom I had been travelling somewhere in
Finland sketched, in order to illustrate an argument, a correct plan of
a remote part of the East Coast of England with which I was very well
acquainted. On this sketch the aforesaid traveller proceeded to
delineate fords to streams and hidden roadways, the existence of which
most of those even who had dwelt all their lives in the parishes
affected had either forgotten or never knew about.

To return to the subject. The long-lost _Berlin_ had been run to ground.
The burning question of the moment was whether she would face the music
and make a bolt for the Fatherland or whether she would remain where she
was and become interned. A collection of British cruisers outside
probably caused her to elect the latter course. So it was up to me,
somehow or other, to try and ferret out all I could relating to her
recent voyage. But how?

The chief of the British Secret Service is never interested in detail.
To him the most interesting particulars, showing how an objective is
attained, are irritating and merely so much waste of time. His
requirements and mind centre only round concrete results, congealed
into the fewest possible number of words. Whilst interviews in his
office are limited almost to grudgingly-given minutes.

It is undoubtedly prudent and wise to draw a bough over my innumerable
snow-trails in order to obliterate the footprints of my tortuous
wanderings during the days that followed. Suffice to say that, night and
day, awake or dreaming, the subject never left my thoughts, whilst I
schemed and invented possible and impossible plans, until at last one
day chance supplied the missing link.

Meanwhile side issues were not wanting. German agents had traced the
hotel proprietor's show-English-spy to his nightly lair in the
woodstacks. They naturally attached an unknown importance to what they
believed to be his anxiety concerning the safety of these piles of
innocent timber. They appeared to assume that this particular
wood--worth possibly somewhere about £20,000--was considered of great
value to the English Government. Accordingly they planned, by contra
espionage, to lure the nightly watcher in another direction. As soon as
his presence was thus temporarily removed they promptly fired the pile,
which job was so thoroughly well done that hardly a plank could be
salved from the flames.

Having been confidentially told that I was suspected of being an English
S.S. agent, I promptly called up on the telephone the head of the
department which controlled these matters, and invited him to lunch.
Fortunately I knew him well and could do so. It was humorous that whilst
I was doing this the gentleman in question happened to be attending a
small committee meeting which was, at the moment, discussing my _bona
fides_, and the somewhat important personage called for raised
unavailing protests at being compelled to answer my insistent call, only
to learn of the unimportant invitation to himself from the actual
suspect whose presence was then under discussion and whom it was part of
his duty to be accountable for.

I could not help subsequently smiling when I was privately informed by
another member of the committee that the old colonel had returned from
the telephone, very red in the face, and swearing audibly about that
"d--d impudent mad-brained Englishman who was chasing him about, instead
of waiting to be properly chased," or its equivalent in words in his own

In a snug creek, away from the busy waterways and the ever-moving
industry of the heavily overloaded quays, was securely moored and laid
up for the winter a palatial pleasure yacht, belonging to a well-known
Russian sugar queen of reputed fabulous wealth. Her captain and crew
were objects of interest to all. I considered it politic to ingratiate
myself with the crew with a view to future possibilities.

In course of time, certain ladies of unknown origin appeared at various
hotels in the town and its environs. They possessed youth, beauty,
vivacity of spirit, charm of manner, and apparently plenty of ready
money to add to their attraction and graces. They had friends who soon
called, or met them at or away from their hotels. From information
received and from personal observation, I deemed it expedient to push
myself forward into this small but somewhat exclusive circle, although
it required the utmost ingenuity to mix with the members of these
various circles whilst in constant touch with the chief residents of the
town without permitting one group to gain knowledge of my intimacy with
other groups.

By judicious expenditure in hospitality and a free hand with small
gifts, I was able to draw into my confidences half a dozen acquaintances
whom I could trust to render any assistance I might perhaps at some time
require. Meanwhile I was ostensibly engaged in legal matters. Clients
called with masses of papers and remained closeted with me for hours.
Often they remained for meals, and then the choicest of wines were
ordered, and the last doubts the proprietor of the hotel might have
entertained vanished.

Within a week or ten days an accurate report was secretly handed to me
of the exact number, nationality, and rating of every man on board the
enemy vessel. It also contained addenda giving the name and business of
every visitor thereto, and the duration of each visit; this afforded
matter for cogitation, reflection, and thought.

My next requirement was a roughly summed-up estimate of the
characteristics of each person I designated, with all possible
information and detail concerning their believed weaknesses, whims,
fancies, hobbies, ambitions, or failings, which I persisted in procuring
concerning every person I could on the before-mentioned list. This was a
long and more difficult task. Pride, conceit, alcohol, women, and money
figured against one or the other. The two former would seem the easiest
to work upon, but in the end it was the latter which affected the

Having laid well my plans, which promised almost certain successful
results, it was advisable for me to depart from the town and district in
order that matters might be permitted to operate successfully without
any possible chance of failure through some remote suspicion being
hatched and developed from my presence. It was far better for me to
watch from a distance, to observe the effects of palm-oil penetrate
deeper and yet deeper, until that which I was most anxious to get hold
of, namely, material extracts from the log of the recent voyage of this
important vessel, had been brought ashore and communicated; and, what
was most important of all, the exact number of mines she had laid in
British waters, with precise latitude and longitude of such laying.

It was expensive, but it was worth the outlay many times over. It would
have been undoubtedly a very great surprise indeed to the kultured Hun
sea-pirates, had they only known how their most jealously-guarded
secrets were thus so easily opened up.

When in England some months after this information had been
communicated, I had an opportunity of interviewing some officers and
members of the crews on board various minesweeping vessels which had
been employed to remove these pests from navigable waters. They were men
engaged to harvest what the _Berlin_ was alleged to have sown near Tory
Island, which lies off the north-west coast of Ireland, and not far from
the all-important Loch Swilly. The first and second fleet sent there to
act upon the information which had been collected in the manner
hereinbefore described seem to have returned to their respective bases
and reported there were no mines to be found. But whilst those in
authority were debating or doubting the accuracy of the original
information collected abroad, proof positive soon convinced them.

Vessel after vessel was reported sunk by mine contact, including the new
leviathan, H.M.S. _Audacious_, which awful disaster was religiously
hushed up and kept away from the ken of the English nation. American
papers, however, exhibited photos of the wreck and rescues which were
freely copied by international journals, whilst Germany knew all about
it from the first. The third fleet of mine-sweepers, eventually sent to
Tory Island with instructions to sweep the same area as at first
directed but at a greater depth, gathered in about 120 to 130 large
mines out of the 150 said to have been sown there. But this was after
far too many casualties had been reported, and much shipping, with
valuable lives, had been lost to Great Britain.

Although at times I am notoriously loquacious, I can also be a deep
thinker. Sometimes when alone during those dark days in the solitude of
deep forests, or perched upon some bleak promontory jutting out into
northern seas and watching over the angry waters beneath me, I would sit
for hours lost in meditation turning over in my mind again and again
passing events, weighing the possibilities, probabilities, alleged
diplomatic mistakes and indiscretions; social upheavals, labour strikes,
absurd optimism of a section of the Press; false security created by too
rigid censorship; political dangers from continued vote-angling and
pandering to obvious German agitation amongst workmen and miners;
continued short-sighted political revenge upon English landowners for
the suppression rather than encouragement of any increased user of the
land towards food production; contradictions which were irreconcilable;
on the one hand enormous and useless expenditures, on the other
unparalleled meanness and littleness; the clinging to fatal fallacies by
refusing conscription; the insistence with which old and admittedly
absolutely incompetent officials were kept in office; refusals to find
places--even honorary ones--for admittedly first-class younger
volunteers from our colonies; muddle upon muddle; waste upon waste;
mistake upon mistake; yet the glorious gallantry and irrepressible
loyalty and patriotism of Britisher units and her allies on land and sea
seemed to be pulling everything through.

Having regard to the thirty years' preparation of Germany and the utter
unpreparedness of England, a miracle seemed in the process of evolution.
Would the nations involved cease their strife owing to absolute
exhaustion and attrition? Would the Entente eventually achieve full
consummation of its hopes, so devoutly to be wished? Or was the sequel
foreshadowed by the late Lord Tennyson:

     "Chaos, Cosmos! Cosmos, Chaos! who can tell how all will end?
     Read the wide world's annals, you, and take their wisdom for your
     Hope the best, but hold the Present fatal daughter of the Past,
     Shape your heart to front the hour, but dream not that the hour
       will last."




After a coup of importance has been successfully accomplished, it is
sometimes advisable for a Secret Service agent to betake himself to a
quiet, secluded place where his identity and his activities are least
likely to be known, or even suspected.

Towards Christmas, in the first year of the war, I found myself in such
a position; my work for some weeks past had been not only exceedingly
strenuous, but, it was gratifying to remember, it had also been
successful. Perhaps luck had unduly favoured me. Anyway, I knew quite
enough of the enemy to be only too well assured that he would stop at
nothing to get, or to attempt to get, even with me if he possibly could.
I also thoroughly understood it was advisable for more reasons than one
that I should take a well-earned rest, a few days breathing-space until
further demands were made upon my individual efforts.

Thus it was I turned my face towards a lonely, secluded little haven
snugly concealed in an inner fjord of the Norwegian coast where I
intended to sleep and dream and sink all traces of my existence on earth
for a few brief days at least.

December, 1914, in northern seas was a month of record storms and
multitudinous wrecks. The daily life of those unfortunates whose duties
took them there, or compelled them to navigate, was unenviable in the
extreme. Ice, which accumulated and increased in its envelopment hourly,
not only made decks doubly dangerous, but, unless removed from rails,
ropes, deckhouses, and other parts of a ship at periodical intervals
might possibly threaten worse disaster than the wrecks and sunken rocks

Fogs, snowstorms, floating mines, mountainous seas, submerged hulks and
treacherous shoals, coupled with the long, long winter nights, were
enemies more to be feared than the cruel Hun. A few weeks of this work
would try any man; it had been more than enough for me, a landsman whose
soul never yearned for the life of a sailor.

The relief at hearing the cranky, ought-to-have-been-long-ago-condemned
old packet, rejoicing in the high-sounding name of some forgotten
heathen god, bump and scrape and groan against the piling of the quay at
my quiet sleepy little Scandinavian seaport, was a joy not to be
expressed in words. To me who had roughed it, under strenuous
conditions, the coarse fare and the still coarser bed-linen on even a
flea-smothered couch seemed Valhalla adorned.

It was rest. It was peace. It was contentment. It naturally followed
that it was supreme happiness for the immediate moment.

No shack, cottage, or villa in these northern parts runs to window
curtains. Darkness comes early in the afternoon. Daylight follows late
in the morning, varying in time in accordance with latitude. Sleep, the
greatest blessing on earth, after such fatigues and endurance would be
long and profound. There was no reason to arise early. To trust to
Nature's call with the sun would probably mean somewhere about 10 a.m.
or later.

It was, of course, necessary for me to convey to headquarters the
information of my whereabouts, which duty performed, the luxuries and
enjoyments at hand were embraced by me with limitless indulgence.

It was late next day when a frowsy-haired fishwife brought my _café au
lait_, also news that I was wanted. I was not surprised. A Secret
Service agent is never allowed to rest. Holidays, quietude, peace, or
enjoyment are words not known in his vocabulary. Anyone envying those in
the Service should first contemplate that its units are looked upon as
mere chattels of little worth, easily to be replaced should accident or
machination cause them to fall by the way or to be removed to a better
land. Such patriots must sink all home-ties, business relationships,
pleasures, pains, and personal thoughts for the one and only object--to
achieve the seemingly impossible.

Outside it was snowing in big, massive flakes, which added many inches
in a few hours to the deep covering already settled on the
solidly-frozen earth. It was biting cold, but I had to face it.
Struggling along as best I could against the unkind elements, I made
three doubles and a walk back to test whether any possible observer took
interest in my movements, such a precaution being always advisable after
advent on fresh ground. Then, slipping up an unfrequented pathway, I
gained the shelter of another fisherman's hut, where an enthusiastic
welcome from numerous chubby-faced bairns awaited me.

It's a good rule in life to remember the little ones. Every
decent-minded parent worships his or her children. If a home possess
none, then affections are often centred on some four-footed animal. Make
a fuss over these and a weakness in the hardest heart is at once
touched. My annual chocolate bill averaged many pounds, whilst it has
returned to me tenfold its value in the pleasure created. Not a penny of
such outlay could be grudged.

A good friend was awaiting my arrival. He had a small package, which had
come to hand shortly before. He was one of those open-hearted,
unsuspecting innocents who led the simple life and believed ill of no
man. I wished him to continue to hold his good opinions, particularly
regarding myself. In murmuring my thanks for the parcel, I hazarded the
supposition that it probably contained some long-sought smokes. On
opening it before his eyes, so to speak, there was disclosed a tin of
pipe tobacco and a bundle of cigars, which were at once sampled.

Sherlock Holmes would probably have noticed that one, and one cigar
only, had had its smoking-end bitten off. Further, that that particular
cigar was not selected by me, owing perhaps--perhaps not--to the
possibility of its having already been tested in a stranger's mouth. Be
that as it may, after an hour's small talk (one must never be at all
impatient in Scandinavia), I took my departure and carried the precious
tobacco away with me.

A careful dissection of the bitten cigar, in the seclusion of my own
quarters, brought to light a scrap of paper. A pocket glass helped me to
decipher the mystic signs, the interpretation whereof read as follows:

     "Karl Von S----, a German Artillery officer, married to a native of
     Scandinavia, is posing as a convalescent consumptive and has been
     some time in a private villa on the Island of ----. He is much too
     friendly with the wireless operator there, also the garrison
     officers. Advisable that he be removed at once. You must do it. Act

Now I was a matter of 300 miles' travel from the _locus in quo_. It was
in the immediate neighbourhood of large army reserves and was also much
frequented by warships and naval men. Three times I reread the message
in order to memorise it, then I burnt it to ashes. "He must be removed
at once. You must do it."

Now it is very easy to sit in an office and give commands, right and
left, for this and for that, or for anything which strikes the fancy.
But it's altogether a different proposition to find oneself in the shoes
of the commanded one. I soon began to feel worried. The thought of the
seeming impossibility of the carrying out of the order was annoying. I
lit cigar after cigar, as I lay on the couch with closed eyes; I smoked,
and thought, and scratched for an indefinite period; until my all too
lively stable companions effectually did for me what I was so vainly
racking my brains to find some way of bringing about with regard to

Two hours' brisk walk in the open air did not solve the problem. So I
despatched a message to a colleague, N. P., who was then on the Russian
frontier, informing him that we must meet immediately, each coming
half-way towards the other.

N. P. knew that I should never trouble him over trifles, and, good
fellow that he was, he answered the call without delay. We met at a
frontier town, within a day or so of the receipt of original
instructions. When I explained the problem and how the more I had
thought it over the further its solution seemed to fade away, N. P.
naturally wanted to know why I had summoned him to meet me.

"That is easy, my dear Nixie," I exclaimed; "you are without doubt the
cleverest man in the Service. You speak many tongues. You are a garrison
artillery staff officer. What better material could anyone wish for to
help unravel a proposition like this? He must be removed at once. You
must do it."

"Not me, my boy. That won't come off. It's your job, and I would not
deprive you of the honour and glory of it for worlds."

"Ah, Nixie, my dear fellow, we may get the jobs, but all the honour and
glory is appropriated by the gentlemen who remain at home. I think we
both appreciate that point; but what I want to debate with you are
possibilities, actualities, and probabilities. If either of us, for
example, were on a small island and we received a warning that a German
had had orders to shift us--what would you fear most?"

"I should fear nothing."

"I don't mean it that way. What I mean is, wherein would you be most
careful, or most on your guard?"

"He would not get a dog's chance with me, anyway," snapped N. P. Then he
added in a petulant tone, "I want some more whiskey and another cigar.
It helps one to think better."

"How about your line of communications?" I queried.

"No living soul would ever get hold of mine," Nixie replied.

"Of course not; but don't you see it's a danger, it's a weak spot that
can be shot at."

"No, I don't," said Nixie, stretching himself at full length on the
sofa until it creaked again and again.

I was lying on a bed, and the room was in darkness. One can think better
in the dark. There is no counter-attraction for the sense of sight to
divert any stray thought from the objective in being. The brain becomes
more active and more concentrative accordingly.

"If you flatter yourself you can touch his lines of communication--after
he has been established some time, as the message says, you are apt to
get your fingers burnt in the trying. Won't do, Jim, my boy. Try and
think of something else."

"Bide a wee. Don't you see where we are drifting to? My idea is that we
don't try to touch him at all, but that _we make a line of communication
in order to be able to break it_. Twiggez vous?"

A short silence ensued, which Nixie broke, in an emphasised drawling
tone: "You diabolical devil! You mean you will send a note to him which
you will take good care is intercepted before he gets it, and in such a
manner that the local authorities will do the rest to complete the _coup
de grâce_."

"That's my suggestion," I exclaimed in a deliberate tone. "Also that's
where you come in. You, being a garrison expert, will weave the strands
and splice the knot of rope that will eventually hang him. Think it out.
Ponder over how it will work."

For a long time we both smoked in silence, and we smoked in the dark,
which somehow seems entirely different from smoking when one can see the
blue clouds drifting. How long the interval lasted neither of us could
tell. It seemed an age. Then Nixie Pixie demanded lights up. He wanted
to get on with the business. He was keenly interested. His instincts
foretold success, and, what was far sweeter to both of us, we imagined
one more dictatorial militarist would shortly be driven back to stew in
the kultured juice of Teutonic concentrated cruelties, in the

With lights burning and pens and papers before us, we soon filled in
necessary details of the plan of campaign; chuckling the while in
anticipatory satisfaction at the debacle to come.

Before dawn broke on the day following we had drifted apart; as silent
shadows of the night we flitted to and from our respective destinations,
whilst the world slept, and no watchman had observed our coming or our
going. Nixie was away to the westward by train, whilst I followed the
currents of the ever-restless sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

Night and day I travelled, in desperate haste. I journeyed to the
northern frontier of Germany, to a small, uninviting place on the map,
where I had a colleague working, who for many years had lived in Germany
and who had only crossed the frontier a short time prior to the
declaration of war.

This English gentleman was perfectly acquainted with both High and Low
Prussian. In a matter of this kind, where straws had to be grasped at
and relied upon, it was essential to any hope of success to carry out
every minute detail with the greatest accuracy.

I was anxious to have a certain message which I had drafted en route
translated into accurate and perfect High German. I did not feel
confident to do this myself, hence my present mission.

I hunted up my colleague, who entered enthusiastically upon the work,
and immediately after its completion I journeyed away again to a small
sleepy hamlet not far removed from the nearest point on the mainland
contiguous to the island in question. I covered several hundreds of
miles during the four days these journeys occupied my attention.

To carry out the plan which I had devolved I secured the necessary
materials at places where no suspicion was likely to be aroused. They
were simple in themselves: an etching pen, some fine, thin foreign
correspondence paper, some oil-silk and a small tin phial. The message,
which will be disclosed later, was most carefully written in German
characters under a magnifying glass, which latter I always carry.

It was then rolled up, carefully protected by an outer covering of
oil-silk and inserted into a tin phial.

The next steps in the plot to remove this obnoxious German officer from
the security of his stronghold, which certain high officials were
convinced he was using to contravene the laws of hospitality, trust, and
friendship, were carried out by another.

The reason for this should be obvious. The risk was nothing in itself,
but it was a matter of importance that I should not be implicated,
either directly or indirectly, with such a matter, so that my own
chances for further activity in the cause of my country might not be
endangered. I remember the old adage, "Sauce for the goose is equally
good sauce for the gander."

I therefore arranged matters down to the smallest details, impressing
every point upon my only too willing assistant, and then I quickly took
my departure to a place many, many miles away from the locality in
question, there to await with impatient interest the report I was
promised, which should tell me whether the scheme attempted had
succeeded or proved a disappointing fiasco.

I had not long to wait. Within three days a message was flashed to me. I
visualise events as I believe they happened.

On the never-to-be-forgotten day a certain sentry was pacing a rocky
promontory on a lonely island overlooking lonely waters. In spite of its
uninviting outward appearance this island was a place of the utmost
importance, because it guarded the watergate to many a European capital.

The sentry was impatient. It was growing dark. He was cold and hungry,
and none too pleased at his job; besides, he imagined the relief guard
was late. Perhaps it was.

Whilst in this uneasy frame of mind a small sailing-boat hove into
sight. She was hugging the shore, or rather the rocky cliffs of which
the shore consisted. When within a few hundred yards of the sentry's
position, the mast and sail were taken down and stowed, and the boatman
proceeded to row.

The sentry was interested.

As the boat approached nearer to his position it disappeared into a
small alcove, formed by overhanging cliffs, and he saw it no more.

Perhaps it was a coincidence that this happened just a quarter of an
hour before the sentry should be relieved. But in that fifteen minutes
he had ample time to work himself into a high pitch of excitement.

The gloaming had increased. He was straining his eyes into the coming
night when the sergeant with the relief arrived.

A quick whispered report caused double guards to be mounted, men to be
sent to cover possible lines of retreat, and a messenger to be
despatched for assistance on the water. These precautions were efficient
and effective. The mysterious boatman was captured.

It was not known whether he was too frightened, or too unintelligent, or
too intoxicated to give a satisfactory account of his movements, but in
a parcel concealed under odd bits of rope and sailcloth was a dead
codfish addressed to Herr K. V. S.

Whilst the captured one was meditating under lock and key, the boat and
its contents were minutely examined. Nothing unusual had been found on
the prisoner, nothing else had been found in the boat. The cod-fish was
ordered to be dissected, when, lo and behold! a small metal tube was
extracted from the gullet. Inside this, tightly rolled and wrapped in
oil-silk, was a small piece of thin foreign correspondence paper, which,
on being held up to the light, revealed hieroglyphics in the smallest of
German characters imaginable.

Subsequent investigation and examination elicited that the boatman had
agreed to deliver the parcel personally to Herr K. von S---- at a
certain place, and at a certain hour in the evening, for which he had
received a generous sum of money. The advisability of remaining in the
alcove until dark to prevent the military from holding him up, or prying
into his parcel, had been suggested to him by his employer, who was
quite a stranger to him. He had never seen him until two hours before he
had arranged to bring the parcel along; he had assured him it was all
right. It was only an act of kindness to a sick man. There could be no
harm done by it.

A thin story indeed, but the fishermen of northern seas are a confiding,
unsuspecting, innocent race.

The letter proved to be written in Prussian or High German. It required
a good magnifying glass to decipher it. It was highly technical in its
terms, and was evidently composed by a thoroughly expert _garrison
artillery officer_. It ran somewhat as follows:

     1. You say we can now communicate with you through more open
     channels but we doubt this and fear taking any avoidable risk.

     2. On the plans you sent us you omitted to mark the ranges of the
     guns numbered 1, 5, and 7.

     3. The exact location of the magazine was not clearly defined.

     4. What are the reliefs? Give exact detail.

     5. Ascertain exact amounts of ammunition at present stored, with
     full capacity for added reserves.

     6. Advise estimated sum to cover wireless operators' requirements
     for a year.




     10. Next time cut a larger portion off the dorsal fin, as your last
     message was nearly missed through difficulty in identification.

The boatman, who was a local man and innocent enough, was lectured and
frightened half out of his wits, and finally permitted to go.

Captain Karl von S---- with his wife and family were given twelve short
hours to clear the country, once and for all, with peremptory orders
never to set foot in it again. Probably he is wondering to this day what
earthly reason could have instigated such a decisive and unmistakably
severe command.

The inhabitants on the island cannot yet understand why no live fish of
any description, nor dead fish which had not been split open from head
to tail, were permitted to be imported or exported, whether destined for
private consumption or for other uses.

Many miles away from the island in question a telegraph official a few
days later in a small town carefully scrutinised an innocently worded
message which was handed in at his office shortly after these stirring
events had occurred. It was, however, permitted to pass and in due
course its recipient, my headquarters department, interpreted its hidden
meaning. It ran:

     "The shoddy article submitted and marked K. V. S. has been returned
     as not up to sample and unworthy of retention. Next please!--JIM."




The sudden transportation and exile of an alleged invalid German officer
back to the home of his fathers had been a distinct secret score for the
British Foreign Secret Service Intelligence Department, although
probably no one was aware of this except those in the innermost circles
of the Service of the two countries directly concerned.

As a necessary precaution for my own safety I had very discreetly
removed myself some hundreds of miles in another direction as soon as it
was certain that my trap had been properly sprung. With my mind
concentrated on other matters I had almost forgotten the episode, when a
whisper echoed and re-echoed from the south that the full fury of the
Northern German espionage bureau had been invoked upon my fortunate or
unfortunate head, and that I must beware of a certain Baron
Nordenpligt,[8] which irate Teuton had started hot on my trail, vowing
the direst vengeance imaginable. "Nordenpligt" in English means "the
North duty or obligation," and I was at no loss to comprehend the full
force of the hinted warning thus so auspiciously conveyed to me.

Whilst musing over events under the benign influence of my usual black
cigar, some stir became apparent in the entrance hall of the hotel at
which I was then stopping. Several new-comers had arrived. One very fat
lady appeared over-concerned regarding the handling of her many
belongings. A wheezy, consumptive-looking weakling of humanity was
trying to assist her. Most probably he would have been crushed under an
iron-bound trunk which a porter was lowering from the roof of the hotel
bus had not another traveller, seeing the danger, rushed forward to his
assistance. As he did so he involuntarily ejaculated the short
exclamation, "Mein Gott!" My ears tingled at once. The Teutonic oath had
given away the nationality of this individual, at all events. It became
my immediate business to ascertain who he was, and what his business
might be. Without a moment's hesitation I also sprang to the rescue.

The result of too many persons concerning themselves with the matters of
one led to a natural tangle and considerable jostling in which the
German gentleman lost his pince-nez. In stopping to recover them a
leather case fell from his inside breast pocket. But before he could
reach it I had anticipated his desire, picked up the article in
question, and handed it to its owner. In so doing I observed that on one
corner was an embossed gold coronet and monogram, in which the letter
"N" was prominent.

My room was on the first floor. I had registered my occupation as that
of a fish merchant of Scandinavian origin, which, on a strict
investigation, might have been held not too remote. The German baron,
for such he undoubtedly was, had registered as a commercial traveller
from an inland town in Denmark, whilst he obviously knew the language of
that country as well as he did his own. It was ominous that he
subsequently contrived to secure a bedroom adjoining mine, whilst the
fat lady sandwiched herself into possession of another apartment which
was situated on the other side.

After supper I placed three hair tests on my belongings, and lighting
the inevitable weed strolled out to give matters a chance to develop.

At the back of the hotel was a large heap of moss-bedecked boulders,
behind which was a rocky hill, in the crevasses and hollows of which
some scant vegetation had collected and a few scraggy fir-trees formed
an arboreal retreat where in the summer months loiterers could sit and
enjoy the view with the added pleasure of light refreshments from the

This arbour commanded a full view of the windows of the back rooms, the
centre one of which was for the time being in my occupation.

The hair test is a useful expedient for gauging the inquisitiveness or
prying proclivities of one's immediate neighbours. It is affixed by
tension from two notches, or with the aid of a little wax. Either method
will be found equally efficacious. Human hairs a few inches in length
are easily procurable; a single one is practically invisible to the
naked eye, and a slight strain will snap it. If cunningly placed across
the two covers of a box, on the lid of a box, over an unlocked bag,
trunk, suit-case or elsewhere, few Paul Prys would ever dream of
suspecting its presence, and the precaution inevitably tells its own

A very clever investigator would probably be on the lookout for anything
of this kind, but an equally clever actor would so place at least one of
his precaution signals that it would be impossible to touch the object
it protected without a break or disturbance sufficient to notice.

When night fell it was dark, cold, and raw, with a nasty wind blowing,
and I found the draughty arbour none too cosy for my liking, but I
stayed there for upwards of an hour in the belief that something was
going to turn up. Meanwhile half a gale whistled through leafless
branches and howled round the crevasses and protuberances of the rocky
background. Just as I was on the point of quitting I observed a faint
flicker of light upon the blind of my room, and I knew that evil agents
were abroad.

An attempt to ascend the stairway behind a couple of other visitors
whereby I could gain my apartment unobserved was frustrated by the stout
lady before mentioned. She, by an extraordinary coincidence, started to
come downstairs just as my foot had gained the last step of the ascent.
In her haste she jostled first one and then the other of the gentlemen
meeting her, for which she apologised most profusely and in a loud,
jovial, bantering manner.

I leaned against the wall and laughed. It was my custom to take
everything as it came, never to meet trouble half-way by worrying, and
even to attempt the credit of gaining happiness under almost impossible

In the present instance the fortune of war favoured me, although
conditions were adverse. A large mirror hung upon the landing, the
reflection field of which embraced wide angles. I, happening to glance
upwards and beyond the little pleasantries going on above, observed a
shadow darken the surface of the glass, but the noise made by the
merry-makers on the stairhead prevented any slighter sounds from being

Later on, when I had entered and was alone within the privacy of my own
apartment, examining the test traps at my leisure, all possible doubt of
an interest having been taken in my belongings was removed.

What would happen next?

The veiled secret warning that had been given me portended mischief. It
was hardly reasonable to suppose one's natural enemy would take a
knock-down blow without reprisals. They were more than hinted at in the
urgent message I had received. I was not deceived for one moment. I felt
myself within the claws of the pincers and it was up to me to wriggle
out before they could be closed. There must be no hesitation, no delay,
and no "wait and see" about my decisions. I must quit, and that at once,
or the worst might befall.

Having supped in the restaurant common to all guests of the hostelry, I
retired early, but instead of undressing I lay upon the outside of the
bed and smoked and read until the early hours of the morning, between
whiles turning over many matters of more or less moment in my mind.

I remembered that the latest ejected one from that hospitable country
was by no means the only one who had unceremoniously been pushed out by
reason of information which had reached the authorities in a roundabout
untraceable way. The origin had never come to light, but the inmates of
Koenigergratzerstrasse No. 70 probably had a shrewd suspicion whom they
could credit for the attention. S---- was another very active German
agent who had recently been expelled the country; he returned almost
immediately under another name and disguise. He successfully crossed the
frontier and would in all probability have escaped identification had
not certain strings been pulled whereby he was located and ejected
again, within forty-eight hours of his arrival. Most annoying to him, of
course, but then these small matters had of necessity to be attended to.

It was unpleasant to remember that the number of wrecks along the coast
was abnormal. The majority of these unfortunate vessels were or had been
cargo carriers to Germany. Perhaps it was a just retribution that they
should sink or encounter disaster preventing their further assistance to
direct acts of barbarism by the mad dogs of Europe. Be that as it may,
Germans in that particular neighbourhood would hardly have agreed with
any such sentiments; nor were they sympathetic towards the invective
which was raised by the local police and others interested--although
breathed _sub rosa_--against fellow-countrymen of theirs who were
suspected of having fired several vast timber-stacks supposed to have
been sold to England.

Taking one consideration with another no love was lost between
travellers from England and Germany.

At 2 a.m., as the silent corridors of the hotel were awakened by the
cuckoos from a Swiss-made clock on the landing, I stealthily emerged
from my apartment. Tiptoeing along past several of the adjoining
bedrooms, I changed the boots standing outside their respective doors,
placing large for small and _vice versâ_. But one pair I selected from
the extreme end of the corridor as being as nearly as I could judge a
fair match in size to my own. These I brought along, and not being an
obstinate, blind-to-all-home-principle-Free-Trade Britisher, I dumped
them down outside my own door. It should have become obvious to the
reader that I was contemplating my departure. There had been former
occasions when I had been compelled to leave my own boots behind me,
whereby thoughtful hotel attendants and others had been deceived into
believing me to be a very late riser, and I had been thereby enabled to
cover many a league before the simple deception had been exposed.

But on the occasion in question, in the course of my calm, contemplative
meditations upon the bed, I had evolved the comforting conclusion that
it would be better far to borrow the foot-gear of some other traveller
in order to carry into effect my playful little deception, rather than
sacrifice any more boots of my own. The ruse would assuredly work
equally as well, whilst past experiences had taught me that it was a
much easier matter to remove a pair of boots from a neighbouring doorway
than to leave my own behind, necessitating the trouble and expense of
their subsequent replacement.

"Shooting the moon" in this manner is a pastime which I may add is not
usual with me, but there are occasions in the career of everyone when
discretion and retirement are undoubtedly the better part of valour.

Next morning I was chuckling to myself at about 10 o'clock, and
picturing the confusion and the language likely to be used by the
parties mostly concerned, at the small hotel I had quitted so suddenly

What a sell it would be to His Excellency the Baron to find that his
bird had once more flown, and what a head-aching task he would have of
it if he tried to trail his quarry Indian fashion instead of relying
upon the surer and less worrying methods known to the Secret Service
agents of all nations.

At least I knew I was safe for another week certain, and much could be
done in that time. So I journeyed away in an exulting frame of mind to a
colleague who I knew had some very interesting investigations which he
was following up in the neighbourhood of one of the largest and most
important docks on the Baltic Sea.

Within a couple of hours of my arrival I was in harness again. Some
important particulars from the manifest and bills of lading of a big
steamer were wanted. The captain was a convivial soul with a great
weakness for sport of all kinds; and it was suggested that I, being a
sportsman myself, might be able to succeed in drawing him, although so
far no one else had been able to do so.

A bottle of whiskey and a bundle of cigars were calculated to be
sufficient to move the information required. But they failed. Patience
and perseverance rarely fail. On this occasion both seemed useless.

From 2 p.m. until 2 a.m., twelve solid hours, I sat listening, talking,
complimenting, criticising, flattering, cajoling, and arguing in such
manner that at first I entirely disagreed, then allowed myself to be
talked round to absolute approval. In short, no artifice that calculated
cunning could suggest was omitted, yet results proved fruitless. Thus at
2 a.m. I was forced to abandon my objective of the day, and I agreed it
was time to turn in.

Perhaps the disappointment of failing to achieve a purpose influenced my
judgment. Perhaps it was the weather. Perhaps it was the mellowing
effects of some decent whiskey which made me feel devil-may-care and
careless. Anyhow, I was foolish in the extreme not to have accepted the
proffered and pressed invitation of a berth on board the ship I was then
visiting in preference to the more or less dangerous passage of the
docks which was my only alternative.

That there was any real danger never entered my head. Had it done so it
would probably have made little difference, excepting that I might have
borrowed a stick, or some weapon of defence. It was not until I was
actually cornered that I remembered I had left my revolver at home. The
incident was so sudden there was no time to think. Spontaneous action
alone was capable of saving what might have proved a remarkably awkward

Hanging on to a rope guide I slid down the gangway which was covered
some inches thick with a coating of ice. Groping a pathway as best I
could across the quay in the dark, amongst innumerable stacks of
freighted goods and merchandise of every description, was no easy
matter. Nor were my difficulties lessened by a snowstorm which raged at
the time. Passing between some sheds, and stack after stack of cotton
bales, destined for the land of barbaric "kultur," I made my way towards
the only faint glimmering light which flickered its bilious rays from
the one solitary lamp-post in that immediate neighbourhood.

Just as I reached it I heard a voice. At the same time I observed two
shadows which seemed to appear and disappear somewhere near the piles of
cotton. No complete sentence reached my ears, only two words, "Das vas,"
uttered in a high-pitched key and with startling suddenness. The
remaining words were lost in the lowered tone. Those words, however,
were quite enough. I had been privately informed, only that morning, by
an interesting conveyer of intelligence newly arrived, from Berlin, that
some rather important German officials were taking a kindly interest in
my welfare; certainly to the extent that they had offered quite a
substantial sum of cash (not paper or cheques) for my delivery in their
country, condition no object. The sum named was far and away beyond what
I would ever have imagined my uninteresting carcase was worth. In a
flash the situation became clear to me. It was a plant to kidnap. Great,
blundering, self-satisfied, careless, conceited ass that I undoubtedly
was, I had walked right into the spider's web without so much as a
toothpick on me with which to put up a fight.

Immediately in front of where I was standing was an open space, some
forty yards across. The ground was covered a foot deep or more with
snow. Concealed thereby and beneath it were railway lines, points,
uneven places, bits of wood, parts of packing-cases, hoops, and
innumerable obstacles of all kinds, which I knew of too well, having
been frequently tripped by them on former occasions. To attempt to rush
it would be courting disaster.

The shadows, hardly discernible in the feeble light, seemed to flicker
nearer and nearer. Then I observed a third, and silently I wondered how
many in all I should have to contend with. Only one thing was
absolutely definite in my mind, that was, come what might, I had not the
slightest intention of having my liberty curtailed without a fight to a

As before stated, I had reached the only lamp-post anywhere around. My
movements were observable, whereas those who were hunting me were
concealed by the shadows. Involuntarily I dived my hands deep into the
pockets of the thick overcoat I was wearing. I felt a pipe and tobacco
pouch--common enough objects, but the former was never more welcome.

Somewhere in the dim and distant past I had heard or read of highway
robbers, or burglars, or other rough people, having been tricked by the
use of a wooden tobacco pipe as a make-believe for a revolver. Why not
try it now?

There was just a chance the bluff might come off. Anything was better
than to be caught and ill-treated by Germans.

The thought was mother to the action. Backing a few yards to a veritable
rampart of cotton, I half bobbed down and suddenly whipped out the pipe
in my hand from the right coat pocket. It was of ordinary briar-wood,
having a silver band, and holding it close to the pit of my stomach I
slowly moved it round _à la_ American up-to-date methods. Probably the
small silver mounting showed some glint from the straggling rays of the
solitary lamp. Anyhow, I saw the shadows, which had appeared well
separated before, fading away and concentrating in the rear. This gave
me a chance which I was not slow to avail myself of. Moving as rapidly
as I conveniently could I crossed the open space towards the warehouses
beyond. I had covered half the distance when I saw that I was being
pursued in force. Risking all possibilities of a trip and a fall, I
raced for my life to the first street turning into the town proper. I
had obtained a bit of a start and had the great advantage of thoroughly
knowing the ground. The leading German fell. I heard him swear. The
language was distinctly Teutonic.

When I reached the corner of the street I was not more than twenty yards
ahead of those behind me. Here again a practical knowledge of the tricks
and ways of sportsmen of the Western States of America stood me in good
stead. In fact, it saved the situation and pulled me through. Instead of
dashing at full speed up the street after I had negotiated the corner,
when I should for certain have been caught and pulled down within about
fifty yards, I stopped short and peeped round, exhibiting my nose, one
eye, and part of my hat; also the hand holding the spoof pipe-revolver.
The effect was electrical, not to say humorous. The two Prussian
sleuth-hounds who were racing full pelt after me pulled up dead in their
tracks: so suddenly, in fact, that the third, who was rapidly making up
lost way behind, bumped into them, and all three sprawled in the snow.
As soon as they could pick themselves up they cautiously opened-out the
corner, fearing that their quarry was waiting behind it to pot them off
one at a time as they came round. Imagine their disgust when they
discovered the ruse and saw me in the distance scooting far away up the
deserted street with a good long lead. As I turned the next corner
leading into a diverging street I bumped into a crowd of merry-makers
which poured out from some large, brilliantly-illuminated building.
Every one of them was very exuberant and seemed to be embracing everyone
else. Every one of them appeared to be supremely happy and good-natured,
whilst every one of them was without doubt most gloriously drunk.

What a haven of refuge to a hunted being almost at his last gasp,
fleeing from unknown terrors, from capture, torture, imprisonment, or
possible death! Before they realised my presence I was in the very heart
of the crowd, where I was at once embraced. Needless to add that I
returned the endearments with a vigour and sincerity that I had never
before equalled in all my life. Nor did I attempt to go further until I
had linked up with a convoy of homeward-bound convivial souls, far too
intoxicated to know whether I was myself or one of them, or some other


[8] A fictitious name, but near enough to give the desired clue.




So many people imagine that anyone and everyone who is engaged in
detective or Secret Service work carries about with him a large
assortment of wigs, false hair, and other disguises. When any of this
work is reproduced on the stage or in moving pictures, or in the pages
of works of fiction, disguises of various kinds are generally well to
the fore. But, gentle reader, take it from me, who have been through the
real thing, and rest assured that any kind of disguise is always
attended with danger. To wear false hair or wigs, or even to have them
found in your possession, would mean death instantaneously, or at best
next dawn, in an enemy country; probable imprisonment in a fortress for
many years in a neutral one. The cleverest men I have met in the Service
rarely assume any artificial disguise, although I admit that there are
exceptional and urgent occasions when its aid must be sought of

In fiction you will perhaps have observed the universal rule seems to
ordain that the assumer of disguises invariably endeavours to change his
outward appearance from juvenility to old age. That, to my way of
thinking, is merely adding to one's difficulties. In real life it will
be found far easier to play the part of a person much younger than you
really are than it is to play the part of one who is much older.

On such rare occasions as I had to make it part of my business to
disguise myself I selected for choice the transfiguration of my outward
appearance to a younger rather than an older person whenever the
circumstances so permitted. For example, I would enter a building to all
outward appearances a man of sixty years of age or upwards, and within a
very short space of time reappear as a man of not more than thirty.
These tricks may be attempted at night in artificial lights, but by
daylight the risks of discovery are not worth the small gain or
advantage that may be believed to be attained by their aid.

The common sailor, or working-man who is badly dressed, very dirty in
appearance and who has not shaved for many days, is generally an object
which most men avoid and few women find the smallest interest in; whilst
he can roam at pleasure in most public places, and if he has the price
of a drink in his pocket he invariably gathers around him a multitude of
friends ready to tell him anything they may know or to believe any
cock-and-bull story as to his own antecedents which force of
circumstances or a very vivid imagination may suggest.

All disguises and concealments of identity are of little avail unless
very thoroughly attempted and carried out.

Sir Robert Baden Powell, in his book "My Adventures as a Spy," speaks of
the importance of remembering the back view. He writes:

"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."

A Service officer, whether of the Army or Navy, would have far greater
difficulties to contend with in this respect than would any ordinary
civilian--which is probably one of the main reasons why Service men are
avoided when possible by the German Intelligence Department for active
executive work.

