Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Short History of the Great War
Author: Pollard, A. F. (Albert Frederick), 1869-1948
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Short History of the Great War" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                          A SHORT HISTORY OF
                            THE GREAT WAR

                                  BY

                            A. F. POLLARD
                            M.A., Litt.D.

                 FELLOW OF ALL SOULS COLLEGE, OXFORD
       PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

                          WITH NINETEEN MAPS

                          METHUEN & CO. LTD.
                         36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
                                LONDON

                       First Published in 1920


			       CONTENTS

          CHAP.
              I.         THE BREACH OF THE PEACE
             II.           THE GERMAN INVASION
            III.              RUSSIA MOVES
             IV.     THE WAR ON AND BEYOND THE SEAS
              V.     ESTABLISHING THE WESTERN FRONT
             VI.       THE FIRST WINTER OF THE WAR
            VII.  THE FAILURE OF THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE
           VIII.          THE DEFEAT OF RUSSIA
             IX.      THE CLIMAX OF GERMAN SUCCESS
              X.      THE SECOND WINTER OF THE WAR
             XI. THE SECOND GERMAN OFFENSIVE IN THE WEST
            XII.      THE ALLIED COUNTER-OFFENSIVE
           XIII.  THE BALKANS AND POLITICAL REACTIONS
            XIV.          THE TURN OF THE TIDE
             XV.             HOPE DEFERRED
            XVI.          THE BALANCE OF POWER
           XVII.     THE EVE OF THE FINAL STRUGGLE
          XVIII.       THE LAST GERMAN OFFENSIVE
            XIX.       THE VICTORY OF THE ENTENTE
             XX.        THE FOUNDATIONS OF PEACE
				INDEX


			     LIST OF MAPS

               1.   THE GERMAN INVASION OF FRANCE
               2.      THE BATTLES OF THE AISNE
               3.      THE CAMPAIGNS IN ARTOIS
               4.          THE DARDANELLES
               5.         THE RUSSIAN FRONT
               6.            THE BALKANS
               7.            MESOPOTAMIA
               8.           THE CAUCASUS
               9.       THE ATTACK ON VERDUN
               10.     THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME
               11.      THE RUMANIAN CAMPAIGN
               12.   THE CONQUEST OF EAST AFRICA
               13.      THE BALTIC CAMPAIGNS
               14.     THE BATTLES IN FLANDERS
               15.        THE ITALIAN FRONT
               16. THE BATTLES OF ARRAS AND CAMBRAI
               17.    THE LAST GERMAN OFFENSIVE
               18.      THE CONQUEST OF SYRIA
               19.         FOCH'S CAMPAIGN

                                 NOTE

The manuscript of this book, except the last chapter, was finished on
21 May 1919, and the revision of the last chapter was completed in
October. It may be some relief to a public, distracted by the
apologetic deluge which has followed on the peace, to find how little
the broad and familiar outlines of the war have thereby been affected.

                                                              A. F. P.

                        A SHORT HISTORY OF THE
                              GREAT WAR

                              CHAPTER I

                       THE BREACH OF THE PEACE

On 28 June 1914 the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir-presumptive to
the Hapsburg throne, was shot in the streets of Serajevo, the capital
of the Austrian province of Bosnia. Redeemed by the Russo-Turkish war
of 1876-7 from Ottoman rule, Bosnia had by the Congress of Berlin in
1878 been entrusted to Austrian administration; but in 1908, fearing
lest a Turkey rejuvenated by the Young Turk revolution should seek to
revive its claims on Bosnia, the Austrian Government annexed on its
own authority a province confided to its care by a European mandate.
This arbitrary act was only challenged on paper at the time; but the
striking success of Serbia in the Balkan wars of 1912-13 brought out
the dangers and defects of Austrian policy. For the Serbs were kin to
the great majority of the Bosnian people and to millions of other
South Slavs who were subject to the Austrian crown and discontented
with its repressive government; and the growing prestige of Serbia
bred hopes and feelings of Slav nationality on both sides of the
Hapsburg frontier. The would-be and the real assassins of the
Archduke, while technically Austrian subjects, were Slavs by birth,
and the murder brought to a head the antagonism between a race
becoming conscious of its possibilities and a government determined to
repress them. The crime gave a moral advantage to the oppressor, but
the guilt has yet to be apportioned, and instigation may have come
from secret sources within the Hapsburg empire; for the Archduke was
hated by dominant cliques on account of his alleged pro-Slav
sympathies and his suspected intention of admitting his future Slav
subjects to a share in political power.

For some weeks after the murder it bade fair to pass without a
European crisis, for the public was unaware of what happened at a
secret conclave held at Potsdam on 5 July. It was there decided that
Germany should support to the uttermost whatever claims Austria might
think fit to make on Serbia for redress, and she was encouraged to put
them so high as either to ensure the domination of the Balkans by the
Central Empires through Serbian submission, or to provoke a war by
which alone the German militarists thought that German aims could be
achieved. That was the purport of the demands presented to Serbia on
23 July: acceptance would have reduced her to a dependence less formal
but little less real than that of Bosnia, while the delay in
presenting the demands was used to complete the preparations for war
which rejection would provoke. It was not, however, against Serbia
that the German moves were planned. She could be left to Austria,
while Germany dealt with the Powers which would certainly be involved
by the attack on Serbian independence.

The great Power immediately concerned was Russia, which had long
aspired to an outlet into European waters not blocked by winter ice or
controlled by Baltic States. For that and for the less interested
reasons of religion and racial sympathy she had fought scores of
campaigns against the Turks which culminated in the liberation of most
of the Balkans in 1878; and she could not stand idle while the fruits
of her age-long efforts were gathered by the Central Empires and she
herself was cut off from the Mediterranean by an obstacle more fatal
than Turkish dominion in the form of a Teutonic corridor from Berlin
to Baghdad. Serbia, too, Orthodox in religion and Slav in race, was
more closely bound to Russia than was any other Balkan State; and an
attack on Serbia was a deadly affront to the Russian Empire. It was
not intended as anything else. Russia was slowly recovering from her
defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5 and from the revolutionary
outbreaks which had followed; and there was little doubt that sooner
or later she would seek compensation for the rebuffs she had suffered
from the mailed fist during her impotence. Conscience made Germany
sensitive to the Slav peril, and her militarist philosophy taught her
that the best defence was to get her blow in first. Her diplomacy in
July was directed towards combining this advantage with the
appearance, needed to bemuse her people and the world at large, of
acting in self-defence.

But Russia was the object of Germany's diplomatic activity rather than
of her military preparations. It was thought that Russia could not
mobilize in less than six weeks or strike effectively in less than two
or three months, and that that interval would suffice for the crushing
of France, who was bound by treaty to intervene if Russia were
attacked. The German mobilization was therefore directed first against
France, defence against Russia being left to second-line German troops
and to an Austrian offensive. The defeat of France was not, however,
regarded by Germans as a mere incident in a war against Russia; for it
was a cardinal point in the programme of the militarists, whose mind
was indiscreetly revealed by Bernhardi, that France must be so
completely crushed that she could never again cross Germany's path. To
Frenchmen the war appeared to be mainly a continuation of the national
duel which had been waged since the sixteenth century. To Great
Britain it appeared, on the other hand, as the forcible culmination of
a new rivalry for colonial empire and the dominion of the seas. But
these were in truth but local aspects of a comprehensive German
ambition expressed in the antithesis Weltmacht oder Niedergang.
Bismarck had made the German Empire and raised it to the first place
as a European Power. Europe, it was discovered, was a small portion of
the globe; and Bismarck's successful methods were now to be used on a
wider scale to raise Germany to a similar predominance in the world.
The Serbian plot was merely the lever to set the whole machinery
working, and German activities all the world over from Belgrade and
Petrograd to Constantinople, Ulster, and Mexico were parts in a
comprehensive piece.

But while the German sword was pointed everywhere, its hilt was in
Berlin. Prussia supplied the mind which conceived the policy and
controlled its execution; and in the circumstances of the Prussian
Government must be sought the mainspring of the war. The cause of the
war was not the Serbian imbroglio nor even German rivalry with Russia,
France, or Britain. These were the occasions of its outbreak and
extension; but national rivalries always exist and occasions for war
are never wanting. They only result in war when one of the parties to
the dispute wants to break the peace; and the Prussian will-to-war was
due to the domestic situation of a Prussian government which had been
made by the sword and had realized before 1914 that it could not be
maintained without a further use of the sword. That government was the
work of Bismarck, who had been called to power in 1863 to save the
Hohenzollerns from subjection to Parliament and had found in the
Danish and Austrian wars of 1864 and 1866 the means of solving the
constitutional issue at Berlin. The cannon of Königgratz proved more
convincing than Liberal arguments; and the methods of blood and iron,
by which Bismarck, Moltke, and Roon conquered Denmark, Austria, and
France and annexed to Prussia the greater part of German soil,
impressed upon Germany a constitution in which the rule of the sword
was merely concealed behind a skilfully emasculated parliamentary
system. The Reichstag with its universal suffrage was the scabbard of
the Prussian sword, and it was because the sword could not do the work
required of it while it lay in the scabbard that it was drawn in 1914.

Since 1871 the object of every Prussian Government had been to
reconcile the German people to the veiled rule of the sword by
exhibiting results which, it was contended, could not otherwise have
been secured. Historians dwelt on the failure of the German Parliament
at Frankfurt to promote a national unity which was left for Prussian
arms to achieve, and philosophers deduced from that example a
comprehensive creed of might. More material arguments were provided
for the man in business and in the street by the skilful activities of
the Government in promoting trade, industry, and social welfare; and
the wealth, which would in any case have accrued from the removal of
the tariff-walls and other barriers between the thirty-nine
independent States of Germany, was credited to the particular method
of war by which the unification had been accomplished. No State had
hitherto made such economic progress as did the German Empire in the
generation after Metz and Sedan, and the success of their rulers led
most of the German people to place implicit reliance on the testimony
those rulers bore to the virtue of their means. The means did not,
however, commend themselves to the rest of the world with equal
conviction; and an increasing aversion to the mailed fist on the part
of other countries led to what Germans called the hostile encirclement
of their Fatherland. Gradually it became clearer that Prussian
autocracy could not reproduce in the sphere of world-ambitions the
success which had attended it in Germany unless it could reduce the
world to the same submission by the use of similar arguments.