The face and body are easy to disguise, but the hands are not. For a
rough character rough hands are essential. Remember that it is a sure
test, when questioning a tramp or hobo before probably wasting one's
sympathies as well as one's substance in trying to help him, to demand
an examination of his hands. They tell at a glance whether he is a
genuine trier, or merely a chronic waster. Therefore, before undertaking
to appear as a unit of the working-classes, it is advisable to take on a
job which will put one's hands into the condition that would appear
compatible to one's outward appearance. Unloading or loading bricks into
a vessel, or a truck, is the quickest and surest way of accomplishing
this purpose. In a few hours, hands which are unaccustomed to this work
will crack up and blister beyond recognition. Its continuance for a
couple of days will pull the nails out of shape and give the full, true,
horny, hardened grip of a genuine son of toil. Want of soap and water
will complete a supreme finish to the seeming ideal.

Once upon a time there arose an occasion when I had to ship as deck-hand
and general knockabout on a small Baltic coasting craft of no classified
definition. It was rough work, rougher living, and roughest weather. But
one soon accustoms oneself to one's surroundings in life; and it really
is marvellous what a satisfactory clean-up one can make with the
assistance of a little grease and a tiny piece of cotton waste.

The cruise had been completed and the vessel was returning to a friendly
port when her skipper undertook to ferry a party of ladies and gentlemen
across from one small island to another. The deck hand--need I explain
that I acted in that capacity?--was indisposed. He sought his bunk
below, only to be sworn at and cursed, and ordered out again in a manner
which unfortunately brought him under observation, exactly the opposite
to that which his modest, retiring nature desired; more particularly so
on the occasion in question.

One lady, a bright-eyed, vivacious, sweet-faced woman of between twenty
and thirty years of age, remonstrated on behalf of this seemingly
ill-used and unfortunate mortal, and she pleaded with the skipper that
the poor man looked frightened and ill. Alas, poor me!

"D----d idle, dirty, good-for-nothing scamp," is the nearest equivalent
in English to a translation of his retort. I had been playing up for a
discharge, and plead guilty to the indictment.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days later a fashionable gathering took place. It was held in a
beautifully situated house, having extensive grounds, fine gardens, and
magnificent views of the surrounding seaboard. Everyone of any local
importance was there. Amongst the guests was an Englishman. Five
minutes' intercourse with him would have been amply sufficient to have
based the conclusion that he was one of those effeminate, lisping, soft,
silly slackers, who hang round tea-tables and curates' meetings, and who
have a horror of all things manly.

He was dressed in a neat suit of blue serge. Every speck of dust coming
to it was at once flicked off with a silk handkerchief. His trousers
were of the permanent turned-up cut, carefully pressed and creased. He
sported bright yellow wash-leather gloves and spent most of his time
toying with a rimmed eyeglass. That he was shy, reticent, and retiring
was at once obvious, but in spite of a vacuous, far-away look, his eyes
seemed to travel over most of the company, and whenever any serious
conversation took place he appeared to be wandering aimlessly about, but
well within earshot.

One lady in the crowd seemed to take a more than ordinary interest in
this personage. She was a bright-eyed, vivacious, sweet-faced woman of
between twenty and thirty years of age. She was also a clever and
far-seeing individual--one who watches, listens, and observes to
advantage. The stranger's face attracted her. She felt somehow that it
was familiar. She was sure that she had seen it before; but when, or
where, puzzled her.

An introduction was an easy matter. Soon she was sipping tea and
exchanging views on every-day frivolities with the object which for the
moment so attracted her curiosity. I can assure those who read these
lines that the object in question wished himself anywhere but where he

"It is most unusual to meet an Englishman who speaks our language, even
badly. How is it that you seem to know it so well?" she suddenly asked;
experience having apparently taught her that questions leading up to the
point desired merely forewarned the interrogated.

"No, no. You flatter me. I'm positively wrotten on the grammar. I only
know a number of words. You see, I had to learn those because I come to
your delightful country so much on business, also for sport," I replied.

"Business? What kind of business?" she asked.

"Well, you see, I'm rather interwested in wood and in herwings."

"Oh yes! And sport?"

"Well, you see, I come here every year for fishing."

For some moments the lady maintained an ominous silence, whilst her eyes
focussed the horizon of some distant islands lying far out upon the
smooth and sunlit sea. She smiled to herself, as though she had caught a
delusive object of great worth; then, turning her fair head--and she
really was pretty--so that she could look me full in the eyes, she

"Is it your business or your sport which gives you so much fascination
for the sea?"

"Fascination for the sea?" I exclaimed doubtingly. "Now, weally you are
quite wrong. I never go on the sea unless I'm weally forced to do so. In
fact, I hate it. It's so beastly wrestless when it might be quiet and
let everybody else be quiet too." I lisped painfully.

"I think you said it was herrings that interested you," she replied,
following up a point she seemed determined to push home. "Are you sure
it's not a larger species of fish?"

"Yes, quite sure," I hastened to add. "I have no interwests in your
extensive cod fisherwies; nor in the oil which I am told is such good

"I did not mean codfish," she said. "I meant a much larger sort of
fish--a big fish closely related to the whale family!" Whilst as she
uttered the sentence her bright eyes looked laughingly at me with a keen
glance that seemed to wish it could penetrate my very soul.

"Whales! Whales! I've never touched a whaling share in my life, and I'm
quite certain I don't mean to in these times," I muttered.

Again the lady favoured silence, but her eyes never left my face a
second. She studied every line, every flicker of the eyelid or twitch of
the mouth, to try and read what thoughts were passing through my brain;
but fortunately for me an assumed innocent expression of countenance
successfully concealed the tumult within.

I dared not attempt to change the conversation. I merely followed
whatever topic my enchanting _vis-à-vis_ chose to select. I answered her
questions quietly and without hesitation, but still she persisted.

"I mean those large whales which have been so frequently seen along our
coast ever since the first week of August, 1914. Those great big whales
_with iron skins_."

It was a sudden, bold, frontal attack, which, however, failed entirely.
In spite of her many self-satisfied smiles, gentle head-noddings and
knowing side-glances, it elicited nothing but a hearty peal of laughter.
This was repeated twice, and the diplomatic lady joined in to hide the
chagrin she undoubtedly felt.

"My dear good lady, if you take me for a spy, you flatter me. You do
indeed. I'm neither clever enough nor bold enough, nor energetic enough,
ever to be selected for such a business. Even if I had the chance
offered me I should never know what I ought to do, or how I could or
ought to do it; and if I met a clever person--like yourself, for
instance--you would be able to twist me wound your little finger and I
could not help myself. Spy, indeed! You are funny! You know you are.
Yes, you know you weally are." And I continued to laugh softly, as
though the idea suggested was the most humorous thing I had ever heard,
although I admit I was perspiring all over.

"Then what were you doing on board that trading boat in which we
crossed from ---- to ---- last Monday? And why were you disguised as a
common sailorman, all dirt and grease?"


"Yes, you. I recognised you the moment I saw you here to-day. So it is
useless to deny it. Besides, I wish to be your friend." And sinking her
voice to a whisper she added, "I can be of great assistance to you if I
like. I am related to several members of the Government. They will tell
me anything I want to wheedle out of them--anything it may interest you
to know. I love England; I hate the Germans and I adore the English. I
think you are very clever indeed, but you are not clever enough to
deceive me; so it's utterly useless trying to do so any longer. Am I not
right, sir?" Saying which she tapped me playfully on the arm,
accompanied by many languishing smiles.

It was a mighty awkward moment, a very trying situation. My only hope
was boldness.

At the first words of her last sentence I had raised my face to hers,
looking her full in the eyes until its conclusion, and assuming to the
best of my ability an amazed expression of absolute astonishment. Then,
after a long pause, suitable to the part I was enforced to play, I
blurted out: "My dear madam! What on earth are you driving at? Last
Monday I was in Copenhagen, miles away from here! Disguised as a common
sailor-man! All dirt and grease! What can you mean? Is it another joke,
like the whales _with iron skins, or the spy_? Or has someone been
telling you fairy tales?"

In vain she continued to pound me with straight, searching, direct
questions. In vain she coaxed and cooed to me to confide in her and make
her a friend and an ally. In vain she cast amorous glances, full of deep
meaning, with those wondrous eyes of hers, which she knew so well how to
use; glances which were calculated to move a heart of stone, and, I
could not help thinking at the time, would have been sufficient to tempt
St. Anthony himself from his lonely cell.

I, however, merely continued to stare at her with an insipid,
incredulous, vacant look, until at last she petulantly stamped her tiny
foot. Her patience was evidently quite exhausted.

"You must be an imbecile, a bigger fool than I would have believed it
possible to find anywhere. My favours are not lightly distributed, nor
have they ever before been refused."

As a woman scorned she hissed this sentence into my ear, and tossing her
pretty head like an alarmed deer in the wilds of a great forest she
trotted away and left me gazing silently after her.

What would be her next step? I wondered. Did she really take me for a
blithering idiot, or did she entertain doubts on the matter? Would she
remain silent, or would she make further inquiry? To what lengths would
she be likely to go if she so decided?

It sent a cold stream of collected perspiration trickling down my back
to think of what trouble that pretty creature could create if she really
did make up her mind to follow up my trail.

It was terribly bad luck to happen just at that particular time, because
I had wanted so much to remain at least a week or ten days in that
particular locality; now I had to debate with myself whether I dare risk
a stay over, and what it might lead to if I so decided and acted on that

Then I remembered my hands. Good heavens! If she had not got so angry,
if she had only kept cool, and had challenged me to remove my gloves.
What a give-away it would have been! Whew!

I was finding the atmosphere much too warm for my liking. I began to
imagine that bright-eyed, vivacious, sweet-faced lady sitting in her
boudoir at home in a dainty kimono, with a winsome hand-maiden brushing
the silken tresses of her crowning glory; whilst she surveyed her
captivating features in the mirror and contracted her pretty forehead
into ugly wrinkles as she mentally reviewed the day's proceedings.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night at an hotel in the town not so many kilomètres away from my
lady's chamber a very wide-awake Englishman lay stretched at full length
upon a very short bed. His legs protruded some two feet over the
backboard. He was partly undressed, and he sucked vigorously at a strong
black cigar. He also frowned in serious disapproval at the mental review
of the day's proceedings, at an irrepressible, annoying thought which
would repeat itself again and again, a conviction that if he did not
clear out of that immediate neighbourhood at once that "confounded
demnition woman" was certain to make trouble somewhere. Quit he must and
quit he would.

That man was myself.




A few years previous to the declaration of war several Englishmen took
rather an unusual interest in the western coast of Germany, particularly
in the islands lying near to Heligoland.

Some of these Englishmen were watched and arrested on the grounds of
espionage. Some were tried and imprisoned for varying terms of years in
German fortresses. Some were never caught, although they were closely
chased, and were very much wanted indeed.

Maybe I was one of them. Maybe the Germans took little, if any, interest
whatever in so insignificant a mortal. But the fact remains that for
many years prior to 1914 I had annually visited the Danish and
Schleswig-Holstein coasts on wild-fowling expeditions and for wild-goose

To those who are ignorant of the nature of the western coast of Germany
and would learn concerning it, a perusal of that most interesting little
volume, "The Riddle of the Sands," is recommended. No cliffs are to be
found there, with the exception of some upon the islands of Heligoland
and the hillsides which adorn the northern side of the Elbe on the way
up to Hamburg. A low sandy shore running in places far out into the
North Sea stretches the entire length of coastline from Holland to
Denmark. The changes, additions, and developments along this forbidden
strip of land, which during past years has been so jealously guarded by
the Germans, have always been a source of deep interest to John Bull's
Watchdogs who have the welfare of the British Empire at heart. At no
time has this interest been deeper or more absorbing than since August
4th, 1914.

I knew them well. One of my wild-fowling companions had been a
Frenchman, about my own age, who lived in Copenhagen. He spoke half a
dozen languages, and was a very keen sportsman, and wild geese were his

Cruising in the depths of winter along the vast extent of mud-flats,
oozes, shallows, and islands, which guard the west coast of
Schleswig-Holstein, is no child's play. It requires bold and hardy
navigators; men who are not frightened at the horrors of ice-floes, or
of breakers on the bar; who can stand a temperature below zero; who can
live on the coarsest of rations; and who can sleep anyhow and anywhere.

The _Nordfriesische Inseln_ tract, lying south of the island of Fano,
the natural buffer to the Esbjerg fjord, was a favourite hunting-ground,
but it had its drawbacks. Many a fine shot into big flocks of geese and
ducks was, to the sportsman's annoyance, spoilt by the unwelcome
interference of German sentries or soldiers stationed at all kinds of
unexpected and outlandish points among the islands. Sometimes those
interlopers would put out in boats and give chase, but we knew within a
little where they were generally stationed and by taking advantage of
the ground managed to avoid being captured. More than once we had been
hailed and warned and ordered to keep within Danish waters or we would
be shot--which, however, was nothing out of the common. There are many
good fishermen residing at Nordby and Ribe (in Denmark) who have netted
flat fish in these waters for years; also intermittently throughout the
war, in spite of rifle bullets perpetually being fired at them.

Soon after the date particularly referred to above, the Germans mined
the area fairly heavily and no channel was safe. But a local fisherman
located the mines and started marking their positions, much to the
annoyance of the Huns. One man in particular would insist on fishing
wherever the mines were thickest. His argument was that, although the
work was dangerous, the mines kept others away, to the protection of the
fish, therefore the fishing must be the better for it. The Germans
warned him often enough, whilst they shot at him so frequently that he
became heedless of their threats and he appeared to entirely disregard
their rifle fire. One day he was caught and taken before an officer, who
impressed upon him that if he came there any more they would use him as
a practice target for small cannon. Nevertheless he returned, and found
them as good as their word. Luckily he escaped being hit, but after the
experience he sold his boat, nets, and belongings, and emigrated to

I happened to arrive at Ribe just too late. I had travelled far to meet
this man, as I was anxious for a _little more wild-fowling_; and no one
knew the creeks, the channels, and the local geography of that shifting,
dangerous coast more thoroughly than this bold and careless fisherman.
He was, however, by no means the only pebble on the beach. I found

My arrival on the frontier between the two countries coincided with
certain marked events--the collapse of an airship at Sonderho, and the
escape of some Russian and English prisoners of war from the compound
outside Hamburg. The airship became a total wreck, and the prisoners of
war succeeded in reaching Danish territory. Thence they travelled to
Copenhagen, where they were well and humanely looked after.

During the autumn of 1914, and the spring of 1915, the west coast of
Denmark and the extensive mileage of flats running south therefrom was
not the happy hunting-ground it had been in the past. There seemed to be
too many Landsturmer aimlessly wandering around carrying guns loaded
with ball ammunition, which they were nothing loth to use at any target
within sight that might appear above the horizon. Ducks and geese were
scarce and very, very wild. They seemed to object to rifle shots even
more than wild-fowlers. They were kept constantly on the move. It is
true there was a regular "flight" of Zeppelins and aircraft of various
shapes and make along the coast every twilight; yet these only appeared
in fine weather, when it is known to all wild-fowlers that flighting
birds fly too high to encourage heavy bags; whilst it must not be
forgotten that so far as the country of Denmark was concerned, these
foul (this pun is surely permissible) were not then lawfully in season.
Their close time, or period of protection, still remained covered. To
violate it would have created much too serious an offence to be treated
lightly. But to observe the movements and habits of _these unfeathered
birds_ with as much secrecy and security as possible was another matter.
In due course I moved camp to the Kleiner Belt and sought sport and
entertainment among the islands of the Southern Baltic, where, in the
air above and in the waters beneath, there was much activity.

For sometimes a fisherman's hut sheltered a supposed-to-be Norwegian
skipper, whose ship held cargo of a contraband nature which was caught
by the war and thus temporarily detained. He was taking a little
shooting trip by way of diversion from the monotony of waiting an
opportunity to get away. That man was myself. It was a thin story, but
it lasted out with local natives for the necessary time required. In
harbours or bays near by were about a thousand vessels laid up in
consequence of the dangers of navigation; whilst round neighbouring
islands, on the Danish side, fleets of ships of varied nationality could
be seen at anchor in many sheltered nooks, all too frightened to venture
further on the high seas.

The natives of Northern Europe are extraordinarily inquisitive, and
unless one is willing to divulge family secrets it is necessary to draw
vividly upon the imagination when interrogated as to antecedents, home,
and calling. It would have been dangerous in the instance in question
not to have humoured this characteristic peculiarity, or to have
declined to satisfy such searching curiosity. The only thing to do to
ensure some degree of safety was to blow "hot air" in volumes around; to
answer all questions; and, above all, to remember every detail of the
untruths thus unfolded. It is a true adage that "a good liar must
possess a good memory."

This seemingly annoying inconvenience had, however, its redeeming
feature. The almost daily bombardment of leading questions opened up
excellent opportunities for return sallies of a reciprocating nature. It
was an easy step to lead from home and domestic particulars to the
all-absorbing topic of the hour--the mighty overshadowing cloud of
national troubles. I therefore encouraged rather than narrowed any
disposition to talk, whilst I was never backward in attending any
meetings of the natives in the confined and fuggy dwellings in which
they congregated and resided, despite the most objectionable atmosphere.

A free hand with tobacco and a few drops (sweets) to the children added
to one's popularity; and "the captain," as I was familiarly called, soon
ingratiated himself far beyond all doubt or suspicion. This was as it
should be.

Now the Kiel fjord was within an easy sail. Its entrance was an object
of interest; whilst the Kiela Bay was used as a patrolling or exercising
ground for various designs of aircraft and warships. Amongst the crowd
of men out of a job was one, a mate, whose life had been passed sailing
in foreign seas. He was a devil-may-care, happy-go-lucky individual,
ready to join any venture that came along. Of course he drank when he
was ashore; at sea he was a total abstainer--by compulsion. Whiskey was
his weakness, wild-fowling his hobby.

He knew the haunts and habits of both short and long-winged fowl, which,
in his company, I often sought, and it is a wonder we came back alive.

Every channel that was navigable round those northern islands seemed to
hold German or Danish mines. Every storm broke quantities of these mines
from their moorings; and every day floating mines could be seen, washed
up somewhere, or reported. Many vessels were lost by unfortunate
contact with them, and the sea was dotted with the mastheads of the
sunken craft. Christian--that was the venturesome mate's name--thought
little of this. One danger was quite equal to another with him. He
argued that if fate had ordained he should be blown up by a mine,
instead of being drowned, what did it matter? Call-day must come sooner
or later, and after all, perhaps a quick blow-up was preferable to the
prolonged suffocation of drowning. The former at least would not be a
cold or a lingering death, but all over in a second, with no trouble
about funerals and that kind of thing. The latter caused a shudder to
think about.

At first one was inclined to believe Christian was boastful in his talk,
but the following venturesome exploits prove that such was not the case.

Indented into a certain island in the Southern Baltic is a certain bay,
which has always been a favourite haunt of wild geese. They visit it in
thousands during the spring and autumn migrations, whilst a sprinkling
of them seems to be ever present. A low promontory of sand and
sand-dunes circles part of this bay, which is so washed by the sea that
it is difficult to tell where the low-water mark really begins. From one
point of the promontory a long spit of sand and mud projects far out
into the sea. It is a peculiar formation and is much sought by waterfowl
for resting and toilet purposes. During the opening months of 1915 geese
made a habit of congregating here in unusual numbers.

Out at sea, in the fairway, was moored an ugly, evil-looking craft, with
huge uprising bows. She was fitted with wireless, and although she had
been anchored there since the outbreak of war, a head of steam was
always kept up. Her official name and number was G. No. 53. She was
supposed and alleged to be lying outside the Danish seaboard limit.
That, however, to the casual observer looked to be open to grave doubt.
She flew no flag and showed no outward sign of life on board, but she
was known to be a German vessel, well crewed, victualled and provided.
Those on board could command the sand-spit before mentioned with their
binoculars, as well as with other human inventions. Apparently they did
not neglect to make full use of what they had to hand.

On two occasions, within a period of ten days, a couple of ardent
wild-fowlers might have been observed (history seems to point to the
fact that they were observed) at early dawn, crawling along the said
sand-spit, close to the water's edge, on its lee-side. Very slowly
indeed they worked their way along until they were within range of a
small gaggle of geese which habitually rested there. On each occasion a
successful shot had been recorded. Fable tells us that the pitcher can
go too often to the well. These intrepid sportsmen attempted to repeat
their previous successes.

It was in the gloaming of eventide. About a dozen or fifteen black
(brent) geese were preening their feathers at the end of the sand-spit,
apparently well satisfied with their lot and the world in general. Just
under the uneven line of washed-up seaweed and other refuse two dark
forms crawled along. They seemed to be hours covering the space
intervening between themselves and the birds--their evident quarry.
Between decks on the gloomy vessel this minor tragedy in life and death
was probably an object of equal interest. The crew could watch and
observe without themselves being seen. They could gloat over the
spilling of blood, and the death-dealing power of well-placed
explosives, without the outside world ever knowing that they had any
knowledge of such events happening. How keenly they must have

As the sun sank deeper and deeper in the west, and the shades of night
crept up from the east, the two wild-fowl hunters drew nearer and nearer
to their objective. At least they began to think it time to prepare for
a serenade. They were in the act of unlocking their guns when suddenly
the ground immediately in front of them rose, like an active volcano,
into the air and a mighty explosion shook the earth. What a shock! It
raised their caps and, as Christian remarked, so singed the hair on his
head and face that he would not be likely to want the attentions of a
barber for a fortnight. His companion was glad enough to escape whole
in body and limb, whilst he cursed the cowardly Huns under his breath
for their death-dealing intentions. Christian seemed to emulate the
immortal Mark Tapley. He was infernally happy and grateful to somebody
to think they had helped him kill geese, which he would probably never
have bagged without such assistance; and he joyfully rushed forward to
pick up the dead and wounded before they could recover from the
concussion consequent upon the shock of the explosion.

Natives who heard the report put it down to a floating mine which had
been washed up on the beach and exploded when brought into contact with
the shore. Had one of them visited the place where the upheaval occurred
he could have seen at a glance that the depth of water was such that a
mine could not have floated within half a mile.

How disappointed must have been the crew of G. No. 53.

Christian was a born sportsman. He was one of those who would have
willingly exchanged a year's earnings for a red-letter day at sport. If
the sport was such that danger was coupled with it, the greater the
danger, the greater the excitement, and the greater his consequent
enjoyment. For one reason only he was constantly lamenting that his
country had not been brought into the struggle, so that he could have
seized the opportunity to join actively in the fray. At heart, of
course, he did not really desire that his country or his countrymen
should have inflicted upon them all the horrors of war; but when a scrap
was in progress he longed with his whole soul to be in the thick of it.

Now it so happened that certain people had declared that the Germans
were violating the neutrality of Denmark, or at least jeopardising her
position and welfare, by certain nocturnal submarine visitations in
certain waters--not so very far from the Great Belt. German officialdom
replied that these complaints and protests were mythical and without
foundation. Christian thought otherwise.

It was a strange coincidence that at this particular time Christian
should take a violent fancy for trawling. It was perhaps strange that
his particular friend should argue that the best and heaviest fish
always frequented the deepest channels which ran between the islands.
Christian agreed, and supported the contention by quoting his
experiences of fishing in far-off foreign seas.

He was not interrogated as to where, and when, and how, and for how long
he had abandoned the forecastle for the trawl-net; nor did he give much
opening for any such questions. He knew. Others might think they knew,
but he knew he was right; that, according to him, was incontrovertible.

Christian's enthusiasm carried all and everything with it. A small
vessel suitable for trawling purposes was secured and fitted out with
the necessary gear and equipment. A chosen crew was selected. Fish were
very scarce and consequently were very dear; the fortunes of all were to
be made in a miraculously short space of time. The skipper was a
heavy-bearded individual who knew his job, but nothing beyond it. He was
easily persuaded, whilst his crew followed the lead blindly, thinking
only of easily-earned shekels to come. In due course the party put to
sea, with Christian & Co. acting in the capacity of spare hands.

For several nights results were precarious. The mighty draughts of
promised fishes did not come along, and Christian had to use all his
persuasive powers, backed up with innumerable excuses and explanations,
to prove why it was his theories had not produced practical solid

The spirits of the once optimistic crew had sunk to zero, but they were
over-persuaded to venture forth yet again. It was a dark night, but the
moon was due to rise at 11.30. The sails of the little vessel had been
trimmed, and the trawl dropped in a well-known channel, picked off from
the chart by the ever enthusiastic Christian. For a few hours nothing
out of the common occurred. Towards midnight the wind freshened slightly
and the moon, peeping out from occasional obscuring clouds, cast pale,
fitful lights over the cold, dark waters.

Presently the watch on deck became alarmed. An extraordinary phenomenon
appeared to take place. The fishing-boat gradually began to go
backwards--actually into the eye of the wind, although her sails were
properly set and full. The watchman rubbed his eyes and pinched himself
to see whether he was properly awake, or dreaming. He looked at the
trawl warp to see whether it was slackening, as he reasoned that if some
current sufficiently strong to counteract the force of the wind was
flowing there, however unusual or from whatsoever unknown but possible
cause it might have originated, then surely the trawl warp would show

No. The trawl warp was tight. It was strained to its utmost. He looked
at the far-off land and took bearings. He was not mistaken. _The boat
was going backwards._ Her speed was easily perceptible.

He rushed to the hatchway and yelled at the top of his voice to the
sleeping crew to come on deck; to which alarming summons it responded
quickly enough.

Wildly gesticulating and with much waving of arms the thoroughly
frightened and superstitious fisherman explained matters as best he
could. Others sprang to various positions in the boat to investigate for
themselves. The story was indeed too true, and consternation at the
unknown plainly showed itself on the countenances of all--except perhaps
the imperturbable Christian and the other spare hand. Whilst the crew
was debating with its skipper what was best to be done under the
circumstances, another phase of the phenomenon developed. A huge,
unwieldy shape gradually rose from the sea abaft the taffrail. It had a
smooth, polished skin, which shone and glistened in the moonlight like
the back of a whale. But on looking farther along to gauge as accurately
as could be the whole length of this mysterious leviathan of the deep, a
break in the smoothness of its form was apparent, together with an
excrescence which the skipper of the trawler was not long in recognising
as the conning tower of a submarine.

Ye gods above! How frightened they all were. How the skipper swore, and
raved, and shrieked for a hatchet to cut away. How he sawed at the trawl
rope with his belt knife before it arrived, and how he hacked the warp
in two when he did get it. What a commotion there was to pack on sail in
order to get clear before the Germans could get out of their steel shell
and make things unpleasant for them. How everyone flew about and gave
orders to everyone else. Yes! All seemed to lose their heads entirely,
except the two spare hands whose whole attention seemed attracted aft.
They gazed, with looks which might have been mistaken for gleams of
triumph, at that huge, ugly monster, now bumping the stern of the little
fishing-boat. They noted every detail open to visional observation,
while their unusual coolness was not noticed in the general alarm of the
crew, who thought only of their individual escape and safety.

A close, impartial observer might almost have been led to the belief
that the expression on the countenance of Christian betrayed the
realisation of an all-too-long delayed event which had at last
crystallised and fully justified his anticipations.

In due course it was reported that the propellers of a believed-to-be
German submarine, which, it could be said, had got out of her course in
the dark, had fouled the fishing-nets belonging to some unknown boat.
The local press was furious. Officialdom was stirred from its lethargy,
much red tape and sealing-wax were expended, many politely worded notes
passed between two Governments, and the event was soon forgotten by the
Powers-that-be. But the fishermen concerned remembered all too vividly
every detail and the horrible scare they had had, whilst they loudly
lamented their lost gear. However, a Danish gunboat appeared a little
more frequently round that particular part of the coast; mines, and yet
more mines, were laid out; whilst the waters in question, which had so
many times rippled round the boat of mystery, knew the activities of the
conscienceless Hun no more. Meanwhile the Golden Argosy of unlimited
profits from deep-channel trawling by night, as exploited by Messrs.
Christian & Co., proved a ghastly financial failure.




Whilst prowling along the northern frontier of Germany in the early
spring of 1915, with a companion whom I would have trusted with my life,
we quite unwittingly got caught in a manner least expected.

I had been over the frontier more than once, but never far into the
interior. I had neither occasion nor object in so doing. I was at the
time on the lookout for some Danish workmen who I knew had been employed
on some of the important and secret war material of Germany. If I could
meet them on German soil, so much the better; they would then be much
more likely to open out and talk more freely than they would do if met
elsewhere. I had had experience of this and was at the time most anxious
to get corroborative evidence of some rather startling rumours which I
had recently heard regarding the (later on called) Paris Big Gun.

Whilst so prowling, as before mentioned, we heard speak of a certain
harbour. The mysterious harbour, it was called, which no one might
visit, which was jealously guarded, and which the Germans had every
intention of occupying at an early date. Wild, speculative talk,
perhaps, but it was enough to determine me to go and see for myself and
so learn the truth and judge the possibilities from the facts gathered.

Not so many miles from the Island of Femern, where the German warship
_Gazelle_ was torpedoed by an English submarine in the spring of 1915,
although the fact was never communicated to the English Press, it was
said to be situated. A small, exceedingly convenient harbour, with at
least eighteen feet depth of water at all tides, and it was said to be
capable of great developments.

Its existence was not chronicled in ordinary guide-books nor on the maps
in general circulation. Visitors were not welcomed and the local
inhabitants were fearful lest their neighbourhood should be seized and
overrun by undesirable foreigners.

During the period with which we are concerned frost at night was
intense. All open marshland was frozen as solidly as if encased in iron,
whilst the ice-bound ditches, canals, and drains were levelled to the
headland with drifted snow. Storms, of varying magnitude, were of daily
occurrence. Cruel winds swept the bleak area visited, cutting through
the thickest of garments till the marrow in one's very bones seemed
congealed. No one at the time, acting from his own free will, would have
appreciated either a business or a pleasure trip to the harbour in
question. Yet early one eventful morning, when the weather was at its
worst and everyone else had sought shelter, we braved the elements and
attempted to lay a course through the maze of marshland roads, dams and
banks, which would not have been an easy task to many of the natives.
Our struggle to win through these and other unseen difficulties seemed
hopeless. But our minds were made up. We were both determined,
obstinate, persistent. Many times we were blown flat by the violence of
the storm. Many times we fell, sunk to our necks, in a snowdrift. Many
times we lost our way and had to retrace our steps or correct our
course. But all the while we proceeded forward, with lips compressed and
faces set in grim determination, to accomplish the task we had in hand;
to view, to inspect, and to survey roughly the harbour and its works.

Not a soul was observable upon all that vast flat area stretching away
uninterruptedly to the horizon as far as the eye could command on either
hand. The distant, dull, booming, angry roar of the sea upon the
breakwaters and the shrieking wind made conversation impossible. No
cover was available until the great embankment was attained. It guarded
some tens of thousands of acres of reclaimed land. What a relief it was
to us poor wayfarers to reach this comparative haven of peace, an oasis
in the desert of howling storm! We had traversed many, many weary miles
of most awful walking, under most exhausting circumstances, and a long
rest was indeed welcome. Having reached the embankment unobserved, the
remainder of the venture was, comparatively speaking, an easy matter.

With such a gale in progress no vessel was likely to brave the mines
laid out under the Admiralty administration of several nations and to
attempt a passage from the sea. On the land side, the temporary railway
and all roads concentrated upon a point where a cluster of new houses
had sprung up, which at the moment in question were full of
individuals--refugees from the storm and others. The windows of these
houses commanded every road within miles. Was it likely, the sentries
undoubtedly argued within themselves, or to be suspected for a moment,
that anyone in sane senses would attempt to avoid these solid paths and
risk an approach to the harbour through the swamps (although they were
frozen) and by way of the embankments thus reached, to the east and
west? If there were such rash and foolish people about then they ran a
good chance of being lost and frozen to death.

So it was that even the sentries were under cover, making life as
pleasant as could be, drinking coffee heavily strengthened with brandy,
and playing cards for small stakes.

Having rested and eaten and drunk from a thermos flask, we proceeded
along the sea side of the embankment with as much caution as though
travelling in an enemy's country. Somewhat to our surprise we
encountered not a living being, not even a stray dog to exercise his
lungs at strangers. On arrival at the harbour, which was concealed from
view of the houses by the height of the embankment before mentioned, we
quickly and dexterously got to work, free from observation or
interruption. My companion kept watch on the main entrances whilst I
overran the works, mapped and thoroughly investigated them, sounded and
checked water depths, accommodation calculated, and the quay head-room,
and roughly surveyed and noted to the minutest detail all the
surroundings, in a very short space of time.

As soon as this work was accomplished we left the danger zone. It was
unwise to linger a moment longer than was necessary in such a situation.
Retracing our steps until we were quite convinced there was no chance of
trouble from possible prying followers, we paused on the outskirts of a
small wood. It was the first rest since our objective had been left, it
was the first opportunity we had had to exchange a sentence.

"Why not look in and see old Pedersen, the smuggler? He may know

"Good; let us go then." This was all I had to say.

In a lonely hut, in still more lonely and uninviting surroundings,
resided the interesting individual sought. He was a friend of long
standing with my companion, whom he received with every outward sign of
cordiality and pleasure. But how deceptive can be the ways of men time
will show. Coffee was at once put on the hob to boil, and a liberal
supply of potato-brandy and eatables forthcoming. The glow of the fire
and warm food after long exposure caused my blood to tingle in my veins,
down to toe- and finger-tips. The sensation was glorious, and a quiet
smoke crowned the extreme bliss of the moment.

In due course ordinary generalities of conversation broadened further
afield. The grey-haired, bright-eyed old deluder of Revenue officers
dilated upon the war pickings and opportunities which seemed to be
bringing him a rich harvest. It appeared he had many relations living
and working in Germany. They helped him not a little. Custom officials
on that side also knew him well. They winked at most things now which
before the war would have been suppressed with an iron hand. His goings
and comings were of more frequent occurrence. His business proceeded
almost openly, and he was accumulating money as he had never done in
his life before.

No, he did not fear the mines. It was true there were plenty of them.
Danish, German, Russian, and English. He knew exactly where each group
was laid; thus he avoided them.

Yes, he believed the English had laid out some mines. He could not say
for certain, but he had seen English submarines in the Femern Belt. He
had spoken them and he knew English when he heard it. Of course they
must have laid out some mines.

Everyone knew of the existence and whereabouts of the Danish and of the
German mines. Fishermen who were daily at sea, fishing or cruising
around after one thing and another, had seen and heard quite enough
about them; but the Russian mines were another proposition. He believed
most of the Russian mines were floating ones, either from design or
accident. Anyway, there were plenty of them about. The more the merrier
so far as he was concerned. They kept a lot of people away and they did
not frighten him. It was all good for business.

For some time the old man ran on with the utmost freedom of speech,
which tended to disarm any suspicions we might have entertained against
him. We, however, gave no hint of our doings. We preferred to pose as
good listeners.

When he turned his conversation to the building of new submarines and
airships, and events and happenings in the interior of Germany, I drew
into deeper reticence and avoided asking questions which might have
raised possible suspicions of the deep absorbing interest such knowledge
carried. The veteran smuggler apparently had two brothers working on war
machines in German territory, and they had told him----

Here he broke off in the middle of a sentence to ask his long-lost
friend who I was, where I came from, and all about me.

It appeared that overcome by the strong wind, coupled with perhaps the
stronger alcoholic libations, I had fallen asleep.

"Oh, you need not trouble about him. He's a Norwegian ship's captain,
whose ship is stranded up at Marstal. He is visiting a few friends
hereabouts and doing a little duck-shooting with me. He's a real good
sort and quite all right." "Of course," replied the smuggler, "I knew if
he was with you he must be all right. But in these times you never know,
so you'll have to excuse my asking"; and he continued to describe all he
had heard and knew concerning the building of the new improved German
submarines, which were claimed to be able to run at great speed on the
surface and to traverse a distance of some thousands of miles
independent of base reliance for resupplies.

When the subject had been exhausted he switched off to the 1915
Zeppelins, upon which another brother had been for some time employed.
These engines of destruction, he stated, would be a wonderful
improvement on all former known airships of their kind. They would be
very much larger; have their cars covered in; there would be more of
them; their speed would be materially increased and their capacity for
weight-carrying considerably augmented. There were many other minor yet
important details which the old man, in his enthusiasm, enlarged upon in
garrulous volubility.

At last there seemed nothing more to tell and a renewal of the journey
was suggested, but so soundly did the pseudo Norwegian captain sleep
that it took the combined efforts of both of them, with much prodding
and shaking, before he could be aroused from his lethargy. When
apparently I was only half awake we left the hut, cursing the
belligerents generally for upsetting everybody's livelihood, instead of
thanking our late host for the friendly shelter and hospitality; nor did
I offer any apology for having slept throughout his most interesting
discourse upon these unknown things.

The old smuggler audibly expressed an unsought opinion that the liquor
had got the better of my senses. I was gratified by that.

Later in the afternoon we found ourselves in the neighbourhood of a
small township. We made our way to an inn in the main street, where we
ordered something substantial to eat.

To specially prepare a meal anywhere on the Continent takes time. At a
remote country inn where nothing is kept in readiness it takes much more
time than elsewhere. An hour is the minimum. I sought my bedroom with an
excuse for forty winks, giving orders to be awakened as soon as the soup
was on the table.

Every hostelry bedroom in the north of Europe is provided with a table,
pens, ink and writing materials. A few minutes after the door had been
locked I might have been seen seated at table preparing a despatch and
puzzling deeply over certain sprawled hieroglyphics which had apparently
been made on rough paper, _possibly inside my pocket with a pencil stump
when perhaps reclining in an awkward position and unable or unwilling to
see to guide the fingers which gripped the active stump of lead_. Be
that as it may, the writing was awfully bad and very difficult indeed to
make out. I studied it with the greatest of care all ways, upside down,
and at every angle; whilst the smiles on my face may have portrayed
evident satisfaction at the result.

Suddenly a heavy tread caused the solid stairs to creak, and loud
knocking, equivalent to peremptory demands, upon the door of my room
caused me to jump in my chair as though a guilty conscience plagued my
peace of mind. Quick as lightning I removed and concealed certain
precious belongings, doubled up the sheet of paper upon which I was
working, and started to scribble silly messages upon some picture
postcards I had purchased at the village store to people of no
importance who lived at no great distance away.

Again the knocking was repeated, this time louder and more emphatic than
before. "All right, my friend, no hurry. Take all things quietly and all
things will be well." But the impatient visitor would not and did not
wait. He placed so much force behind the lock that it yielded, and he
nearly fell on to his nose as the door gave way.

Recovering himself he came quickly forward, and I rose to meet him half

"You know who we are?" he said to me.

"My dear sir, I exceedingly regret to say that I have not that
pleasure," I replied.

"We are police officers." As he spoke, another burly individual appeared
in the opening of the doorway, who, without sign of interest in the
preliminary conversation, proceeded to prop up the broken door to some
semblance of its former state. "You have just landed from Femern and we
arrest you as a German spy."

At these words my eyes glittered, I clenched my hands in a way which did
not augur well for the visitors.

"My good sir," I muttered through compressed lips, "you may do what you
please, and you may assign me to any nationality in the wide, wide
world, except that one. I am not in any way related to the barbarians,
nor will I permit you to take me for one. If you repeat such an
insulting accusation again I shall throw you out."

"You forget, sir, you are under arrest," he snapped.

"I do not forget that, if I am anything at all, I am an Englishman, and
that I am in a private apartment. If the door is guarded, the window is
not; you will observe that it is an unpleasant height from the ground to

"Anyway, you pass yourself off as a Norwegian, now you say you are
English, but we know you are German. Search his belongings, sergeant,
and search thoroughly." Saying which the senior officer coolly proceeded
to take up and to read the postcards on the table.

It was not a pleasant position to be in, and well I knew it. The new law
was very elastic. It made it an offence to use the telegraph, the
telephone or the postal facilities, or to enlist directly or indirectly
any assistance from any native for the purpose of conveying any
information which could be considered likely to be of use to any
belligerent power; whilst the only literature which had recently found
favour in the eyes of the reading public seemed to relate to spies and
espionage, whether in fact or in fiction. Hence every local junior or
senior police or other officer seemed to imagine himself a born Sherlock
Holmes. In vain I indignantly protested against the intrusion. It
merely seemed to whet their appetite for investigation. Every belonging
I had with me was turned inside out, even to the lining of my raiment.
Hats and boots were separately and collectively opened up, whilst the
marks on my linen, off and on, were compared and commented upon.

"Perhaps a cigar would cool you down a bit?" I remarked somewhat
sarcastically, but the suggestion was refused with an indignant snort.

"Well, I presume there is no objection to my smoking, even if _you_
don't care about it," I added, as I bit the end off a big black cigar
and hunted round for matches. Blindly ignoring a box on the table, I
eventually extracted some from the pocket of my greatcoat, which was
hanging on a peg. In doing so I pulled out a glove which fell to the

Of course my every action was watched. But I did not appear to notice
this until I had twice paced the floor smoking. Then, seeing the glove
lying there, I picked it up and sarcastically offered it for
examination, after which I placed it in my side pocket. Quite a natural
thing to do.

Meanwhile, it should have been recorded that I had purposely left the
folded piece of paper containing the partly-written message lying on the
table and in sight during the whole interview. When the officer had
advanced to read the postcards I had taken care to be there first. I had
carelessly picked up the aforesaid paper and played with it; twisting it
round my fingers as though it were a piece of string. When the officer
was out of reach of the table I threw it down again. If he came closer I
annexed it and played with it as before.

After the glove incident, the officer, evidently in command, made a dash
to secure it. I reached and picked it up just a second before him and
proceeded to twist it with even greater vehemence than before round my
fingers, as though my nerves were somewhat strained.

The officer held out his hand for it. Instead of giving it to him direct
I first passed the paper from one hand to the other. A very simple thing
indeed in itself to the uninitiated, but that little act covered an
operation which if bungled might have provided me with solitary
confinement for a period of many years. As the officer unrolled the
twisted paper I had handed over it proved to be utterly devoid of
interest or utility; it was, in fact, a piece of blank paper, in size
about the thickness of a man's thumb. By way of explanation to the
reader I must add that in years gone by I had been an adept in the art
of legerdemain, thus it was easy for me to deceive him and also to
dexterously convey the original document into the thumb of the glove
which lay conveniently for such purpose in my right-hand coat pocket.

After an hour and a half of search and interrogation the two officers
engaged in whispered conversation and the venue was changed.

In due course I was arraigned before the head magistrate of the
district, a stern but just man who appeared to carry much weight and
influence in local affairs. He was the equivalent to our lord lieutenant
of a county in England, and probably to a State governor in the U.S.A.

His first step embraced a bodily search to the skin in which I, the
prisoner, helped by turning out my pockets and opening up my clothes,
and giving all seemingly possible assistance.

After three and a half hours' interrogation I was dismissed, but
informed I must not leave the inn without a permit. Meanwhile my
travelling companion was also thoroughly overhauled and examined apart
from me and _in camera_.

Whilst this second act of the drama was in progress I was chuckling in
my room. With most satisfactory smiles I extracted my various treasures.
From the roll of my collar I drew forth a document of value. It looked
uncommonly like a rough sketch plan, as indeed it was--quite a good map
of the mysterious harbour which had so suddenly sprung into existence.
My handkerchief was not without a crumpled paper within its folds;
whilst my glove was sought and relieved of its twisted draft despatch.
But what amused me most of all was a book entitled _King Alcohol_, a
discourse on the curse of drink. I had called special attention to this
book, a Danish edition of Jack London, and it had been indignantly cast
upon the table both by the magistrate and the officers.[9] It had lain
there with my glove, pocket-handkerchief, pipe and tobacco-pouch as
uninteresting and neglected throughout the proceedings. This book was
bound in a paper cover, but even an ordinary paper cover can hide more
than some people would give credence to. In this it concealed
blocked-out silhouettes on very thin paper of every fighting vessel in
the German Navy. I had been using them--oh, so recently!

Laughing softly to myself, I reflected on the deception; the very
openness of which was its greatest safety. The repacking of my disturbed
belongings was necessary, and then I wondered how my companion was
faring at the hands of the authorities, whose exasperation and
disappointment at not finding any of the evidence they had expected with
such seeming certainty upon me was badly concealed.

One reflection led to another. How, when, and where had the local police
or the military been led to suspect us, to hit our trail? Who had given
information and what did they really know? The more I turned the matter
over in my mind the more puzzled I became. Could the old smuggler have
communicated possible suspicions? Could we have been seen at work on the
harbour? Was my companion everything I believed him to be? It was one of
those riddles which Secret Service agents are constantly being called
upon to face, but if they seriously trouble themselves trying to solve
them they are apt to fall early victims of brain fever.

The examinations had been severe as to past movements, intentions,
motives, and present occupation or pastime. The mention of wild-fowling
had been received with ridicule until an argument convinced the
magistrate that I knew far more about that sport than he did; whilst
addresses of certain local fowlers, which had been given him with
seeming reluctance, were at once tested by telephone with results not
unfavourable to his temporary prisoners.

Our interrogators either knew, or had assumed a knowledge, that the
harbour had been visited; whilst they had searched diligently and
persistently for any trace of a plan or particulars relating to it.

When the magistrate returned from his second search he announced his
final decision to send us both as prisoners under an escort to
Copenhagen to be tried by the higher tribunal which handled these
affairs. This sentence would have been acted upon forthwith had I not
questioned the authority and the wisdom of carrying any further so
delicate a matter as interference with our personal liberty when there
was no evidence whatever for him to go upon. My criticisms were
pleasantly and playfully worded, but they were also concise and crushing
in their logic; besides which they carried throughout a quiet
threatening undertone that portended possible international trouble,
with severe punishment upon unauthorised officials who tampered
unlawfully with the freedom of a loyal subject of His Gracious Majesty,
King George the Fifth of England.

Thus it came about that the informal court adjourned until the morrow,
and our long-deferred meal was the more appreciated.

Discussing an after-dinner smoke, my companion unanimously agreed with
me that wild-fowling in that particular neighbourhood hardly augured
well, nor did it hold out promise or comfortable prospects; that
although the suspicions which had been aroused had been checkmated for
the moment, there seemed every probability that further trouble was
likely to develop. Perhaps it would be better far to solve the
difficulty and ease the minds of all parties concerned if a rapid,
mysterious departure, which left no traceable trail behind, was taken.

       *       *       *       *       *

Later in the day, as the twilight darkened into night, two shadows might
have been seen for a moment as they angled the corner of the inn in
that southernmost Danish township and disappeared in the surrounding
gloom; travellers once more amidst the flotsam and jetsam of life's
highway; travelling they knew not whither, with but one mind and one
paradoxical thought--to seek for, and at the same time to avoid, the


[9] The Danes being a race of notoriously hard drinkers resent any
literature savouring of Prohibition.




The life of a Foreign Secret Service agent in wartime is one of
kaleidoscopic changes. He never knows where he is likely to be from one
day to another, nor the class of company it may be his lot in life to
associate with.

One day it may elevate him to be a guest of Royalty, the next may find
him in company with the very scum of the earth. _Pro Bono Patriæ_ is his
motto. His life and everything he possesses on earth is thrown for the
time being into the melting-pot. His sole aim, object, and ambition is
to make good. To shoulder successfully and carry through his little bit
whereby something may be accomplished, something done, for the
furtherance of his country's cause.

All through that hard-fought fight the British played the game. They
conducted themselves as gentlemen and they never forgot that they were
sportsmen as well. We in the Secret Service prided ourselves that we
never knowingly abused the hospitality of the neutral nations whose land
we were compelled _nolens volens_ to operate in, we never interfered in
any way with their politics or their national affairs. Our work lay with
the Hun, the enemy; we strictly confined our attentions to him, and to
him alone.

Yet we were constantly being tempted to be drawn into side issues which
it was at times really difficult to avoid.

In the early spring of 1915, whilst I was cruising in the Baltic,
amidst ice-floes and storms frequent enough to chill the ardour of any
patriot, I received an innocent and simple-worded note, the
interpretation of which meant I must hasten to Christiania for orders.

On my arrival there I met my old friend N. P., who had been similarly
recalled from Sweden, with others who have not figured in these pages.
Days passed in listless idleness. No orders arrived. There seemed to be
nothing doing. But it was heart-breaking to see the constant stream of
the necessities of life--cotton, copper, foodstuffs and metals--going to
Germany, which the feeble remonstrances of our Ministers, both at home
and abroad, seemed utterly powerless to stop or to diminish.

For some weeks all members of the Foreign Secret Service operating round
the Baltic were kept at the Norwegian capital in daily anticipation of
something important turning up. The expected, however, never happened,
yet we were still kept there, in spite of repeated remonstrances and
urgent appeals to be released in order that we might attend to our
respective interests in other spheres.

One evening I had been dining with a friend at the Grand Hotel. Whilst I
was in the vestibule about 2 a.m., putting on my snow-boots preparatory
to the short walk home, a middle-aged man, with hands clenched, face as
pale and clammy as a corpse, and teeth set hard, rushed up to me in such
an alarming manner that I fondled the butt of a revolver lying in the
outside pocket of my overcoat by way of precaution against possible

"My God, sir, you are the one man I've been praying to find! I believe I
should have committed suicide to-night or by to-morrow morning had it
not have been for this chance meeting. I must see you, now, this moment.
You must save me. I have millions, yet I am a ruined man. I dare not
face it a second time. You must either come to my room, or I must visit
yours. I have not slept for nights. It will take hours to explain
matters. You must save me. Save me! Yes, only promise me you will save

Thinking I had a madman to deal with, I humoured him. I promised any
reasonable assistance that lay in my power, and fixed an appointment for
the afternoon of the following day.

The twelve hours intervening made little improvement upon the nerves or
excitement of the stranger. It was some time after my arrival before he
could articulate a connected story; whilst it took considerable
interlocution and some cross-examination before I could draw forth the
main facts of his case.

Shortly, it was as follows:

He was a merchant from the West Coast. He had gambled in fish oil some
years previously and lost his all. Financial difficulties had since
embarrassed him. When the country was thrown into panic by the
declaration of war he had seen his opportunity and plunged once again
into an enormous speculation. By promising large sums of money for
direct financial assistance, and by offering brokerage remuneration far
in excess of what was either necessary or reasonable, he had become
enabled to buy on credit practically every barrel of fish oil held in
the country. It was a special kind of oil which could not be replaced
until next season's harvest was gathered in. He was therefore in a
position to control the market and to regulate prices, provided he could
only finance the deal uninterruptedly and his movements were not
hampered by new laws--particularly prohibition of export.

Terribly anxious on both these points, he had approached the British
Minister and pressed upon him the acceptance of his whole purchase at a
price more than double its initial cost. In addition he had hinted
rather too strongly that Germany was a certain buyer should the English
Government not care to accept his preferential offer.

It amounted in fact to a threat: "If you don't buy this oil at once, the
whole lot goes off to your enemies."

The Minister had promised his answer in five days. But when the
merchant's financier heard what he had done, that gentleman was so irate
he had threatened to cancel his credit, because, as he argued, he had
tried to threaten England; which meant that the oil in question would
promptly be made contraband, whilst the English Government would call
upon the Norwegian Government to cause its export to be prohibited.
There was admittedly no sale for such large quantities as he had bought
in the home markets, hence he became quite convinced that he was a
ruined man, although, according to market prices, he was a millionaire.

When recounting his folly in thus putting his head into the lion's
mouth, to which he metaphorically likened his visit to the Ministry, the
poor unnerved merchant worked himself up into a tremendous pitch of
excitement. He perspired so freely that all the starch was exuded from
his linen. He drank bottle after bottle of lager beer in a vain
endeavour to keep his lips moist, whilst his eyes at times assumed an
unnatural appearance, rolling round in their sockets in a manner
alarming to behold.

I knew simply nothing of the subject put so vehemently before me, but
the idea of any goods of any value being permitted to go into Germany
was so distasteful to me that I listened with the greatest patience and
until my visitor could say no more. Then I inquired where and how I
could be expected to be of assistance.

"Why, you're a newspaper man. You represent the best and most
influential periodical in London, the greatest city of the world. I know
what tremendous power and influence the English papers hold. Your
Minister would certainly listen to what you said, if you would only
interview him on my behalf; if you would only intercede against any
prohibition being put on my oil."

"Why should I interfere?" I said. "As an Englishman, I certainly object
to your selling any goods to Germany. If I thought you intended sending
a single barrel there I should do all I could to get the prohibition put
on it, not to help you to keep it off."

"But that would bring Norway into the war."

"I don't agree," I snapped.

"Yes, it would. A prohibition on oil or fish would mean the throwing out
of employment of many thousands upon thousands of Norwegian fishermen
and workmen. They would revolt and march on the Storthings-Bygning"
(House of Parliament) "and compel its members to take the prohibition
off in spite of the British Government. Your Minister might say that
England had been slighted, which would lead to war. One of our own
Ministers himself told me this only yesterday, so I know I'm right in
what I'm talking about."

In vain I poo-poohed the idea; the perspiring merchant was insistent.

Having delivered himself of these troubles, he walked up and down the
confines of the room in a frenzy of nervous excitement. Banging his
fists one into the other, alternately running his fingers through his
hair, which was absolutely wringing wet from perspiration, he, literally
speaking, groaned out his mental agony.

I watched him in silence. Suddenly he steadied himself somewhat, then
stopped short, and, looking me straight in the face, he exclaimed: "I
feel, I know, I am positively certain sure you can save this situation
if you will. I am paying the man who is putting up my money 40,000
kroner as a private honorarium over and above the usual interest of five
per cent. It's worth it. But neither he nor I shall see a cent in return
if it's to be prohibition. Now, I'll make a square deal with you. I'll
give you 100,000 kroner" (about £5,500) "if you'll interview your
Minister for me and you can successfully guarantee me no prohibition for
six or even three months. If you can only stop it for three months, then
I shall be safe, and I shall have more than enough to pay my late
creditors and everybody else everything I owe, and to spare." At this
point he positively gasped for breath and more beer, whilst he re-mopped
his streaming neck and face.

During this scene my thoughts had not been idle. They had conceived,
turned over, and evolved a scheme which I believed would work out to the
advantage of all concerned, excepting only the Germans.

I would promise him the assistance he desired; to intercede and do my
best to pacify the British Minister's wrath, which I was given to
understand was burning at white heat against the unfortunate merchant
for his presumption and impudence in daring to suggest a twist of the
lion's tail for so large an amount as the £100,000 profit he had
suggested. It was well known that the Legation had given out, and wished
it to be understood, that England would not look favourably upon any
business relationships whatsoever, directly or indirectly, with Germany.
Furthermore, that such a flouting of England's goodwill would not be to
the future advantage of any such transgressors. Some merchants made a
joke of this, others expressed their feelings in withering scorn, a few
took notice. The idea that their trade should be allowed to continue
with England whilst its continuance with Germany was to be looked upon
as an unpardonable offence seemed a top-heavy argument. They did not
view the proposition through similarly tinted glasses. And as soon as
the Minister began to voice his objections, so soon did trouble begin.

The position of the merchant from the West Coast, however, was hardly on
all fours with other traders in the country. He was particularly anxious
to keep in the good graces of the British Minister. At the same time,
the earning of money seemed dearer to him than most other worldly

I knew he held an appointment which he was desirous to retain--an
appointment which the British Minister could influence considerably. He,
the British Minister, could easily keep him in it or he could scorch him
out of it, whichever he desired. I also knew that the British Minister,
generally speaking, was not too popular; whilst it was said that he was
a man who would never understand the Norwegian race any more than it
would ever understand him. I could read what had passed in the minds of
both of these individuals of such opposite temperaments at that
memorable interview. I could imagine the grim, determined, waiting
watchfulness with which the one man weighed up the weaknesses, the
failings, and the awful nerve-racking sensations of realised blunders,
abandoned hopes and fears, and despair probably revealed on the face of
the other.

It was all as plain to me as though the drama had been re-enacted in my
presence. I felt a contempt I did not express at the sordid details of
such vast credits being bought and risks run with other people's money,
at bribery prices over and above the usual business rates; at the
exorbitant brokerages which were being exacted from this rash and
hazardous speculator; and more particularly at the heavy sum which was
pressed upon me for a service that the eager donor had seemingly never
seriously weighed or considered with an evenly-balanced mind. Thus I
delivered myself:

"My good sir, you seem to have put your foot into it very badly indeed.
It looks as though you, and all those involved with you, will crash
through the very thin ice you are skating upon. It looks to me an
odds-on chance that you will all be drowned in the financial vortex
beneath. I don't for the life of me see how a poor insignificant
journalist like myself can be of any real service to you. So you need
not worry about your 100,000 kroner or any other sum. What fragment of
weight do you suppose that so great a personage as our Minister would
attach to either my words or to my presence--to me, a stranger and an
ordinary civilian?"

In a tense, hoarse voice he replied: "You forget you are English, an
English journalist, representing the most powerful newspaper in London.
Everyone is afraid of newspapers. They can uproot a throne. I know. I
have lived in London. I have seen what a newspaper can do. You are cool.
Your nerves are strong. You are a man of the world. You can state my
case as it would be impossible for me to state it myself. Let the
English Government buy my oil at its own price. I don't want an
exorbitant profit. I will leave the negotiation to your absolute
discretion. Prohibition would ruin me. You can save me if you will only
try. I will willingly pay you any sum you like to name. If you stave off
the threatened prohibition you will earn it ten times over. You may even
save our country from war. I have not slept for nights. I cannot eat
properly. Unless this strain on me is relieved I feel my brain will give
way and I shall go mad, or I shall kill myself."

He sat down heavily upon a chair, and, burying his head in his hands,
wept aloud.

Allowing a reasonable time for the unhappy merchant to settle down to a
more even frame of mind, I placed my hand upon his shoulder, not
unkindly, and said in a soft voice: "Well, I'm afraid I shall not carry
much weight, and I don't want your money, but I will go and see him. One
thing is quite certain. You can rest assured that England would never
knowingly permit an injustice to be done; but if you're trading with the
Germans, then of course you'll have to paddle your own canoe."

Further inquiries from the now subservient speculator elicited the
existence of a contract made with German merchants by which a by-product
of the oil passing through his hands in the ordinary course of business,
amounting to about five per cent. of the whole, had to be delivered to
them periodically for some few months to follow.

In due course I carried out the promise I had made, and as a result I
conveyed certain proposals to the merchant, whereby that gentleman gave
a written undertaking that not a barrel of his oil should be sold to
Germany, directly or indirectly, excepting the by-product before
referred to, which was considered a bagatelle, he receiving assurances
that so long as his undertaking was faithfully carried out no steps
would be taken without fair and reasonable notice to press for a
prohibition of the particular oil in question.

To say that the gentleman most interested in this matter was effusive in
his expressions of overwhelming gratitude would be a gross exaggeration
of mild description. If permitted he would have fallen on my neck and
almost drowned me in a flood of tears of relief and joy. He produced a
pocket-book bulging with paper money and attempted to force a handful of
notes for large amounts upon me, which I firmly and emphatically refused
to accept. But I did agree to lunch with him, and the late dejected one
ate what he described as his first decent meal for a prolonged period.

During the following week we occasionally met. The merchant was now all
smiles and enjoying life consequent upon a successful venture and an
undisturbed peace of mind. Prices continued to rise in his favour, and
ten days later he declared himself a millionaire in Norwegian kroner. He
vainly continued to press me every time we were alone to accept
something substantial for the service rendered, whilst he was
extravagant in his sentiments of eternal gratitude. He also proposed
that I should abandon my journalistic career and accept a position as
one of the foreign representatives of his firm, which offer I likewise
politely declined. Then he hinted at the bestowal of a high Norwegian
decoration, which made me smile still more.

Whether the unlimited ambitions of this wild speculator followed usual
precedent and tumbled from the height of success to the abysmal depth of
failure by reason of too oft-repeated temptations of Providence;
whether, and if so, how the assurances given and the guarantee obtained
were carried out, the ultimate turn of events, and how all these things
developed, progressed and fructified, remain, as Rudyard Kipling says,
another story.




Most people who interest themselves in the detailed working of Secret
Service show greatest curiosity regarding the actual characters assumed
by its members when in foreign countries.

A Secret Service agent should never assume a character he is not
absolutely familiar with, both inside and out. It is possible to act up
to a certain pitch, which will carry a certain distance, but
artificiality is never safe. The stunt that is most in favour with the
Intelligence Departments of all nations is journalism; thus it has been
worked threadbare. Every foreign newspaper man on the Continent in
recent years has been suspected, marked, and watched from the start,
simply because he is what he is and for no other reason. I was never
warned of this, but it did not take me long to find it out. I fell into
the _rôle_ on my second trip out and adopted it naturally. I had been a
free-lance journalist for upwards of twenty years, and I concluded that
I could assume the character of special correspondent without any
anxiety, and that I would be received for what I was. I had previously
posed in many characters which were not so aptly fitted, and I believed
I had carried them through successfully. This would be child's play to
an old hand; besides, it had been part of my livelihood and was no
assumed _rôle_, it was merely acting as one's self. One of the best,
most influential and respected newspapers in London was therefore
approached. I was no stranger to its editor, who received me with
cordiality and gave me the necessary credentials.

In order to supplement my London references I sought for and easily
obtained a further commission from the head editor of a series of
country daily and weekly issues. A passport carried the announcement
that I was a journalist, and everything appeared to be in order.

On arrival abroad, in the first country to which my work was allotted,
as a special journalist I made application to the head Transmission
Department to bespeak a legitimation card, which added an additional
official stamp to my papers.

No one could have been more helpful or sympathetic than the Transmission
Department officials, but in this particular instance it subsequently
transpired they took copies of my credentials, which they handed over to
the Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department. Of course, I knew
nothing of this at the time, although it would not in any way have
disturbed my equanimity or peace of mind if I had.

A chief superintendent, whom I had to interview, was exceptionally kind.
He strictly adhered to his duty to his country, but the leaning of his
sympathies he appeared absolutely unable to restrain. "Your paper," he
said, "is a power in Europe. It is always fair, impartial, and reliable.
Many of my countrymen read it, and we know that it does not exaggerate
the true facts. I respect it, my colleagues respect it, although they
might not say so, and you may rely upon all the help I can give you. You
must remember, however, the position we are placed in. You must be
careful not to offend against our recently passed laws or you will not
get your messages through. Also, you may be misunderstood." I thanked
him and sought further enlightenment. I guessed what he was hinting at,
but I wished to draw out of the man all he was willing to disclose.

"You know," the superintendent continued, "that you must not use our
wires, either telephone or telegraph, to report movement of any ships of
foreign nations which are at war. Our instructions are very strict upon
this point. We must carry out our duties to the utmost. But these
Germans! They are not men, they are mad dogs. Their idea of war seems to
be extermination without regard to the law of nations. They murder women
and children; they seem to have no feelings. They would overrun our
small country to-morrow if they thought any advantage could be gained
thereby. Alas, poor innocent, unoffending Belgium, whom they undertook
by honourable treaty to protect and uphold! How they have ruined her,
burned her towns, ravaged her entire country, raped her daughters,
robbed her churches and treasures; and, on top of all, fined her
inhabitants for not returning to be made slaves to oppressors and brutal
taskmasters. 'Vengeance is mine,' saith the Lord. If they do not suffer
for all this, then there is no justice on earth or in heaven above." We
were alone in his private office. Before speaking he had carefully
closed the door, having first looked anxiously into the outer office.
Now he turned to me and, extending both hands, added: "Reading these
things, hearing of them from eye-witnesses, hearing even worse in detail
which made my flesh creep, can you wonder that we, a peace-loving
people, who never did like those overbearing Germans, pray for the day
when they will find their level in the world and when they will be
compelled to behave like decent-minded people?"

I cordially agreed, and inquired what my loquacious friend was leading
up to.

"You have a Press Censor in your country, I presume?"--"Yes." "If he saw
in the course of his duties anything which he thought might be of
advantage to your Government, or to its naval administrators, to know, I
suppose he would at once cause it to be sent along?" "Really, my dear
sir," I interjected, "I have no knowledge of what our Censor does. I
know he's an awful nuisance to us newspaper men; he holds up our copy
for indefinite periods. But I, like yourself, assume he is an
Englishman." And I looked him square in the face and wondered whether he
would guess what I certainly had no intention of admitting. "Good!" he
exclaimed. "Now, in this country our newspaper men get round our
regulations by using simple little codes, which in their wording refer
to things domestic, but in reality can be translated into something
very, very different. For example, 'Mrs. Jones of ---- has just had
twins; one is strong, the other very weak and not expected to live,'
might easily be arranged to convey the interpretation that a couple of
German submarines had entered the port of ----, one of which was a
damaged condition. I expect your paper would like to have such items of
news? Even if it were not allowed to publish it, your Censor might like
to have the news to hand along. Such a message, worded as I suggest,
would not offend against our rules and regulations. We should accept it,
not knowing or caring for any possible hidden meaning. Do you
understand, my dear sir, what I want to convey?"

Wondering at the back of my mind whether he was just sounding me, or
whether he was so truly sympathetic with the Allies that he was really
anxious to help stop the war as soon as possible, I followed the wise
course of terminating the interview. After thanking the superintendent
for his kind assistance and sympathy I left.

It is an unwritten rule of the Secret Service never to give anything
away unless it is imperative so to do, or a more than commensurate
advantage is gained thereby.

It is an unwritten rule of the same Service to keep away from all
Government officials, irrespective of nationality, in so far as one
reasonably can.

In spite of the deadly earnestness of the gentleman I had just left, I
felt puzzled. I did not understand his voluntary and unnecessary
outburst of outraged sentiment. Instinct told me that somewhere there
was something moving which I must guard against. What it was, or from
which quarter I was to expect it, I had no idea.

In the Secret Service one must paddle one's own canoe, alone and
unassisted; always up-stream; always through dangerous rapids, wherein
at every yard are hidden rocks and snags ready to tear the frail craft
asunder; always through countries overrun with enemies armed with
poisonous arrows which are fired singly and in volleys whenever the
smallest opportunity is given; always hunted and stalked both day and
night by the most persevering, cunning, and desperate huntsmen in the
world; always on the move, with never a sure, safe, or secure
resting-place for one's weary limbs; and always on the _qui vive_
against a thousand and one unseen, unknown, and unsuspected dangers. No
wonder that members of this Service so soon become fatalists.

A few days later I was closeted with a local journalist out of collar.
He wanted a job. He spoke six languages, had had smooth and rough
experiences in America, and was a man of great ability. His weak spot
was alcohol. He had had chances innumerable. Friends had helped him
until their patience had been exhausted. Now that his domestic ship was
badly on the rocks, the whole family half-starved, and himself a total
abstainer--by force of circumstances--another last chance seemed to his
unfortunate wife to fall as the blessed manna from heaven in the
wilderness. I treated him generously and trusted him--as far as I could
have trusted any ordinary person--but he, an ordinary mortal of this
proverbially ungrateful world, at once sold his benefactor to a higher
bidder, in so far as it was possible for him so to do. It happened

Not satisfied with the liberal terms I had agreed to give him, which
covered full travelling expenses, living expenses and remuneration
separately assessed, he approached various carrying firms and tried to
wheedle from them free passes. Meeting with no sympathy--probably they
knew him by former experience--he visited the police and sold me over to
them as an alleged spy. Naturally the police wanted evidence. This the
man undertook to get. He made excuse after excuse to delay his departure
on my business. He visited me daily with a long list of questions; he
suggested the obtaining of information concerning local naval and
military intelligence which did not interest me in the least; he pressed
for written instructions, special codes, and complicated arrangements
regulating the sending and receiving of correspondence--anything, in
fact, which would gain him time and which might prove my undoing--all
of which, however, I suggested he should prepare himself if he wanted

The man's testimonials were excellent upon all points excepting the one
weakness before referred to, and I treated him quite unsuspectingly.
Little did I know that when he made notes in shorthand they were in fact
literal and verbatim reports of our entire conversation, made at the
suggestion of the police and for their special benefit. I afterwards
heard that detectives had helped to prepare the very code he brought to
me and which he was so eager for me to substitute for one I had

Had I been indiscreet, and had I given anything at all away, or had I
trusted this man with any facts relating to or concerning those
connected with my real employment, I would have been arrested on the
spot. As it was, the police learned nothing which did not appear to them
legitimate, in order, and most flattering to their country, to their
countrymen, and to themselves.

Remarkable as it may appear, it was, however, a fact that I was restless
and uneasy. Instinct seemed to whisper in my ears, continually day and
night, messages of warning that all was not well. The air seemed
overcharged with electricity. It felt heavy, like an ominous calm
preceding a violent storm. Yet, rack my brain as I would, I could not
for the life of me fathom the depth of the mystery, nor could I trace
its origin to any fountain-head.

Meanwhile my new assistant entered upon his undertaking. In a few days
he sent to me by code a detailed description of a sea engagement between
German and English warships. It was the fight off the Dogger Bank in the
North Sea, in April, 1915.

In the course of the next six weeks, in addition to his proper work,
arranging with outpost correspondent agents, he collected and forwarded
at regular intervals a mass of interesting matter, all good newspaper
copy, with many little tit-bits of special news which were most
acceptable. But he would rub in items of local naval and military
intelligence in spite of my repeated instructions to the contrary.

Not only was I a staunch fatalist, but I believed in a Divine
Providence which directed one's actions and destinies, which shaped
one's ends, rough-hew them how one might. In this instance it probably
saved my liberty from being suddenly and inconveniently disturbed.
Before I received any of these reports before mentioned they were all (I
have since ascertained) intercepted and carefully studied by the
Criminal Investigation Department. Naturally, my replies were
anticipated by them with still greater pleasure. Dame Providence,
however, directed the pen when I upbraided my assistant, reminding him
he was engaged in journalism, not espionage; that he was representing a
great newspaper and for the time being I was a guest in an hospitable,
generous country; further, that I would at once dispense with his
services if he offended against that country's laws; and that, when he
sent information concerning German spies, such was wrongly addressed--he
should have sent it direct to the local police, whom, I added, were _the
most intelligent, fair-minded and smartest crowd of their kind anywhere
in Europe_.

I cannot help smiling to myself now when I think of this. It seems so
ridiculous to think that I should have penned such flattering words
regarding those who were attempting to catch me, _flagrante delicto_, as
the law puts it! It probably puzzled them not a little, whilst it must
have caused them to suspect their wily journalistic friend as running
with the hare and at the same time hunting with the hounds.

About this period something else occurred which added to my uneasiness.
Naturally my most closely-guarded secret was my main line of
communication with London. No one held the secret of this but the most
trusted in the Service. One day an intercepted message was brought to
me. It contained a sign by which one of my messages could be identified.
I tested this message by a dozen different ways; the result was rubbish
in each instance. I knew by this that nothing of any importance was
known; but why should the message have been floated into channels
wherein it seemed to be known that I had nets? Who had floated it? How
had the sign even come to be used? I puzzled for hours in a dark room
smoking my customary strong black cigars furiously all the time, and I
left off more puzzled than when I began. I put on an agent to follow and
to watch myself from a distance, to try and see if anyone, and if so
whom, were then amusing themselves with that interesting pastime.

I put on another agent to "smear," or to attempt to, a volunteer agent
whom I relied upon to a certain extent for local correspondence. I had
long entertained strong suspicions concerning the latter, but I could
never find any tangible proof against him. I wrote spoof letters to
myself and I caused other similar missives to be sent to myself from
various quarters, upon which I was sure my interceptor would take
action, and his movement would probably be thereby detected. I tried and
tested various simple and ingenious dodges to trap my tormentor, but
everything proved in vain.

Exactly three days after intercepting the first message a repeat
followed through the same channels. It was a lengthy document and bore
the outward visible signs of genuineness, but inwardly it read nothing
but nonsense. The object my enemies aimed at had failed. I had provided
for that. But whether the police, or the naval or military authorities,
were behind the attempt, or whether it was an experiment of Hun origin,
I never could unravel.

Several quaint experiences following one another in rapid succession
made me wish I could carry through the work I had in hand to a rapid
conclusion in order that I could shift to a more congenial atmosphere. I
had received warning before starting on this particular business that my
lot was not likely to be enviable; and that I would probably have to put
my head into the lion's mouth. I had also been warned that the place to
which I had been sent to stay and to direct certain operations was known
to be infested with German agents, whose jealousy and zeal in watching
over certain vitally important secrets amounted to a mania. My
visitation might find a good comparison in likening it to a police
officer being sent to sit in the entrance hall of an illicit West End
gambling hell. He knew every effort would be strained to tempt him away
from the main issue or to shift him. My Commanding Officer had intimated
that if I survived ten days he would consider I had done well. As a
matter of fact, I stuck it six weeks. I had arranged what was wanted. I
had fixed other matters towards a promising and satisfactory conclusion
when I received a picture postcard. The illustration represented a
motor-boat going at full speed. Underneath it was written: "Skip-per

In the ordinary way this would seem to convey nothing beyond a casual
salutation. But the hyphen! It was evidently intentional. I read it as a
hint to get quickly away--to skip, in fact--whilst the motor-boat
suggested that a private rapid departure would probably not be to my

The weather was much too tempestuous to venture to sea in such small
craft as might have been available. No other possible road of retreat,
except by sea, was open, so I had to study ways and means. I informed
those who waited on me that I should be leaving three days later for a
well-known town lying fifty or sixty miles to the southward. Meanwhile
the few remaining details necessary to complete the objective of my
visit were arranged, and the local time-sheets of every known route
touching at the island were studied. I noted with some satisfaction that
early in the morning two boats crossed each other's passage at given
hours, arriving at the same quay and departing at the same time.

The next day, before six in the morning, I appeared on the quay and
booked a ticket for the southern journey. No one appeared to be
watching, and when the boats arrived I made the mistake of boarding the
boat which sailed north, although I hardly considered it necessary to
inform the purser of the fact when he demanded the wherewithal to cover
passage on his ship.

No one in the town knew I had left, but I had sent a secret message to
headquarters advising of my intentions.

At the next port of call a letter came aboard addressed to Herr Schmidt,
which I claimed. It was a transcribed telephone message. Reading between
the lines the writing conveyed only one interpretation. Reduced to
simple English, it meant: "Eruption--quit."

I promptly left the boat I was on and changed my route by going inland
over a peninsula to a small fishing station, where a portion of luck
added to a large portion of whiskey secured a berth on a small
cargo-boat running direct to another country.

The false agent who had sold his benefactor but was unable to deliver
the brand of goods he had promised, then finding that certain monetary
demands were not provided for by telegram, although not in accordance
with his agreed arrangements, fell a victim to his besetting sin. He
indulged in a prolonged debauch during which he divulged the full depths
of his iniquity. His confessions were in due course reported to me, and
they brought him the order of the boot.

The deep-laid schemes of the perhaps too-muchly-lauded police, like
those of mice and men, ganged agley; action on their warrant to arrest
had perforce to be postponed _sine die_; whilst the elusive Herr
Schmidt, the pivot round which this little teacup drama gyrated,
vanished _pro tem_. from the affairs and haunts of the disciples of
Kultur and goulashes.




Crossing the northern frontiers of Germany during the war was by no
means so difficult a task as it apparently was to do the same thing
further south. Landstürmers were on guard during most of the time. Men
about forty years of age who took much more interest in food and drink
than they did in fighting. They were on very friendly terms with the
Danes, particularly with those who lived near to the frontier; whilst a
great many marriages had been consummated from time immemorial between
Germans and Danes, and Danes and Germans, all along the northern

In spite of the vast amount of commodities and necessities of all sorts
that poured into the northern ports of Germany during the whole period
of the war, until America came in and in a great measure stopped the
absurdity, yet the Germans were short of many things which their souls
hankered for, whilst many of them, with a thought to the unknown future,
were anxious to hoard up all supplies that could by any means be

Small fishermen, and those who picked up a precarious livelihood from
any odd job or from varied and promiscuous dabblings in trading deals of
any nature, were not slow to take advantage of these favourable
circumstances. Hence a host of smugglers of small operation sprang into
being like mushrooms in a night. Those men mostly owned, in part or in
whole, a light boat used for fishing or carrying purposes. The majority
of these boats were fitted with paraffin motors which propelled them
about six to nine knots an hour. The coast of Germany was not more than
twenty-five miles away from any part of the southern islands of Denmark
and could be made in three hours, even under adverse conditions.

Soap, tobacco, matches, aquavit, and such like were cheap in Denmark,
and very dear, if not at times almost unprocurable, in Germany. Rich
harvests were thus to be had almost for the asking. In addition to this,
the Germans themselves used a great many small boats from their side of
the water. They were assiduous fishers for flounders and other luxuries
provided by the Baltic, and they were friendly disposed to all Danish
fishermen, more particularly so towards those whose boats were known to
carry other cargoes besides fish.

Ports like Kiel, Lübeck, and Rostock were naturally avoided by these men
as being too active and too lively; but they did not hesitate to mingle
with the German fishing-boats and land as near as they could without
raising any undue notice or attraction. The coast almost all the way
along is low-lying, with shallow water extending out some distance, and
consists of vast shoals of sand and mud. There are, however, numerous
landing-places for small boats, and many Danish smugglers made the
crossing as often as two or three times a week.

At ports like Swinemunde, Stettin, Lübeck, and Kiel, if a traveller of
any nationality attempted to pass through on a passport in the usual
manner, he or she was subjected to unbelievable indignities and searches
which in most instances amounted to insult and violation of the actual
person. No wonder that many Danish workmen, who in some instances had
actually been employed upon private, even secret, war material for
Germany, and who had obtained permission to visit their homes for a
spell, preferred any means of making the home passage across the
southern Baltic rather than take the regular ferry-boat routes. Thus it
was that quite a few of them came across with the smugglers, whereby
they avoided the severe investigations and saved considerable money on
their passage.

I was not slow at ascertaining these facts and I made several voyages
with the Danish smugglers, which were interesting in themselves, whilst
they brought me in contact with some of the very workmen who had been
employed upon war-work in Germany which was at that time of the very
greatest interest to Englishmen engaged in attempting to anticipate and
to thwart the wily Hun. I ascertained by this means valuable
corroboration of preliminary particulars concerning the
super-submarines, the super-Zeppelins, and the preliminary trials of the
super-cannon afterwards used on Paris.

In the early spring of 1915 I had returned from one of these little
cruises where business and pleasure had been combined. I had landed
safely upon one of the southern islands of Denmark and entered a _kro_,
or small licensed inn, to obtain a decent meal with a good long drink of
the famous Jacob Jacobsen's Gamle Karlsberg porter, which can be
obtained everywhere throughout Denmark and is every bit as good as it is
famous, when the very dirty waiter whispered in my ear that there was a
heap of good money offered for a very little work.

Perhaps I should apologise to the aforesaid waiter for disparaging his
personal appearance. Because it might have been possible that at the
time in question my outward appearance equalled or surpassed his own in
filth and slovenliness. But be that as it may, I naturally inquired
further regarding this hinted El Dorado.

"Well," he said, rubbing his chin and gazing at me with great
earnestness, "there are a couple of Germans hunting round this town"
(every cluster of houses in Denmark is called a town) "looking for an
English spy who has been jumping over the frontier a time or two, and
they say that they can get ten thousand marks for him, dead or alive, if
they can only put their hands on him."

I was on the point of quaffing a most delicious draught of the
far-famed porter, but somehow I seemed to lose my thirst. The news was
of absorbing interest to me, if not actually startling in its purport.

The waiter was obviously avaricious, and the mention of so much money
made his fingers itch and his mouth water at the thought of the glorious
times he could secure with such vast wealth.

Whilst I was watching the various changes of his face as these ideas
chased one another through his narrow brain, it flashed upon me how easy
it would be for anyone to capture me and to take me back across that
narrow little strip of sea-water whence I had so recently come. A pinch
of some drug in one's food or in one's drink. A slight tap on the head.
A little chloroform on a pocket-handkerchief. All simple applications,
so easy to administer, and so easy to explain away: that one's friend or
brother had merely taken a little more alcohol than was good for him, or
had been unexpectedly taken ill and now a little help was necessary to
get him aboard his ship or boat, so he could be taken home to the dear
old Fatherland, where he could be well and properly attended to!

These lightning-like reflections sent a cold shiver down the very marrow
in my spine. I drained my mug of porter at a gulp and hastened the
waiter away for more.

Whilst he was so occupied I decided what to do. On his return I told
him, with all seriousness, that I had seen a strange-looking dude on the
quay less than an hour ago whom I was certain was English, and if he
could find and present me to the two Germans and I got the reward I
would give him a share of it for telling me all about it. To show him I
was in earnest I treated him to a bottle of porter. After consuming our
drinks he arranged matters, and we left to hunt up the would-be German

About an hour afterwards we found them hanging round a very primitive
moving-picture show which seemed to thrive on free films supplied by the
Hun propagandists. We all four adjourned to another _kro_ for drinks and
important conference.

The description they gave me of the man wanted tallied exactly with the
man I said I had seen. Now that was quite an extraordinary coincidence,
and I impressed it on them. Only my waiter friend had sense enough to
cross-examine further into my statement, so I had to order more drinks
to stop the possibility of still deeper inquiries. Before I agreed to
make a move I wanted to have a bargain in writing giving me half the
reward. This the Germans would not agree to. They suggested one-third,
and my friend the waiter hinted at a possible fourth share for himself.
When I said I would not be satisfied with three thousand marks on the
risks run they explained that a third share would exceed eight thousand
marks. "It had been ten thousand," they said, "but quite recently the
reward had been increased to twenty-five thousand marks," which had made
them very active and anxious to try and secure it.

I, however, still argued that if I found the man I should get half the
reward, whatever sum it was. They disagreed; meanwhile the waiter got
intoxicated. Leaving him where he was, we commenced our search and
continued it with vigour and persistence for the remainder of that day
and all the next. I assure you, gentle reader, I never had such an
interesting hunt before, and I have hunted big game in many lands under
extraordinary conditions. That trail, however, was the trail of my life.

About noon next day we ran a suspect to earth in a lonely spot and put
him through the mill with a vengeance. But he conclusively proved his
identity and we were very lucky to escape trouble over the episode. I
think our salvation was that we so frightened the unfortunate captive
that he was glad to be able to leave the town as quickly as possible and
get away from us back home to his little farm inland.

Towards the afternoon of our second day's man-hunt my Hun colleagues
began to hint their suspicions regarding myself and as to my actions.
They had been very ungentlemanly towards me from the first on the
question of dividing the reward. They were very mean over spending money
on drinks and smokes; and, taking one consideration with another, I
thought it far wiser to lean on discretion as the better part of valour.
So as soon as the shades of night once more darkened the land I regret
to have to admit that _I borrowed_ a boat belonging to some native,
whose forgiveness I trust was granted if he ever found it again, and I
left the island, never to set foot in that township again; at least for
the duration of the war.

       *       *       *       *       *

Entering Germany from the Schleswig frontier was not very difficult
unless one attempted to pass through the custom house, with all its
surrounding formalities and searches. In the angles of the frontier near
Ribe, and on the mainland, of course the whole line was trenched and
guarded, and any attempted passing or even approach was both difficult
and dangerous. But by skipping round either end, at sea on the east, and
between the islands on the west, no insurmountable difficulty presented

I never attempted a landing on the immediate east side, but I did go
round on the west, and the trip was not worth the risk or the trouble.
There was nothing to learn that one did not already know from scores of
others who had been permitted to pass the lines on business or
otherwise. There was nothing to gain by going again, and I had no desire
to attempt to repeat the experience.

Living on an island which is unnamed except upon the best maps of the
southern Baltic I had a friend--a Danish sailorman who was rarely at
home, but when he did take a holiday from his sea-going wanderings it
was invariably marked for its riotousness on shore or for its devilment

Dare-Devil Christian was one of the best men I ever met except for his
one great weakness. Provided that was guarded against, he was fine
company and a great sportsman. Any class of sport satisfied him, from
rat-hunting upwards, and if a spice of danger could be added it gave him
a greater zest proportionately.

I had the great luck to bump into him twice during one winter season,
and for some time we thoroughly enjoyed life together. Just before the
New Year of 1915 I had been advised of a possible and probable naval
engagement somewhere near the North Sea entrance to the Kiel Canal. It
had been hinted to me it would be interesting to know what German
war-vessels there might be cruising in the Baltic that would or might be
recalled if such an event took place. It was also hinted that the water
defences to Kiel harbour, and the Canal entrance on the east, might be
ascertained for certain with some advantage to England's Naval
Intelligence Department.

I was accordingly on my way down towards the island of Aero when, by
great good fortune, I met my friend Christian on the second occasion
above referred to. Needless to add, we at once joined company.

In order to occupy our time in a manner congenial to both, and as ice
bound the streams inland and made work at sea far from pleasant, I
suggested to Christian an expedition having for its object a direct
attack upon the short-winged fowl which thronged the outer coastline.
These birds are not generally considered good eating, and in England
nobody will buy them for such purpose. But in Scandinavia the natives
soak them for twelve to twenty-four hours in vinegar and water, and by
these and other preparations eventually bring them to table as a most
appetising dish.