But still the Prussian Government was driven towards imperialistic
expansion by the ever-increasing force of public opinion and popular
discontent. It could only purchase renewed leases of autocratic power
at home, with its perquisites for those who wielded and supported
autocracy, by feeding the minds of the people with diplomatic triumphs
and their bodies with new markets for commercial and industrial
expansion; and the incidents of military domination grew ever more
irksome to the populace. The middle classes were fairly content, and
the parties which represented them in the Reichstag offered no real
opposition to Prussian ideas of government. But the Social Democrats
were more radical in their principles and were regarded by Prussian
statesmen as open enemies of the Prussian State. Rather than submit to
social democracy Prussians avowed their intention of making war, and
war abroad would serve their turn a great deal better than civil
strife. The hour was rapidly advancing two years before the war broke
out. The German rebuff over Agadir in 1911 was followed by a general
election in 1912 at which the Social Democrats polled nearly a third
of the votes and secured by far the largest representation of any
party in the Reichstag. In 1913, after a particularly violent
expression of militarism called "the Zabern incident," the Reichstag
summoned up courage for the first time in its history to pass a vote
of censure on the Government. The ground was slipping from under the
feet of Prussian militarism; it must either fortify its position by
fresh victories or take the risk of revolution. It preferred the
chances of European war, and found in the Serbian incident a means of
provoking a war the blame for which could be laid at others' doors.

The German Kaiser played but a secondary part in these transactions.
It is true that the German constitution placed in his hands the
command of the German Army and Navy and the control of foreign policy;
but no paper or parchment could give him the intellect to direct the
course of human affairs. He had indeed dismissed Bismarck in 1890, but
dropping the pilot did not qualify him to guide the ship of state, and
he was himself in 1906 compelled to submit to the guidance of his
ministers. The shallow waters of his mind spread over too vast a
sphere of activity to attain any depth, and he had the foibles of
Frederick the Great without his courage or his capacity. His barbaric
love of pomp betrayed the poverty of his spirit and exhibited a
monarchy reduced from power to a pageant. He was not without his
generous impulses or exalted sentiments, and there was no section of
the British public, from Mr. Ramsay Macdonald to Mr. Rudyard Kipling
and the "Daily Mail," to which one or other of his guises had not
commended itself; it pleased him to pose as the guardian of the peace
of Europe, the champion of civilization against the Boxers, and of
society against red revolution. But vanity lay at the root of all
these manifestations, and he took himself not less seriously as an
arbiter of letters, art, and religion than as a divinely appointed
ruler of the State. The many parts he played were signs of versatile
emotion rather than of power; and his significance in history is that
he was the crest of a wave, its superficial froth and foam without its
massive strength. A little man in a great position, he was powerless
to ride the whirlwind or direct the storm, and he figured largely in
the public eye because he vented through an imperial megaphone the
fleeting catchwords of the vulgar mind.

After Agadir he had often been called a coward behind his back, and it
was whispered that his throne would be in danger if that surrender
were repeated. He had merited these reproaches because no one had done
more than he to inflate the arrogance of his people, and his eldest
son took the lead in exasperating public opinion behind the scenes.
The militarists, with considerable backing from financial and
commercial groups, were bent on war, and war appeals to the men in the
streets of all but the weakest countries. The mass of the people had
not made up their mind for a war that was not defensive; but modern
governments have ample means for tuning public opinion, and with a
people so accustomed as the Germans to accept the truth from above,
their rulers would have little difficulty, when once they had agreed
upon war, in representing it as one of defence. It is, however,
impossible to say when, if ever, the rulers of Germany agreed to
attack; and to the last the Imperial Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg,
struggled to delay if not to avert the breach. But he gradually lost
his grip on the Kaiser. The decisive factor in the Emperor's mind may
have been the rout in 1912-13 of the Turks, on whom Germany had staked
her credit in return for control of the Berlin-Baghdad route; for the
free Balkan confederation, which loomed on the horizon, would bar for
ever German expansion towards the East. The Balkan States themselves
provided the German opportunity; the Treaty of Bukarest in 1913
entrenched discord in their hearts and reopened a path for German
ambition and intrigue. Austria, not without the usual instigation,
proposed to Italy a joint attack upon Serbia; the offer was not
accepted, but by the winter of 1913-14 the Kaiser had gone over to the
party which had resolved upon war and was seeking an occasion to
palliate the cause.