The waters all around Kiel fjord are reputed as good hunting-ground for
flounders and for diving ducks. The fjord, however, is situate twenty
miles away from Danish territory, and to reach it in those times one
would have to rim the gauntlet of numerous patrol craft of various
designs and size. Yet a small fishing-boat, resembling in all outward
appearance other small boats which are used for coast-fishing along the
east of Schleswig Holstein as well as along the Danish coasts, was not
so likely to draw particular attention.

When my scheme, embracing an expedition to these waters, was casually
brought up with Christian, as though it was a mere matter of utter
indifference whether the boat drifted there or anywhere else in Europe,
he looked at me with an incredulous expression of pained surprise upon
his genial countenance, which seemed to convey the unspoken sentiment:

"Have you forgotten that the Germans are at war? That to go and fish or
shoot ducks anywhere near their precious, guarded harbour--about the
most sacred spot in their whole empire--could only be equalled in
sacrilege to spitting the eternal holy fire out before the Priests in
the Temple on Mount Ephesus?"

So I hastened to attempt to assure him by saying: "Well, we need _not
shoot_ when we get in; nor, for that matter, if and when we see any
ships or people about whom we might disturb. Also, my dear friend
Christian, don't you appreciate the fact that it would indeed be
interesting really to know the truth just at the present time concerning
the much-discussed outer Kiel defences?"

"That's all very well, but--"

He stopped short at the "but," whilst he became more serious than I had
ever known him to be before. For a long spell he smoked in silence, then
looking up with a half-smile, exclaimed: "I don't want to know what I
ought not to know, and I don't want you to tell me what I don't suppose
you ought to tell me, but I reckon I know what you want to go to Kiel
for; _it is not flatfish and it is not ducks_."

"My dear friend, you are totally wrong. I assure you it was merely idle
curiosity coupled with a love of the venturesome which prompted the
suggestion. But if you funk it, or do not care about the risk, then we
had better steer east."

Christian looked up sharply at the conclusion of this sentence. He did
not reply, nor was the subject again referred to for several days.

One eventful morning, however, we found ourselves silently inspecting a
small, well-built and compact fishing craft, just such a boat as we
would have selected had we determined upon the trip before referred to.
The boat was good and so was her gear. Christian, without a word
regarding future movements, engaged her, and she was promptly victualled
with several days' supplies.

It was announced to the local natives that Christian had determined a
cruise around Stryno and the shores of Laaland where ducks and geese
were known to abound. In due course a start was made and the boat was
headed in that direction. But as soon as darkness set in she was veered
completely round by tacit mutual consent, and steered south, then

By daylight next morning we were fishing merrily and apparently quite
unconcerned off the land of the Hun, abreast of that particular wealthy
tract of rich soil and pasture which the Germans had robbed from Denmark
in the 'sixties. As the day wore on the little boat drew nearer in shore
and towards the afternoon she sailed boldly up the Kiel fjord. It was
much safer doing so in broad daylight than at any other time; whilst it
is true beyond all shadow of doubt that an impudence which is impudently
bold enough generally succeeds where a hesitating cautious policy would
be sure to fail.

Christian said little, but he evidently knew the ropes. With the aid of
his timely assistance and cool assurance several dangers were passed
over, any one of which might have terminated the cruise in disaster. He
also appeared to know exactly how to disguise and mark the boat so that
she would be, and was, mistaken for a longshore boat in home waters.
There was, however, much to try the nerves, not the least strain of all
being the overshadowing knowledge that at any moment the boat and her
contents might be blown to a thousand fragments by a floating or
anchored mine; although by hugging the shore as much as possible this
danger was greatly minimised. When a warship seemed to take more than
ordinary interest in that frail craft of peace and industry Christian's
discretion rather than his valour caused him to steer direct for the
nearest hamlet on the shore as though he belonged there. He would often
anchor and down sails, but he wisely refrained from landing, apparently
because he had much too much to attend to in connection with his gear.
By creeping inshore when other craft were too near, and keeping well
away from it at other times, the boat drifted nearer and nearer to the
localities desired to be reached and seen. Observations were taken by
stealth and with the assistance of good field-glasses, their user first
invariably concealing himself under a mass of fishing net, which amused
Christian, although he refrained from making any comment upon the
peculiar eccentricity or caution of the observer.

At night searchlights played over parts of the water and advantage was
taken of any intervening promontory, rock, or anchored craft that could
in the smallest degree hide the boat from the searching beams. Having
nosed around and observed all that one could have expected to be able to
locate in such a venture, advantage was taken of favourable breezes and
the return journey accomplished with due care and caution. Fortunately
snow-squalls were frequent. Probably the flakes acted as a mighty host
of guardian angels to the little amateur privateer; for although she was
pushed into the security of shallow waters again and again during the
exciting if somewhat risky voyage, she evaded capture, even overhauling;
and eventually returned like a migratory bird at the end of a season, to
her natal resting-place.

Fortunately a fair supply of birds had been gathered in, both on the
outward and homeward journey, whilst the fishing had not been in vain.
Thus there was plenty to show to account for our industry. Little did
the natives reck the importance of the data and information thus
collected, under their very noses, so to speak; or that anything out of
the ordinary had taken place; or that risk of instant death had been
laughed at and ignored by the two happy-go-lucky sportsmen, who appeared
to them as mere overgrown schoolboys taking life as but a ray of
sunshine and never seeming to regard it seriously.

Between themselves the trip was not talked about, nor was it ever
afterwards referred to beyond one interrogation, and that was when the
sweet music of the grating keel upon a Danish beach announced our safe
and successful return.

"Now are you satisfied?" asked Christian. The laconic reply given him
back was limited to one word--"Quite."




Germans in neutral countries during the war were circumspect. They
swarmed everywhere, and never in the history of commercial enterprise
since the world began were seen so many commercial travellers as the
Fatherland provided, at such "kolossal" expense and for such little

Nearly every one of those men without exception was in the direct pay of
the German Secret Service. It was part of their work to nose into
everything, to shadow everyone believed to be foreign to the land they
visited, or who showed any sympathy for the enemies of Germany, or
antagonism towards their country.

If they desired to or had received a direct order to stop by any means
the activities of another, those men rarely came out into the open. They
much preferred ways that are dark and tricks that are deep to achieve
their desired ends. The depths to which their cunning sank had to be
experienced to be believed.

During the years 1914 and 1915, when I was employed in the B.F.S.S. in
Northern Europe, several most extraordinary accidents occurred, from
which I had miraculous escapes. At the time I put them down to
incidents. I think very differently now.

Verily Prussian methods in all things seem to be Jesuitical, in that it
is believed the end justifies the means. If one of their employees in
their own, Secret Service, no matter what his station of life may be,
gets to know too much, his fate may be sealed by a secret sentence of
death passed in the Wilhelmstrasse, and the supreme penalty is inflicted
in a manner unsuspected by the unfortunate victim.

Dr. Armgaard Karl Graves records in his book, "The Secrets of the German
War Office," how the woman Olga Bruder, whose death in an hotel on the
Russian frontier was returned to the Press as suicide, was in reality
poisoned; how young Lieutenant Zastrov was challenged to repeated duels
until he was killed in one of them; and how others suspecting trouble
avoided it by escape. Otto Diesel, we know, disappeared from the Harwich
boat when on his way to England to exploit his engines which the Germans
had bought. What happened to Frederick Krupp of Essen, no one knows.

Presumably executive workers in the German Secret Service knew as much
about these things as Dr. Graves did himself. Perhaps it is part of
their training and instruction to attempt to involve representatives of
other nations with whom they come in contact and whose energies may be
considered prejudicial or annoying to them, in quarrels or in brawls
where a blow can be struck which it might be difficult if not impossible
to trace. It must be more than a coincidence that Secret Service agents
often find themselves in the middle of a small crowd where the
pick-pocketing fraternity are undoubtedly represented. Be as careful,
polite, and inoffensive as possible, quick-tempered, irascible
irreconcilables will at times attempt to pick a quarrel. Boats,
motor-cars, and other vehicles by which Secret Service agents travel
often meet with mysterious and altogether unaccountable accidents,
whilst a challenge to a duel, for some trifling cause, is an experience
which more than one of them has had to endure and to evade as best he

I chuckle now as I remember how I passed through one of these ordeals,
not a hundred miles from the Rathhaus of Kiel. The incident took place
very shortly before this world-war had actually begun. I have happily
only received the very doubtful honour of one challenge since, which I
insisted on treating as a practical joke, wisely absenting myself
before developments could make the situation serious and untenable.

Both these incidents arose through polite assistance being rendered to a
lady in distress.

The former typically exemplifies German methods, whilst its details
cannot be considered devoid of interest.

I had for some years been prowling round on erratic wildfowling
expeditions in the Baltic and along the western coast of Schleswig
Holstein. My operations were at times based from the Esbjerg fjord, but
I was no respecter of frontiers and there had been trouble whenever I
had drifted too far south with the officious and zealous guardians of
the German coast. I had previously, when travelling on business and
pleasure combined, known trouble at both Berlin and Potsdam; later on at
and near to Hamburg. Apparently I was not popular with a certain section
of German officialdom. Perhaps I had become too well known; that might
or might not have been. Anyhow, for a long period before the war all
German officials showed nervous hysteria in relation to suspected
espionage regarding any Britisher who exhibited the smallest interest in
the Heligoland district or the western islands, Kiel Canal, and Kiel
Harbour. Yet I paid about as much attention to official fussiness as I
would have done to a pinch of salt.

One memorable winter I had travelled north as usual, little thinking
that any adventure would befall me.

At Osnabruck, where the lower level railway connects up with the higher,
passengers have to ascend a steep flight of steps, the only means of
communication between the two platforms. A certain young lady of
Hungarian extraction, on the occasion in question, regarding whom it had
better be stated at the outset that she was exceedingly fair to look
upon and still more attractive in her manners, was overloaded with small
hand-parcels and wraps. No porter was available, and common politeness
dictated that such assistance as one was capable of rendering should be

The natural sequence of events led to an informal acquaintanceship, and
the journey was continued in a jointly-occupied _coupé_. This
compartment was also shared by other travellers, including a small,
extraordinary-looking eccentric who covered his head with a kind of wire
entanglement resembling the skeleton framework of a lampshade, over
which he drew a green silk cover in order to shade his eyes from the
glare of the lamplight, so that he could sleep without any
inconvenience. The whole thing looked so ludicrous that one's risible
faculties were tickled. I laughed so much I had to retire to the gangway
in order to relieve my feelings without hurting the stranger's feelings
by outward rudeness. The aforesaid Hungarian lady found herself in
similar straits. Mutual converse naturally ensued.

Ascertaining that Kiel happened to be our common destination, what more
natural than we should select the same hotel to stay at? After dinner,
in order to kill time as pleasantly as could be, we visited a local
place of amusement where a musical farce was being performed and the
stalls were filled with military and naval officers. My companion had
informed me that her father was the commander of a fortress on the
Baltic, that she had two brothers, one a lieutenant in the Navy and the
other in the Army. Whilst waiting between the acts a young officer of
overbearing, vulgar, swaggering type, which Zabern brought into
world-wide prominence, entered our private box and claimed
acquaintanceship. He was more or less intoxicated, and obnoxiously
effusive. He would order champagne, and plenty of it, in spite of all
protests to the contrary. He also fetched another officer, whom he
stated to be a connection by marriage with the lady, but whom she failed
to recognise or to remember. Not appreciating nor being flattered by
these attentions, an early attempt was made to cover a polite quittance
with plausible excuses, but such an escape was not permitted. In due
course, as the wine flowed, the officer's temperament changed from
gushing effusiveness to the quarrelsome stage. Instinct foretold
unpleasantness, which was not long in the coming. The two officers first
quarrelled between themselves, then one of them accused me of an
unfriendly act. Whether it was imagination or wilful design on his part
I know not, but the accusation was followed by open insult in action as
well as words.

Wishing to do everything I could to smooth matters over and avoid as
much publicity as possible, I rapidly collected my companion's wraps and
got her out of the box. As I was doing this one of the lieutenants threw
a glass of champagne in my face accompanied by an epithet against which
even Job himself would have protested. It therefore became necessary to
administer one of those gentle little all-British reminders, which
landed home so unexpectedly and suddenly that the aggressor tripped
backwards over the chairs and collapsed on the bosom of his companion,
both falling in a mixed heap upon the floor. It was difficult to
distinguish which limbs belonged to each respectively, intermingled as
they were with the table, the chairs, the bubbling wine and broken

I escorted my lady friend back to the hotel.

Two hours later a couple of very serious middle-aged officers of some
rank and distinction visited me. They demanded an audience with the
foreigner and sent up their cards. They had come to arrange matters for
their friends, and they refused to listen to any explanation or
arguments relating to the true facts of the case. All they knew or would
admit was that a blow had been struck, their uniform insulted, and the
dignity of the two officers of the Imperial Forces had been rolled in
the dust. Satisfaction to both must be accorded at the first available
opportunity and in accordance with the custom of Imperial Germany. As
the principal actor in the affair happened to be a stranger in a strange
land, the hospitality of two friends of unimpeachable integrity should
be provided to his commands. Meanwhile full apologies were tendered for
the lateness of the hour of calling and for the rather informal
procedure; but the visitors seemed over-anxious to fix preliminary
arrangements, presumably as a caution against the possibility of any
sudden departure.

Which of the usual weapons did I prefer?

Perhaps it is needless to say that my then inclinations leaned towards
neither of them, nor to anything of a pugnacious character. I freely
said so. They replied that "a choice must be made or a difficulty would
arise which could not be easily surmounted. No; it must be in accordance
with the recognised code of military honour."

"Very well, then," I quietly replied; "fists or single-sticks are good
enough for me."

The look on their faces seemed to imply that insult had been added to
injury. Such a proposal was most unacceptable and preposterous. They
came back to the original weapons and insisted upon a selection being
named, which I settled by telling them to provide both. Their next
proposition caused a deadlock to further negotiations. They wanted to
fix the meeting in a named wood, some little distance from the suburbs
of the town, at the early hour of six on the following morning.

Bowing very politely, I smiled. It was the first smile that had crossed
the countenance of anyone of the participants at that memorable
interview. "Gentlemen," I commenced, "you may like early hours; they may
agree with your constitution and methods of living, but you cannot
persuade a civilian gentleman to rise until the world has been properly
aired. We English are as regular in our habits as you may be. We go to
bed at midnight. We are called at 8 a.m., and we have breakfast--a good
substantial repast _à la fourchette_--at 9 a.m. We must read the
morning's news-sheet. After 10 a.m. we are at the disposal of our
friends. You may have your own way in any other details or particulars
of this unfortunate little misunderstanding you please, but upon this
point I remain adamant."

Again I bowed to each of them, and although serious enough to all
outward appearances, I was chuckling inwardly, because at last I saw a
silver lining to the ominous clouds which had so suddenly and so
unexpectedly enveloped me.

The English nation flatters itself and is justly proud of its sporting
instincts. But it looks with horror upon duelling as being little short
of murder. Our national sense of fair play and justice abhors the
thought of any expert being matched against an amateur; more
particularly in a contest where the skill of each party is unequal, or
one of them can easily overmatch the other.

I personally would never attempt the permanent injury of a fellow-being,
unless forced into a fight and the doing of it was the only way of
saving life. I knew nothing of swordsmanship, nor had I ever practised
with the foils. As a revolver shot I was a very doubtful performer, and
they are difficult little things to use at any time. I had no quarrel
with the two unmannerly cads who had forced themselves uninvited and
unwelcomed upon my privacy. All differences had been settled and wiped
off the slate with one small wave of the arm. Why, therefore, should I
now seek their lives, or to do them some serious bodily harm? If anyone
was aggrieved, surely I was entitled to all sympathy. Why, therefore,
should they now seek to destroy me? Little did I know that "Am Tag" was
hovering so near at hand.

On these points, however, my mind was not only quite clear but it was
quite made up. The meeting must be arranged for 11 a.m. on the morrow or
it must be postponed to some more convenient and suitable date.

When my visitors shook their heads and demurred I became indignant. I
reminded them of the condition in which I had left those whom they
represented. I pointed out the obvious fact that the intervening time
was not sufficient for them to sleep off the fumes and effects of the
excess of alcohol which they were undoubtedly suffering from; whilst as
a final and unanswerable argument I hammered home the fact that I had
not yet been introduced to the gentlemen who would act as my friends at
this very important meeting. If not an insult to them it certainly would
be an insult to me, to be invited or even expected to meet in honourable
(?) combat, opponents who were not perfectly sober, or who might be
severely handicapped in consequence of the continuing effects of their
over-night insobriety.

I enlarged on this, speaking in latent sarcasm which, needless to say,
was absolutely lost upon my visitors. Perhaps it was best for my
personal safety that it was so. Their highly-educated super-kultur
would prevent them from appreciating such, or understanding it. I said
that any combat in which a preponderance of advantage rested on one side
or the other could not be tolerated by any honourable gentleman, who
never minded accepting odds, providing these odds were against himself.
But he would consider it low and mean and altogether unworthy to take
advantage of an opponent unless equality and fair play could be ensured.
For my part I insisted that those whom they represented should have full
opportunities of equal combat; in other words, that they should have
time to get sober.

These honeyed sentiments clinched the business. My visitors bowed most
politely and replied, "Having heard your explanations, we fully realise,
as gentlemen speaking for and acting on behalf of gentlemen" (God save
the mark!) "that we cannot do otherwise than accept your reasons and act
accordingly." Thus they agreed to fix the meeting by mutual consent for
eleven the following morning, and with an exchange of courtesies on all
sides we parted company.

       *       *       *       *       *

According to the local railway time-tables, a slow train was advertised
as departing south for Hamburg at the early hour of 4 a.m. or a little
after; whilst a fast train, running between Hamburg and the north of
Denmark, stopped a few minutes at Neumunster about 7 a.m. Neumunster is
the junction station for the Kiel Canal on the main Hamburg, Altona,
Rensburg, Schleswig, Flensburg, Wogens, Vamdrup, Kolding line, and
connecting up Fredericia and Copenhagen by the boat train _via_ Esbjerg.

       *       *       *       *       *

At 3.30 a.m., long before the hour of dawn, a silent shadow glided along
the deserted streets of Kiel. A meek voice at the palatial
railway-station in very guttural German requested a third-class ticket
by the slow train to Hamburg. This modest traveller left the train at
Neumunster, but no one appeared to notice he had broken his journey, or
that he quietly disappeared from view on the station platform until the
fast northward-bound train bustled in. In fact, he was so muffled up,
and he gripped his handbag so tightly, that he did not appear to be
worth ten pfennig in return for any railway official's attention; whilst
other travellers were far too occupied by their own concerns to trouble
about his existence.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the world had indeed become properly aired and the morning sun had
risen far above the housetops, the landlord of a certain hotel in Kiel
might have been seen standing at the entrance of his hostelry. A
self-satisfied smile suffused his fat face, and both his hands were
dived well down into capacious trouser-pockets, wherein he kept turning
over coin after coin, whilst he puzzled his slow-working brains in vain
to find a solution to account for the mad eccentricities of all
foreigners in general; in particular those lunatics who seemed to prefer
night-travelling on any uncomfortable train to snug, warm beds; and who
left notes of unintelligible explanation, enclosing double the
remuneration necessary for the so-called luxuries supplied by his hotel.

       *       *       *       *       *

About the same time a lattice window in an upper storey of the same
hotel was thrown open, and a sweet-faced maiden, having an Hungarian
type of beauty, leaned out upon the window-sill, permitting the full
rays of the morning sun to light up the beauties of her face, form, and
figure. She was reading a letter which she had found pushed under her
bedroom door whilst she had wandered in dreamland through the fairy
glades of fancy during her innocent girlish repose. She frowned as she
read it and stamped her foot in disappointment at the postscript,
muttering the while to herself:

"No, we shan't meet in Paris next month, because I don't know whether I
can get there. I'll come after you now."

       *       *       *       *       *

At twelve noon, in a small clearing on the outskirts of a wood a few
kilomètres from the town of Kiel, three carriages were drawn into the
seclusion of the tree-trunks. The horses attached thereto stamped
impatiently. Either they were very fresh or they had been waiting too
long. Further in amongst the trees was a party of men talking earnestly
to one another. They were military officers, and a doctor was with them.
They appeared to be expecting somebody to arrive, or something of
importance to happen. At last one of them, kicking furiously at a small
bush, asked his companion, a man much older than himself, "What was that
idiotic proviso you spoke about? 'You cannot persuade a civilian
gentleman to rise until the world has been properly aired'? We ought to
have spitted him when we had the chance!"

"My dear Fritz," replied his companion, "you never did have the chance;
what is still more clear to me now is the fact that you never will. But
if he's one of those _Swinehund Engländer_--if so, then--_mein Gott! Am
Tag!_" Saying which he viciously spat upon the turf.




On one occasion, after I had left the British Foreign Secret Service, I
had to undertake a voyage to the outer islands of the Hebrides, situated
about one hundred miles into the Atlantic, due west of Scotland, and
well away to the north-west of Ireland.

It was known at the time to be a place which was infested with German
submarines, which had perpetrated many atrocities whilst operating in
that region: senseless, coldblooded murder of innocent fishermen, by
blowing up their frail craft to atoms at close range with deck-guns; and
the sinking of innumerable ships irrespective of the chances of their
crew to make land in the small boats that might be left undamaged by
their shell-fire.

It was summer time and no suggestion of a submarine attack troubled
anyone concerned on contemplating the voyage.

"I don't like that boat. She looks like a bird of ill-omen," I remarked
to my companion as we stood on the high quay at Oban looking downwards
at a very small and very dirty steamer which was moored thereto.

She was about one hundred and sixty feet long, with as much available
space as possible devoted to cargo and cattle transit. Her decks
seemingly had never been scrubbed since the day she was launched. Paint
had been relegated to the background if superior tar was available. The
saloon cabin, so-called, reeked with a conglomeration of ancient and
nauseous smells, whilst the two private berths matchboarded off from it
were altogether impossible to anyone holding the smallest ideas on
sanitary principles.

"Well, my son, she's the only ship available. She is designated a
mail-boat and she carries a thirteen-pounder aft, which is some
consolation at least in these days of stress and submarines," replied my

"Maybe, maybe; but for all that I don't like her. My prejudice is
instinctive. She's about the most repulsive, uninviting boat I ever
boarded, excepting an old coasting tub in Alaska and a pirate junk on
the Yellow Sea; but in Europe one does expect a little more in return
for even wartime passage money."

"All the grumbling in the world, my son, won't alter or improve the
accommodation of this hulk, so come along and make the best of it."

I was silent. I selected one of the largest of my blackest cigars and
lighting it with deliberation, proceeded aboard, and turning my back
upon the private cabin which had been retained for my special
occupation, I proceeded to make myself as comfortable as circumstances
admitted in a space which was reserved for luggage at the far end of the
saloon above the settee.

It had the advantage of being situate immediately below the only
skylight, which, as soon as the ship had started, I prised open and
thereby obtained some few whiffs of fresh air during the long night.

The following day brought about an improvement to the comfort of the
travellers. The sun shone brilliantly, the sea was as smooth as a lake,
and one could bask on the poop with some degree of comfort, although
such things as deck-chairs or cushions were conspicuous by their

I, however, had a thick ulster, which, spread over part of the tarpaulin
covering the mails, made an efficient couch, and after a coarse yet
satisfactory meal I sunned myself to my heart's content and whiled away
the time smoking and reading a book, which I was compelled from time to
time to characterise as rotten reading, much to the amusement of my
companion de voyage.

According to regulations, a notice was hung over the main companion that
the ship carried two lifeboats with capacity for thirty-three persons,
eleven floating apparatus capable of sustaining one hundred and
seventy-six persons, and her passenger allowance was stated to be one
hundred and ninety-nine in all. How or where they could have slept did
not seem to have occurred to the authorities.

A merciful Providence ordained that on this eventful voyage not more
than one hundred people all told happened to come aboard at any one

A few calls were made along the rock-bound coast. Cargo was unshipped
and more cargo taken in. Travellers disembarked, others took their

About midday all vestiges of land disappeared below the horizon and a
course was steered for the open sea.

Although during the earlier part of the voyage many wrecks were passed
and many a gallant ship of noble proportions could be seen piled upon
the rocks, the result of German outrages, and the zone was known to be a
particularly dangerous one, no one anticipated or thought of danger;
least of all from the much-dreaded submarine.

Had not this obsolete and wretched apology for a mail-boat ploughed a
weary course along this familiar route for many, many months during the
war, whilst her engines wheezed and coughed and leaked in every pore,
and her rusty plates collected weed and barnacles week by week, without
molestation? Was she worth a torpedo? She was hardly worth a shell! Why
should she be noticed now, even by the most amateur belligerent, or by
the freshest novice at the game? Yet to the Hun who dreams of the
glories of an Iron Cross, or other coveted decoration, a ship sunk is a
ship to his credit, however insignificant that craft may be.

Suddenly and all-unexpectedly a low, resounding boom echoed across the
waters, followed almost immediately by a whizz and a bang which made
the ship's company jump and quake in their shoes.

What was it?

Where did it come from?

Eyes were strained and the horizon searched in vain, whilst some of the
women-folk sent up a premature wail of fear of the unknown.

Doubts were soon dispelled. From the sea about fifty yards away from the
starboard quarter of the ship a column of water rose into the air,
towering far higher than her masts. It was followed within a few seconds
by a second boom, whizz, bang, and another column of similar dimensions
rose equi-distant from her port quarter.

"My God! It's a submarine," exclaimed my friend.

"Well, let her sub," I lazily replied, and I continued to read my
much-abused book. I should explain to the reader that I had for quite a
long time previously experienced attacks from bombs and shells, and I
was not unduly disturbed by what I believed to be a mere casual
temporary attention.

"You can't lie there, man. Get up!" And suiting his action to his words,
he kicked me into activity, although according to him I was very slow to

"The book cannot be as bad as you say it is, if you can continue reading
it like this," he added.

"I know all about that," I replied, "but one must finish a paragraph."

As I rose from my recumbent position the ship's gunner rushed up on to
the poop, and climbing on the mails, searched the sea for the
whereabouts of the enemy.

"There she is!" he excitedly exclaimed, as he pointed to the horizon on
the port quarter. "She's about two miles away. Look out!" and he ducked
as another whizz-bang sounded all too close overhead.

We followed the direction he had indicated and observed, well below the
horizon, a long, low-lying craft, upon the deck of which men were
distinctly visible working the gun.

Shot followed shot in rapid succession and all around us great columns
of water sprang into the air, the descending spray from which in some
instances splashed our decks.

Our own gun, however, was soon in action and it plugged away merrily,
seemingly giving as good as we received.

The fourth or fifth shell from the submarine landed just short of our
vessel's stern. The explosion jerked it upwards and knocked both our
gunners off their feet. This was followed by a shrapnel shell which
exploded a little higher than our masts in the air above and hissed into
the sea all around. The glass in the saloon skylight was splintered to
atoms, the din of the constant explosions seemed like hell let loose and
the fear of God was located in almost everyone aboard.

It was too much for the rough element--about sixty or more Hebrideans,
some of whom spoke little English. They made an ugly rush for the boats,
shouting that the ship was doomed and every man must save himself.

Fortunately there happened to be three military officers aboard who had
recently returned from the trenches in France. They tried to control the
crowd, and acted with a quiet heroism worthy of much praise.

All their efforts, however, were in vain. Men pushed women aside or
knocked them over, and fought like beasts of prey for places in the

By the efforts of the mate, who threatened the maddest of the crowd and
fought strenuously for some discipline, an extra small boat was launched
first, but about half a dozen frantic passengers jumped into her and
without waiting for her complement pushed off from the ship. The two
other boats left in the davits were filled with a fighting, snarling,
swearing mass of individuals, some of whom hacked away with knives and a
hatchet at the falls, whilst the great strain in weight put upon the
davits bent them down like twisted wire. As the strands of the falls
parted, the boats fell into the sea, shipping much water, whilst some of
those left aboard jumped into them. Some fell out of the boats, whilst
others jumped into the sea and were pulled into them as they left the
vessel's side all too dangerously crowded.

It was a revolting sight; a memory that, however hard one may try to
forget, must yet forever live; an act unworthy of all form of manliness,
which can only remain a lasting shame to those whose selfish cowardice
impelled their madness.

With my friend, I stood near the funnel looking on. What could we do?
Had we, or had the officers had a revolver, the rush might have been
checked, or possibly a life or so might have been sacrificed to try to
save others.

The man handling the axe probably might have suffered first. I did
attempt one small effort. I approached the fighting mass and tapped a
man, who was struggling ineffectually to get through, on the shoulder.
When he turned round I asked him why he was forgetting the women and
children. The man swore at me, adding, "Women be damned! the boats are
the only thing for us." Then I asked him if he had a match. "What for?"
he demanded.

"To light a cigarette with, of course."

"To hell with you and your cigarettes!" he yelled, and springing on the
backs of those in front of him he crawled over their heads and jumped
for the boat below as it was falling from the davits. I was gratified to
see him miss the boat and plunge headlong into the sea.

When all three boats were well away from the ship, those left behind,
who could think at all, expressed their thankfulness that the rough
element had departed. It gave the much-needed opportunity to talk
quietly to many who were demented with fear, and to attempt to soothe
others whose quiet weeping and wailing was heartbreaking to listen to.

Meanwhile the small thirteen-pounder aft and the submarine exchanged
shots with ceaseless regularity. But the attacking craft appeared to
have two guns in action. Her shells came faster and the high explosive
was from time to time varied with shrapnel.

Shrapnel is much more unpleasant at sea than on land. One sees it hiss
down on the surface of the water like spray from a water-cart. Whilst I
was forward taking stock of the hatchway battens for possible floating
purposes, I had two fragments pass all too close to either cheek--so
close that I actually felt them. I put my hand up to my left cheek
expecting to find it laid open, but the skin had not even been broken. A
fortunate and most lucky escape. It was the nearest approach to an
individual casualty throughout the scrap. When the panic crews in the
boats appeared to be about a mile away a high explosive shell from the
submarine actually scraped along the whole of the port side of our ship,
bursting just in front of her fore-foot. I was forward again at the time
getting some lifebelts from the fore-hatch. The explosion knocked me off
my feet.

Everyone aboard felt the shock. The side of the ship seemed to be stove
in, and the captain commanded a member of his crew to see what water the
vessel was making.

"You damn well go yourself, mister," was the reply he got; which showed
the state of nerves aboard. Being almost next to the man in question I
volunteered to go, which seemed to somewhat shame the mutinous seaman,
as he went below at once. Then the captain did an extraordinary thing.
He stopped his ship, hoisted a flag (the W) half-mast high, blew three
long blasts on the siren, and came down from the bridge on deck.

I met him as he descended the companion and asked him what he was
playing at?

"I mean to save what lives I can," he said. "The ship is holed and it is
useless to carry on."

"That's the way to sacrifice the lot," I told him. "You don't suppose
those pirates will spare either ship or us."

Whilst we were slanging each other, a wild-eyed woman whose hair was all
down her back clutched the captain and demanded him to surrender at
once. "Save us, save us!" she wailed. Her embrace had to be forcibly

None of us aboard who took interest in life were agreeable to a stoppage
of the ship or to a surrender in any form. We bluntly said so. But the
captain claimed he was master aboard his own ship and should do as he
thought fit. Having thus delivered himself he proceeded aft and cut away
the lashing of three small rafts, each about ten feet by four, which
appeared to be the only hope of safety left for the forty or more people

The engineers had stuck to their posts--all credit to their
bravery!--but the ship, having lost way, was drifting broadside on to
the submarine, which would soon have made her an easier mark to hit.
Whereupon one of the three military officers, a second lieutenant of
infantry, as arranged quickly between ourselves, mounted the bridge and
rang up the engine-room for full speed ahead.

He managed to heave her round and got her going again; and very, very
slowly she was made to steal further and further away. As soon as the
captain realised his vessel was moving he went back to the bridge,
reassumed command, and remained there.

For emergencies there is no school of learning to equal that of
wide-world travel. In a search for more floating accommodation my friend
and myself went forward and released the heavy coverings of the
fore-hold, which provided ten or a dozen good planks quite equal to surf
boards, such as we had seen used by Kanakas of the Sandwich Islands, and
where we had participated with them in the joys of surf-riding on the
Pacific breakers rolling in over the coral reefs. It was undoubtedly a
wise forethought.

Although the fighting lasted, from first shot to last, forty-two
minutes, it but seemed a few seconds to those whose minds were occupied
with the safety of the ship and the lives of all aboard her. We had
quite a lot to do and we were kept busy. Lifebelts had to be handed out
and correctly put on, cigarettes obtained from below and supplied to all
who cared for that form of nerve tonic, a great proportion of the
terrified women pacified, and the rafts arranged on deck with a captain
to each and fresh-water supplies provided.

As soon as necessary matters had been completed I got hold of my friend,
who was taking matters quite philosophically, and we ascended the poop
together to help take observation of our shell fire. Then we noticed
that our gun-layer was serving the gun alone, so I slipped down to him
to help get out more shells and to hand them up to his platform.

After a few rounds someone shouted, "Smoke boxes." At the moment I was
struggling to the gun with a live shell, but I received a push from the
all-too-energetic originator of the idea which sent me sprawling over a
coil of rope and a pile of empty shell-cases.

Picking myself up as quickly as I could, I returned to the main deck in
time to see the first of these useful and ingenious devices brought into
practical utility. It was an oblong box, about three feet long and one
foot deep, which was lighted at the end by a fuse, then thrown overboard
to windward. Others followed in quick succession.

The smoke formed a light brown haze which with the help of a
broadside-on breeze drifted across our wake and in a very short time
obliterated our hull from the view of the deserting boats as well as
those on board the submarine; which latter did not seem too desirous of
following on, nor of decreasing the distance separating us.

From statements made by those in the boats (one of which was not
recovered until some five days afterwards), the flag hoisted to
half-mast, the three blasts on the whistle, and the obliterated hull
gave every appearance of the foundering of the ship. If they formed this
impression, _a fortiori_, the Germans, who were more than a mile behind
them, must have been still more convinced that their shell-fire had done
its dastardly work. This would also be strengthened by the sight of the
three boats crowded with refugees rowing frantically away in the
foreground; they must have appeared like rats (as they indeed were),
deserting what they believed to be a doomed vessel.

Be it as it may be, after this the submarine ceased fire and submerged.
Our gun-layer also ceased fire because he could see nothing further to
shoot at.

Those on board, although relieved of the horrible din of bursting shells
and continuous gun-fire, were not happy. They were haunted by a
deeply-rooted idea that the submarine had only submerged with the
intention of concealing her course so that she could head off the ship
and attack her again from another quarter. Some were quite unable to
conceal their anxieties. However, after the cessation of active
hostilities a more hopeful and cheerful tone prevailed throughout. Some
of the engineers came on deck for a breath of fresh air, whilst those
below redoubled their efforts to pack on every ounce of steam the
overstrained boilers would stand. With much wheezing and groaning, jerks
and spasms, the machinery ground away and the battered old tub really
did appear to make an effort to get along. What her speed actually was
is not likely to be known, but if the log had been used and had recorded
anything over eight knots an hour her passengers would have doubted its

After sunset the elements favoured those of us on board who had
certainly endeavoured to help ourselves. A rain-squall dropped from
above, mists rolled up from the surface of the ocean which had hitherto
been so calm and tranquil, and soon it became rough and unpleasant.
Womenfolk who had been sick beyond belief through fear and shell-shock
now became genuinely sea-sick. Perhaps it was a counter-irritant
ordained for the best.

As soon as firing ceased and the enemy had disappeared from view, I
sneaked away alone to a coal-bunker, where I carefully buried deep under
the black nuggets a small packet of precious documents which would
undoubtedly have proved of absorbing interest to the Hun. I thought this
would probably be the last place anyone would be likely to look for
anything of the kind, even if a boarding had become actual.

On returning to my friend, I much amused that gentleman by reason of a
rather argumentative dispute I was drawn into with a Reverend raft
captain regarding the salvage of certain fishing gear which I suggested
would be the best help to kill the monotony whilst drifting and waiting
to be picked up; assuming naturally that we were shortly to be sunk by
the submarine.

But by degrees twilight gave place to gloaming. Sturdily the engines
throbbed and the vessel pushed steadily ahead; whilst every eye that
could, searched the sea around for any sign of periscopes.

What a relief it was to all when the faint outline of land gradually
showed up far ahead! Greater still some hours afterwards when a bay was
entered and the vessel reached safe anchorage. This, however, was far
from the destination we had had in view, and however beautiful the
scenery might be said to be, my companion and myself had no desire to
linger there for an indefinite period.

How we fared eventually; how the soul of one of our small coterie
collected on a rock-bound island, a General recently returned from
Gallipoli, passed over the Great Beyond in a storm; how ships that
passed and repassed were attacked by submarines and sunk or escaped; how
wreckage, empty lifeboats galore and dead bodies daily piled up in the
alcoves and on the rare sand-patches of the shore; how a wireless, with
plant and adjacent buildings, was blown sky-high; how we were all burnt
out of house and home, and other passing episodes of that short but
adventurous trip, do not concern the subject-heading of this narrative.
They remain another story.

Suffice it, therefore, to say that after a meal of sorts ashore a
bargain was struck with some rough but honest island fisherfolk, whose
knowledge of English was limited, although they knew well the value of a
"John Bradbury;" and an hour after entering that peaceful haven of
refuge a small fishing-craft stealthily crept out to sea, steering
northwards over the scene of our recent fight, where she was soon lost
in the silences and the shadows of the night.




In February, 1915, a veritable bombshell was burst in the diplomatic
circles of Northern Europe.

A letter had appeared in the German newspapers containing very grave
allegations against a British Minister, extracts from which had
apparently been sent round broadcast to the Press of neutral countries.

On Wednesday, February 17th, the _Aftenposten_ of Christiania published
the document in its entirety. Other papers may have copied it, but the
demand for copies immediately became so great it was difficult to secure
them. Those which were purchased were read aloud in public places and
discussed and commented upon until excitement reached fever-heat.

The general public in Scandinavian countries knew little or nothing
concerning the writer of the letter--Sir Roger Casement.

The _Norske Argus_ described him as "a man who had held positions; a
British Consul in various places in the Colonies; Consul-General in Rio
de Janeiro; the exposer of the Putumayo affair."

In Norway British Consulships are most eagerly sought after, and
considered enviable positions carrying high honour.

The _Norske Argus_ stated that "Sir Roger Casement belonged to the
faction in Ireland which had opposed the war and recruiting; that he had
been to Berlin to intercede with the Germans for better treatment
towards Ireland if it came to an invasion of the British Islands; and
that he felt satisfied with the answer he had obtained from the highest
quarters, that 'in such case Ireland should obtain her full freedom';
and because of this visit the English were very bitter against him and
in many places he was stamped as a traitor."

Now Norway is a country infused with a very strong Socialistic element.
It holds deep sympathies with the Irish, and believes them to be much
abused and a much ill-used race. It knows nothing of the wildly absurd,
headstrong obstinacy of certain Irishmen who make it their business to
stir up dissent and to oppose their best interests; or that they
apparently do this out of sheer "cussedness." Rightly or wrongly, Norway
believes that Ireland is a poor, downtrodden country which during the
past hundred years has received nothing but harsh and unsympathetic
treatment at the hands of the English. Hence Norwegians, not being fully
advised of facts, looked upon this bogus hero, who had voluntarily taken
upon himself such great risks as his action and journey involved, in the
light of a modern Garibaldi, rather than as a traitor to his country,
which he had and since has fully proved himself.[10]

In his letter Sir Roger Casement stated that he landed from America on
October 29th, 1914, and that within a few hours of his arrival his
abduction or murder was planned by the British Minister personally. Some
Norwegians looked upon this allegation almost as a breach of good faith
with them and their country. They somewhat doubted that the
representative of King George of England, the brother of their beloved
and popular Queen Maud, could stoop so low as to be a party to such acts
as were alleged against him in this letter. But they wanted and waited
for a denial direct.

There was no evidence whatever before them that this man (Sir Roger
Casement) had done anything contrary to the interests of England, or
that he could well have done anything between the outbreak of war and
the dates quoted. If he was a traitor or a criminal their own Ministers
and police should have been informed thereof and the man arrested and
extradited for a fair trial. The alleged revelations thus came as a
shock to the country, and consternation filled the faces of many
thinking persons.



"I understand that my pension has been the subject of an interpellation
in the House of Lords.[12] I have already renounced my claim to the same
upon going to Germany to ascertain the German Government's intentions
towards Ireland. In the course of the discussion, according to what I
hear, Lord Crewe said that 'Sir Roger Casement's behaviour deserves a
severe punishment.'

"This gives me an opportunity of clearing up once and for all the
question under discussion, especially as I now am in possession of
incontestable proof of the kind of punishment secretly meted out to me.
I acknowledge that from the first day three months ago when I first set
foot on Norwegian soil, I was aware of your intentions, but it has taken
me some time to get your diplomatic agent to give me written evidence of
the assault that His Majesty's Government planned against me.

"Allow me first to show my own method of proceeding before comparing it
with yours. Between the British Government and myself there has never,
as far as I am aware, been any talk of a pension, reward, or order. I
have served the British Government truly and loyally as long as I
possibly could. I resigned as soon as I found it no longer possible. As
it also became impossible for me to enjoy the pension legally due to me
I have also renounced it voluntarily, as I had previously given up the
position which entitled me to it and as I now give up all orders and
distinctions that have at different times been awarded me by His
Majesty's Government.

"I came last October from America to Europe to see that my Fatherland
Ireland should suffer as little as possible from the results of this
luckless war, however it may end.

"My point of view I have sufficiently clearly published in an open
letter from New York dated September 17th,[13] and which I sent to
Ireland for distribution amongst my countrymen. I have the honour to
enclose a printed copy of this letter. It gives exactly my views which I
still hold to and the duties which an Irishman owes his Fatherland
during this crisis.

"Shortly after having written this letter, I left for Europe.

"The possibility of my being able to assist Ireland to escape some of
the horrors of war was in my opinion worth the loss of outward honour
and my pension, as well as the committing the act of high treason in the
technical meaning of the word. I had naturally reckoned on taking all
personal risk and any punishment which the law could possibly threaten
my actions with. I had, however, not considered that I should be sought
after with means in excess of the law in spite of my action being
without the moral limits. In other words, I reckoned with English
Justice and legal punishment and the sacrifice of name, position, and
income, and willingly agreed to pay this price, but had not reckoned
with the present Government. I was ready to face a legal tribunal but I
was not prepared against being shadowed, kidnapped by force, my servant
being bribed, and that I, in short, might be struck down; I was, in
fact, not prepared for the precautions your representative took upon
hearing that I was stopping in this country.

"The criminal attack which M. de C. Findlay, the British Ambassador,
planned on the 30th in the British Embassy, together with a Norwegian
subject named Adler Christensen, included all this and more. The plan
included not only an illegal attack upon my person for the execution of
which the British Ambassador promised my servant £5,000 sterling, but
also included an infringement of international law and common justice,
and the Norwegian was guaranteed by the English Ambassador in Norway
that he should go free of punishment.

"I landed from America on October 29th. A few hours after my landing a
Secret Agent of the British Ambassador approached the man I had taken
into my service and whom I fully trusted, and conducted him in a private
motor-car to the English Embassy, where the first attempt was made to
induce him to commit an act of treachery against me.

"Your agent at the Embassy pretended not to know me and said he only
wanted to identify me and get to know my plans.

"As this attempt did not succeed, Adler Christensen the next day,
October 30th, was accosted by a new agent and requested to go to the
Embassy, where he would hear of something to his advantage. The next
meeting was conducted by the Ambassador himself. Mr. Findlay went
straight to the point. His assumed or real ignorance of my identity, as
shown the day before, he now abandoned. Findlay acknowledged that he
knew me but declared that he did not know where I was going, what I was
going to do, and what my intentions were. It was enough for him that I
was an Irish Nationalist. He confessed that the British Government had
no proof that I had done, or intended to do, anything wrong which could
give him right, either moral or legal, to interfere with my freedom. All
the same, he was determined to do so. He therefore boldly and without
further consideration used illegal means and gave my servant to
understand that if I 'disappeared' it would be a very good thing for
whoever managed it. He specially emphasised that nothing should happen
to the perpetrator, as my presence in Christiania was known to the
British Government, and that that Government would protect and be
responsible for those who effected my 'disappearance.' He suggested
clearly the means that could be used, intimating to Adler Christensen
that the man who 'knocked him on the head' would not need to do any more
work for the rest of his life, saying, 'I presume that you would have no
objection to taking it easy for the rest of your days?' My faithful
servant hid the indignation he felt at this proposal and continued the
conversation so as to become more fully acquainted with details of the
assault being planned on my person. He remarked not only that I had been
good to him, but that 'I absolutely relied on him.'

"Upon this absolute confidence Mr. Findlay built his whole plot against
my freedom, Norway's common justice, and the well-being of this young
man, whom he tried to bribe with a large amount to commit a cowardly
crime upon his well-doer. If I could be seized or disappear, no one
would know it, and no question could be raised, as no one outside the
British Government knew of my presence in Norway, and there was no
authority from whom I could get help as the one authority would protect
the accused and care for his future. Thus, according to my information,
spoke Mr. Findlay, the British Minister, to the young man who was
tempted into the Embassy for this purpose. That this young man was
faithful to me and to the law of his land is a triumph of Norwegian
straightforwardness over the vile manner in which the richest and
mightiest Government in the world tried to tempt him to treachery
against both.

"After thus having sketched out his plan, Mr. Findlay asked Christensen
to 'think it over' and 'come again at three o'clock if you agree.'

"He gave him twenty-five kroner, just to pay the automobile with, and
let him go. As I naturally was interested to hear how they proposed to
get rid of me, I gave the man whom they had tried to bribe orders to
return to the Embassy at three o'clock and pretend to agree with the
wishes of your envoyé extraordinaire. I advised him to 'sell me dearly'
and demand a respectable sum for such a dirty job. Christensen, who had
been a seaman and naturally seen many strange people, assured me that he
felt quite at home with His Majesty's representative. He returned to the
Legation at three o'clock and remained alone with Mr. Findlay until
nearly five o'clock. An exact account of the conversation will duly be
sent to you and others. My servant pretended to agree to the British
Minister's plans and only demanded a moderate sum for his treachery. Mr.
Findlay promised on his word of honour (this strange phrase was used to
guarantee the transaction) that Christensen should have £5,000 on his
handing me over to the British authorities.

"If by this abduction any harm should happen to me, or any personal
injury be inflicted upon me, no question would be raised and full
impunity would be guaranteed to the abductor.

"My servant emphasised that I should travel in the afternoon to
Copenhagen, and he had already reserved my place in the train, unless he
had some immediate opportunity to carry out the commission.

"Mr. Findlay admitted that it would be necessary to defer the attempt
until there appeared a favourable opportunity to lure me to the coast,
to one or other place by the Skagerak or North Sea where there would be
an English warship which waited to catch me.

"He confided further in my servant the commission to steal my
correspondence with my supposed colleagues in America and Ireland,
particularly in Ireland, so that they could be made a party to the
'sympathetic punishment' which was intended for me.

"He explained a system for secret correspondence with him which
Christensen should use and write through a confidential address in
Christiania, to which he should communicate the results of his
endeavours to steal my papers and report my plans.

"This address in Christiania was written down in block letter capitals
by Mr. Findlay on a half-sheet of the Ambassador's letter-paper. This
precaution, said he, would prevent the handwriting from being

"This document, besides 100 kroner in Norwegian notes which Mr. Findlay
had given him as earnest money, with more to follow later, was
immediately brought to me, together with a full account of what has
already been told.

"As I was obviously in a dangerous position I changed my plans, and
instead of travelling to Copenhagen I resolved to change the method of
travelling and the route.

"Thus it was that I, with secret knowledge concerning the full extent of
the crime which was planned by your representative in Norway, left
Christiania on October 30th.

"The remainder of the history is soon told.

"You are doubtless apprised of all that happens, as you are both by
telegraph and by letter in constant communication with your

"You also know the Imperial German Government's declaration which was
published on November 20th last year in answer to my question.

"The British Government had, both through Press correspondents as well
as through special agents, allowed to be spread over the whole of
Ireland the lie that the Germans began the most abominable crimes in
Belgium, and they had also pointed out that a similar fate awaited the
Irish people if Germany came victorious out of this war.

"Your Government's intention was to excite the Irish to apprehend a
predatory attack by a people who never had done them any harm and by
false reports make them believe that this was their plight. It was my
intention not only to obtain a binding benevolent assurance from the
German Government, but also to free my countrymen from the false
position which this lying exciting campaign would develop; finally, as
far as it stood in my power, I would prevent them from entering into an
immoral conflict against a people who had never done Ireland an

"This declaration from the German Government, which, as far as I know,
was delivered in full sincerity, forms a justification for my
'treason.' I leave it to you, sir, to find justification for the British
Government's and the Minister's criminal plan, which was fully prepared
before I had even set foot on German soil and, furthermore, in a land
where I had perfect right to remain, this plan, which was attempted to
be carried out by the miserable means of bribery and corruption.

"You will not find justification in the many conversations which Mr.
Findlay in November and in December last year had after his own wish
with my faithful servant. The correspondence between them couched in the
Ambassador's arranged cypher speaks for itself. These conversations have
brought one thing to the light of day which I later on will make public.

"It is certainly correct to say concerning all this, which passed
between your representative and mine, with these opportunities, that you
during the constant negotiations had half the thread in your own hand.

"Your object was, as Mr. Findlay openly has confessed before the man
whom he believed he had bought, to get me out of the way in the most
disgraceful manner. My object is to expose your plans to the whole
world, and by the help of the agent whom you yourself have selected for
your plans and whom you have attempted to bribe in order to get him to
perpetrate an exceptionally vile crime.

"Once, when my man pretended that he was not satisfied with the sum
which was bid him for the treachery, your agent ventured to raise the
amount to £10,000. I have a precise inventory of the negotiations put
forward and the promises which were given in your name.

"Your Ambassador has twice given A. Christensen large money
rewards--once 500 kroner in Norwegian money, another time a like sum
partly in Norwegian money and partly in English gold. On one of these
occasions, in order to be precise, December 7th, Mr. Findlay handed to
Adler Christensen the key to a back door in the English Ministry so that
he could come and go unobserved. This key I intend to return personally
to the owner, together with the various money rewards which he has
forced upon my servant.

"The tales which Mr. Findlay told in these conversations would not
deceive a schoolboy. All mentioned proofs of my plans and intentions
which Adler Christensen produced, the mentioned letters, the fingered
land and sea maps, etc., I must put together for my own defence to
expose your criminal plan and thus come into possession of the
indisputable proof which I now have.

"First.--On January 3rd Mr. Findlay exposed himself thus, that he, in
the English Government's name, gave my betrayer a safe undertaking from
himself in which he promised him reward and impunity from any punishment
if he committed the arranged crime. This piece of writing is in my
hands. I have the honour to enclose a photograph of it.

"Then, the English Ambassador in Norway obviously is in a position to
give secret guarantees and safe impunity from punishment for crime, so I
reserve myself for a time when I am not exposed to his persecutions to
place before the Norwegian authorities the original letters and the
whole of the proofs which are in my possession and as glaring
illuminations of the British Government's methods.

"I now permit myself, through you, Sir, to surrender to this Government
my Order of St. Michael, the King George the Fifth's Coronation Medal,
and all the other distinctions which the British Government has given

"I am, your obedient and humble servant,


Englishmen in Norway, or indeed throughout the whole of Scandinavia, who
could have given the true history of Sir Roger Casement at that time
might have been counted on the fingers of one hand.[14]

Norwegians naturally argued that one side of a story was good until the
other was told. Meanwhile the newspapers did a remarkably fine business,
as most editions were greedily bought up day after day and week after
week, in the expectation of finding the reply of His Britannic Majesty's
Minister to the scathing indictment propounded against him.

According to the _Berliner Tageblatt_, and other German newspapers, this
letter was sent to Sir Edward Grey on February 1st, but no answer had
been received up to February 15th, when some of the most material
allegations were being quoted in the Press. Nor did any answer ever
appear, to the writer's knowledge, from Sir Edward Grey, Mr. Mansfeldt
de Cardonnel Findlay, or any other person; even after the letter had
been re-published in full by the _Aftenposten_ in Christiania, and
commented upon by other papers, and discussed from one end of
Scandinavia to the other by men and women in every station of life.

That omission was publicly and privately stated to be a colossal
mistake which would cost England, and the countries fighting by her
side, very dearly indeed.

One would have thought that Mr. M. de C. Findlay would instantly have
sent a short explanation in reply to every newspaper in Norway which
reproduced any part of this fatal letter. He, however, remained in the
seclusion of his castle on the hill of _Drammensvei_ and observed a
prolonged and unbroken silence.

The honest, open-minded, and clean-thinking Norwegian people were
disgusted beyond words. They looked to him for an explanation as of
right. They waited long, but they did not see, neither did they hear, a
word of denial. Sorrowfully but very naturally they actually began to
believe these extraordinary accusations to be true in substance and in

Now, references are made in this letter to "secret agents of the British
Ambassador approaching the man whom Sir Roger Casement refers to as his
servant." Therefore the writer takes this, his first opportunity, of
most clearly and emphatically denying that any member of the British
Secret Service was in any way employed or engaged in this affair. Such
Secret Service agents as were then working in Scandinavia were known to
him (the writer), also their locations; not one of them was within
hundreds of miles of Christiania at the time of the alleged transaction.
It should also be obvious that if any person exhibited such an
amateurish display of incompetence and bungling as the accusations
allege, that person would be more than useless for any Secret Service
work, however simple it might be.

It seems quite impossible to believe that any man could have acted as
Mr. M. de C. Findlay is said to have done.

What use was block letter-writing to conceal identity if it was cyphered
on Ambassadorial note-paper?

Why use English gold when Norwegian money was available?

Why permit such a man to come near the Embassy at all?

Why see such a man personally?

Why give a key to a gate, or a door, which could be left open?

Why give a scrap of writing or paper of any sort?

Why offer such ridiculous sums of money to a stranger, who, if he were
such a man as suggested, would have accepted a fraction of the amount
for such work?

If an investigation of the alleged proofs could show there was any
semblance of truth in this story, then, indeed, "it certainly would not
have _deceived a schoolboy_," as the letter quotes.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that an alien to a neutral country
(whosoever that person might be or in whatsoever walk of life he might
happen to be placed) had made himself a danger to the realm; that it
might have been considered an advantage to the Allies if he were
kidnapped and taken to a place of safe keeping so that he could be
looked after until peace was declared. What more simple and inexpensive
than to bring about a consummation of such wishes? Our friend Nixie
Pixie, or Jim, or another of that ilk, any one of those individuals
could have acted secretly and absolutely independently.

What could have been easier or more inexpensive than a
quickly-cultivated acquaintanceship by a Secret Service agent with a
person so named? A little dinner or light refreshment at a café, or a
hall; drugged food or drink, followed by the natural announcement that
one's companion was temporarily indisposed or suffering from a slight
excess of alcohol; assistance to a cab or other vehicle, nominally to
convey him home but actually a quick journey to the docks and quay side,
with rapid transport to a friendly ship! Thus such a job could have been
accomplished for a few pounds without fuss, inconvenience, or publicity.

It would probably not be wide of the mark to venture the statement that
many a man has been, perhaps even now is being, temporarily detained in
the seclusion of some lonely lodging upon far less pretexts than the
alleged revelations of Sir Roger Casement, until this tangled European
skein be fully and completely unravelled. The annals of that grim
fortress of Peter and Paul, the dungeon walls of which are washed by
the turbid waters of the Neva (wherein the author has had personal
experience of his own), could perhaps add histories of some interest,
but if they are to be told they must form the pages of another chapter.


[10] Roger Casement was hanged as a traitor at Pentonville Prison on
August 3rd, 1916, after having been landed from a German submarine on
the west coast of Ireland.

[11] This letter was circulated in the Berlin Press on February 13th,
and most of its material parts appeared in the London _Times_ on
February 15th, 1915, having been officially circulated through German
wireless stations and received by the Marconi Company.

[12] The interpellation above referred to is probably the following: On
January 8th, during a debate in the House of Lords on the national
responsibility with regard to voluntary recruiting or compulsory
service, Earl Curzon said:

"I should like to mention the case of Sir Roger Casement, which is one
in which I take a personal interest, for in the old days at the Foreign
Office I was his official superior. This gentleman went to Germany after
the outbreak of war, where he has been accused of disgraceful and
disloyal acts. His friends wrote to the papers that not too much
attention should be paid to those acts, as they were doubtful about his
mental condition. Since then his proceedings seem to me to have been
characterised by perfect possession of his faculties. The last thing of
which we have read is that he has prepared a pamphlet which has been
printed by the German Government and circulated by the German Foreign
Office pleading for an alliance between Germany and Ireland. I do not
desire to comment upon it; it is unworthy of comment, but I wish to ask
if this official who has received a title is to continue in the
enjoyment of his pension."

The Marquis of Crewe, on behalf of the Government replied:

"I have no particular information in regard to Sir Roger Casement. Even
if he is still entitled to a pension it is evident, from what we have
heard of his whereabouts, that he is not in a position to draw it, nor
is he likely to become so; but I agree that such action as he is
reported to have taken ought to be followed, as far as possible, with
the infliction of the severest penalties. With that I couple the
melancholy reflection that a man who has done such good services in the
past, assuming that he is still in possession of all his faculties,
should have fallen so low as he appears to have done."

[13] No copy or trace of this letter can be found.--_Author._

[14] The following extract from the _Daily Telegraph_ lifts the veil as
to the English position to October 7th, 1914. Sir F. E. Smith, K.C.
(Attorney-General) was appearing for the Crown at the trial of Sir Roger
Casement in opening the case for the prosecution, on June 26th, 1916,
before the Lord Chief Justice of England and other judges, the charge
being one of High Treason without the Realm contrary to the Treason Act,
1851, and the account goes on:

"After stating that prisoner was born in County Dublin in 1864, the
Attorney-General proceeded to recite the various offices he had filled
as Consul at Rio de Janeiro, Lorenzo Marques, West Africa, the Gaboon,
Congo Free State, Santos and Para. During the South African War he was
employed on special service at Cape Town, and when hostilities ended he
did not refuse the Queen's South African Medal, although that was a war
of which many Irishmen profoundly disapproved. They might perhaps
therefore assume that at the age of thirty-six the crimes and
delinquencies of this Empire had not engaged prisoner's attention or
affected his intelligence. On June 20th, 1911 he was made a knight, and
the same year he received the Coronation Medal. In August, 1913, he
retired on a pension. That pension had been honourably earned, and it
would have been neither necessary nor proper to refer to it were it not
for the sinister and wicked activities of prisoner which ensued.
Government pensions were paid quarterly, and on each occasion must be
formally claimed by a statutory declaration setting forth the services
for which the pension was awarded and the amount claimed. Prisoner made
five such declarations, the first on October 2nd, 1913, and the last on
October 7th, 1914.

"When notification was sent to prisoner by Sir Edward Grey of the
intention to bestow a knighthood upon him, this enemy of England, this
friend of Germany, this extreme and irreconcilable patriot, replied in
the following terms:

"'Dear Sir Edward Grey.--I find it very hard to choose words in which to
make acknowledgment of the honour done me by the King. I am much moved
by this proof of confidence and appreciation of my service in Putumayo
conveyed to me by your letter, wherein you tell me the King has been
graciously pleased, upon your recommendation, to confer upon me the
honour of knighthood. I am indeed grateful to you for this signal
assurance of your personal esteem and support. I am very deeply sensible
of the honour done me by His Majesty, and would beg that my humble duty
might be presented to His Majesty, when you might do me the honour to
convey to him my deep appreciation of the honour he has been graciously
pleased to confer upon me.'

"What happened to affect and corrupt prisoner's mind he did not know."

Sir F. E. Smith then went on to describe Sir Roger Casement's visits to
the internment camps in Germany, etc., which was after October, 1914.




The year 1915 saw much havoc at sea from the ravages of German
submarines. I was located in the midst of it. I saw many a noble craft
torpedoed direct or sunk by gunfire or mines. Such is a sight which
leaves impressions and gives much to reflect upon.

The Germans, I knew, adopted subterfuges to lure their victims to
destruction. The British apparently scorned to descend to such levels.
Bitterly I remembered the words of the captured officer: "You British
will always be fools and we Germans shall never be gentlemen." It was
maddening to know that all our acts of chivalry and knightly conduct
throughout the war only provoked the mirth and contempt of our

Something should be done to meet blow with blow, subterfuge with
subterfuge, and violence with equal retaliatory force.

The outcome of my reflections on this subject are hereinafter divulged.

            "LONDON.         "_June 15th, 1915._


     "I would, with all deference, submit to your consideration a
     suggestion which has occurred to me as possibly worthy of trial. It
     is as follows:

     "In the Port of ---- I observed trawling vessels fitted with guns
     conspicuously mounted upon a platform raised just abaft the funnel
     and over the engine-room, obviously for patrol purposes.

     "I assume that a German submarine could not but at once observe the
     gun and at a considerable distance, as it is raised well above
     deck-levels. She would naturally resort to the torpedo without
     coming to the surface and without warning. But if the submarine
     could be deceived that these trawlers were fishing vessels, or
     mine-sweepers, she would hardly waste an expensive torpedo when she
     could sink such insignificant craft by gunfire or bombs, and she
     might come to the surface to warn the crew to take to the boats, or
     to hail the vessel, thus giving a chance for our men to get a bit
     of their own back.

     "In my humble opinion the guns which are now mounted
     (twelve-pounders, I believe) on these trawlers could be concealed
     with the greatest of ease in more ways than one; and as the vessels
     are in all other respects unaltered in their ordinary appearance, I
     see no reason why the experiment should not be tried. Also
     remembering that submarines as a rule attack at dawn or gloaming.

     "If I may be so presumptuous as to go further and outline one of
     the means of concealment foreshadowed, I would construct in light
     framework covered with painted canvas the sides of a small row-boat
     or lifeboat in two silhouettes, which I would place on each side of
     the gun, whereby it would be completely covered up. The stanchions
     erected round the gun platform I would unship, or if their
     continuance is essential I would mount imitation davits of painted
     steam-bent wood, which could easily ship or be jointed with hinge
     and hook fastenings, so that they could be unshipped at a moment's
     notice. To these davits I would add light blocks and tackles, so
     that in a few seconds the whole dummy show could be swept on one
     side and the gun brought into play.

     "I have carefully examined the platform and gun on one of these
     vessels and firmly believe that the idea is practical and feasible
     and would act effectively and to advantage.

     "When I was cruising in the Baltic opposite Kiel and Femern
     (December-February) I was successful with somewhat similar devices
     of a simple nature, fitted to small boats, and calculated to
     deceive as to distances and in other ways, which originated the
     present ideas as soon as I saw our trawlers.

     "If you consider the idea worthy of a moment's further
     consideration, I would, if you so desired, at once set to work and
     have a working model made.

     I remain, your obedient servant,


     "('JIM' of the B.F.S.S.)"

       *       *       *       *       *

Intermediary correspondence and actions would not perhaps interest the
reader. Suffice it to say that my ideas found favour in the eyes of the
Powers-that-be, and I was given _carte blanche_ to carry my designs into

It may now be divulged that many weeks prior to the writing of the
letter mentioned above I had confided an outline of my invention to a
certain naval officer, a friend of mine in charge of a patrol-boat. We
had between us manufactured a rough model from such materials as could
be collected, which had been fitted to a vessel, and it had been
effectively and successfully used in action at sea, although not
officially known or recognised.

Now that I had free access to, and full authority to make use of,
several Admiralty yards for material and assistance, it was an easy
matter to improve on former ideas and to produce a complete efficient
and creditable result.

       *       *       *       *       *

           "LONDON.        "_July 14th, 1915._


     "The completion of the model was pushed along as quickly as
     circumstances would permit, and the first week in July, 1915, was
     fitted to a completed gun platform on the steam trawler ---- then
     lying in ---- Harbour.

     "The silhouette boat and chocks which support it on the gun-deck
     are made all in one piece, the deception being brought about simply
     by shading in the painting.

     "The boat is held in position by the dummy blocks and falls above,
     and to the gun-deck below by short iron clips at the foot of the
     chocks, which slip into small iron sockets screwed on the gun-deck
     and so slightly raised that they are not noticeable. The two
     silhouette boats are kept firm by two iron connecting rods.

     "_To clear the gun-deck._--Two men are required to handle the gun,
     which gives one man at each end of the boats.

     "To clear the gun-deck for action each man would simultaneously
     push up the iron connecting-rod between the silhouettes and at the
     same time instantly kick clear the clip at the foot of the chock
     from its socket. A slight push to the swinging boats releases the
     hinged davits, which fall backwards, pulling each dummy boat clear
     over the top of the lifeline stanchions, whilst they automatically
     drop into the bend of the davits, which holds them there until
     wanted for further deception purposes.

     "The boats can be pulled back and fixed into their original
     positions in about a minute, or even less time if necessary.

     "Both sides of the dummy silhouette boats are covered with canvas
     and painted white with gunwhale streak brown, so both sides match
     each other. The gun should be laid pointing towards the stem of the
     vessel and the gun itself, mounting and pedestal, painted white.

     "Then in whatever position (whether the ends are covered with
     canvas or not) the dummy boats are viewed, within ten yards or
     further away the deception is complete.

     "A very close observer, viewing the apparatus end-on, might assume
     that a couple of collapsible lifeboats were being carried aboard
     over the engine-room."

       *       *       *       *       *

Immediately after the official inspection (July 10th), which was said to
be quite satisfactory, the vessel so fitted was ordered to sea, and in
due course I received a registered letter marked "Personal and Private."
The envelope covered an inner envelope also marked "Private." The inner
envelope contained a short note conveying the thanks of the Lords of the
Admiralty to me, the inventor.

[Illustration: _Sketch No. 1_ (taken at 25 feet) shows the dummy boat in
position ready to go to sea.]

[Illustration: _Sketch No. 2_ (taken at 25 feet) shows the dummy davits
down, the boat gone and the gun deck cleared for action _within three
seconds_ from the word of command having been given.]

To what further uses, or with what results the design was utilised,
remained as closely guarded a secret as the inner letter of thanks.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile I was more than anxious for active service which would give me
a chance of getting at short grips with the dastardly submarines which I
had hunted in the frozen north so long but never fairly and squarely
behind a gun.

Further reflections caused the following letter to be written:

           "LONDON.        "_August 17th, 1915._


     "Since I wrote you with completed report on my gun-screen-dummy
     boat, submarines have continued to favour these waters in
     particular. Three large steamers have quite recently been

     "They have sunk in this neighbourhood alone over fifty sailing
     trawlers, _every one_ bombed or sunk by gunfire, and _from the
     surface_, but not a mine-sweeper nor a patrol-boat seems to have
     been attacked!

     "There are plenty of sailing trawlers lying idle in ports.

     "I therefore humbly venture to suggest to the Admiralty that if
     half a dozen of these were mounted with guns, covered by the
     dummy-boat-screen and manned by a small, smart crew, dressed in
     _ordinary fishermen's_ clothes (not the naval uniforms with gold
     braid and _white-topped_ ornamental caps, so much in vogue at
     present), those submarine pests would be caught napping without
     much difficulty; whilst the fishermen, who are mostly ruined, would
     at least feel that we had got a little of our own back with every
     pirate so sunk.

     "It would also be easy to place a motor and propeller in the vessel
     so employed which would help manoeuvring in no small measure;
     whilst as to manning them, there is plenty of material of the very
     best to select from for such a job--men who have been patrolling in
     gunboats and trawlers for a year without a smell of powder which
     their nostrils hunger for. I personally know plenty who would
     willingly abandon good positions and hail such an opportunity with
     eagerness; whilst, if the chance was given, I myself would
     willingly and gladly volunteer my services with them in the first
     boat sent out, or under them in any capacity, from the lowly cook
     or cabin-boy upwards.

     "If this seeming presumption on my part should be acted upon you
     may rely upon my wholehearted service for any assistance that I may
     be able to give in the fitting-out, etc., or otherwise, and it will
     be my pleasure to execute your smallest commands.

     "I remain, your obedient servant,
     "('JIM' of the B.F.S.S.)"

       *       *       *       *       *

This letter only produced further "secret" thanks. The suggestion for
active service was not responded to!

Cold comfort to one burning with such unquenchable desires. Poor
gratitude for services rendered. Depressing recognition for future

But what could a mere civilian expect! It was the same in both Services
at that period of the war. Civilians were as nothing; merely to be used
as conveniences--if they had to be used at all. Or as stepping-stones
for Service men to trample upon towards their own immediate advantage,
utterly regardless of position, ability and status, and whether they had
voluntarily or compulsorily sacrificed position, property, or dearer

Had any such ideas as these originated with a junior in the Service he
would have had to have taken them at once to his superior officer. That
dignified individual would in all probability have personally commended
him in private, then put forward the ideas to those above him with much
weight, but at the same time conveniently neglecting to couple the name
of the real originator.

The secret annals of the Service could many such a tale unfold.

Should a junior officer have dared to presume to have sent in his
original ideas direct to Whitehall, woe betide the day for his
immediate future and his chances for early promotion.

The above opinions are no flights of imagination; they are founded
solely on many bitter complaints which have come direct to the ears of
the writer from junior officers in both arms of the Service, whose
inventive ideas have either been summarily squashed by superior
officers, or who have been compelled in their own future interests to
stand aside, silent and disgusted, whilst they have observed others far
above them taking what credit was to be bestowed for ideas or
suggestions which were never their own, and often followed by decoration
without any patent special service.

       *       *       *       *       *

Shortly before this book went to press the author happened to meet a
naval gunner who had served for a prolonged period aboard mystery ships.
He was most enthusiastic on the subject of camouflage, and he related
how he had served in 1915 in a ship which had one gun only, placed
amidships, which was concealed by a dummy silhouette boat.

According to his account the stunt was great. He narrated in detail the
completeness of the deception, the instantaneous manner in which the gun
was brought into action, and the success which had attended the
introduction of the idea. He affirmed that no less than ten submarines
had been sunk during the first few weeks this invention had been first
introduced. But, as he explained, one day a vessel so fitted was
attacked by two submarines at the same time, one being on each quarter,
and the secret became exposed. After that, he added, the Germans became
much more suspicious how they approached and attacked fishing vessels,
and successes fell off considerably.

It had been an Admiralty regulation that when a submarine was sunk and
its loss proved, the successful crew was awarded £1,000 for each
submarine recorded, which was divided proportionately according to rank.
Submarines claimed to have been sunk run to over two hundred. Many and
various were the methods by which they were sent to the bottom of the
sea; but so far as a number of inventors or the originators of
ingenuity were or are concerned, it would appear that virtue alone
remains their sole reward.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since this book was accepted for press my attention has been called, in
the February number, 1920, of _Pearson's Magazine_, to an article by
Admiral Sims of the U.S.A. Navy, entitled "How the Mystery Ships
Fought," in which he says:

     "Every submarine that was sent to the bottom, it was estimated,
     amounted in 1917 to a saving of about 40,000 tons per year of
     merchant shipping; that was the amount of shipping, in other words,
     which the average U-boat would sink, if left unhindered to pursue
     its course.

     "This type of vessel (Q-boats) was a regular ship of His Majesty's
     Navy, yet there was little about it that suggested warfare. _Just
     who invented this grimy enemy of the submarine is, like many other
     devices developed by the war, unknown._ It was, however, the
     natural outcome of a close study of German naval methods. The man
     who first had the idea well understood the peculiar mentality of
     the U-boat commanders."

Extracting further paragraphs from Admiral Sims' article:

     "There is hardly anything in warfare which is more vulnerable than
     a submarine on the surface within a few hundred yards of a
     four-inch gun. A single well-aimed shot will frequently send it to
     the bottom. Indeed, a U-boat caught in such a predicament has only
     one chance of escape; that is represented by the number of seconds
     which it takes to get under water.

     "Clearly the obvious thing for the Allies to do was to send
     merchant ships armed with hidden guns along the great highways of
     commerce. The crews of these ships should be naval officers and men
     disguised as merchants, masters, and sailors."

At p. 104 of the magazine Admiral Sims refers directly to my invention
as described and illustrated:

     "Platforms were erected on which guns were emplaced; a covering of
     tarpaulin completely hid them; yet a lever pulled by the gun crews
     would cause the sides of the hatchway covers to fall
     instantaneously. _Other guns were placed under lifeboats, which, by
     a similar mechanism, would fall apart_ or rise in the air exposing
     the gun.

     "From the greater part of 1917 from twenty to thirty of these ships
     (Q-boats) sailed back and forth in the Atlantic."

The February number of the _Wide World Magazine_, p. 361, also contained
a most interesting article by Captain Frank H. Shaw entitled, A "Q," and
a "U," in which he describes how he personally helped to sink a
submarine with the aid of a camouflage apparatus on the lines of my
invention as illustrated:

     "Meanwhile the fitters were making most of their opportunities
     aboard the _Penshurst_ (the Q-boat in question). A useful
     twelve-pounder gun--one of the best bits of ordnance ever devised
     for short range work--was mounted on the fore-deck. A steel ship's
     lifeboat was cut in two through the keel, and so faked that on
     pulling a bolt, the two halves would fall clear away. This dummy
     boat was then put in place over the twelve-pounder and effectively
     concealed its presence.

     "So far as the outward evidence was concerned, the _Penshurst_ was
     simply carrying a spare lifeboat on deck--a not unnecessary
     precaution, considering the activity of the enemy submarines."

Captain Shaw describes in stirring narrative and vivid detail how a
submarine held up his ship, how part of their crew abandoned the ship,
and how the Hun boat was lured well within easy gun-fire range, and how
my ideas worked in practice:

     "_The foredeck boat opened beautifully like a lily and the gun came
     up, with its crew gathered round it._ The twelve-pounder was not a
     second behind its smaller relative. Her gunlayer, too, was a useful
     man. He planted a yellow-rigged shell immediately at the base of
     Fritz's conning-tower. It exploded there with deafening report and
     great gouts of water flew upwards with dark patches amongst the

       *       *       *       *       *

By my friends I was disparaged for foolishness in not putting forward a
claim for compensation in connection with these ideas, followed by an
accepted invention of recognised utility. In the U.S.A. in the spring of
1919 I heard this invention considerably lauded; in New York, Boston,
and Washington. It was also described and illustrated in certain
American periodicals.

If the figures given by Admiral Sims are true estimates, and, say, only
twenty-five submarines were sunk by the direct assistance of this simple
contrivance, then it follows that about 1,000,000 tons of shipping were
saved each year it was in active use.

Eventually I communicated with Admiral W. R. Hall, C.B., through whom I
had submitted my suggestions in the first instance. From him I received
a charming letter in which he regretted the matter had passed beyond his
department. Therefore on January 26th, 1920, I wrote to the Secretary of
the Admiralty referring by number to previous letters conveying the
_secret_ thanks of the Lords of the Admiralty to me in 1915 and asking
him whether (now that the war was over) I was entitled to any
recognition for this invention, and if so, how and to whom I should

I wrote again on April 29th, asking for a reply to my previous letter,
but being only a civilian, I suppose he did not consider either myself
or the subject matter I enquired about worthy even of simple




So long as the memory of mortal man endures, this dastardly act of
German treachery will never be forgotten.

On May 7th, 1915, the SS. _Lusitania_, a passenger ship of 32,000 tons
of the Cunard Line, was sunk by torpedoes, fired at short range from a
German submarine off Kinsale. She carried on board 1,265 passengers and
a crew of about 694 hands. From this number 1,198 were drowned,
including 113 Americans and a large number of women and children.

It is no exaggeration to say that the event staggered the humanity of
the world, yet the _Kölnische Volkeszeitung_ on May 10th, 1915, stated:
"With joyful pride we contemplate this latest deed of our Navy," etc.
The commander of the submarine which struck the fatal blow was
decorated, and a special medal was struck in the Fatherland
commemorating the event, and dated May 5th--_two days before she was
actually attacked and sunk_.

A copy of it is now before the writer.

It was struck with the object of keeping alive in German hearts the
recollection of the German Navy in deliberately destroying an unarmed
passenger-ship together with 1,198 non-combatants, men, women, and

On the obverse, under the legend "No Contraband" (_Keine Banvare_),
there is a representation of the _Lusitania_ sinking. The designer has
put in guns and aeroplanes, which (as certified by United States
Government officials after inspection) the _Lusitania_ did _not_ carry,
but he has conveniently omitted to put in the women and children, which
the whole world knows she did carry.

On the reverse, under the legend "Business above all" (_Geschäft über
alles_), the figure of death sits at the booking-office of the Cunard
Line, and gives out tickets to passengers who refuse to attend to the
warning against submarines given by a German.

This picture seeks apparently to propound the theory that if a murderer
warns his victim of his intention, the guilt of the crime will rest with
the victim, not with the murderer.

How the foul deed was plotted and accomplished is told in concise and
simple language by Mr. John Price Jones in his book entitled, "The
German Spy in America," which has an able introduction by Mr. Rogers B.
Wood, ex-United States Assistant Attorney at New York; also a foreword
by Mr. Theodore Roosevelt.

Summarising detail and extracting bare facts from Mr. Price Jones' work,
it is shown that Germany had made her preparations long before war was
declared. She had erected a wireless station at Sayville with
thirty-five Kilowatt transmitters and had obtained special privileges
which the U.S. Government never dreamed would be so vilely abused.

Soon after the declaration of war, Germany sent over machinery for
tripling the efficiency of the plant, _via_ Holland, and the
transmitters were increased to a hundred Kilowatts. The whole plant was
in the hands of experts drawn from the German Navy.

On April 22nd, 1915, the German Ambassador at Washington, by direction
of Baron von Bernstorff, inserted notices by way of advertisement
warning travellers not to go in ships flying the British flag or that of
her Allies, whilst many of the ill-fated passengers received personally
private warnings; for example, Mr. A. G. Vanderbilt had one signed

It is also stated than one of the German spies who had helped to
conceive this diabolical scheme actually dined, the same evening the
vessel sailed, at the home of one of his American victims.

The sinking of the vessel was also published in the Berlin newspapers
before she had actually been attacked.

On reaching the edge of the war-zone, Captain Turner, who was in charge
of the _Lusitania_, sent out a wireless message for instructions in
accordance with his special orders.

By some means unknown the German Government had stolen a copy of the
secret code used by the British Admiralty.

A copy of this had been supplied to Sayville, which used it (_inter
alia_) to warn Captain Turner against submarines off the Irish
coast--which evidence was revealed at the inquest.

Sayville was very much on the alert, looking out for and expecting
Captain Turner's request for orders.

As soon as it was picked up the return answer was flashed to "proceed to
a point _ten miles_ south of Old Head of Kinsale and run into St.
George's Channel, making Liverpool bar at midnight."

The British Admiralty also received Captain Turner's call and sent
directions "to proceed to a point _seventy to eighty miles_ south of Old
Head of Kinsale and there meet convoy."

But the British were slow and the Germans rapid. Captain Turner received
the false message instead of the genuine one, and over a thousand
unfortunate beings were sent to their doom.

At the inquest the two messages were produced and the treachery became
apparent. Further investigations pointed direct to Sayville, Long
Island, New York, to which place the plot was traced.

The German witnesses who swore the _Lusitania_ had guns aboard her were
indicted in America and imprisoned for perjury.

To use the wireless for any such cause as above described was contrary
to and in violation of neutrality laws; also of the United States of
America's statutes governing wireless stations.

In many chapters full of vivid detail Mr. Price Jones gives
extraordinary particulars of conspiracies and plots against persons and

In scathing terms he condemns Captain Franz von Papen, von Igel and
Koenig, Captain Karl Boy-Ed, Captain Franz von Rintelen, Dr. Heinrich F.
Albert and Ambassador Dumba as spies, conspirators, or traitors; men
without conscience, whom no action, however despicable, would stop.




The Press, it will be remembered, was during the first few years of the
war periodically almost unanimous in its outcry against the Government,
particularly the Foreign Office. Having regard to the facts quoted, well
might it be so. But the Foreign Office is somewhat in the hands of its
Ambassadors and Ministers abroad, who unfortunately sometimes appear to
put their personal dignity before patriotism, and threaten to resign
unless some ridiculous, possibly childish, whim is not forthwith
complied with. It seems hard to believe such things can be in war-time;
yet it was so. If our Ambassadors and Ministers were selected by merit,
and not by influence, a vast improvement would at once become apparent,
and such things as were complained of would not be likely to occur or be

One Press writer pointed out that "Great Britain lacked a watchful
policeman in Scandinavia." Perhaps he will be surprised to learn that
about the most active non-sleeping watchmen that could be found were
there soon after war started. But these watch-dogs smelt out much too
much, and most of them were caught and muzzled, or driven away, or
chained up at the instigation of the Embassies. The heaviest chains,
however, get broken, whilst the truth will ever out.

Naturally one Embassy would keep in constant touch with another, and
with regard to this question of supplying the enemy all three
Scandinavian Embassies knew, or should have known to a nicety, precisely
what was doing in each country.

We in the Secret Service had been impressively warned before leaving
England to avoid our Ambassadors abroad as we would disciples of the
devil. In so far as we possibly could we religiously remembered and
acted upon this warning. But the cruel irony of it was, our own
Ministers would not leave us alone. They seemed to hunt us down, and as
soon as one of us was located, no matter who, or where, or how, a
protest was, we were told, immediately sent to the Foreign Office,
followed by hints or threats of resignation unless the Secret Service
agent in question was instantly put out of action or recalled to

I was informed that several of my predecessors had been very unlucky in
Denmark. One had been located and pushed out of the country within a few
hours of arrival. Another I heard was imprisoned for many months. I was
further very plainly told by an English official of high degree that if
the British Minister at ---- became aware of my presence and that I was
in Secret Service employ, if I did not then leave the country within a
few hours of the request which would with certainty be made, I would be
handed over to the police to be dealt with under their newly-made
espionage legislation.

Considering that the German legations in Scandinavia increased their
secretaries from the two or three employed before the war to twenty or
thirty each after its outbreak; considering that it was a well-known
fact, although difficult to prove, that every German Embassy was the
local headquarters of their marvellously clever organisation of Secret
Service[15] against which our Legations possessed rarely more than one
over-worked secretary, whilst the British Embassies were a menace rather
than a help to our Secret Service, it did seem to us, working on our own
in England's cause, a cruel shame that these men, who posed not only as
Englishmen but also as directly representing our own well-beloved King,
should hound us about in a manner which made difficult our attempts to
acquire the knowledge so important for the use of our country in its
agony and dire peril. Dog-in-the-manger-like, they persisted in putting
obstacles in the way of our doing work which they could not do
themselves and probably would not have done if they could.

If unearthing the deplorable details of the leakage of supplies to
Germany evoked disgust and burning anger in the breast of Mr. Basil
Clarke, the Special Commissioner of the _Daily Mail_, surely I, and
those patriotically working in conjunction with me, always at the risk
of our liberty and often at the risk of our lives, might be permitted to
feel at least a grievance against the Foreign Office for its weakness in
listening to the protests of men like these, his Britannic Majesty's
Ministers abroad; real or imaginary aristocrats appointed to exalted
positions of great dignity and possibly pushed into office by the
influence of friends at Court, or perhaps because, as the possessors of
considerable wealth, they could be expected to entertain lavishly
although their remuneration might not be excessive. Had they remembered
the patriotism and devotion to their King and country which the immortal
Horatio Nelson showed at Copenhagen a hundred years previously, they too
could just as easily have applied the sighting glass to a blind eye, and
have ignored all knowledge of the existence of any Secret Service work
or agents; unless, of course, some unforeseen accident or circumstance
had forced an official notice upon them.

The Foreign Office would have lost none of its efficiency or its
dignity, had it hinted as much when these protests arrived; whilst
England would to-day have saved innumerable lives and vast wealth had
some of the British Ministers in the north of Europe resigned or been
removed, and level-headed, common-sensed, patriotic business men placed
in their stead as soon after war was declared with Germany as could
possibly have been arranged.