The immeasurable distance between the cause and the occasion was shown
by the fact that Belgium was the first to suffer in an Austro-Serbian
dispute; and the universal character of the issue was foreshadowed by
the breach of its neutrality. Germany would not have planned for two
years past an offensive through that inoffensive, unconcerned, and
distant country, had the cause of the war been a murder at Serajevo.
The cause was a comprehensive determination on the German part to
settle international issues by the sword, and it involved the
destinies of civilization. The blow was aimed directly or indirectly
at the whole world, and Germany's only prospect of success lay in the
chance that most of the world would fail to perceive its implications
or delay too long its effective intervention. It was the defect of her
self-idolatry and concentration that she could not develop an
international mind or fathom the mentality of other peoples. She could
not conceive how England would act on a "scrap of paper," and never
dreamt of American participation. But she saw that Russia and France
would inevitably and immediately be involved in war by the attempt at
armed dictation in the Balkans, and that the issue would decide the
fate of Europe. The war would therefore be European and could only be
won by the defeat of France and Russia. Serbia would be merely the
scene of local and unimportant operations, and, Russia being the
slower to move, the bulk of the German forces were concentrated on the
Rhine for the purpose of overwhelming France.

The condition of French politics was one of the temptations which led
the Prussian militarists to embark upon the hazard. France had had her
troubles with militarism, and its excesses over the Dreyfus case had
produced a reaction from which both the army command and its political
ally the Church had suffered. A wave of national secularism carried a
law against ecclesiastical associations which drove religious orders
from France, and international Socialism found vent in a pacifist
agitation against the terms of military service. A rapid succession of
unstable ministries, which the group system in French parliamentary
politics encouraged, militated against sound and continuous
administration; and in April 1914 a series of revelations in the
Senate had thrown an unpleasant light upon the efficiency of the army
organization. On military grounds alone there was much to be said for
the German calculation that in six weeks the French armies could be
crushed and Paris reached. But the Germans paid the French the
compliment of believing that this success could not be achieved before
Russia made her weight felt, unless the Germans broke the
international guarantees on which the French relied, and sought in
Belgium an easier and less protected line of advance than through the
Vosges.

For that crime public opinion was not prepared either in France or
England, but it had for two years at least been the settled policy of
the German military staff, and it had even been foretold in England a
year before that the German attack would proceed by way of Liège and
Namur. There had also been military "conversations" between Belgian
and British officers with regard to possible British assistance in the
event of Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality. But the Belgian
Ministry was naturally reluctant to proceed far on that assumption,
which might have been treated as an insult by an honest or dishonest
German Government; and it was impossible for England to press its
assistance upon a neutralized State which could not even discuss it
without casting a slur upon the honour of its most powerful neighbour.
Nor was England bound by treaty to defend the neutrality of Belgium.
She had been so bound by a treaty concluded during the Franco-Prussian
War; but that treaty expired in the following year, and the treaty of
1839, which regulated the international situation of Belgium, merely
bound the five great signatory Powers not to violate Belgian
neutrality without obliging them individually or collectively to
resist its violation. It was not in fact regarded in 1839 as
conceivable that any of the Great Powers would ever violate so solemn
a pledge, and there was some complacent satisfaction that by thus
neutralizing a land which had for centuries been the cockpit of
Europe, the Powers had laid the foundations of permanent peace. But
the bond of international morality was loosened during the next
half-century, and in the eighties even English newspapers argued in
favour of a German right-of-way through Belgium for the purposes of
war with France. It does not appear that the treaty was ever regarded
as a serious obstacle by the German military staff; for neither
treaties nor morality belong to the curricula of military science
which had concluded that encirclement was the only way to defeat a
modern army, and that through Belgium alone could the French defence
be encircled. The Chancellor admitted that technically Germany was
wrong, and promised full reparation after the war. But he was never
forgiven the admission, even by German jurists, who argued that
treaties were only binding rebus sic stantibus, while the conditions
in which they were signed remained substantially the same; and Germans
had long cast covetous eyes on the Congo State, the possession of
which, they contended, was inconsistent with Belgium's legal immunity
from attack in Europe.

The opposition of Bethmann-Hollweg and the German foreign office was
accordingly brushed aside, and the army made all preparations for an
invasion of France through Belgium. The diplomatists would have made a
stouter resistance had they anticipated the attitude England was to
adopt. But the German ambassador in London, Prince Lichnowsky, failed
to convince his Government that there was anything to fear from the
British Empire. Mr. Lloyd George has claimed it as one of the
advantages we derive from the British press that it misleads public
opinion abroad, and a study of "The Times," the only British newspaper
that carries much weight in foreign countries, may well have persuaded
the German Government in 1914 that eight years of Liberal
administration were not likely to have provided England with the
means, or left it the spirit, to challenge the might of Germany. She
was known to have entered into no binding alliance with France or
Russia; the peace had never in all their history been broken between
the two great Protestant Powers; and, while there had been serious
naval and colonial rivalry and some diplomatic friction, relations in
1913-14 seemed to have entered calmer waters. Germany had been well
satisfied with the efforts and sacrifices England had made to prevent
the Balkan crisis from developing into a European war; and Lichnowsky
was successfully negotiating treaties which gave Germany unexpected
advantages with regard to the Baghdad railway and African
colonization. On the eve of war the English were hailed as cousins in
Berlin, and the earliest draft of the German official apology,
intended for American consumption, spoke of Great Britain and Germany
labouring shoulder to shoulder to preserve the peace against Russian
aggression. The anger of the Kaiser, the agitation of the Chancellor,
and the fury of the populace when England declared war showed that
Germany had no present intention of adding the British Empire to her
list of enemies and little fear that it would intervene unless it were
attacked. Any anxiety she may have felt was soothed by the studied
assumption that England's desire, if any, to intervene would be
effectively checked by her domestic situation. Agents from Ulster were
buying munitions to fight Home Rule with official connivance in
Germany, and it was confidently expected that war would shake a
ramshackle British Empire to its foundations; there would be
rebellions in Ireland, India, and South Africa, and the self-governing
Dominions would at least refuse to participate in Great Britain's
European adventures. In such circumstances "the flannelled fool at the
wicket and the muddied oaf at the goal" might be trusted to hug his
island security and stick to his idle sports; and the most windy and
patriotic of popular British weeklies was at the end of July
placarding the streets of London with the imprecation "To hell with
Servia."