That the Germans themselves never believed England would be so weak as
to give her open doors for imports is expressed by General Bernhardi in
his "Germany and the Next War." He writes: "It is unbelievable that
England would not prevent Germany receiving supplies through neutral
countries." The following extract is from p. 157:

     "It would be necessary to take further steps to secure the
     importation from abroad of supplies necessary to us, since our own
     communications will be completely cut off by the English. The
     simplest and cheapest way would be if we obtained foreign goods
     through Holland, or perhaps neutral Belgium, and could export some
     part of our products through the great Dutch and Flemish
     harbours.... Our own overseas commerce would remain suspended, but
     such measures would prevent an absolute stagnation of trade. It is,
     however, very unlikely that England would tolerate such
     communications through neutral territory, since in that way the
     effect of her war on our trade would be much reduced.... That
     England would pay much attention to the neutrality of weaker
     neighbours when such a stake was at issue is hardly credible."

To understand what was actually permitted to happen the reader is
referred to the succeeding chapter. What possible excuse is there which
any man, that is a man, would listen to, that could be urged in
extenuation of this deplorable state of affairs and of its having been
permitted to exist and to continue so long without drastic alteration?

Our Foreign Office, hence presumably the Government, were fully informed
and knew throughout exactly what was going on. Every Secret Service
agent sent in almost weekly reports from October, 1914, onwards,
emphasising the feverish activity of German agents, who were everywhere
buying up supplies of war material and food at ridiculously high prices
and transferring them to Germany with indecent haste.

Cotton[16] and copper were particularly mentioned. Imploring appeals
were sent home by our Secret Service agents for these to be placed on
the contraband list; but no Minister explained to the nation why, if it
were feasible to make them contraband a year after the war commenced, it
was not the right thing to have done so the day after war was declared.

German buyers openly purchased practically the whole product of the
Norwegian cod fisheries _at retail prices_; also the greater part of the
herring harvests. Germany absorbed every horse worth the taking, and
never before in the history of the country had so much export trade been
done, nor so much money been made by her inhabitants.

The same may be said of Sweden, with the addition that her trading with
Germany was even larger.

The British Ministers in Scandinavia seemed to carry no weight with
those with whom they were brought in contact. Their prestige had been
terribly shaken by reason of the decision to ignore entirely the
Casement affair. An Ambassador of a then powerful neutral country
referred to one of them as "what you English call a damned fool." It was
only the extraordinary ability and excellent qualities of some of the
subordinates at the Chancelleries which saved the situation.

All this had its effect in these critical times. I, who was merely a
civilian Britisher and not permanently attached to either the Army or
the Navy, and hence was not afraid to refer to a spade as a spade, was
called upon continually by others in the Service to emphasise the true
state of affairs with the Foreign Office.

Those with whom I associated in the Secret Service agreed that if the
Ministers in Scandinavia could be removed and good business men
instated at these capitals it would make a vast amount of difference to
Germany and considerably hasten along the advent of peace. But by reason
of circumstances which cannot well be revealed in these pages, my hands
were tied until such time as I could get to London in person.

In March, 1915, I attended Whitehall, where I in no unmeasured terms
stated hard convincing facts and explained the exact position in the
north of Europe. I strongly emphasised the vital importance of stopping
the unending stream of supplies to Germany and of making a change at the
heads of the Legations mentioned. Direct access to Sir Edward Grey was
denied me, but an official of some prominence assured me the essential
facts should be conveyed to proper quarters without delay, although the
same complaints had previously been made _ad nauseam_.

But facts have proved that no notice whatever of these repeated warnings
was taken, and matters went from bad to worse.

On June 21st, 1915, I had returned again to England, and I wrote direct
to Sir Edward Grey, at the Foreign Office, a letter, material extracts
from which are as follows:


     "Being now able to speak without disobedience to orders, I am
     reporting a serious matter direct to you from whom my
     recommendation for Government service originates.

            *       *       *       *       *

     "It is exceedingly distasteful having to speak in the semblance of
     disparagement concerning anyone in His Majesty's service, and I am
     only anxious to do what I believe to be right and helpful to my
     country, whilst I am more than anxious to avoid any possibility of
     seemingly doing the right thing in the wrong way. But it is
     inconceivable that any Englishman should push forward his false
     pride, or be permitted to place his personal egoism, before his
     country's need; more particularly so at the present crisis, when
     every atom of effort is appealed for.

     "---- now being _a centre and a key to so many channels through
     which vast quantities of goods_ (as well as information) _daily
     leak to Germany_, the head of our Legation has become a position of
     vital importance. Much of the present leakage is indirectly due to
     the present Minister, in whom England is indeed unfortunate.

     "I therefore feel that, knowing how much depends upon even little
     things, it is my bounden duty to place the plain truth clearly
     before you. I have often before reported on this, so far as I
     possibly could, but those whom I could report to were all so
     fearful of the influences or opinions of the all-too-powerful
     gentleman in question, that none of them dare utter a syllable
     concerning his status or his foolish actions--although in secret
     they sorrowfully admit the serious effects.

     "1. Since the commencement of the war ---- has committed a series
     of indiscretions and mistakes, entailing a natural aftermath of
     unfortunate and far-reaching consequences.

     "2. Since February, 1915, he has stood discredited by the entire
     ---- nation, and in other parts of Scandinavia.

     "3. He is bitterly opposed to the Secret Service and paralyses its
     activities, although he states that his objections lie against the
     department and not individuals.

            *       *       *       *       *

     "In conclusion, please understand that I am in no way related to
     that hopeless individual, 'the man with a grievance,' but, being
     merely a civilian and having nothing whatever to expect, nor to
     seek for, beyond my country's ultimate good, I can and dare speak
     out; whilst the fact that in the course of my duty I went to Kiel
     Harbour (despite the German compliment of a price on my head),
     should be sufficient justification of my patriotism and give some
     weight to my present communication.

     "I have the honour to remain,

     "Your obedient servant,


     "('JIM' of the B.F.S.S.)"

       *       *       *       *       *

It seems hard to believe, but this letter was passed unheeded, not even

A week later, on June 28th, I wrote again, pointing out the importance
to the State of my previous communication and emphasising further the
danger of letting matters slide.

Both these letters were received at Whitehall or they would have been
returned through the Dead Letter Office. What possible reason could
there be behind the scenes that ordered and upheld such a creed as _Ruat
coelum supprimatur veritas_? Or can it be ascribed to the
much-talked-of mysterious Hidden Hand?

My letters pointed only too plainly to the obvious fact that I had
information to communicate vital to the welfare of the State, which was
much too serious to commit to paper; serious information which
subservients in office dared not jeopardise their paid positions by
repeating or forwarding; information which affected the prestige of our
own King; information which might involve other countries in the war, on
one side or the other; information which it was the plain duty of the
Foreign Secretary to lose no time in making himself acquainted with. Yet
not a finger was lifted in any attempt to investigate or follow up the
grave matters which I could have unfolded, relating to the hollowness of
the Sham Blockade with its vast leakages, which the Government had taken
such pains to conceal, and to other matters equally vital which I
foreshadowed in my letter, and which might have made enormous
differences to the tide of battle and to the welfare of nations.

No wonder the Press of all England made outcry against the Foreign
Office, as and when some of the facts relating to its dilatoriness, its
extreme leniency to all things German, and its muddle and inefficiency
in attending _in time_ to detail gradually began to become known.

Abroad I had heard the F.O. soundly cursed in many a Consulate and
elsewhere. I had, however, hitherto looked upon Sir Edward Grey as a
strong man in a very weak Government, a man who deserved the gratitude
of all Englishmen and of the whole Empire for great acts of diplomacy;
the man who had saved England from war more than once; and the man who
had done most to strive for peace when the Germans insisted upon
bloodshed. I would have wagered my soul that Sir Edward Grey was the
last man in England, when his country was at war, who would have
neglected his duty, or who would have passed over without action or
comment such a communication as I had sent him.

I waited a time before I inquired. Then I heard that Sir Edward Grey was
away ill, recuperating his health salmon-fishing in N.B. But there were
others. Upon them perhaps the blame should fall.

The Foreign Office knew of, and had been fully advised, that the
so-called Blockade of Germany by our fleet was a hollow sham and a
delusion from its announced initiative. It was also fully aware that the
leakages to Germany, instead of diminishing, increased so enormously as
to create a scandal which it could hardly hope to hide from the British
public. Why, then, were these Ministers abroad allowed to remain in
office, where they had been a laughing-stock and were apparently worse
than useless? It can only be presumed that they also had been ordered to
"wait and see."

Perhaps our Ministers, particularly at the Foreign Office, believed that
they could collect, through the medium of our Consulate abroad,
practically all the information that it was necessary for our Government
to know. In peace times this might have been probable. These
self-deluded mortals seemed to have forgotten entirely that we were at
war. Furthermore, it must be admitted to our shame that our English
Consular Service in some places abroad is the poorest paid and the least
looked-after branch of Government service of almost any nation.

Sir George Pragnell, speaking only a few days before his lamentably
sudden and untimely end, at the great meeting called by the Lord Mayor
of London at the Guildhall on January 31st, 1916, a meeting of the
representatives of Trade and Commerce from all parts of the British
Empire, said:

     "Our business men maintained that our Consular Service should
     consist of the best educated and the most practical business men we
     could turn out. Not only should these men be paid high salaries,
     but I would recommend that they should be paid a commission or
     bonus on the increase of British Trade in the places they had to
     look after."

If this sound, practical wisdom had only been propounded and acted upon
years ago the benefits that England would have derived therefrom would
have been incalculable. But look at the facts regarding the countries
where efficient and effective Consular Service was most wanted during
the war. In Scandinavia there were gentlemen selected to represent us as
British _Vice-Consuls_ who received a _fixed salary of £5 per annum_, in
return for which they had to _provide office_, _clerks_, _telephone_,
and other incidentals. Although the fees paid to them by virtue of their
office and the duties they performed may have amounted to several
hundred pounds per annum, they were compelled to hand over the whole of
the fruits of their labours to the English Government, which thus made a
very handsome profit out of its favours so bestowed. Our Foreign Office
apparently considered that the honour of the title "British Vice-Consul"
was quite a sufficient recompense for the benefits it demanded in
return, the laborious duties which it required should be constantly
attended to, and the £20 to £50 or more per annum which their
representatives were certain to find themselves out of pocket at the end
of each year. Soon after the war commenced one or two members of the
service were removed from the largest centres and other men introduced,
presumably on a special rate of pay; but in almost all the
Vice-Consulates the disgracefully mean and unsatisfactory system above
mentioned seemed to have been continued without any attempt at

Is it to be wondered at that so many Vice-Consuls who are not Englishmen
did not feel that strong bond of sympathy either with our Ministers
abroad or with our Ministers at home, which those who have no knowledge
of the conditions of their appointment or of their service might be led
to expect existed between them?

Further light is shown upon this rotten spot in our Governmental
diplomacy management abroad by an article entitled "Scrap our Alien
Consuls," written by T. B. Donovan and published in a London paper,
February 20th, 1916, short extracts from which read as follows:

     "Look up in Whitaker's Almanack for 1914 our Consuls in the German
     Empire before the war--and cease to wonder that we were not better
     informed. Out of a total of forty old British Consuls more than
     thirty bear German names! Other nations were not so blind....
     Glance through the following astounding list. In Sweden,
     twenty-four out of thirty-one British Consuls and Vice-Consuls are
     non-Englishmen; in Norway, twenty-six out of thirty; in Denmark,
     nineteen out of twenty-six; in Holland and its Colonies, fourteen
     out of twenty-four; in Switzerland nine out of fourteen--and
     several of the few Englishmen are stationed at holiday resorts
     where there is no trade at all.

     "And we are astonished that our blockade 'leaks at every seam'!...

     "This type of British Consul must be replaced by keen Britishers
     who have the interests of their country at heart and who are at the
     same time acquainted with the needs of the districts to which they
     are appointed. If we could only break with red tape, we could find
     numerous men, not far beyond the prime of life, but who have
     retired from an active part in business, who would gladly accept
     such appointments and place their knowledge at the disposal of
     their fellows....

     "The state of things in our Consular Service is such as no business
     man would tolerate for a moment."

Turning attention to our diplomacy on the shores of the Mediterranean
and the Near East, those in the Secret Service knew that during the
early days of the war at least our Foreign Office had nothing much to
congratulate itself upon with regard to its representatives in Italy.

For the first eight months of war an overwhelming volume of supplies and
commodities, so sought after and necessary to the Central Powers, was
permitted to be poured into and through that country from all sources.
Even the traders of the small northern neutral states became jealous of
the fortunes that were being made there. Daily almost they might be
heard saying: "Why should I not earn money by sending goods to Germany
when ten times the amount that my country supplies is being sent through

The tense anxiety, the long weary months of waiting for Italy to join
the Entente, are not likely to be forgotten. When at last she was
compelled to come in, it was not British cleverness in diplomacy that
caused her so to do, but the irresistible will of her own peoples, the
men in the streets and in the fields; the popular poems of Signor
D'Annunzio, which rushed the Italian Government along, against its will,
and as an overwhelming avalanche. The popular quasi-saint-like shade of
Garibaldi precipitated matters to a crisis.

     "It is interesting as an object lesson in the ironies of fate to
     compare the fevered enthusiasm of the Sonnino of 1881 for the
     cultured Germans and Austrians, and his exuberant hatred of France,
     with the cold logic of the disabused Sonnino of 1915, who suddenly
     acquired widespread popularity by undoing the work he had so
     laboriously helped to achieve a quarter of a century before.
     European history, ever since Germany began to obtain success in
     moulding it, has been full of these piquant Penelopean Activities,
     some of which are fast losing their humorous points in grim

Thus wrote Dr. E. J. Dillon in his book of revelations, "From the Triple
to the Quadruple Alliance, or Why Italy Went to War." From cover to
cover it is full of solid, startling facts concerning the treachery and
double-dealing of the Central Powers. It shows how Italy was flattered,
cajoled and lured on to the very edge of the precipice of ruin, disaster
and disgrace; how she had been gradually hedged in, cut off from
friendly relationships with other countries, and swathed and pinioned by
the tentacles of economic plots and scheming which rendered her
tributary to and a slave of the latter-day Conquistadores; how for over
thirty years she was compelled to play an ignominious and contemptible
part as the cat's-paw of Germany; how Prince Bulow, the most
distinguished statesman in Germany, also the most resourceful
diplomatist, who by his marriage with Princess Camporeale, and the
limitless funds at his disposal, wielded extraordinary influence with
Italian senators and officials as well as at the Vatican, dominated
Italian people from the highest to the lowest; how, in fact, the
Kaiser's was the hand that for years guided Italy's destiny. The book is
a veritable mine of information of amazing interest at the present time,
given in minutest detail, authenticated by facts, date, proof, and
argument. But it is extraordinary that in this volume of nearly 100,000
words, written by a man who perhaps, for deep intimate knowledge of
foreign politics and the histories of secret Court intrigue, has no
equal living, not a word of commendation is devoted to the efforts made
by our own British diplomacy or to the parts played by His Britannic
Majesty's Ministers and Ambassadors. There is, however, a remote
allusion on his last page but one, as follows: "The scope for a complete
and permanent betterment of relations is great enough to attract and
satisfy the highest diplomatic ambition." This seems to be the one and
only reference.

As quoted in other pages of this book, the reader will perhaps gather
that Dr. Dillon, who has been brought much in contact with the
Diplomatic Service and who has exceptional opportunities of seeing
behind the scenes, believes in the old maxims revised; for example: _De
vivis nil nisi bonum_.

A brief resumé of the material parts of this book which affect the
subject matter of the present one shows that on the outbreak of the
European war Italy's resolve to remain neutral provoked a campaign of
vituperation and calumny in the Turkish Press, whilst Italians in Turkey
were arrested without cause, molested by blackmailing police, hampered
in their business and even robbed of their property. But Prince von
Bulow worked hard to suppress all this and to diffuse an atmosphere of
brotherhood around Italians and Turks in Europe.

In Libya, however, Turkish machinations were not discontinued, although
they were carried on with greater secrecy. The Turks still despatched
officers, revolutionary proclamations, and Ottoman decorations to the
insurgents, and the Germans sent rifles in double-bottomed beer-barrels
_via_ Venice. Through an accident in transit on the railway one of
these barrels was broken and the subterfuge and treachery became
revealed. The rifles were new, and most of them bore the mark "St.
Etienne," being meant not only to arm the revolt against Italy but also
to create the belief that France was treacherously aiding and abetting
the Tripolitan insurgents. And to crown all, during the efforts of
fraternisation, in German fashion, Enver Bey's brother clandestinely
joined the Senoussi, bringing 200,000 Turkish pounds and the Caliph's
order "to purge the land of those Italian traitors."

The never-to-be-forgotten "Scrap of Paper," the violation of neutral
Belgium, the shooting and burning of civilians there, the slaying of the
wounded, the torturing of the weak and helpless, at first chilled the
warm blood of humane sentiment, then sent it boiling to the
impressionable brain of the Latin race. Every new horror, every fresh
crime in the scientific barbarians' destructive progress intensified the
wrath and charged the emotional susceptibility of the Italian nation
with explosive elements. The shrieks of the countless victims of
demoniac fury awakened an echo in the hearts of plain men and women, who
instinctively felt that what was happening to-day to the Belgians and
the French might befall themselves to-morrow. The heinous treason
against the human race which materialised in the destruction of the
_Lusitania_ completed the gradual awakening of the Italian nation to a
sense of those impalpable and imponderable elements of the European
problem which find expression in no Green Book or Ambassadorial
dispatch. It kindled a blaze of wrath and pity and heroic enthusiasm
which consumed the cobwebs of official tradition and made short work of
diplomatic fiction.

Rome at the moment was absorbed by rumours and discussions about
Germany's supreme efforts to coax Italy into an attitude of quiescence.
But these machinations were suddenly forgotten in the fiery wrath and
withering contempt which the foul misdeeds and culmination of crimes of
the scientific assassins evoked, and in pity for the victims and their

The effect upon public sentiment and opinion in Italy, where emotions
are tensely strong, and sympathy with suffering is more flexible and
diffusive than it is even among the other Latin races, was
instantaneous. One statesman who is, or recently was, a partisan of
neutrality, remarked to Dr. Dillon that "German Kultur, as revealed
during the present war, is dissociated from every sense of duty,
obligation, chivalry, honour, and is become a potent poison, which the
remainder of humanity must endeavour by all efficacious methods to
banish from the International system. This," he went on, "is no longer
war; it is organised slaughter, perpetrated by a race suffering from
dog-madness. I tremble at the thought that our own civilised and
chivalrous people may at any moment be confronted with this lava flood
of savagery and destructiveness. Now, if ever, the opportune moment has
come for all civilised nations to join in protest, stiffened with a
unanimous threat, against the continuance of such crimes against the
human race. Europe ought surely to have the line drawn at the poisoning
of wells, the persecution of prisoners, and the massacre of women and

The real cause of the transformation of Italian opinion was no mere
mechanical action; it was the inner promptings of the nation's soul.

The tide of patriotic passion was imperceptibly rising, and the cry of
completion of Italian unity was voiced in unison which culminated on the
day of the festivities arranged in commemoration of the immortal
Garibaldi. Signor D'Annunzio, the Poet Laureate of Italian Unity, was
the popular hero who set the torch to the mine of the peoples which,
when it exploded, instantly erupted parliamentary power, Ministers'
dictation, and the influences of the throne itself. It shattered the
foul system of political intrigue built up by the false Giolitti and
developed the overwhelming sentiment of an articulate nation burst into
bellicose action against the scientific barbarians; by which spontaneous
ebullition Italy took her place among the civilised and civilising
nations of Europe.

Most people who have followed events closely are convinced that Turkey
could, with judicious diplomacy, have been kept neutral throughout the
war. It was whispered in Secret Service circles that a very few millions
of money, lent or judiciously expended, would easily have acquired her
active support on the side of the Entente.

One need not probe further back in history than to the autumn of 1914 to
ascertain the blundering fiasco that was made in that sphere of our
alleged activities.

Sir Edwin Pears, who has spent a lifetime in the Turkish capital and who
can hardly be designated a censorious critic, because for many years he
was the correspondent of a Liberal newspaper in London, published, in
October, 1915, a book entitled "Forty Years in Constantinople." In that
book he describes how the Turks drifted into hostility with the Entente
because the British Embassy was completely out of touch with them. Sir
Louis Mallet, H.B.M. Ambassador, appointed in June, 1913, had never had
any experience of the country; he did not know a word of Turkish, whilst
he had under him three secretaries also ignorant of the language and of
the people. Sir Edwin Pears thus describes them:

     "Mr. Beaumont, the Counsellor, especially during the days in August
     before his chief returned from a visit to England, was busy almost
     night and day on the shipping cases.... He also knew nothing of
     Turkish, and had never had experience in Turkey. Mr. Ovey, the
     First Secretary, also had never been in Turkey, and knew nothing of
     Turkish. Unfortunately, also, he was taken somewhat seriously ill.
     The next Secretary was Lord Gerald Wellesley, a young man who will
     probably be a brilliant and distinguished diplomatist twenty years
     hence, but who, like his colleagues, had no experience in Turkey.
     The situation of our Embassy under the circumstances was
     lamentable.... It was made worse than it might have been from the
     mischievous general rule of our Foreign Office which erects an
     almost impassable barrier between the Consular and Diplomatic
     Services.... There were three men in the Consular Service whose
     help would have been invaluable."

It thus seems to be implied that this help, which would have meant so
much in the saving of valuable lives and the wasted millions in gold,
was absolutely barred by the false dignity or inefficiency of someone at
the Foreign Office. England's only chance of attaining any success with
the wily Turks apparently rested upon one man. According to Sir Edwin

     "Nine months before the outbreak of war we had at the British
     Embassy a Dragoman (interpreter), Mr. Fitzmaurice, whose general
     intelligence, knowledge of Turkey, of its Ministers and people, and
     especially of the Turkish language, was, to say the least, equal to
     that of the best Dragoman whom Germany ever possessed. His health
     had run down and he had been given a holiday, but when, I think in
     the month of February, 1914, Sir Louis Mallet (the British
     Ambassador) returned to Constantinople, Mr. Fitzmaurice did not
     return with him, and was never in Constantinople until after the
     outbreak of war with England.

     "It is said that he did not return because the Turkish Ambassador
     in London made a request to that effect.... I think it probable
     that if such a request was made it was because Mr. Fitzmaurice did
     not conceal his dislike of the policy which the Young Turks were

     "As his ability and loyalty to his chief are beyond question, and
     as he possesses a quite exceptional knowledge of the Turkish
     Empire, and has proved himself a most useful public servant ... it
     was nothing less than a national misfortune that he did not return
     with Sir Louis Mallet."

Baron von Wangenheim, the German Ambassador, possessed a superbly
equipped staff. It is known that he distributed money, favours, and
distinctions broadcast with a free and bountiful hand. He played upon
the weaknesses and characteristics of the Orientals with such diplomatic
skill and cunning that he entirely won over the Young Turkish party to
his way of thinking. And the Young Turkish party ruled and dictated to
the whole country.

The blame and responsibility for this extraordinary state of affairs
has been put by our indignant Press upon our Foreign Office at home,
which sent out, organised, and controlled such a representation. The
terrible defeat we suffered at the Dardanelles has also been referred to
as the natural aftermath to such a sowing; for proof of culpability as
to this see further on.

Our position in Turkey, says Sir Edwin Pears,

     "was made worse than it might have been from the mischievous
     general rule of our Foreign Office, which erects an almost
     impassable barrier between the Consular and Diplomatic Services, a
     barrier which I have long desired to see broken down. When, some
     months afterwards, I returned to England, I received a copy of the
     'Appendix to the Fifth Report of the Royal Commission on the Civil
     Service,' published on July 16th, 1914, in which (on p. 321) there
     is a letter written by me two years earlier in which I made two
     recommendations. The first was adopted, the second unfortunately
     was not. I claimed that the Consular and Diplomatic Services should
     be so co-ordinated that a good man in the Consular Service in
     Turkey might be promoted into the Diplomatic Service, and I
     instanced the case of Sir William White, one of the ablest
     Ambassadors we ever had in Constantinople, who had risen from being
     a consular clerk to the Embassy. The facts under my notice from
     July to the end of October, 1914, afforded strong proof of the
     common sense of my recommendation. The inexperience of the
     Ambassador and his staff heavily handicapped British diplomacy in
     Turkey: yet there were three men who had been or were in the
     Consular Service whose help would have been invaluable. They had
     each proved themselves able Dragomans and each had many years'
     experience in Turkey. The only explanation that I can give of why
     their services were not at once made available in the absence of
     Fitzmaurice was the absurd restriction to which I have alluded."

The Press has also stated that the unsatisfactory precedent exhibited by
the Embassy at Constantinople typified the British Legations at the
Balkan capitals. We know how badly we were disappointed, deceived, and
let down in the whole of that theatre of war. The best resumé may be
found in an admirable series of articles, published, February 3rd to
8th, 1916, in the London _Daily Telegraph_, by that most brilliant and
experienced of Continental correspondents, Dr. E.J. Dillon. They reveal
the pitiful failings, weaknesses and miscalculations of our Balkan
Diplomatists in such glaring vividness that the reader wonders at the
marvels performed by our gallant troops and Navy in the face of the
difficulties and obstructions they had to contend with.

Dr. Dillon wrote:

     "High praise is due to the intentions of Entente diplomatists,
     which were truly admirable. They did their best according to their
     lights during the campaign as they had done their best before it
     was undertaken. That the best was disastrous was not the result of
     a lack of goodwill. What they were deficient in was insight and
     foresight. Their habit is not to study the mental and psychical
     caste of the peoples with whom they have to deal, but to watch and
     act upon the shifts of the circumstances. Amateurism is the curse
     of the British nation. Their vision of the political situation in
     the Balkans was roseate and blurred, and their moral maxims were
     better fitted for use in the Society of Friends than in intercourse
     with a hard-headed people whose morality begins where self-interest
     ends. By these methods, which, unhappily, are still in vogue, the
     diplomacy of Great Britain, France, and Russia lost the key to
     Constantinople, and contributed unwittingly to deliver over the
     Serbian people to the tender mercies of the Bulgar and the Teuton.
     Turkey is still fighting us in Europe and Asia. Roumania is
     neutral, and mistrustful, and the war is prolonged indefinitely.
     The facts on which our statesmen relied turned out to be fancies;
     their expectations proved to be illusions; and their solemn
     negotiations a humiliating farce devised by the Coburger, who moved
     the representatives of the Allied Powers hither and thither like
     figures on a chess-board."

Mr. Crawford Price, the Balkan war correspondent, writing in the
_Sunday Pictorial_ of February 27th, 1916, alleges that the Greeks
wanted to join the Allies in active aggression on several occasions, but
the Hellens were effectively snubbed by our Diplomats. Although the
General Staff and the King were both willing at one time to intercede,
they opposed unconditional participation in the Dardanelle enterprise,
because they believed our ill-considered plans would end in disaster.
Mr. Price says that our Diplomatists refused to consider their matured
ideas based upon a lifelong study of local conditions and the adoption
of which would probably have given us possession of Constantinople in a
month. Again, after we had failed, the Greek Government submitted a plan
on April 14th, 1915, for co-operation, but we would have nothing to do
with it. Finally, when in May following King Constantine offered to join
forces with us upon no other condition than that we should guarantee the
integrity of his country (surely the least he could ask!), he received a
belated intimation to the effect that we could not do so, as we did not
wish to discourage Bulgaria.

After this, it will be remembered, England offered to bribe Bulgaria
with the Cavalla district belonging to Greece.

No wonder Greece refused to be bribed with Cyprus when Bulgaria had
declined to be moved by the blind and incomprehensible enthusiasm which
seems to have dominated English diplomacy in the Near East. Or was a
certain Continental wag, well known in Diplomatic circles, nearer the
mark when he facetiously lisped, "Your English Government is said to be
slow and sure, which is quite true, in that it is slow to act and sure
to be too late"?

It is a matter for consideration that the British Minister at Sofia was
changed during the war, whilst almost his whole staff were only
short-timers in Bulgaria, where such a gigantic failure was proved by
the subsequent actions of that misguided and unfortunate country. What
small advantages were once obtained in this sphere of action seem all to
have been lost through our everlasting and repeated procrastinations
and unpardonable delay. Had the permission of Venezelos to land troops
at Salonica been immediately acted upon and the proffered co-operation
of the Hellens accepted with the cordiality it deserved, and half a
million men been marched to the centre of Serbia, that country would
never have been conquered by the enemy, whilst Bulgaria and Roumania
would have come in upon the side of the Entente, and Turkey would have
been beaten at the outset; thereby saving hundreds of thousands of
valuable lives, and hundreds of millions of pounds sterling.

What a difference this would have made to the length of the war!

Our diplomacy failed.

Our then Government showed an utter lack of possessing the art of
foreseeing. The fruits of its policy, "Wait and see," materialised into
muddle, humiliation, slaughter, and defeat.

Just criticism fell from Lord Milner, who, speaking at Canterbury on
October 31st, 1915, said:

     "If the worst of our laches and failures, like the delay in the
     provision of shells and the brazen-faced attempts to conceal it, or
     the way we piled blunder upon blunder in the Dardanelles, or the
     phenomenal failure of our policy in the Balkans--if the nation was
     induced to regard these as just ordinary incidents of war, then we
     could never expect and should not deserve to see our affairs better
     managed in the future. Truth all round and clearness of vision were
     necessary to enable us to win through."

A few days later Mr. Rudyard Kipling in the _Daily Telegraph_ wrote:

     "No man likes losing his job, and when at long last the inner
     history of this war comes to be written we may find that the people
     we mistook for principals and prime agents were only average
     incompetents moving all hell to avoid dismissal."

History repeats itself, and George Borrow was not very wide of the mark
when he wrote in 1854: "Why does your (English) Government always send
fools to represent it at Vienna?"[17]

The work of all foreign Ministers should consist in providing for
contingencies long foreseen and patiently awaited. Surely we must have
some good and able men who do or can serve us abroad? Or does the fault
lie with the Foreign Office at home?

The _English Review_ of February, 1916, contained a serious article
entitled "The Failure of Sir Edward Grey," the logic of which causes one
to reflect. Its author, Mr. Seton-Watson, argues as follows:

     "From the moment that the mismanagement of the Dardanelles
     Expedition became apparent to the Bulgarians (and it must be
     remembered that the whole Balkan Peninsula was ringing with the
     details at a time when the British public was still allowed to know
     nothing) only one thing could have prevented them from joining the
     Central Powers, and that was the prompt display of military force,
     as a practical proof that we should not allow our ally to be
     crushed.... Prince George of Greece was sent to Paris by his
     brother, the King, with a virtual offer of intervention in return
     for the Entente Powers guaranteeing the integrity of Greek
     territory. The French were inclined to consider the offer, but it
     was rejected by London on the ground that no attention could be
     paid to 'unauthorised amateur diplomacy.'

     "This astonishing phrase was allowed to reach the King of Greece,
     and having been applied to his own brother on a mission which was
     anything but unauthorised, naturally gave the greatest possible

     "As a matter of fact, the Treaty was much more comprehensive than
     is generally supposed. Under its provisions the _casus foederis_
     arises not merely in the event of a Bulgarian attack on Serbia, but
     also of an attack from any other quarter also; and therefore
     Greece, in not coming to Serbia's aid against Austria-Hungary in
     1914, had already broken her pledge. Hence Sir Edward Grey, who
     must have been well aware of this fact, was surely running a very
     grave risk when he relied upon Greek constancy in a situation which
     his own diplomatic failures had rendered infinitely less
     favourable. On September 23rd Bulgaria mobilised against Serbia;
     yet on September 27th Sir Edward Grey practically vetoed Serbia's
     proposal to take advantage of her own military preparedness and to
     attack Bulgaria before she could be ready. Next day (September
     28th) in the House of Commons he uttered his famous pledge that, in
     the event of Bulgarian aggression, 'We are prepared to give to our
     friends in the Balkans all the support in our power, in the manner
     that would be most welcome to them, in concert with our Allies
     without reserve and without qualification.' At the moment everyone
     in England, and above all in Serbia, took this to mean that we were
     going to send Serbia the military help for which she was
     clamouring; but on November 3rd Sir Edward Grey explained to an
     astonished world that he merely meant to convey that after Bulgaria
     had joined Germany 'there would be no more talk of concessions from
     Greece or Serbia.' The _naïveté_ which could prompt such an
     explanation is only equalled by the confusion of mind which could
     read this interpretation into a phrase so explicit and unequivocal.
     Greece's failure in her Treaty obligations towards Serbia alone
     saved Britain from the charge of failure to fulfil her pledge to
     Greece. Nothing can exonerate Greece's desertion of her ally, but
     in view of our tergiversation and irresolution, some allowance must
     be made for King Constantine's attitude towards the Entente. Sir
     Edward Grey, throwing to the winds all his public pledges to
     Serbia, definitely urged upon the French Generalissimo complete
     withdrawal from Salonica and the abandonment of the Serbs to their
     fate. General Joffre replied with the historic phrase: 'You are
     deserting us on the field of battle and we shall have to tell the
     world.' General Joffre carried his point, and in the biting phrase
     of Sir Edward Carson, 'the Government decided that what was too
     late three weeks before was in time three weeks after.' But those
     three weeks, which might have transformed the fortune of the
     campaign, had been irretrievably lost through Sir Edward Grey's
     lack of a Balkan policy. Even then our hesitation continued. In
     Paris the question is being asked on all sides why Sir Edward Grey,
     after such repeated fiascoes, did not follow his late colleague, M.
     Delcasse, into retirement, and what everyone is saying in Paris,
     from the Quai d'Orsay to the Academie Française, surely need no
     longer be concealed from London. The German Chancellor was unwise
     enough to hint this in his speech, when he ascribed Germany's
     Balkan success in large measure to our mistakes. The fall of Sir
     Edward Grey, as the result of a demand for a more energetic conduct
     of the war and for still closer co-operation with our Allies, and
     the substitution of a man of energy and first-rate ability, would
     be far the most serious and disconcerting blow which the Germans
     had yet received."

The halting, hesitating, vacillating "wait-and-see" policy which seems
to be revealed in such startling vividness by Mr. Seton-Watson causes a
deep thinker to ponder further. Is it not possible that Sir Edward Grey,
like the late Lord Kitchener, may not have been his own master? That he
in turn may have been held down and dictated to by the one man whose own
valuation of his personal services so greatly exceeded the worth put
upon them by the nation at large?

It is easy to state in the House of Commons, "I accept entire
responsibility," as Mr. Asquith did when the Gallipoli disaster was
questioned, but he surely ought then to have been the questioner! _His
statement_, which the members of the House were bound down by national
loyalty not to attack as they would have liked to have done, _proved_
that the Prime Minister had been _meddling with military matters_ which
should have been left absolutely and entirely to military experts. Hence
it was that the nation learnt that the halting, hesitating, vacillating
"wait-and-see" policy had paralysed not only the whole Gallipoli
campaign, but particularly the Suvla Bay expedition, which if properly
exploited would undoubtedly have given our arms one of the greatest
victories of the war.[18]


[15] As evidence in support of this, see the papers seized from von
Papen at Falmouth, December, 1915; the papers seized at Salonika,
January, 1916; the reports from Washington, U.S.A., 1915-6; and the
numerous paragraphs in the Press to date since November, 1914.

[16] Cotton was not made absolute contraband until 381 days after the
war had broken out, August 20th, 1915. Sir Edward Grey, speaking in the
House of Commons on January 7th, 1915, said: "His Majesty's Government
have never put cotton on the list of contraband; they have throughout
the war kept it on the free list; and on every occasion when questioned
on the point they have stated their intention of adhering to this

[17] "Romany Rye," chapter 39.

[18] It has been said by those who were there that the English troops
were kept back and permitted to play about on the beach bathing and
building camp, etc., for three days after the first landing, thus giving
the Turks more than sufficient time to bring up opposing forces and
successfully dig themselves in where required, whereas it was but nine
miles across the peninsula, which could presumably have been straddled
in a few hours with little, if any, opposition at the time of landing.
Was this the suppressed episode "within a few hours of the greatest
victory of the war," which the Right Hon. Winston Churchill referred to
in his memorable speech, and which has been the subject of so much
surmise and comment?




During the first year of the war Secret Service agents busied themselves
much concerning the vast stream of goods, necessities and munitions in
the raw state which poured into Germany direct and through neutral
countries like the waters of a rising flood over weirs on the Thames.
Night and day these ever-restless beings flitted as shadows along the
secretly or openly favoured trade routes. Persistently and energetically
they followed up clues and signs of the trails of enemy traders, from
ports of entry to original sources. Week by week, almost day by day,
they flashed home news of then present and future consignments of such
importance and value to the enemy that he paid exorbitant prices and
ridiculous commissions to help rush them over his frontiers. Seemingly
all was in vain. These efforts were but wasted. The work was apparently
unappreciated and unresponsively received. England, to all intents and
purposes, was slumbering too soundly to be awakened. Meanwhile, during
every hour of the twenty-four, unending processions of trade ships of
every shape, make and rig sneaked along the coasts of neutral waters, as
near to land as safety permitted, on their way to the receiving ports of

Observers, stationed in lighthouses or on promontories, who watched this
abnormal freighting activity, could not but help noticing that, whenever
smoke showed itself upon the horizon seawards, consternation at once
became manifest on the decks of these cargo carriers. They would squeeze
dangerously inshore, lay to, or drop anchors, bank up their fires and
damp down every curl of smoke which it was possible to suppress; in
short, they adopted every conceivable ruse to conceal their presence and

If this trade was honest and legitimate, why should these tactics be
followed, and these precautions taken? _Res ipsa loquitur._

As the year 1915 progressed and the inertia of the British Government
became more and more realised abroad, the captains of freighters grew
bolder and bolder, and the confidence of the thousands upon thousands of
get-rich-quick-anyhow dealers ashore increased and multiplied
accordingly. No one, except the Germans themselves, knew or could get to
know the actual extent of this enormous volume of their import trade.
The chattels came from so many different countries and were consigned
through so many channels that accurate records were rendered impossible;
whilst the greater part was shipped in direct.

The English Press, which had been so self-denying and loyal to the
Government in spite of the shameful manner in which it had been gagged
and bound down, until the Censor's blue-pencilling amounted almost to an
entire suppression of news, began to grumble and to hint very broadly
that the bombastic utterances of our Ministers regarding the
effectiveness of our blockade and the starvation of the Central Powers
were exaggerations and not facts. Men who had always put their country
before any other consideration began to proclaim that the so-called
blockade was a delusion; whilst they quoted figures of imports to
neutral countries which were embarrassing to the Government. Something
therefore had to be done. The notorious Danish Agreement[19] was
accordingly framed in secret (in secret only from the British public),
and a very highly-coloured and altogether misleading interpretation of
its limitations and effectiveness was hinted at in Parliament. In spite
of terrific pressure upon Ministers by members of both Houses, not a
clause of this extraordinary document was permitted to be published,
although its context was freely circulated or commented upon in the
Press of neutral countries and the whole Agreement was printed _in
extenso_ on December 12th, 1915, in the _Borsen_, at Copenhagen. What a
sham and a farce this whole arrangement turned out to be will be seen

It has ever been the proud boast of Englishmen that Britannia rules the
waves. Until this war the British Navy had been supreme mistress of the
seas, and no loyal person within the Empire whereon the sun never sets
has grudged a penny of the very heavy taxation which has been necessary
to keep up the efficiency of our Fleet. From the commencement of the
war, however, our Fleet was tied up body and soul, shackled in the
intricacies of red tape entanglements woven round its keels, guns, and
propellers by lawyer politicians who never could leave the management of
naval affairs to the Navy, any more than they could leave the management
of military affairs to the Army. In theory these pedantic illusionists
may be superb, whilst some of them even stated (1915-16) that if they
were removed from office during the continuance of the war it would be a
calamity. But in practice the British public has seen proved too
vividly--and at what a cost!--only an incessant stream of terrible
disasters and mishaps; "milestones" in their policy of makeshift, dawdle
and defeat.

The first chapter in this book shows that our party system Government
was probably directly responsible for the war itself, or at least for
our being precipitated unprepared into it. Without a shadow of a doubt
it is solely accountable for the wild and riotously extravagant waste,
for our colossal supererogation, and for our excessive losses.

What would have happened to the Mother Country and to her extensive
Colonial Possessions had not Lord Northcliffe, through the powerful
newspapers he controls, stepped in from time to time and torn off the
scales which had been plastered and bandaged upon the eyes of an
all-too-confiding British public, and just in the nick of time to save
disaster upon disaster too awful to contemplate?

It is not necessary to enumerate the many and vital matters which Lord
Northcliffe helped an indignant and a deluded public to consider and
discuss, whereby the Government was roused from its torpor and pushed
into reluctant activity, but the greatest of all canards which it had
attempted to foist upon Europe does very much concern the subject-matter
of this volume, hence it must be separately dealt with. It is this
so-called blockade, which amongst Teuton traders in Northern neutral
countries was looked upon as the best of all "war jokes"!

It seems to be universally believed that had the British Fleet been
given a free hand and its direction left to the discretion of a good,
business-like, fighting Sea Lord, the war would have been over within
eighteen months from the first declaration. As it has happened, the
freedom of action of our Fleet has been so hampered that our enemies
have actually been permitted to draw certain food supplies not only from
our own Colonies, but from the United Kingdom itself. How can it be
argued that this suicidal policy has not helped to drag out the war and
add to its terrible and unnecessary wastage of life and wealth, with the
aftermath of woe and misery consequent thereon?

For our Ministers to affirm that Germany has been starved by our
blockade is as untrue as it is ridiculous. The bunkum which has filled
the thousands upon thousands of Press columns in different countries on
this subject has been mere chimerical effort, in great part subsidised
from indirect pro-German sources of more or less remote origin in
accordance with the value of the publication used.

Now for a dissection of the facts concerning the main subject.

Passing over innumerable paragraphs in the Press which hinted at much
more than they disclosed, attention should be given to an article which
appeared in the January (1916) number of the _National Review_ (pp.
771-780), in which a naval correspondent gives record of a startling
amount of supplies of cotton, copper, oils, foodstuffs and other
commodities that were permitted to pass into Germany by permission of
our benevolent Government.

The _Edinburgh Review_ of the same month also contains an article worthy
of perusal upon the same subject. Many other periodicals directly and
indirectly touched upon it, but for proof positive and authentic
evidence the reader is referred to the files of the _Daily Mail_. That
paper, in its persistent and praiseworthy patriotism, by pushing forward
everything it honestly believed to be for the Empire's good, or which it
hoped might help shorten the war, determined to get to the bottom of the
matter. In order to ascertain how far this alleged supplying of Germany
was permitted it arranged for one of its Special Commissioners to visit
Scandinavia for the express purpose of collecting evidence on the spot
and for publication in its columns. The author has taken the liberty of
extracting freely therefrom. On January 12th, 1916, the special series
of articles commenced as follows:

     "In setting out the facts I will try hard to keep from my
     presentation of them any distortion due to the disgust and burning
     anger that they evoked in me, as they must do in every patriot of
     this Empire.

     "Lest even for a moment a wrong and cruel suspicion rest upon
     little Denmark--namely, that she is unfriendly towards the Allies
     and has been 'two-faced' in the many tokens of friendliness and
     respect she has shown us, I say with conviction that there is not a
     truer or deeper love for England and the English than exists
     to-day in Denmark. These Danes, forefathers of so many of our race,
     warm still to Britain and the British. Their hearts glow to our
     successes, yearn to our reverses. Deep down they are for us through
     and through. The best Danes revolt at the work Denmark is now
     forced to do. A big and greedy German fist hangs over
     her--threatening, bullying, driving. 'So far as in you lies,' says
     the bully behind that fist, 'you must be useful to us--as useful at
     least as you are to our enemy'--(aside, 'even more useful if we can
     make you so')--'and should you fail by one iota to yield us such
     surplus food commodities as you produce and such food commodities
     as you can get'--(aside, 'by hook or by crook')--'from abroad, then
     the consequences for you will be serious. We shall seize Denmark.'"

Here follow several columns of statistics relating to the importation of
foodstuffs to Denmark, showing increases in some instances of upwards of
1,000 per cent. upon her normal supplies.

Denmark's total population is under 3,000,000, and to argue that she
would, or even could, use these commodities herself is mere foolishness.
Extracting further:

     "The vast bulk of Denmark's pork goes to Germany--either directly,
     by train or ship, or _via_ Sweden, where obliging workmen,
     dignified _pro tem_. with the title 'merchant consignee' (but whose
     whole stock-in-trade consists perhaps of a hammer, some nails and a
     batch of labels), change the labels on the goods and perhaps turn
     upside down the marked ends of the packing-cases, and then
     re-consign the goods to Germany.

     "And they may even leave Sweden in the very railway trucks and
     cases in which they have arrived and travel to Germany back through
     Denmark in sealed trucks over which the Danish Customs have no
     control. Or there may be no need to trouble to send them to Sweden.
     They may leave Copenhagen docks direct for Lübeck, Warnemunde,
     Stettin, or Hamburg, in direct steamers, of which some 500 sailed
     during the year. Or they may go by train. Huge trains leave every
     day. The trains and ferries and boats connecting Denmark and
     Germany are so full that there is competition for room. How often
     may one see the Danish shippers, in advertising their sailings for
     German ports, add the significant words, 'Cargo space already full'
     days before the actual date of sailing!

     "Now more Swedish traffic than ever crosses the water from Malmö or
     Helsingborg and makes its way to Germany across Denmark by rail. I
     have stood about the railways at many points in the two countries
     and watched truck after truck go by--all to cross the German
     frontier below Kolding, in Jutland. The great wagons were closed
     and a little seal gleamed red on their black doors. I have stood,
     too, on the quays at these ports and watched the dock cranes
     lifting and lowering sack after sack, box after box, and barrel
     after barrel, from the quays to German-bound steamers, to German
     words of command, and on the main or mizzen-mast of the steamer
     would be as often as not the gloomy little German flag, black and
     white and red, still blacker and gloomier with the smoke drifting
     from the funnel before it.

     "On the quays at Copenhagen I watched the steamers _Hugo Stinnes_,
     of Hamburg, _Esberg_, _Snare_, _Haeland_, _Hever_, and others, of
     Sweden, loading wine from Spain and Portugal; oil, lard, coffee and
     petroleum from America; meat from Denmark, and many other goods,
     _all for German ports_. I travelled to Malmö, in Sweden, with a
     cargo of oils and fats and iron and boxes with no marks on them,
     and at Malmö saw these things put ready on the quay to await the
     next German steamer. At the same port I saw pork in boxes,
     meatstuffs in boxes and barrels labelled 'Armour and Co.,' oils and
     fats bearing the names Swift or Morris or Harrison or Salzberger,
     and some of them adding the information that the contents were
     'guaranteed to contain 30 per cent. of pure neat's-foot oil'; also
     petroleum of 'Best Standard White' and other brands; pork 'fat
     backs,' and many other things besides, _all labelled 'Lübeck'_ and
     going into lighters for transport thither. Fussing tugs, with a
     litter of 400-ton lighters behind, may be seen travelling these
     waters all hours of the day bound for Germany, and no one can say
     what mysterious cargoes slip from country to country at night. The
     glut of traffic at these link-points is tremendous. _At some ports
     there is such a glut of stuff that Danish traders complain that
     they cannot get their own Danish produce over to Germany 'because
     of the amount of foreign stuff' there is to be ferried over._ A
     pretty position, indeed!

     "And it is we in Great Britain who are allowing all this 'foreign
     stuff' to reach these countries. It is British licences and permits
     and recommendations which make possible this pouring of the world's
     goods into Germany. Little wonder the Danish merchants and other
     onlookers less friendly to us look with wonder upon us. 'My word,
     but you are truly a Christian people,' they say. 'You love your
     enemies all right--well enough to feed them. And if you, England,
     will allow the stuff over, it is not for us, little Denmark, to
     stand in Germany's way.'

     "But how is all this possible, you may ask, this feeding of Germany
     through neutral Scandinavian countries? Are there not strict
     undertakings and promises and guarantees given to England against
     these goods, supplied from outside, ever reaching our enemy,

     "Our Navy does its part. Ships are hauled into ---- and searched.
     Guarantees are exacted and forthcoming. And the whole performance,
     admirably and bravely done, is so much waste of effort. _For the
     guarantees are not worth the ink they are written with_; they are
     not worth a single tinker's expletive. To show this will be a
     little intricate, perhaps, but it is worth trouble to follow.

     "Goods leave Great Britain and America, Spain and other countries
     for Danish ports. The shipper, now wary of the British Fleet, which
     has done wonderful police duty on the high seas, generally exacts a
     declaration that the goods are not for export to an enemy country.
     The declaration is signed right willingly, for the consignor can
     quite easily believe, or pretend to believe, that his goods are
     merely for Denmark. A British warship overhauls the boat, and
     perhaps takes her into ---- (a certain British port) for

     "The declaration with each consignment is in order. But, not
     satisfied (the Navy all through have been suspicious, and rightly),
     the officer communicates with London. 'The s.s. _so-and-so_ has big
     consignments of foodstuffs for Copenhagen under the names
     So-and-So. Can we release them?' London communicates with our
     Legation at Copenhagen, in whose hands they are in this matter.
     'Can we let through consignments to So-and-So in your capital?' And
     our Copenhagen Legation replies with a list of the Danish people
     whose consignments must be let through and a list of those (if any)
     whose goods must be stopped or forwarded only on declaration that
     the goods must not leave Copenhagen Harbour or Copenhagen City. It
     all looks admirable--most businesslike; quite systematic and
     thorough. _It is so much nonsense. For in point of fact the ideas
     of our Legation at Copenhagen on the good faith of some Danish
     traders and the bad faith of others are childish beyond words.
     Their rulings are the laughing-stock of Denmark._ And the joke
     would be all the more appreciable were it not that there is so much
     anger caused by the arbitrariness of the Legation's trade rulings
     and the baiting of some honest men, while less honest go free and
     trade with impunity. Struck by the frequency with which one or two
     names appeared in the Copenhagen importers' lists, I made some
     calculations, then some personal inquiries. I found that 'X' alone
     had imported during the year 4,000,000 lbs. pork, 3,000,000 lbs.
     lard, 2,500,000 lbs. oleo, 1,000,000 lbs. other pork and meat. 'Y,'
     another man, imported in September, October and November alone,
     1,045,000 lbs. of cocoa. Neither of these men was engaged in these
     trades before the war. They were men of quite humble business
     attainments. _Yet both enjoyed the full confidence of our trusting
     British Legation at Copenhagen_, who would have taken solemn
     affidavits, no doubt, that neither of these men traded with
     Germany. I would have done the same myself. But these men traded
     with others who did trade with Germany, either directly or through
     third and fourth and maybe fifth parties.

     "What is the result? You have in Copenhagen that amazing modern war
     phenomenon the trader of the _n_th degree. Plain Trader imports his
     goods and basks and grows fat under the ægis of the British
     Legation in Copenhagen. Trader 2 buys from Plain Trader under a
     'guarantee' not to sell to Germany, and if he does not dare to
     break that guarantee himself he sells to Trader 3 or Trader 4 or
     Trader 5, one of whom will undoubtedly do it. And the less money
     that Trader 5 has the better, because then, even if he is caught,
     which is not likely, for nobody worries, no one can squeeze him for
     the amount of the guarantee because he has not got it.

     "The result is that every Tom, Dick and Harry of Copenhagen is a
     trader--from the _bona fide_ merchant downwards. Your hotel porter
     may be trading with a Hungarian for flour or rice or fat; the
     "Boots" can get you a ton or two of meal. Imagine the amazement of
     the Danish housewife when her maid came in one day and, with hands
     clasped in enthusiasm, said, 'Oh, madam, I've got three wagon-loads
     of marmalade to sell'! And that happened in Copenhagen not long

     "The newspapers are daily blackened with great display
     advertisements offering goods for sale. I have before me as I write
     a whole sheaf of such advertisements, offering anything, from
     American lard to potash and oil and cocoa and coffee. And not one
     of these advertisements has a name or an address to it; nothing but
     a telephone number. One or two of these I tracked down, only to
     find as vendors simple, kindly souls, such as old shopwomen,
     caretakers, porters, shop-girls, and the rest waiting for an offer
     for their goods. _Per contra_, as the book-keepers say, there are
     advertisements from those wanting goods, and these are often more

     "Some of these nameless advertisements treat of great quantities.
     'Ten thousand kilos fat, with permit to export; 20,000 kilos salted
     half-pigs; 50,000 kilos salt meat'; and much more says one
     advertisement alone. And the good soul answering to your inquiry
     may prove a simple little typewriting girl--one of Copenhagen's new
     traders to the _n_th degree.

     "The machinery that has been established by Great Britain in
     Denmark for preventing imported foodstuffs from reaching our enemy
     might be very admirable--if only it worked.

     "There has been little or no enforcement of the trading laws
     imposed upon Danish traders by Great Britain. We have supplied them
     with goods and have allowed them to help themselves to goods from
     all the ends of the earth upon set conditions--namely, that those
     goods should not go to Germany, our enemy. They go to Germany,
     nevertheless, and _they go because we have no one in Denmark who
     sees to it that they shall not go_. Great Britain, in short, lacks
     a watchful policeman in Denmark. Great Britain also lacks a live
     sergeant at home to see to it that her Denmark policeman does not
     sleep on his beat. _The British Foreign Office_ is the sergeant I
     mean; _the British Legation at Copenhagen_, or its commercial
     department, is the policeman. _Theirs is the duty. And both have
     failed us._

     "Take the written declarations made by traders that goods supplied
     to them by or through us shall not go to Germany. Without control
     and enforcement they are perfectly useless. I myself found traders
     who told me point-blank that they would consider such agreements as
     this not morally binding upon them. 'Your Navy seizes our ships,'
     said one, 'and your Foreign Office releases them only on condition
     that the goods they contain shall be subject to your own
     conditions. I sign those conditions, but they are exacted from me
     by force, and I don't consider them as worth a snap of the fingers.
     If you put a pistol to my head and said, "Sign that cheque," I'd
     sign it, but I'd telephone to the bank the minute you'd gone and
     stop payment. And I'll do the same thing with your British import
     agreements.' These agreements are perhaps 'backed' by a money
     penalty. The banks undertake this guarantee part of the business.
     For a modest 3 per cent. or so they will put up your money
     guarantee against your goods ever reaching Germany and contravening
     the agreement clause. And when the goods go on to Sweden the
     Swedish banks relieve the Danish banks of their obligations. And
     when the goods go on from Sweden to Germany, who relieves the
     Swedish banks? I have it on the word of a man I believe to be
     thoroughly honest and well informed that the North German Bank of
     Hamburg alone has taken over from Swedish banks of late in one
     transaction as much as £78,000 worth of guarantees--that the goods
     will not reach Germany! _Was ever there such a comedy? A German
     bank guaranteeing that much-needed goods will not reach Germany!_

     "The Germans are not 'let down' by their diplomacy in Copenhagen. A
     constant weight is poised carefully and with a silken brutality
     over little Denmark's head and von Ranzau smiles and assures
     Denmark he is really preserving her from his powerful master. And
     he gets his way, of course. The little matter of a permit for
     export? Well, perhaps it can be managed for you, Baron--_especially
     as the British watchman is asleep just now_!

     "So the great game goes on. If Denmark has goods that cannot obtain
     a permit for direct export to Germany they can go _via_ Sweden.
     _Vice versa_, if Sweden has goods about which our active British
     Legation there is too curious, send them to Denmark and re-export
     them. That is simple. And I have seen for myself at Denmark's port
     of Copenhagen Swedish goods (casks of American oil) which had been
     refused permits for shipment direct from Sweden to Germany, being
     loaded into the steamer _Heinrich Hugo Stinnes_, of Hamburg, for
     shipment to Hamburg. Also, on the quay at Malmö (Sweden) I have
     seen goods for which Denmark had refused a direct export permit
     being loaded into nameless lighters for shipment to German Lübeck.

     "Thus agreements, promises, guarantees, and prohibitions--_the
     whole commercial code that Great Britain has devised for regulating
     imports into Denmark and for checking their re-export to Germany_
     (and, incidentally, for displaying to us at home) _are so much
     meaningless pantomime_. They have become so simply because the
     honester traders of Denmark, and the dishonest parasites of all
     nations who work under them and through them, have found that there
     is no supervision, no punishment, no judge to answer. _Our
     watchmen, both in London and in Copenhagen, have slept._"

On January 13th, 1916, Lord Sydenham in the House of Lords raised the
question of "Feeding the Germans," and in his speech stated that in
cocoa alone our exports for August-July, 1913-14, were 6,138 tons as
against 32,083 tons for 1914-15. For the sixteen months preceding the
war our exports were 8,883 tons, as against 33,357 tons during the first
sixteen months of the war.

Lord Lansdowne, following, admitted that "_there was an enormous balance
unaccounted for which it was reasonable to suppose found its way to
enemy countries_."

The following are the exports of cocoa to the countries named in the
years 1913, 1914, and up to December 30th, 1915:

                        COCOA EXPORTS

     In lbs. to    1913.         1914.         1915.
                                           (to Dec. 30.)
     Holland     2,205,282    12,203,463     9,298,805
     Denmark        50,782     1,853,948    10,615,873
     Scandinavia   343,573     3,079,904    14,606,309

A leading article in the _Daily Mail_ of January 14th, 1916, stated:

     "The strength of the greatest Navy in the world is being paralysed
     by administrative feebleness and diplomatic weakness. Had our sea
     power been used, as the sailors would have used it, from the
     opening of the war, it is possible that Germany would before now
     have collapsed. The mightiest weapon in our arsenal has been
     blunted because our politicians imagined they could wage what
     Napoleon called 'rosewater war,' and were more eager to please
     everybody than to hurt the enemy, and because our diplomatists are

     "On December 29th the _Neue Freie Presse_,[20] a leading Austrian
     newspaper, published for the benefit of the people of Vienna an
     advertisement offering provisions from Holland. A list of the
     articles which could be supplied at moderate prices followed. It
     included cocoa, chocolate, potatoes, flour, sausages, sides of
     bacon, butter, coffee, tea, sardines, oranges, lemons and figs.

     "_And yet Mr. Runciman tells us that the Germans are on the verge
     of starvation!_

     "The cure for this state of affairs is to infuse greater energy and
     insight into our diplomacy and to free the Navy from its paper
     fetters. Much of the mischief is due to the want of capable
     advisers at the British Legations in the neutral capitals and of
     energy and vigilance on the part of the Foreign Office at home. The
     Germans have been quick to realise the importance of stationing
     active agents at the vital posts.

     "_The present system of setting diplomatists who have lived all
     their life in a world of formality to deal with the sharpest
     business men in Europe in a matter where huge profits are at stake
     is an immense blunder which may have the most serious

     "Our very gentleness with Denmark is being quoted in that country
     to prove that we are not likely to win the war. This is undoubted
     and dangerous fact."

On January 14th, 1916, the Special Commissioner in a further article,
headed, "The Sham Blockade: British tyres on German Cars," explained in
detail the tricks used by unscrupulous foreigners and others to acquire
stocks of rubber motor-tyres for German use. He complained, with reason,
that the broken promises, broken guarantees, and reckless manner in
which permits to trade were granted seemed to be almost entirely the
fault of the British Foreign Office representatives at the British
Legation. He concludes with the following paragraph:

     "Is this soft-heartedness towards commercial shortcomings and
     laxity characteristic of our British control in Copenhagen? On the
     evidence that I have I honestly believe it to be so. But is this
     attitude solely the individual attitude of Britain's
     representatives in Copenhagen or is it merely a reflex of the
     Foreign Office attitude at home?

     "I think the true answer is that the Copenhagen Legation attitude
     is a reflex of our Foreign Office attitude. But _if London is mild,
     Copenhagen is puny_; if London is a lamb, Copenhagen is a sucking

On January 13th, 1916, the following paragraph appeared in the _Globe_:

     "We cannot disregard the startling and amazing figures collected in
     Denmark by the Special Commissioner sent out by the _Daily Mail_.

     "Of course, all these commodities are consigned to Danish
     purchasers, under guarantees that they are not intended for the
     enemy. What purposes these guarantees serve except to hold harmless
     the vessels in which the articles are conveyed we are at a loss to

     "No sane person will believe that the Danish people have suddenly
     developed such a passion for pork that they must increase their
     consumption by 1,300 per cent., or that every man, woman and child
     in Denmark requires the daily bath in cocoa with which the 23,000
     tons they now import would appear to be intended to provide them.
     _The only possible inference from these figures is that we are
     being deluded, and are feeding Germany_ in our own despite."

The _Pall Mall Gazette_ of January 18th, 1916, said:

     "Revelations like these can only be described as heart-breaking to
     the men and women who have given their sons and brothers and
     husbands to the end that Germany may be brought to her knees. Now
     they find that some malign spell has paralysed the Navy's arm so
     that, instead of Germany's foreign supplies being cut off, they are
     in some vital respects more abundant than ever."

The _Quarterly Review_, January, 1916, contains a powerful article on
"The Danish Agreement." It suggests how _some blight has been at work in
our Foreign Office for years steadily undermining our mastery of the
sea_. One paragraph bears particularly on the present point:

     "No informed man doubts that the winter of 1916-17 must weaken to a
     marked degree, through lack of food, Germany's armed resistance,
     always assuming that she is not supplied through neutral countries.
     The existence of England depends on her victory over Germany. Her
     victory over Germany depends on the cutting off of neutral
     supplies. Therefore the existence of England depends on the cutting
     off of neutral supplies. But _when_, in August, 1914, _the Cabinet
     and, above all, the Foreign Office, were confronted by this great
     possibility of stratagem every psychological force was set in
     motion against its adoption_."

A telegram from Washington, U.S.A., on January 17th, 1916, to the
_Morning Post_, set out the exports permitted to be poured into neutral
countries in spite of all the efforts and protests of our Navy by our
all-too-benevolent Foreign Office, and in face of Mr. Asquith's pledges
to the House of Commons in March and in November, 1915, when he
emphasised to loud cheering that _he would stick at nothing to prevent
commodities of any kind reaching or leaving Germany. That there was no
form of economic pressure to which he did not consider we were entitled
to win the war_.


                                1913.         1915.
                   To         Bushels.      Bushels.

     WHEAT Holland, Norway,
           Sweden, Denmark  19,000,000    50,000,000
     MAIZE  Denmark          4,750,000    10,950,000
            Holland          6,900,000    11,600,000
            Other neutrals   2,100,000     6,400,000
                            ----------    ----------
                            13,750,000    28,950,000
                            ==========    ==========

                              Barrels.      Barrels.
     WHEAT   Holland           708,000     1,500,000
     FLOUR   Other neutrals    709,000     3,800,000
                             1,417,000     5,100,000

                                lbs.          lbs.
     BACON   Holland         3,900,000     9,000,000
             Other neutrals 27,000,000    82,500,000
                            ----------    ----------
                            30,900,000    91,500,000
                            ==========    ==========
                                1914          1915
     BOOTS   Neutrals    462,000 pairs   4,800,000 pairs
     COTTON  Neutrals     53,000 bales   1,100,000 bales

     CARS &} Neutrals        £260,000     £4,000,000
     PARTS }

The New York _Journal of Commerce_, quoting statistics of the U.S.A.
export trade for the first ten months of 1915 under a headline,
"Increase to Neutral Europe Equals German Loss," shows that "whilst
shipments to Germany fell away £31,400,000 for the period named, the
gain to the neutral nations on the north of Germany was £32,000,000."

What could give more confirmatory proof?

On January 24th, 1916, the _Morning Post_ received a further cablegram
from Washington, U.S.A., containing the elucidating facts that in the
ten months from January 1st to October 31st, 1913, Germany imported from
the U.S.A. 9,898,289 lbs. of cotton-seed oil, the Netherlands 31,867,327
lbs., and Norway 6,174,033 lbs.

In the corresponding ten months of 1915 the figures were: Germany, nil;
the Netherlands, 93,153,175 lbs.; and Norway 24,110,269 lbs.

Other statistics follow, such as cotton-seed, meal and cake, etc.,
proving beyond all shadow of doubt that neutral countries were importing
far more goods and foodstuffs, etc, than their usual average imports
plus the total previous imports of Germany in addition.

A careful analysis of the leading American exports showed, almost
without an exception, the striking fact that the prices of peace exports
were very much lower in 1915 than in 1913; whilst the prices of war
exports all showed large and heavy advances.

Deducing from these figures, leader-writers came to the obvious
conclusion that _Germany was enjoying unrestricted imports for which
Great Britain directly or indirectly paid_.

Returns from other parts of the world merely corroborated, adding proof
upon proof. By way of example the Brazilian official trade returns
during the first nine months of 1913, compared with 1915, show the
following exports to the countries named:

                      1913.         1915.
                        £             £
     Sweden          389,475     2,844,787
     Norway           63,562       594,900
     Denmark         105,637       715,387

In addition to the export figures given and those quoted from the U.S.A.
should be added the enormous quantities of corn, etc, re-exported from
Liverpool and other British ports under special license issued by our

It is therefore reasonably arguable that _our Government has used our
Fleet to convoy our Merchantmen in freighting foodstuffs, at our
expense, to feed the Germans_. By this incomprehensible tolerance home
prices of food in the United Kingdom were directly raised to a high
figure and neutral countries were directly helped to pile up fortunes by
_bleeding and pinching our own peoples in order to feed their enemies_.

On January 21st, 1916, in the House of Commons Major Rowland Hunt asked
the Foreign Secretary "whether the Foreign Office had been aware of the
state of things demonstrated by the American trade statistics and if so
could he say how much longer our Navy was to be crippled by the Foreign
Office, the war prolonged, and many more thousands of our men

Sir E. Grey: "I understand that the subject is to be discussed next
week. I must, however, say that the statements in the question are
grossly unfair and entirely misrepresent the facts of the case. I
reserve any further statement I have to make until next week."

From December 16th to 30th, 1915, just on 25,000 tons of iron ore were
openly _consigned to Germany_ through Rotterdam and Holland; as to which
see further on.

Here is a sample report of the sales one day at Esbjerg (Denmark) cattle
market, December, 1915:

"Cattle sold to-day numbered 1,450 head, of which Street, of Hamburg,
bought 141; Dar Neilsen, of Kiel, 330; Franck of Berlin, 440; an
Austrian buyer, 327."

This leaves 212 for Danish buyers. No wonder best beef was then half a
crown a pound in Denmark!

Incidentally great quantities of the fodder with which these cattle for
Germany are fed come from British ports and possessions.

Our Government was fully, persistently, and impressively advised by the
Secret Service agents of this continual and enormous export of cattle
and beef direct to Germany in January and February, 1915. Yet it
apparently did not lift a finger to attempt to stop or divert it
throughout the year following, or at any time.

Sweden, which normally imports 734,720 lbs. of meat in November and
exports 2,961,280 lbs., imported during November, 1915, 8,016,960 lbs.

Holland, which usually imports in November 1,843,520 lbs. of meat and
exports 11,874,240 lbs., imported in November, 1915, no less than
17,973,760 lbs.

In the light of these figures it seems idle to say that our blockade was
tightened or in any degree effectual.

In the House of Commons on January 19th, 1916, Mr. Booth put the
following question to Lord Robert Cecil in reference to these exports.

Mr. Booth: "Is the noble Lord aware that the Germans in New York toasted
the health of the Foreign Office at Christmas time?"

No answer was returned.

On January 26th, 1916, Sir Edward Grey delivered his promised reply in
the House of Commons. It was brilliant oratory, but it was not argument.
It was a defence of the Navy, which needed no defence. It was a
masterpiece of forensic jurisprudence, but it revealed between the
chinks of polished sentences and high-sounding declamation, in startling
nakedness, the weaknesses, the unwarrantable hesitating caution, or the
downright cowardice of the Cabinet. With such grace and skill did the
speaker unfold his case that a reader, unaware of the facts concealed
behind it, would believe the policy and actions of the Government had
been hitherto faultless, flawless, and blameless. Reading it at a later
date brought to my mind the story of a poacher's wife, who with tears of
grateful joy streaming down her countenance, thanked a learned junior
counsel for his able and successful defence of her husband, who had been
charged with stealing a certain shot-gun.

"My good woman," replied her modest advocate, "it was only a mistake.
The judge truly said that your good husband left the Court without a
stain upon his character. It was only _alleged_ that he stole the gun."

"Alleged be bothered," said the woman; "why, we've got the gun at home

If this speech of Sir Edward Grey, as a speech, had a fault at all, it
was that the defence he made was too good to ring true. At the time of
its utterance it appeared to appease the House. No one wished to hamper
the Government, which, like the energetic but painfully inefficient
pianist at a certain Western mining camp, was protected by proclamation:
"Please don't shoot. He's doing his best." But outside the House the
underlying effect of the speech upon thinking people was very different.
It created satisfaction in Germany and amongst neutral Governments. It
caused great jubilation amongst the vast army of mushroom traders and
adventurers abroad who were piling up fortunes by illicit trading. But
it left Englishmen and our true sympathisers in this tragic war
irritable, indignant, and unsatisfied; smouldering in their just wrath
at the confessed weak-kneed policy of politicians, who, however good
their intentions, proved that they had not yet grasped the difference
between a quarrel at law and a quarrel at war.

It left the nation disappointed. The people felt we had been fooling
with the war too long; that the time had arrived for some strong and
decisive action. That politics and patronage should be shelved and the
Navy given a free hand. It remembered how the Government had hesitated,
procrastinated, and vacillated in this so-called blockade, as in other
matters. It remembered that Parliament had refused to pass a code of
international rules called the Declaration of London because that code,
made largely to please Germany, weakened the hands of the Navy. It
remembered that _the Government had gone behind the back of Parliament
and illegally put that very code into operation after war began_. It had
not forgotten that this proved such a scandalous weakening of our right
and our strength that soon after the Coalition Government came into
being that code was said to have been scrapped. Even as to this doubts
arose for long afterwards.[21]

It had not forgotten the seventeen long months of public pressure and
the trouble there had been to force cotton as contraband; nor the
seventeen months of "wait and see" before the Navy was permitted to
examine mails and extract (_inter alia_) parcels of rubber. It had not
forgotten Sir Edward Grey's declaration that "he had no intention of
making cotton contraband"; nor Lord Haldane's contention that "it was
useless stopping the import of cotton to Germany, because if we did
Germany could find a substitute for it."

The nation had been deceived and lulled to sleep before by soft words
and gentle assurances. It had been told, "we decline to be bound by
judicial niceties." It had been promised "to prevent commodities of any
kind from entering or leaving the enemy's country"; "to stick at
nothing." It remembered with some misgiving how these promises had been

What, it reasoned, were the disappointments of a few Dutch and
Scandinavian adventurers from making fortunes out of a war which to
ourselves was a tragedy? The country had unbounded confidence in the
Navy. It had not unbounded confidence in either the Government or the
Foreign Office. It hungered with an overwhelming desire to know why the
Navy should not be given a free and unhampered hand.

The speaker skilfully evaded too much information on that point, and the
nation was compelled to nurse its resentment.

At the outset of his speech, Sir Edward Grey attempted to deal with the
mass of statistics and evidence of direct importation of goods into
Germany accumulated by the Press. He selected wheat and flour only,
whilst he casually referred to a list of figures issued by the Press
Bureau from the War Trade Department of the Government the day before
the debate, which members in the House rightly complained had not been
supplied to themselves. This list was stated to have been compiled
officially in this country from true copies of the ships' manifests,
and it alleged the figures given by the Danish _Borsen_ were in many
cases wrong and unduly inflated. For instance, the increase in rice
imports should have been only 480 per cent. as against 580 per cent.;
lard, 275 per cent. instead of 375 per cent.; pork only 1,216 per cent.
instead of 1,300 per cent.; and so on. Now everyone knows that
statistics are not infallible and a generous allowance should always be
made by a careful calculator. But when all circumstances are taken into
consideration it can safely be concluded that the majority of the
increases alleged by the various Press writers, as having percolated
into Germany, were, if anything, under rather than over the mark.

As to the reliability of the _Borsen_, it is edited by a Government
statistician, and considered by Danish traders as official.

So far as Norway is concerned, H.B.M. Minister at Christiania had
difficulty in obtaining official statistics regarding imports and
exports after the Casement affair remained unanswered; certain it is
that Government assistance was denied to various Consuls acting under
him; whilst I, when in that country, was informed (by British
authorities) I must not collect these figures, although to me and others
working with me they were comparatively easy of access.

So far as Foreign Office knowledge is concerned, it is hardly a credit
to the ability or even sanity of the British Legations in Scandinavia if
they have denied knowledge of these colossal imports of goods into
Germany, which were known to almost every inhabitant of seaport towns.
If they deliberately shut their eyes to the evidence all around them,
they presumably obeyed orders. One could then only wonder as to the
reason for such suicidal policy.

As before mentioned, at the commencement of his speech Sir Edward Grey
laid stress upon the fact that part of the stated increased import,
namely, 2,000,000 barrels of flour were allowed to be exported to
Belgium; whilst a little later in his speech he admitted that "She
[Germany] had requisitioned the food supplies of the civil population
of Poland and Belgium." Almost immediately afterwards Lord Robert Cecil
strove hard to back up the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, but he could
not give the House any positive assurance that the Belgian Relief
distribution was absolutely independent of German control. The
disposition of this is therefore obvious.

Sir Edward Grey attempted to whittle down the U.S.A. exports of wheat by
stating that nearly half went to Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Malta; but
he did not refer to the corn, etc., exported to Northern neutrals from
Liverpool and other British ports, nor did he make any allowances for
the stream of mysterious ships sailing round far northern seas (many of
them choosing the passage north of Iceland), which sighted land on the
north-western coast of Norway and carried their course inside neutral
waters into the Baltic; which heavily-laden cargo-boats I and others in
the Secret Service had watched and reported week by week and month by
month with heart-rending persistency. The majority of these ships
probably sailed direct to German ports, and no records of their cargoes
were likely to be made, or returned from any country concerning them.
Nor did Sir Edward Grey make reference to the grain ships, which
although nominally bound for Scandinavian ports, were intercepted by
their owners' or consignees' agents in the Baltic, for the purpose of
varying orders for their ultimate port of destination; nor to the ships
which were held up in the Baltic by German war vessels and taken to
German ports under circumstances calling for grave investigation. Nor
did he attempt to answer the general American statistics showing that
the gain in imports to northern neutral countries exceeded the German

About the middle of his speech Sir Edward Grey said: "If a vessel was
held up by the Fleet with suspected cargo on board, the matter was
referred to the contraband committee, who decided what _part_ of the
cargo should go to the Prize Court."

Surely any other nation in the world at war would have arranged from the
outset that the capture of a vessel _with contraband_ on board _en
route for the enemy_, would have meant _confiscation_ of the ship and
her cargo. Our exceptional and extraordinary leniency was hardly
commented upon; it was certainly not satisfactorily explained.

Continuing to quote from the speech: _He would_ say to neutrals that we
could not give up the right to interfere with enemy trade and must
maintain and press that point. _He would_ ask those countries in
considering our rights to apply the principles which were applied by the
American Government in the war between the North and South as affected
by modern conditions. _If they agreed_ to it, then let them with their
Chambers of Commerce and other bodies make it easier for us to
distinguish between goods intended for the enemy and goods intended for
themselves. _If those_ neutral countries said that we were not entitled
to prevent trading through, neutral countries with the enemy, _then he_
(Sir E. Grey) _must say_ to the neutral countries who took that line
that it was a departure from neutrality. (Cheers.) But he did not think
they would take that line.

What naturally strikes the reader on perusal is this: why not the words,
"I had said" and "I have asked" instead of "he would say" and "he would
ask" which Sir Edward Grey used in his speech? Why wait eighteen months
to arrive at such a decision? Why were not these words used as soon as
war was declared? Flagrant breaches arose, as Sir Edward Grey should or
must have known, and continued to increase in magnitude from the autumn
of 1914. Why he waited until the then date, and why he had not acted
before, was not explained. In the next few grandiloquent sentences he
admitted the justification and the necessity; whilst the House cheered
the words, forgetting past neglected deeds.

Next he admitted that "Germany had, in effect, treated food, when she
found it, as absolute contraband since the first outbreak of war."

This admission gave one much to ponder over.

On the point of a stricter blockade Sir Edward Grey suggested that "if a
rigorous blockade had been established the whole world would have been
against us."

Such a contingency, put into legal parlance, is too ridiculously remote
for further consideration. Why did he not explain why our Fleet was not
allowed to limit particular imports to neutral countries to certain
fixed totals per month, or per annum? It is unthinkable to suppose that
any country would seriously threaten war in face of former well-known
precedent and because such limits were imposed by a blockading Fleet.
More particularly so if any such affected country happened to have been
one of the parties to the Treaty of the Hague, which affirmed the
integrity of poor innocent, unoffending Belgium; the country which,
without justification or excuse, was violated, and ravished, outraged by
the barbarian Hun invaders, and which so many other countries watched
aghast without attempting to help England to protect or to avenge.

Admittedly it would have been easy for us to close the Baltic and the
Mediterranean. Why did we not do so? We could then have regulated to
each country not at war its full and fair average annual complement of
necessities plus an extra and a generous margin for contingencies. The
Government of each recipient country would have seen to it that its own
respective countrymen reaped full benefits; leaks to the Central Powers
would have automatically stopped.

What countries would such a course of action have forced into war
against us?

Possibly Sweden, doubtfully Holland, remotely Denmark.

America had boasted she was "too proud to fight." She might have
favoured us with a "note," but her love of trade would have been an
absolute bar to the possibility of any cessation of supplies and

No other country would have demurred except Greece, and the vacillating
tactics of the Greeks were but the harvest which could have been
expected from the seed of "wait-and-see" diplomatic sowing. This is
clearly shown by the utterances of King Tino, who said: "I fear the
Germans. I do not fear the English." The Greeks have similarly expressed
themselves. "We know the Germans would rob, murder, and outrage our land
and our people without any hesitation. The English are quite incapable
of anything of that kind."

It had been proved that Consulates in Greece had been nests of espionage
and arsenals of munitions, and the Islands bases for submarine
murderers; and yet their King actually sent us a protest against our
movement at Salonika to assist the persecuted Serbians whom he and his
country had pledged themselves to uphold and protect; a solemn treaty
they had long ago undertaken, but so conveniently forgotten and lamely
excused themselves out of as soon as called upon to carry it into active

As a general answer to the direct charges of the Press that the Foreign
Office had not kept faith with the nation in doing all that could be
done to make an effective blockade, as an explanation to sweep on one
side the overwhelming mass of evidence relating to the extraordinary
number of German agents and dealers who swarmed throughout Scandinavia
and Holland, their amazing advertisements, their suddenly accumulated
wealth, the balance sheets showing large profits of neutral companies
dealing in Germany's requirements, the alleged wholesale dealers of
imported goods so suddenly sprung up from the ranks of hotel porters,
clerks, typists, adventurers, caretakers, and even charwomen and
servant-girls, our own inflated home prices of necessities and
commodities--Sir Edward Grey's answer to all this was: The Government
had lately sent Lord Faringdon to examine the position in Holland and
Scandinavia and he reported that on the whole things were very
satisfactory and that all was being done that could be done to prevent
the enemy obtaining supplies.

Well might the fat stomachs of the "Goulashes"[23] extend and shake in
merriment when they read these comfortable words!

Sir Edward Grey concluded his speech with this stirring peroration: The
whole of our resources were engaged in this war, and our maximum effort
was at the disposal of our Allies in carrying on this conflict. With
them we should see it through to the end and we should slacken no effort
in the common cause. We should exert all our efforts to put the maximum
possible pressure upon the enemy, and part of that pressure must be
doing the most we could to prevent supplies going to or from the enemy,
_using the Navy to its full power_ ... and in common with our Allies
sparing nothing, whether it were military, naval, or financial effort,
which this country could afford, to see the thing through with them to
the end.

In the loud cheering with which the House of Commons received the speech
no thought was given to the famous words of Napoleon: "Put no faith in
talk which is not borne out by action"; whilst future events went to
show that Napoleon truly forecasted England's present-day weakness when
he wrote: "Feebleness in its Government is the most frightful calamity
that can befall a nation."

Contrast Sir Edward Grey's eloquent words and diplomatic evasiveness
upon the treatment of neutrals with the plain, outspoken, thoroughly
English opinion of Lord Fisher, who is credited with having said:

"There are no such things as neutral powers. Powers are either with us
or against us. If they are friendly they will put up with some
inconvenience; if they are unfriendly they will squeal. Let them

Had we acted throughout on this dictum the war would most probably have
been over well inside of eighteen months. Men of the calibre of this
grand old Sea Lord, whose farsight, foresight, and second sight have
endeared him to the nation and made him unique and incomparable, would
soon have made short work of the war. Yet they were not wanted by the
then present-day party-system Government. They were much too blunt and
honest and energetically active.

The nation will also remember that when Lord Kitchener of Khartoum
returned from the East in the early days of the then present Government,
it had no use for his invaluable services. He was actually permitted to
accept a directorship of one of our poorest railway companies on the
south coast for want of a better occupation.[24] But the Press and the
public soon brought the Government to book, as it seemingly had to do in
every matter of real national importance.

The Government tried to keep Lord Haldane installed at the War Office,
but the Press would have none of it. It also insisted on K. of K. being
placed in his proper place and kept there. More's the pity that he was
not given a free hand to do as he liked.

The Press also clamoured for Lord Fisher as First Lord of the Admiralty.
The nation knows how he was treated. A captain in the Navy aptly
described the unwanted and slighted Admiral expert in _John Bull_,
February, 1916, as follows:

     "Lord John Fisher is to-day our second Nelson--a diplomatist among
     diplomats and a strategist unequalled in our history. What has Lord
     John Fisher done?

     "He scrapped 162 obsolete warships which were rotting in harbour at
     great expense--for which the Government tried to reprimand him.

     "He introduced the water-tube boilers, which, as every engineer and
     seaman knows, raise a full head of steam in twenty minutes, instead
     of twenty hours, as formerly.

     "He introduced the steam turbine, which was adopted by every

     "He introduced oil fuel into the Navy, thus making destroyers
     capable of steaming further, a great benefit being the almost total
     absence of smoke. He also applied it to battleships and other large

     "He introduced the Dreadnought, the bulwark of Britain, and the
     ship that baffled the German nation and made the Kiel Canal useless
     for years. The oil-burning, water-tubed destroyer, and the _Queen
     Elizabeth_--the Secret Service ship and the monitor--all emanated
     from his brain.

     "He introduced the battle-cruiser, against the will of a timorous
     Government whose cry was ever, 'Cut down armaments,' 'Cut down the
     Army and Navy.' Had Fisher listened, the Germans would to-day have
     outraged our wives and crucified our children.

     "He planned the Falkland Islands battle, and sent the Secret
     Service ships to chase the German submarines out of the Channel. He
     fought hard against the Dardanelles expedition.

     "He was Sea Lord when we sank the _Blucher_, the German destroyers
     in the North Sea, the German Fleet at the Falklands.

     "He is a great man, who seems never to have made a mistake."

Whilst Sir Edward Grey was giving his explanations in the House of
Commons, Lord Devonport was busy in another place. He is one of our
shrewdest and most experienced business men. As Chairman of the Port of
London Authority and former Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of
Trade, he would not be likely to go into figures lightly.

He had given notice to ask the Government for its official figures of
Holland's imports of ore (metal) during 1915.

The Duke of Devonshire replied that the figures provided him were only
650,000 tons. It was admitted that Holland had virtually no smelting
plant, nor coal to feed it if it had, and the Government was virtually
bound to confess that at least this amount of contraband had mostly gone
straight through to Germany.

Lord Devonport clearly stated that in reality one and a half million
tons of metal ore had been imported; whilst he produced statistics
showing the name of every ship, the date of entry, the place from which
the cargo came, the quantity and character of the ore carried, and the
agents to whom each was consigned.

To summarise shortly the total shipments for the period named by Lord
Devonport, August, 1914, to January 15, 1916, it appears that 298 ships
carrying 1,414,311 tons of metal ore entered Rotterdam. The countries
from which the ore came included Sweden, Norway, Spain, Algeria,
Russia, and Great Britain. The totals shown monthly are as follows:

              ORE CARGOES.

       1914.  No. of Ships.    Tons.

     August        38         174,162
     September     11          61,679
     October       10          47,900
     November       8          37,300
     December      14          63,900
                                   Total   384,941

     January       17          76,200
     February      17          79,700
     March         13          85,800
     April         22         123,800
     May           17          68,100
     June          21          95,350
     July          21          89,150
     August        19          82,300
     September     19          92,400
     October       22         105,270
     November      13          59,700
     December      12          48,300
                                   Total 1,006,070

     To January 15  4                       23,800
                             Grand Total 1,414,311

Two hundred and fifty eight ships carried 1,321,456 tons of iron ore; 25
ships carried 41,830 tons of zinc ore, the remainder taking copper ore,
pyrites, nickel, manganese, and calamine.