The object of German diplomacy was to avoid offence to British
susceptibilities, and the first requisite was to keep behind the
scenes. The Kaiser went off on a yachting cruise to Norway, where,
however, he was kept in constant touch with affairs, while Austria on
23 July presented her ultimatum to the Serbian Government. The terms
amounted to a demand for the virtual surrender of Serbian
independence, and were in fact intended to be rejected. Serbia,
however, acting on Russian and other advice, accepted them all except
two, which she asked should be referred to the Hague Tribunal. Austria
refused on the ground that the dispute was not of a justiciable
nature; and the meagre five days' grace having expired on the 28th,
Austrian troops crossed the Save and occupied Belgrade, the Serbians
withdrawing without resistance. Meanwhile feverish activity agitated
the chancelleries of Europe. The terms of the ultimatum had been
discussed by the British Cabinet on Friday the 24th, and the British
Fleet, which had been reviewed at Spithead on the previous Saturday,
was, instead of dispersing at Portland, kept together, and then, on
the 29th, dispatched to its war stations in the North Sea.
Simultaneously the German High Seas Fleet withdrew on the 26th to Kiel
and Wilhelmshaven. Russia replied to the Austrian invasion of Serbia
by mobilizing her southern command and extending the mobilization, as
the hand of Germany became more apparent, to her northern armies. Sir
Edward Grey made unceasing efforts to avert the clash of arms by
peaceable negotiation, and proposed a conference of the four Great
Powers not immediately concerned in the dispute--Germany, France,
Italy, and Great Britain. Germany, knowing that she would stand alone
in the conference, declined. The dispute, she pretended, was merely a
local affair between Austria and Serbia, in which no other Power had
the right to intervene. But she refused to localize the dispute to the
extent of regarding it as a Balkan conflict between the interests of
Austria and Russia. Austria was less unyielding when it became evident
that Russia would draw the sword rather than acquiesce in Serbia's
subjection, and on the 30th it seemed that the way had been opened for
a settlement by direct negotiation between Vienna and Petrograd. At
that moment Germany threw off the diplomatic disguise of being a
pacific second to her Austrian friend, and cut the web of argument by
an ultimatum to Russia on the 31st. Fear lest the diplomatists should
baulk them of their war had already led the German militarists to
publish in their press the unauthorized news of a complete German
mobilization, and on 1-2 August German armies crossed the frontiers.
It was not till some days later that war was declared between Austria
and any of the Allies; the war from first to last was made in Germany.

Throughout that week-end the British Cabinet remained in anxious
conclave. The Unionist leaders early assured it of their support in
any measures they might think fit to take to vindicate Great Britain's
honour and obligations; but they could not relieve it of its own
responsibility, and the question did not seem as easy to answer as it
has done since the conduct of Germany and the nature of her ambitions
have been revealed. A purely Balkan conflict did not appear to be an
issue on which to stake the fortunes of the British Empire. We were
not even bound to intervene in a trial of strength between the Central
Empires and Russia and France, for on 1 August Italy decided that the
action of the Central Empires was aggressive and that therefore she
was not required by the Triple Alliance to participate. There had in
the past been a tendency on the part of France to use both the Russian
alliance and English friendship for purposes in Morocco and elsewhere
which had not been quite relished in England; and intervention in
continental wars between two balanced alliances would have found few
friends but for recent German chauvinism. It might well seem that in
the absence of definite obligations and after having exhausted all
means of averting war, Great Britain was entitled to maintain an
attitude of benevolent neutrality, reserving her efforts for a later
period when better prepared she might intervene with greater effect
between the exhausted belligerents.

Such arguments, if they were used, were swept aside by indignation at
Germany's conduct. Doubts might exist of the purely defensive
intentions of France and Russia; each State had its ultra-patriots who
had done their best to give away their country's case; and if Russia
was suspect of Panslavist ambition, France was accused of building up
a colonial empire in North Africa in order to throw millions of
coloured troops into the scale for the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine.
But no such charge could be brought against Belgium. She had no
interest and no intention but to live in peace with her neighbours,
and that peace had been guaranteed her by international contract. If
such a title to peace was insecure there could be no security for the
world and nothing but subservience for little nations. The public
sense which for a century had been accustomed to welcome national
independence wherever it raised its head--in Greece, the Balkans,
Italy, Hungary, Poland, the South American Republics--revolted at its
denial to Belgium in the interest of German military aggression; and
censure of the breach of international contract was converted to
passion by the wrong wantonly done to a weak and peaceful by a mighty
and ambitious Power. Great Britain was not literally bound to
intervene; but if ever there was a moral obligation on a country, it
lay upon her now, and the instant meeting of that obligation implied
an instinctive recognition of the character of the war that was to be
fought. Mixed and confused though the national issues might be in
various quarters, the war, so far as concerned the two Powers who were
to be mainly instrumental in its winning, was a civil war of mankind
to determine the principle upon which international relations should
repose.

That issue was not for every one to see, and there were many to whom
the struggle was merely national rivalry in which the interests of
England happened to coincide with those of France and in which we
should have intervened just the same without any question of Belgium's
neutrality. Whether it might have been so can never be determined. But
it is certain that no such struggle would have enlisted the united
sympathies and whole-hearted devotion of the British realms, still
less those of the United States, and in it we might well have been
defeated. From that division and possible defeat we and the world were
saved by Germany's decision that military advantage outweighed moral
considerations. The invasion of Belgium and Luxemburg united the
British Empire on the question of intervention. Three ministers alone
out of more than forty--Lord Morley, Mr. John Burns, and Mr. C. P.
Trevelyan--dissented from the Cabinet's decision, and the minority in
the nation was of still more slender proportions. Parliament supported
the Ministry without a division when on 4 August England declared war.

Had we counted the cost? the German Chancellor asked our ambassador in
Berlin on the eve of the declaration. The cost would not have affected
our decision, but it was certainly not anticipated, and the Entente
was ill-prepared to cope with the strength displayed by Germany. The
British Navy was, indeed, as ready as the German Army, and the command
of the sea passed automatically into our hands when the German Fleet
withdrew from the North Sea on 26 July. But for that circumstance not
a single division could have been sent across the sea, and the war
would have been over in a few months. Nor was the British Army
unprepared for the task that had been allotted to it in anticipation.
It was the judgment not only of our own but of Allied Staffs that an
expeditionary force of six divisions would suffice to balance German
superiority in the West; and that force, consisting of better material
better trained than any other army in the field, was in its place in
the line of battle hundreds of miles from its base within three weeks
of the declaration of war. The real miscalculation was of the
respective strength of France and Germany, and no one had foreseen
that it would ultimately require three times the force that France
could put in the field to liberate French soil from the German
invader. The National Service League would have provided us with a
large army; but even its proposals were vitiated by their assumption
that these forces were needed to do the navy's work of home-defence,
and by the absence of provision for munitions, without which sending
masses of men into battle was sending them to useless slaughter. Time
was needed to remedy these miscalculations, but time was provided by
our command of the sea, about which there had been no misjudgment and
no lack of pre-vision. We made our mistakes before, and during the
war, but neither Mr. Asquith's Governments nor that of his successor
need fear comparison with those of our Allies or our enemies on that
account; and it is merely a modest foible of the people, which has
hardly lost a war for nearly four hundred years, to ascribe its escape
to fortune, and to envy the prescience and the science which have
lightened the path of its enemies to destruction.


                              CHAPTER II

                         THE GERMAN INVASION

Germany began the war on the Western front before it was declared, and
on 1-2 August German cavalry crossed the French frontier between
Luxemburg and Switzerland at three points in the direction of Longwy,
Lunéville, and Belfort. But these were only feints designed to prolong
the delusion that Germany would attack on the only front legitimately
open to warfare and to delay the reconstruction of the French defence
required to meet the real offensive. The reasons for German strategy
were conclusive to the General Staff, and they were frankly explained
by Bethmann-Hollweg to the British ambassador. There was no time to
lose if France was to be defeated before an effective Russian move,
and time would be lost by a frontal attack. The best railways and
roads from Berlin to Paris ran through Belgium; the Vosges protected
more than half of the French frontier south of Luxemburg, Belfort
defended the narrow gap between them and Switzerland, and even the
wider thirty miles' gap between the northern slopes of the Vosges and
Luxemburg was too narrow for the deployment of Germany's strength; the
way was also barred by the elaborate fortifications of Verdun, Toul,
and Nancy. Strategy pointed conclusively to the Belgian route, and its
advantages were clinched by the fact that France was relying on the
illusory scrap of paper. Her dispositions assumed an attack in
Lorraine, and her northern fortifications round Lille, Maubeuge, and
Hirson were feeble compared with those of Belfort, Toul, and Verdun.
Given a rapid and easy march through Belgium, the German armies would
turn the left flank of the French defence and cut it off from the
capital. Hence the resistance of Belgium had a great military
importance apart from its moral value. To its lasting honour the
Belgian Government had scorned the German proposal for connivance even
in the attractive form which would have limited the German use of
Belgian territory to the eastern bank of the Meuse.