Lord Devonport added:

     "What has come of the much-vaunted order in Council declaring that
     no goods should either enter or leave Germany? What is the ultimate
     destination of these cargoes? There is no concealment about the
     matter. Every captain knows exactly. There are no facilities in
     Holland for converting ore into pig-iron; not a single
     blast-furnace, and no coal to feed it even if there were.

     "The cargoes are transhipped into barges and carried up the Rhine
     to a place in easy communication with Essen, where Krupp's works
     are situated. Sweden is the main source of the supply. _It is
     astounding to me that the British Government should sit still while
     these ores are sent to the enemy_ from mines which are virtually
     the property of the Swedish Government.

     "Great though _the imports of ore into Rotterdam have been, they
     are insignificant compared with the importations in German ports_
     in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea--Lübeck, Stettin, Swinemunde,
     Emden and others. _From May 1st to December 31st, 1915, the total
     of those imports were 556 cargoes and 2,089,000 tons of ore._ The
     question is going to become critical for, _though the country has
     been tolerant and long-enduring, things have not gone too well_.
     The sheet-anchor of the situation is the British Fleet."

     "The figures," says _Fairplay_, the shipping paper, "sufficiently
     indicate the absurdity of supposing that the Netherlands Overseas
     Trust or any similar artificial would-be barrier as at present
     constituted can, in fact, prevent the enemy from receiving vital
     supplies of raw or manufactured material."

Nineteen days after the delivery of Sir Edward Grey's "blockade" speech
in the House of Commons Mr. T. Gibson Bowles, speaking at a great City
demonstration in London on February 14th, 1917, under Lord Devonport as
Chairman and convened for the purpose of protesting against hampering
our Navy, said: "Since the war began Sir Edward Grey had hampered,
shackled, and strangled the Fleet in the performance of its duties."
Whilst Lord Charles Beresford wrote to the Chairman: "If the Government
had used our sea power as they were legally entitled to do at the
commencement of the war, by instituting an effective blockade and making
all goods entering Germany absolute contraband, the war would now be

Lord Aberconway added: "The matter is far too serious to be trifled with
any longer; my personal knowledge intensifies my conviction."

The Government having attempted to evade any direct answer to the
startling figures and accusations of the _Daily Mail_ disclosing the
get-rich-quick method of the Scandinavian Goulashes, Lord Northcliffe
sent a Special Commissioner to Holland, and published the result of his
investigations in February, 1916. It showed a repetition of the sordid
Scandinavian fiasco, a further proof that the so-called blockade was
leaking in every seam.

To enumerate the masses of statistics would be wearisome. It is
sufficient for present purposes to quote a few extracts.

_Cocoa Beans._--Of the 528 tons imported into Holland in 1916 Germany
received the whole.

_Cocoa Butter._--England could only obtain half what she had in 1913,
whereas Germany obtained five times as much.

_Cocoa Powder._--England obtained half 1913 supplies, whereas Germany
obtained approximately ten times as much.

_Cocoa in Blocks._--In 1913 Germany imported 4 tons from Holland,
Belgium none at all; whereas in 1915 no less than 565 tons were exported
from Holland into these two countries, all for German use.

_Copra._--In 1913 Germany obtained 26,728 tons of copra from Holland,
whereas in 1915 the amount rose to the amazing total of 106,613 tons.

It would appear from the figures that England was indirectly supplying
Germany _inter alia_ with margarine.

In 1913 Great Britain sent to Holland 1,914 tons of the raw material, as
against 6,166 tons in 1916. Germany sent no raw material to Holland
during either of the years quoted.

In 1913 Holland exported 308 tons of margarine to Belgium and to Germany
401 tons.

In 1915 Holland exported 7,616 tons to Belgium and 21,721 tons to
Germany. _Totals of 709 tons suddenly jumped to 29,237._

_Coffee._--Before the war Germany had always exported coffee to Holland
in thousands of tons. During 1915 she sent in none at all, but she
imported from Holland 129,968 tons; whilst 32,822 tons in addition were
sent to Belgium for German use as against a prior yearly average import
of about 8,000 tons.

_N.B._--England, which during 1911, 1912 and 1918 exported a yearly
average of 6,720 tons of coffee to Holland, suddenly increased her
exports to this country to 15,672 tons in 1914 and to 28,425 tons in

In March, 1916, Brazil was seizing German ships because she could not
collect a trifle of about £4,000,000 owing to her for coffee by the

_Cotton._--In the three years before the war England exported an average
of 7,808 tons of unspun cotton to Holland, but in 1915 she sent no less
than 22,856 tons. Germany, which _exported_ an average of 33,975 tons
before the war, actually _imported_ from Holland direct in 1915 no less
than 38,750 tons.

The Commercial Treaty of the Rhine, cunningly made by the clever Teutons
before war was declared, prevented the Dutch from even examining any
cargoes which were thereunder arranged for direct shipment into Germany;
whilst from the very first the workings of the much-boasted arrangement
made by our Foreign Office with the Netherlands Overseas Trust _piled up
evidence, week by week and month by month, that our so-called blockade
was an absolute farce_.

In the famous "Kim" case before the Prize Court, the President, Sir
Samuel Evans, made the law quite clear. Figures were placed before the
Court to show that the average monthly quantities of lard exported from
the United States to all Scandinavia in October and November, 1913, was
427,428 lbs. Within three months of the outbreak of war one company was
shipping to Copenhagen alone _considerably over twenty times that
quantity in three weeks_.

When it might have been thought that the public had forgotten this
complete and overwhelming evidence, Lord Emmott, speaking on behalf of
the Government, told the House of Lords that "an abnormal supply to a
country is not sufficient reason to stop a cargo." Here was a Government
spokesman absolutely contradicting the Prize Court Judge--another
unwarrantable interference with the rights of Democracy.

On February 22nd and 23rd, 1916, the House of Lords debated an important
motion ably advocated by Lord Sydenham.

"That in conformity with the principle of international law and the
legitimate rights of neutrals, more effective use could be made of the
Allied Fleets in preventing supplies, directly conducing to the
prolongation of the war, from reaching the enemy."

Lord Lansdowne, Lord Emmott and the Marquis of Crewe spoke in defence of
the Government, but they brought forward no direct proof to upset the
alarming statistics which had been quoted against them. Some figures,
however, were given to show that during the last past month a greater
activity had been caused, in consequence of which there had been some
diminution of imports to Germany; whilst it was further promised that as
an attempt to concentrate the general supervision of the War Trades
Committee the work should be placed in the hands of one Minister, Lord
Robert Cecil, who would be given Cabinet rank.

That Lord Robert Cecil is a man of great ability no one doubts. The
stock he springs from is pedigree so far as politics are concerned, but
he is a lawyer. For many years past this country has suffered greatly
from a glut of lawyer politicians, particularly in the unwieldy Cabinet
of twenty-three members. The nation remembered only too well how this
noble lord had fought so strenuously and so persistently against cotton
being made contraband. His appointment therefore to this post of vital
importance, which could influence, affect and control the duration of
the war to such a great extent, was strongly objected to by the public
at large. Neither the act nor the man carried an iota of confidence.

To have seriously attacked the Government and put it out of office
would have raised a general outcry. It was considered disloyal even to
criticise. "Wait and see" was the only policy Englishmen were permitted
to contemplate. Meanwhile this farce, this weakness or this cowardly
inaction, whichever epithet is most appropriate to it, was permitted to
drift its course. Gleefully the Germans continued to annex the rich cod
and herring harvests of Norway, nor did they cavil at the super-price.
Gleefully the Norwegian fishermen continued to rake in the deluge of
gold, the like of which had never been known within the memory of man.
Gleefully the Goulashes of Scandinavia continued to increase and
multiply, whilst they prospered and waxed exceedingly rich, in spite of
a few widely-proclaimed spectacular fines and confiscations. The
advertisements in the papers of neutral countries offering to supply
necessities direct into Germany also continued and spread, like the
proverbial grain of mustard-seed, until the very mails were glutted with

One of these multitudinous advertisements is given as an example. It is
from the _Fatherland_, March 29th, 1916, the subsidised German-American
weekly published in New York:

                  FOOD TO GERMANY.


     Can condensed milk              30 cents
     Fruit marmalades, per pound     35 cents
     Fifty cigars                    $2.00
     One pound of rice               40 cents
     One pound of bacon              75 cents
     One pound of lard               70 cents
     One pound of cheese             25 cents
     100 cigarettes                  $1.70

Also dried fruits, beans, peas, etc. Invigorating wines for sick and

Information and price lists on request.

E. R. TRIELER, Dept. F. 35-37, West 23rd St., New York.

No wonder Lord Grimthorpe, after quoting an influential Frenchman's
opinion that "England had muscles of iron but brains of wool," argued
that, instead of bringing more lawyers into the management, the country
would be much more satisfied if the Ministry of Blockade was put into
the hands of a fighting man like Lord Beresford or Lord Fisher.

Those in the Secret Service knew that since the outbreak of war Germans
had employed only soldiers and sailors to manage it; and that all their
lawyers and civilian politicians had been relegated to a back seat until
further notice; furthermore, that only proved ability counted.
Patronage, length of service, hereditary and social altitude carried no
weight whatsoever at Berlin; whilst the capacity for organisation and
thoroughness which Germany exhibited had astonished the world.

Yea, verily, it is a true saying that "Britishers are the greatest
muddlers on earth." It seems to be their grim bulldog pertinacity only
which pulls them through, and their individuality which gives them the
stamina to stay.

As the winter turned to spring and the spring to summer other terrible
disasters arose which diverted the attention of the nation from the
bogus blockade. Mr. Asquith's "one bright spot," the Mesopotamia
expedition, turned to gall and wormwood; the terrible Gallipoli fiasco
shocked the nation; the pampered Irish rebels appeared in their true
colours; the careless sacrifice of a man whom many believed to be one of
the noblest and greatest of Army Chiefs (K. of K.) this world had ever
seen, paralysed and numbed every English-speaking land; whilst German
spies were still permitted to press their deadly finger-prints upon our
national throat owing to our unbelievable weakness in neglecting to
intern all aliens of belligerent nationality.

Meanwhile the Press continued to growl and to publish statistics from
time to time to prove that the so-called blockade was still as great a
farce as ever; furthermore, it was absolutely and utterly ineffective to
stop supplies going to Germany. Whilst Ministers and Members of the
Government still had the audacity to refer to its alleged effectiveness
and to call attention to the unenviable plight of starving Germany.

All true Englishmen should gratefully thank God that we had at least one
man amongst the few real men who had the courage of his convictions,
namely, Mr. W. M. Hughes, the Australian Premier. He, during his all too
short sojourn in the Motherland, rendered noble, great and patriotic
service. He called with an unmistakable voice at the British Imperial
Council of Commerce in London, on June 8th, 1916, for a real blockade.
He said: "Do you realise the tremendous pile of treasure we are pouring
out in this contest? Do you think that any nation, no matter how
wealthy, can stand indefinitely such a strain on its wealth? It cannot.
We are living like spendthrifts, upon our capital. There must come a day
when we can no longer live upon it. I want to emphasise the point that
we cannot continue this struggle indefinitely. The blockade is one great
weapon at our disposal--one of the most effective weapons for shortening
the duration of the war--by increasing the pressure upon the enemy. _If
the blockade had been effective earlier it would have curtailed the
war._ We now have the power, as Mr. Balfour said, to make that blockade
still more effective, and whatever stands in the way of making that
blockade effective against the enemy and against neutrals must be swept
aside. _We have to choose between offending neutrals and inviting
defeat._ We have to choose between pouring out our treasure and losing
the lives of thousands of our best and bravest. Let us hedge around this
nation (Germany) a ring of triple steel through which nothing shall
pass. I have been told there are still things going out of Britain to
Germany. I am told the reason given is that we are getting German money
in exchange. That argument does not appeal to me. I would not tolerate
the practice for another hour. I would treat those who engage in it as I
would treat any other traitor to his country. Therefore insist upon the
blockade being such a blockade as will compel our enemies to recognise
the power of Britain and the Allies."

Lord Hugh Cecil, the Blockade Minister, does not appear to have been
amongst those present at this memorable gathering. More's the pity of
it! Had he been perhaps he might have had his eyes opened at last to the
folly and inefficiency of his previous policy and foolishly expressed

To the probable relief and secret joy of the Cabinet, and to the
irreparable loss of the nation, Mr. W. M. Hughes was in the early summer
of 1916 compelled to return to his duties in Australia. After his
regretted departure the so-called blockade continued to leak, as is
proved by the following facts and figures which found their way into the
Press in spite of all the hushing-up processes of the weaklings in
power. Can it be wondered at that many thousands of astounded Englishmen
were actually beginning to believe that some of our prominent Ministers
did not want to win the war because they were either indirectly
interested financially in Teutonic enterprise, or they were pro-German
from other mysteriously concealed causes? What other possible reasons
seemed arguable in view of their extraordinary actions, their leaving
undone those things which they ought to have done, and their doing those
things which they ought not to have done?

How German production steadily revived from the shock of the first year
of the war is shown by the following table of pig-iron output in tons
published in the _Berliner Tageblatt_:

                    1914.          1915.          1916.
     January      1,566,505        874,133      1,077,046
     February     1,445,511        803,623      1,033,683
     March        1,602,714        938,438      1,114,194
     April        1,534,429        938,679      1,073,706
     May          1,607,211        985,968
     June         1,531,826        993,496
     July         1,561,944      1,047,503
     August         587,661      1,050,610
     September      580,087      1,033,078
     October        734,841      1,076,343
     November       788,956      1,019,122
     December       858,881      1,029,144

Asking the Prize Court on June 5th, 1916, to condemn the Swedish vessel
_Hakan_, of Gothenburg, with her cargo of 3,238 barrels of salted
herrings, the Attorney-General, Sir F. E. Smith, alleged that the fish
were intended for Germany. Writing from Lübeck to Gottfried Friedrichs,
fishmongers, of Altona, said the Attorney-General, a member of the firm
of Witte & Co., their forwarding agents, said: "We have prohibited the
export of herrings from Norway, but our firm has obtained a licence to
export 50,000 tons. We hope to sell 75,000 tons this winter, so there is
plenty of work."

Sir Samuel Evans: How many herrings in 50,000 tons?

The Attorney-General: My assistants and confederates inform me that
there are about 450,000,000 herrings. It is a conservative estimate.

These are official figures published by the Netherlands Statistical
Department on May 20th, 1916; such great assistance rendered to Germany
is more serious owing to the fact that Germany's gain has been our loss.


               (Covering the months January to April.)

     EGGS--                         1914.                1916.
           To Germany               3,101               11,825
           To Britain               2,733                  557

           To Germany              21,337               29,378
           To Belgium                --                   --

           To Germany               4,156               30,621
           To Britain              25,460                  555

     POTATO FLOUR and its products--
           To Germany              13,991               43,861
           To Britain               8,831                5,520

           To Germany              17,429               39,684

           To Germany                 598                3,302
           To Britain               2,155                1,437

           To Germany               4,010               10,237
           To Britain               1,387                   33

           To Germany               4,120               25,437
           To Britain               5,624                  407

One has only to cast the eye down these figures to see what Holland
means as a depôt for Germany's food.

During the first four months of 1916 Holland had imported by consent of
Great Britain 432,702 tons of cereals. No less than 283,792 tons were
re-exported from Holland and consequently did not go into home
consumption there; 272,630 tons of this went over into Belgium. It is
important, also, to note that of the cereals imported 102,722 tons of
maize were included in the total. Most of this maize was used for
fattening pigs, which were eventually slaughtered and sent to Germany.

This abundance of pig food allowed by us to be consumed by the Dutch
pigs in fact enabled the Dutch to fatten the immense supply which they
sent over to Germany. The meat figures given above must be read in the
light of this fact.

The more we sent into Holland for her home supply, the more she could
release of her home-grown products to the enemy. As between Holland,
Germany and ourselves, we lost tremendously. Germany and Holland were of
immense assistance to each other, at our expense.

A weekly circular of the London Rice Brokers' Association shows the
following striking contrasts in exports from London:


    January 1st to May 27th, 1915. Same period, 1916.

                          Cwt.               Cwt.
     To Holland         247,869            905,078
                                 (say 45,000 tons)
     To France          22,607                 430

Thus the export to Holland had greatly increased and the supply to
France had dwindled almost out of existence. During the single week
ended May 27th, 1916, 224,252 cwt. (say 11,212 tons) were shipped to
Holland from London.

On June 2nd, 1916, the London Press wailed over the enormous supplies of
grain entering Germany through Roumania, which she was enabled to
purchase by exchanging goods made from the raw material permitted so
kindly by England to leak through the blockade.

In April one consignment of 1,500,000 eggs passed from Holland to
Germany in two days only. Indeed, so vast was the drain of Germany upon
Holland that the Dutch people complained in June that they were being
stinted of their proper food supply. Norway continued to supply nickel,
fish, copper, fish oils, and many other things, although England at last
awoke in the spring of 1916 to the advisability of purchasing part of
the Norwegian fish harvests. In this deal, however, her lawyer
Government had not the sense to consult the best export fish merchants,
who are essentially business men. She went to work in the usual
amateurish way, which spelt reckless waste and extravagance; paying £5
to £7 per package for what could have been previously arranged for at
about 10s. or less.

The English Government throughout the war had the Norwegian fish trade
absolutely in its own hands. Yet one of its own Consuls supplied Germany
wholesale in 1914; it supplied coal and salt to assist the Germans to
garner in practically the entire harvest of 1915; and it was not until
the middle of 1916 that some English sluggard in power woke up and paid
through the nose for what could have been purchased practically on our
own terms.

Sweden continued to supply almost everything and anything that Germany
required, openly when possible, smuggled in by all manner of tricks and
dodges should any difficulty of transport be likely to arise.

At the end of June, 1916, a Liverpool merchant contributed some
remarkable facts and figures to the _Liverpool Courier_, proving that
England was helping Germany to obtain what she required at the expense
of the home consumer in England. The net result of his arguments was
that our shipping and home ports were congested for several months by
Dutch imports through private arrangements between Holland and England,
whereby Holland was supplying Germany to a colossal extent and
frustrating the supreme purposes of the so-called blockade. In
conclusion, he plaintively besought the nation to adopt the
strangle-knot of Mr. Hughes by so tightening the blockade that Holland
would no longer be able to provide the Germans with food for her peoples
and materials for the manufacture of guns and explosives to slaughter
our sons.

The tables of figures quoted showed in glaring contrast the usual
enormous increases of imports upon pre-war returns which the British
reader had grown quite accustomed to see. To give but one example: the
shipments of margarine from Holland to Germany during 1915 showed
thirteen times greater, etc.

On July 20th, 1916, during the hearing of a case in the London Prize
Court relating to the S.S. _Maracus_, the Solicitor-General (Sir George
Cave) read an affidavit by Mr. John Hargreaves, provision merchant,
Liverpool, stating that in 1915 the price of lard in Germany was 100s.
per cwt., as against 50s. in Liverpool. At that price there was an
inducement to American shippers to risk shipment to Germany, and to
German buyers to open credits in New York. Should the American shipper
succeed in getting two shipments through, he might well make a large
profit which would amply compensate him for the loss of one shipment,
apart from his chance of recovering compensation from the British

An affidavit by Mr. R. M. Greenwood, Assistant Treasury Solicitor,
showed the imports of foodstuffs into Copenhagen during the first six
months of 1915 as compared with the similar period of 1913. The figures

                     1913.                1915.
     PORK            948,400 lbs.      15,062,060 lbs.
     LARD          3,999,700  "        23,458,720  "
     OLEO          2,509,900  "         8,775,750  "

The evidence in the case proved that the ship was bound for Germany and
her captain had been promised a bonus of £200 if the goods reached their

On June 28th, 1916, Lord Robert Cecil in reply to a question in the
House of Commons, said:

"As the result of the Paris Conference His Majesty would be advised to
issue an Order in Council withdrawing the successive Orders which had
been issued adopting with modifications the Declaration of London, and a
general statement should also be issued explaining the reason for this

Amidst the loud cheering which followed a voice was heard to exclaim,
"After twenty-three months!"

How Potsdam must have hugged itself with delight in 1909, 1910, and 1911
at the absurdly childish simplicity exhibited by the English Liberal
Government in nullifying all its geographical advantages by accepting
such a one-sided code of sea-law which gave Germany the right to stop
food _en route_ to British ports, while forbidding Great Britain to stop
food _en route_ to Germany, and whilst in force rendered any effective
blockade of Germany impossible.

But what powerful mysterious motives prompted its re-adoption after it
had been rejected by the House of Lords? Again on August 20th, 1914, why
did the Cabinet illegally put it into force with modifications--though
Article 65 thereof states that the code is indivisible?

What was held in the unseen hand and to whom was it extended?

On August 2nd, 1916, M. Clemenceau published an article in _L'Homme
Enchainé_, headed, "A Fresh Assassination," in which, after commenting
upon the brutal murders of Nurse Cavell and the innocent Captain Fryatt,
he wrote:

"It is time that Great Britain made the weight of her will felt,
especially as regards the strict application of the blockade, which, has
too often been relaxed out of a desire not to arouse an unpleasant
quarrel with Washington. It is time to end these half-measures. We must
make up our minds as to what to do, and do it."

On July 6th, 1916, Lord Robert Cecil admitted in the House of Commons,
in reply, what was tantamount to a confession that the British Fleet
employed in the blockade was still muzzled, being bound down by red-tape
precedents and strict London directions.

On July 9th he was further compelled to confess that 10,708 tons of lard
had been permitted to enter Belgium, as well as about 2,000 tons of
tallow and other fats. Nominally this was fathered by the Neutral Relief
Committee, but in reality it was just so much more assistance granted to
the enemy.


In the early part of 1914 Germany exported lard to Holland, but this
ceased on the eve of war. Great Britain, on the other hand, for some
extraordinary and unintelligible reason, permitted her exports to
Holland to increase. These are the figures:

               From Germany.    From Great Britain.
     1914           861                 660
     1915           Nil               6,591
     1916           Nil              12,273


In 1916 Great Britain exported to Holland about fifteen times more
barley than normal pre-war exports, so diminishing our home supplies
that the British working-man was deprived of his national beverage
through shortage and prohibitive prices. Whisky also was similarly


The Christian spirit of "love your neighbours and your enemies better
than yourselves" had apparently no limits with the British Government.
Their loyal and hard-suffering subjects were deprived of a full supply
of the soothing weed on the excuse of economising freight room, but no
effort seems to have been made to curtail _Dutch supplies_, which were
_thirty-five times greater than the pre-war exports_.

In 1914 Hamburg and Bremen exported 4,544 tons of tobacco to Holland,
but in 1915 and 1916 neither of these towns exported any at all.

The amounts exported by Holland from January to June in tons were as

               To Great Britain. To Germany.
     1914           1,611           31,891
     1915           1,672           54,456
     1916             923           96,931

The figures published by the German Steel and Iron Manufacturers
Association for the first six months of each respective year show the
following outputs, thanks to Sir Francis Oppenheimer's previous
Netherlands Overseas Trust, which permits iron ore in millions of tons
to proceed direct to Krupps' and other blast furnaces in Germany without
let or hindrance to be used against us.

             PIG IRON
     1915              5,530,000
     1916              6,497,000


     1915              6,187,000
     1916              7,756,000

The _Lokal Anzeiger_, July 28th, 1916, remarked: "These figures
constitute a most gratifying state of affairs in respect of the
_requirements of the German Armies_." No wonder the captured German
officer remarked: "You English will always be fools, whilst we Germans
can never be gentlemen"!

In August[25] a Mr. E. Bell, of 12, Yarborough Road, Lincoln, wrote to
the Press as follows:

     "The talk of tightening the blockade of Germany is rather futile in
     face of the following Board of Trade figures referring to cotton
     yarn exported from the United Kingdom to the following neutral

     JUNE  Sweden   Norway   Denmark  Holland    Switzerland
     1914  108,900  218,700  106,400  3,220,800    722,600
     1915  260,800  348,300  204,700  4,493,300  1,788,800
     1916  279,200  508,200  598,400  7,539,800  1,304,100

     "Germany is obviously getting the surplus."

The values[26] of New York exports taken for the week July 30th to
August 5th are equally startling:

                                    1915.    1916.
     New York to                      £        £
     Norway                         1,884   137,176
     Holland                          713   717,601
     Holland and Scandinavia      123,327   970,255

On August 26th, 1916, an agreement was signed between the Dutch Fishing
Association and the British Government regarding the release of some 120
to 150 Dutch fishing-boats laid up in Scottish ports, whereby not more
than 20 per cent. of their catch shall be permitted to go to Germany. Of
the remainder twenty per cent. was to be retained for home consumption,
and sixty per cent. sold to neutral countries. On each barrel of this
sixty per cent. the good, kind, benevolent British Government agreed to
pay a subsidy of 30s. to the Dutch boat-owners.

Now the D.F.A. owned about 850 vessels and 1,000 barrels is a good
average season's catch!

In addition to this arrangement the British Government agreed to pay
full compensation for their loss of part of the season, to be calculated
on the basis of the returns on an average season. They also agreed to
pay for any damage which might have happened to the interned boats.[27]

One wonders what British fishermen whose vessels have been commandeered
had to say when they were informed of these facts.

The _Hamburger Nachrichten_ of August 23rd, 1916, published a telegram
from its Hague correspondent declaring that the semi-official German
Central Purchase Company was seizing Dutch food in enormous quantities;
that local merchants were in a state of alarm and threatening Government
interference; and their correspondent defiantly stated: "The Netherlands
Government will hardly dream of interfering with the activity of the
Dutch Bureau of the German Central Purchase Company, the operations of
which are assuming larger and larger dimensions."

To add further proof of the utter futility and hollow sham of the
alleged blockade safeguards, namely, the Danish Association Agreement
and the Netherlands Overseas Trust, Sir Henry Dalziel informed the House
of Commons on August 22nd, 1916, that in June Denmark imported _over ten
times as much cotton yarn_ as in June, 1913, and that in the first six
months of the present year Holland exported to Germany _over twenty
times as much butter_ as in the first six months of 1914, nearly _eight
times as much cheese_, and _over seven times as much meat_.

The unfortunate Lord Robert Cecil in mid-August gave quite a eulogistic
report upon his stewardship as Blockade Minister, which was immediately
followed by the arrival from New York of the Custom House returns
showing that during the week ending August 5th the value of the exports
to Holland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark was _eight times_ as _great_ as
in the corresponding week of the preceding year. To Holland the exports
had increased in value _a thousandfold_ and to Norway

On September 1st, 1916, the Government, through the War Trade
Statistical Department, issued to the Press an official Memorandum on
the question of the efficacy of the British blockade.

It barely amounted to the proverbial half-truth, and was pitiably
feeble. It was more than unfortunate that the Government should rush
into print just before the United States export figures were due for
publication--only a week later.

These latter reliable statistics showed an extraordinary state of

                      EXPORTS FROM U.S.A.

                         1914.       1915.        1916.
                           £           £            £
     To Norway          1,813,400   7,815,000   10,735,600
      " Sweden          2,928,800  15,654,800   10,387,800
      " Denmark         3,134,000  15,964,800   11,132,400
      " Holland        22,443,200  28,653,400   19,852,600
      " Switzerland       204,000     547,200    1,631,200

The _Telegraaf_, Amsterdam's leading journal, on September 11th, 1916,
quoted Governmental statistics to account for the excessive rise in
price of her home products, concluding by the statement that "Holland
has sold her livelihood for greater war profits"; whilst all the Dutch
Press seemed to deplore mildly the vast and unmanageable manner in which
the smuggling of goods over the German frontier was permitted to

The figures for meat, cheese, eggs, vegetables, and butter showed an
average _increased export of seventy-five per cent._ on preceding years.
Practically every ounce went to Germany or to territory under her rule.

On September 12th, 1916, Reuter's representative at the Hague was able
to announce that: "The Dutch Overseas Trust had obtained the release of
420 tons of Kapok, Java cotton, and had also succeeded in removing the
difficulties in the way of the importation of cocoa-beans."

Such paragraphs as the above could be found repeatedly by anyone who
chose to search the Press. No wonder the smouldering wrath of the
long-suffering British public became fanned to a flame and its
confidence in its so-called representative Ministers correspondingly

On September 9th, 1916, the Foreign Office issued a notice that no
further export licenses or further facilities would be given by H.M.G.
for the importation of certain specified commodities until further
notice. The list embraced scores of foods, but, in fact, was merely
another patch to the very ragged mantle covering the so-called blockade.

On September 12th, 1916, the War Trade Statistical Department made
another feeble attempt in public to refute the statistics quoted by the
Press. It set out specious and plausible arguments why general
conclusions should be drawn in a light more favourable to our interests.
It gave no denials nor suggested that the figures quoted were not
correct. It was a fretful official apology, a tacit admission of
weakness and inefficiency.

A casual remark was made by a really able German in the Wilhelmstrasse
on English policy in regard to Germany, to Mr. D. T. Curtin, as reported
by him in the _Times_, October 21st, 1916.

     "He said to me:

     "'When the war began we thought it would be a fight between the
     German Army and the British Navy. That was the cause of the
     outbreak of German anger against England on August 4th, 1914. As
     time went on we found that the English Government drew the teeth of
     its Navy and enabled us to get in through the then so-called
     blockade supplies of cotton, copper, lubricating oil, wool' (here
     he named some twenty commodities) 'in a sufficiency that will last
     us many long months yet. How different would have been our position
     to-day if the British Navy had controlled the blockade as we had
     every reason to fear it would! We can and will hold out for a long
     time, thanks to their blunders.'

     "Blockade policy, prisoner policy, enemy trade control, the
     Zeppelin reprisal policy--all these are puzzles to the rulers of
     Germany. All are taken as part and parcel of their belief of your
     desire to curry favour with them and your fear of their
     after-the-war trade struggle.

     "The average German holds similar views as to America's fear of the
     Kaiser's Army and Navy after the war. They frankly tell us that it
     will be our turn next."

On October 25th, 1916, Mr. D. T. Curtin explained in the _Times_ how,
when he was in Germany, a neutral and pro-Ally resident of a certain
port in Germany with whom he discussed things took him for a walk and
showed him the quays. There were not hundreds, but thousands of barrels
of fats. "It almost makes me weep," he said, "to know that every one of
these barrels lengthens the war and destroys the lives of gallant
soldiers and their officers." And apart from the public evasions of the
blockade is the secret smuggling--difficult to deal with.

A day or so previously Mr. Curtin had written: "Every bar of chocolate
entering Germany prolongs the war, which I know from my own personal
necessities. The Allies and the Government should realise the great
value of the utmost pressure of the blockade."

It was not until December, 1916, that the rising tide of public feeling
threatened to burst the banks of reasonable control.

On the first day of that month a crowded meeting of City business men
was held in the Cannon Street Hotel under the presidency of Lord Leith
of Fyvie to protest against the slackness of the Government and terrible
blunders which were far too serious to openly discuss; in particular to
insist that "the British Navy be set free to exercise to the full all
its lawful sea powers." Startling disclosures were made, and the
Government, which had twice restored itself after its legal expiration,
was characterised as worn-out and stale, unable to make peace any more
than it was able to make war; sentiments which were unanimously

Almost the entire British Press echoed this condemnation, and the
Haldane group, recognising that discretion was the better part, awoke at
last from its delusions of the value placed by the nation upon their
personal services, and after a few feeble remonstrances retired in
favour of a new Cabinet. "Wait and see" was compelled to give place to
"Do it now."

Mr. Asquith the Unready, Lord Grey of Falloden, the Irresolute, Lord
Haldane, the friend of the Kaiser, and the Simonite group of backers,
who for fifteen unlucky years had so grievously and disastrously led the
country astray; who had cut down armaments, hoodwinked the nation, and
when war was declared held back conscription, muzzled the Fleet and were
too late for everything, were at last fallen from doing further
mischief, and the nation breathed its prayers of thankfulness.

Of the late Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith) one able editor wrote:

     "Never before in all our history have such opportunities been
     given. He had no opposition; the nation was solid; the Empire was
     behind him. No country has ever given any leader such devotion and
     none has ever seen its devotion so carelessly wasted. Declaring he
     would 'stick at nothing,' he stuck at everything, and moved only
     when he was pushed."[28]

What Germany thought of the change is reflected in an extract from its
Press when it first heard of the resignation of Mr. David Lloyd George
from the War Office, and it was under the belief that the Haldane group
had triumphed over him.

The Bavarian _Courier_, December 5th, 1916, said: "This is a terrible
disaster for the war party in England," whilst the Leipzig _Tageblatt_
said: "The British people have doubtless had enough of this war
agitator. His fall from power brings nearer an honourable peace for

Within a few days of Mr. Lloyd George being created Prime Minister of
England the Kaiser was seeking peace. _Res ipsa loquitur._

       *       *       *       *       *

What has been given is merely a rough and very deficient resumé of
England's sham blockade, which was permitted to muddle along its costly,
tragic, and fatal course until the Americans joined the Allies in their
fight for freedom and the rights of small nations. Washington at once
swept aside maudlin sentiment by its practical common sense,
get-right-there-quick decisions.

The nation's relief cannot be expressed in words.

Was it to be wondered at that from the soul of the Motherland prayers
had so long and so often ascended?

"Oh, for a man of the old, old Viking blood to lead and direct the
battle in place of those poor craven lawyer politicians in the Cabinet
of the never-to-be-forgotten twenty-three!"

Indeed, this was the darkest hour before the dawn.

The autumn of 1916 saw the advent of the magic of the Wizard from Wales.
To him all honour is due.

For some years prior to the war he had been perhaps the most hated man
England had ever known. He had helped to minimise the Army, the Navy,
and the House of Lords; he had led people to believe it was almost a
crime to own land; he had descended to the lowest levels of vulgar abuse
regarding our most sacred traditions; he had helped rob the Church in
his native land; he had become despised by the noblest and best of his
fellow-countrymen. His sole ambition, apparently, had been to gain the
popularity of the masses--a transient glory which might fade in an hour.
He had attained the position almost of a deity with the extreme Radical
and Socialistic Mob.

But, in this hour of Great Britain's direst peril, he valiantly came
forth. He buckled on his armour of undaunted courage and vast ability.
He put his whole heart and soul into the fight, absolutely ignoring what
effect his actions might have upon his recent followers, forgetting all
his schemes of lifelong planning, and concentrating all his vast
abilities and ceaseless, untiring energies upon one single concrete
thought, one hope, one ideal--Victory.

Like that greatest of all the heroes of ancient Rome--_Venit, vidit,
vicit_. Veritably he proved himself a man.

       *       *       *       *       *

What a pity it is that since those days he has not adjusted himself to
this changed world and seized the opportunities for real statesmanship
that lie in this era of reconstruction!


[19] Completed on November 19th, 1915.

[20] The following illuminating advertisement also appeared in the _Neue
Freie Presse_ of January 16:

                           "FOR SALE.

     40 tons prime beef, fresh packed in ice from Holland.
     Condensed milk from ---- Amsterdam.
     Raspberry jam.
     China tea, 25 chests.
     Soap, 20 to 40 per cent. fatty matter, 8 wagons.
     Sausages from ---- Holland.
     Cement, linseed oil, a wagon of each every week from ---- Denmark.
     Apply, etc."

Not far away from the above advertisement in the same paper is another.

"Soup extract, 2½d. a cube. Soup vegetables, Julienne, 1s. 8d. per lb.,
China tea (Souchong), 5s. per lb., just come from a Danish export

[21] "Apparently the Declaration of London was valid in the House of
Commons, but not valid in the House of Lords."--Lord Beresford, House of
Lords, February 23rd, 1916.

[22] In referring to the keeping of Government pledges, Sir A. Markham
(L.) said: "The only thing the Prime Minister has stuck to has been his
salary."--House of Commons, March, 1916.

[23] _Goulashe_ is the name given to illicit traders with Germany.

[24] Books on the life of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum do not dwell upon
this unpardonable fact. Some discreetly omit to mention it.

[25] _Daily Mail_, August 16th, 1916.

[26] _Evening News_, August 24th, 1916.

[27] _Daily Mail_, August 28th, 1916.

[28] _Daily Mail_ leading article, December 6th, 1916.


Before parting with my reader I feel an apology is due from me, not for
anything I have written, but for what I have left unsaid.

I admit this book is an amalgam, and far from being what it might have
been, had circumstances not required the exercise of considerable
restraint on the part of the writer.

Staunch loyalty to his native land is the least return every true-born
British subject can make for his birthright; and just as in carrying out
the investigations entrusted to me, I ever kept in mind that the one and
only object of my existence for the time being was to help my country,
so in compiling the preceding chapters I have been compelled, by what in
a higher sphere would be called reasons of State, to suppress many facts
and incidents which would, I make no doubt, have constituted interesting
reading matter.

I have striven to give nothing away that could be construed directly or
indirectly against my country. I have touched, lightly, yet I trust
sufficiently, upon the canker spots that I so fervently hope and pray
may in time be eradicated from our system of home and foreign affairs.

I may have added to my roll of enemies, yet I rejoice in the consolation
that by my actions I know I have brought to me many true and great

My readers may complain that the narrative portion of the book dealing
with detailed adventures could well have been extended, and that the
discursive semi-political portion could well have been curtailed.

I sympathise exceedingly with them to that extent, but if they knew all
they would, I am sure, sympathise even more deeply with me in the
difficulties which have arisen regarding the publication of these
remnants of my knowledge which are now placed before them. The book, as
it is, consists of but the fragments of a tale untold.

Had I been dealing with a foreign country as a foreigner, what a
different word-film I could have unrolled!--whilst it must not be
forgotten that I hope to re-visit in the future the countries mentioned.
Were I permitted to record all the happenings of the past I might find
such a return too eagerly awaited and the welcome accorded might be open
to various interpretations by the Powers-that-be.

It is extraordinary but nevertheless true that there are people who
entertain doubtful feelings regarding anyone who has undertaken Secret
Service work. Some even suggest that such a person, male or female,
could only be classified as a spy, a person to be shunned and avoided.
What ignorance! What little-mindedness!

When the country had declared war and we knew that the long-anticipated
war with Germany had become an established fact, what Englishman, worthy
of the name, could rest without dreams of active service? Who hesitated
to question the service? When I failed again and again for enlistment by
reason of age and was told to apply to Lord Grey direct, I had a tinge
of suspicion that if I did have the luck to be found acceptable it would
probably be for foreign intelligence work.

A bald statement of fact that such work was or is contemptible could
only spring from a craven-souled individual who would probably shrink
from his country's call in any event; from some narrow-minded,
over-indulgent stay-at-home; or from some pompous, self-exalted
incompetent, whose ideas of men and things are beneath contempt indeed.

Secret Service is essentially a service of isolated individuality. A
member is not supposed to know, nor permitted if possible to know, other
members, beyond those whom he must of necessity meet; yet I knew many
more active members than my C.O. had any knowledge or any intention that
I should know.

All those whom I had the honour of meeting I found to be men of honour,
men whom I am proud to have met. I do not care to express any opinion
concerning the ladies, because it is very certain that the more a man
studies women the less he really knows of their true nature.

The men in responsible positions (I do not attempt to include the
underlings employed in casual cases) I found in every instance to be
unflinchingly loyal and true to their country over every other
consideration. I will give an instance of this extremeness. An officer
in the Army, whom I would unhesitatingly have trusted with my honour and
my life, was working with me in a dangerous undertaking. To safeguard us
both, so far as I could, I suggested that we should form an absolute
alliance, for life or death. He solemnly agreed, but he made one
stipulation. It was that, if he received a peremptory order from home to
put an effective stop to my further services, he should, very
reluctantly indeed, but without the smallest hesitation, shoot me
without warning. He hastened to add: "You know, old chap, I need not
express my known feelings to you, but I am a soldier of the King. I have
to obey my orders, and when my country is at war I would shoot my whole
family without question, if so ordered from H.Q." I knew he meant it.

I read an account of the capture of this friend by the Germans in
Finland--I knew what that meant. I mourned his loss for two whole years.
Poor devil! How I pitied him and his fate! But the Secret Service is
ever one of surprise and surprises. On April 7th, 1920, I received a
letter from the much-lamented departed, "chipping" me in great glee,
adding that he had left this branch of service only a few months after I
myself had retired hurt, because, to use his own words, "the War Office
refused to give me any honours of any kind."

As would be expected, he went straight out to France, where his valour
in the field immediately earned some half-dozen mentions in despatches,
the D.S.O. and other decorations. Knowing his bravery, skill, and
marvellous work whilst abroad in the Secret Service, it seems
unbelievable that Home Authorities (who apparently decorated every
inmate of the Whitehall Offices, and even telephone girls who retained
their stools whilst Zepps were about!) could wilfully ignore such
services as his.

That this was not an exceptional case, I may add that I do not know, nor
have I ever heard of, even one solitary honour or recognition being
bestowed by our own Government upon a soul who _actively served abroad
in the Foreign Secret Service_; although I do know of highly-coveted
decorations being offered and given from abroad, which would-be
recipients declined, or dare not accept, because of those above and
around them.

Personally I doubt whether any responsible member of the British Foreign
Secret Service ever really troubled himself one iota about such trivial
matters as decorations--as such. An ambition to climb to the highest
rung of acknowledged service to one's country was another matter.

The sporting element of discomfiting and checkmating the Huns seemed to
be the one thought uppermost in their minds, whilst, if any time for
reflection was ever found, it was generally passed in cursing
politicians at home for curtailing activities by shortage of funds, and
Ministers abroad for not following Nelson's patriotic ophthalmic action
at the battle of Copenhagen.

Speaking for myself, I can only say that my greatest joys in life have
been consummated in successful big-game shooting. My employment in the
Foreign Secret Service gave me opportunities at far Bigger Game than my
wildest dreams had ever led me to hope for.

I enjoyed to the full every minute of those activities. I would not have
missed them for a king's ransom; whilst now I rest in the consolation
that if my past life thitherto had been useless and of little worth to
the world at large or to anyone in it, I was, during the period of my
then employment, striving to accomplish a better thing than I had ever
done, to help to victory the noblest cause this world has ever known.




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