Haste and contempt for the Belgian Army, whose imperfect organization
was due to a natural reliance on the neutrality which Germany had
guaranteed, accounted for the first derangement of German plans. The
invasion began towards Visé, near the Dutch frontier where the direct
road from Aix to Brussels crosses the Meuse, but the main
advance-guard followed the trunk railway from Berlin to Paris via
Venders and Liège. It was, however, inadequately mobilized and
equipped, and was only intended to clear away an opposition which was
not expected to be serious. The Belgians fought more stubbornly than
was anticipated; and aided by Brialmont's fortification of Liège,
although his plans for defence were not properly executed, they held
up the Germans for two days in front of the city. It was entered on 7
August, but its fall did not give the Germans the free passage they
wanted; for the forts on the heights to the north commanded the
railway, and the Germans contented themselves with bringing up their
transport and 11 2 in. howitzers. Brialmont had not foreseen the
explosive force of modern shells, and two days' bombardment on the
13th-15th reduced the remaining forts, in spite of their construction
underground, to a mass of shell-holes with a handful of wounded or
unconscious survivors. The last to be reduced was Fort Loncin, whose
gallant commander, General Leman, was found poisoned and half-dead
from suffocation. He had succeeded in delaying the German advance for
a momentous week.

No more could be done with the forces at his disposal, and the German
masses of infantry were pouring across the Meuse at Visé, towards
Liège by Verviers, up the right bank of the Meuse towards Namur, and
farther south through the Ardennes. The German cavalry which spread
over the country east and north-east of Brussels and was sometimes
repulsed by the Belgians, was merely a screen, which defective
air-work failed to penetrate, and the frequent engagements were merely
the brushes of outposts. Within a week from the fall of Fort Loncin
half of Belgium was overrun and the real menace revealed. Belgium was
powerless before the avalanche, and its only hope lay in France. But
the French Army was still mobilizing on its northern front, and its
incursions into Alsace and Lorraine did nothing to relieve the
pressure. The Belgians had to fall back towards Antwerp, uncovering
Brussels, which was occupied by the Germans on the 20th and mulcted in
a preliminary levy of eight million pounds, and leaving to the
fortifications of Namur the task of barring the German advance to the
northern frontiers of France. Namur proved a broken reed. The troops
which paraded through Brussels with impressive pomp and regularity
were only a detail of the extreme right wing of the invading force;
the mass was advancing along the north bank of the Meuse and
overrunning the whole of Belgium south and east of the river. On the
15th an attempt to seize Dinant and the river crossing above Namur was
repulsed by French artillery; but there was apparently no cavalry to
follow up this success, and the Germans were allowed to bring up their
heavy howitzers for the bombardment of Namur without disturbance. It
began on the 20th, and, unsupported by the Allied assistance for which
they looked, the Belgians were panic-stricken; on the 23rd the city
and most of the forts were in German hands though two resisted until
the 26th. The Germans had not, as at Liège, wasted their infantry in
premature attacks, and with little loss to them, a fortress reputed
impregnable had been captured, the greater part of the southern
Belgian Army destroyed, and the provisional plan of French defence
frustrated. The fall of Namur was the first resounding success of the
Germans in the war.

Its loss was not redeemed by the French offensive in Alsace and
Lorraine. On 7 August a weak French force advanced through the Belfort
gap and, finding still weaker forces to oppose it, proceeded to occupy
Altkirch and Mulhouse, while a proclamation by General Joffre
announced the approaching liberation of the provinces torn from France
in 1870. It was a feeble and ill-conceived effort to snatch a
political advantage out of a forbidding military situation. German
reinforcements swept up from Colmar and Neu Breisach, and on the both
the French were back within a few miles of the frontier, leaving their
sympathizers to the vengeance of their enemies. More legitimate though
not more successful was the French thrust in Lorraine. It had other
motives than the political: it would, if pushed home, menace the left
of the German armies in Belgium and disturb their communications; and
a smaller success would avert the danger of a German advance in
Lorraine which would threaten the right of the French on the Meuse.
Accordingly, Generals Pau and de Castelnau, commanding the armies of
Alsace and Lorraine respectively, ordered a general advance on the
10th. At first it met with success: the chief passes of the Vosges
from Mt. Donon on the north to the Belfort gap were seized;
counter-thrusts by the Germans towards Spincourt and Blamont in the
plain of Lorraine were parried; Thann was captured, Mulhouse was
re-occupied, and the Germans looked like losing Alsace as far north as
Colmar. German Lorraine seemed equally insecure, for on the 18th
Castelnau's troops were in Saarburg cutting the rail and roads between
Strassburg and Metz. The Germans, however, were not unprepared: their
Fifth Army, under the Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, came down
from Metz and fell upon the exposed French left, which was routed with
great losses in guns and prisoners on the 21st. Not only did the
invasion collapse, but the Bavarians pushed across the French frontier
nearly as far as Toul and occupied Lunéville, compelling also a French
retreat from the passes of the Vosges. General Pau had soon to follow
suit and retire again from Mulhouse and all but the south-west corner
of Alsace.

The operations in Alsace and Lorraine had dismally failed to discount
the advance of the Germans through Belgium or even to impede the march
of their centre through Luxemburg and the Ardennes. At the end of
three weeks France was still in the throes of mobilization: the
original scheme of defence along the Franco-German frontier had been
upset by the German attack through Belgium; and second thoughts had
fared little better at Namur. The shortest line of defence after the
Germans had broken through at Liège was one running from Antwerp to
Namur, and the shortest line is imperative for the weaker combatant.
But the Germans were well across it when they entered Brussels, and
with the fall of Namur the hinge upon which depended the defence of
the northern frontier of France was broken. It was to an almost
forlorn hope that the British Army was committed when it took its
place on the left of the French northern armies at Mons to encounter
for the first time since Waterloo the shock of a first-rate European
force. But for its valour and the distraction caused by the Russian
invasion of East Prussia, Paris and possibly the French armies might
not have been saved.

It was a meagre force for so great a responsibility, but far from the
"contemptible little army" it was falsely believed to have been called
by the Kaiser. The men were all volunteers who had enlisted for seven
years' service with the colours as against the three years' service of
the Germans and the French; and on an average they had seen far more
actual fighting than the Germans, who contemptuously dismissed this
experience as colonial warfare. If in the science of tactics and
strategy the British was inferior to the German Army, its marksmanship
and individual steadiness were unequalled; and under anything like
equal conditions British troops proved themselves the better men. But
the conditions were never equal during the first two years of the war
owing to the German superiority in numbers and in artillery; and there
was a third cause of inequality due to the different military systems
of the two countries. Universal service enabled Germany to select the
ablest men--at least from the middle and upper classes--to officer and
command her armies. In England before the war only an infinitesimal
fraction of her youthful ability found its way into the army.
Independent means and social position rather than brains were the
common qualifications for a commission; and what there was to be said
for such a system so long as fighting was mainly a matter of physical
courage and individual leadership lost its validity when war became a
matter of science and mechanical ingenuity. The fact that four of the
six British army-commanders (Plumer, Byng, Rawlinson, Cavan) in the
West at the end of the war were old Etonians, testifies to more things
than their military skill; and it was a characteristic irony that from
first to last the British armies should have been commanded by cavalry
officers in a war in which cavalry played hardly any part.

The commander-in-chief was Sir John French, who had made his
reputation as a cavalry leader in the Boer War and had been chief of
the imperial staff since 1911. As inspector-general of the forces from
1907 to 1911 he had a good deal to do with Lord Haldane's
reorganization of the British Army, and as chief of the staff he was
largely responsible for the equipment of the Expeditionary Force and
the agreement with the French Government with regard to its dimensions
and the way in which it should be used. He was the obvious general to
command it when it came to the test. With similar unanimity the
popular voice approved of the appointment of Lord Kitchener as
Secretary of State for War on 5 August. The Expeditionary Force
consisted of three army corps, each comprising two divisions, and a
cavalry division under Allenby. The First Army Corps was commanded by
Sir Douglas Haig, the youngest lieutenant-general in the army, and the
second by Sir James Grierson, its most accomplished student. Unhappily
Grierson died suddenly soon after the landing, and he was succeeded by
Sir H. Smith-Dorrien, who, like French, had made his name in South
Africa. The Third Corps, under Sir W. Pulteney, came later into the
field. The embarkation began on 7 August, less than three days after
war had been declared, and the Government showed a sound confidence in
our little-understood command of the sea when it risked the whole of
our effective fighting force by sending it across the Channel to
assist the French and thus abandoning the defence of British shores to
the British Navy. By the 16th the transportation had been accomplished
without a hitch or loss of any kind. It was an achievement which even
domestic faction failed to belittle until time itself had effaced it
from popular recollection.

From Boulogne and from other ports the troops were sent up to the
wavering line of battle along the Franco-Belgian frontier. They came
not to win a victory but to save an army from disaster. The mass of
French reserves were in Lorraine or far away to the south, and the
safety of the French line on the northern front had depended upon the
assumed impregnability of Namur and an equally fallacious
underestimate of the number of German troops in Belgium. Three French
armies, the Third, the Fourth, and the Fifth, were strung along the
frontier from Montmédy across the Meuse and the Sambre to a point
north-west of Charleroi, where the British took up their position
stretching through Binche, Mons, and along the canal from Mons to
Condé. Far away to the south-west was a French Territorial corps in
front of Arras, and at Maubeuge behind the British centre was a French
cavalry corps under General Sordet. The French staff anticipated a
defeat of the German attack on these lines and then a successful
offensive, and military critics in England even wrote of the hopeless
position of the Germans under Von Buelow and Von Kluck thrust far
forward into a cul-de-sac in Belgium with the French on their left at
Charleroi, the British on their right front at Mons, and the Belgians
on their right rear before Antwerp. The German calculation was that
the Belgians had been effectively masked by a corps detached
north-westwards from Brussels, that the Duke of Württemberg and Von
Hausen had troops enough to force the Meuse, drive in the French
right, and threaten the centre at Charleroi, and that Von Buelow could
cross the Sambre and Von Kluck encircle the British flank. The
strength which the Germans developed in Belgium and the extension of
their right wing are said to have been an afterthought due to the
intervention of the British Expeditionary Force; but the original
German plan required some such modification when the presence of
British troops lengthened the line of French defence.

The first two army corps, under Haig to the right and Smith-Dorrien to
the left, were in position on Saturday the 22nd hard at work throwing
up entrenchments and clearing the ground of obstacles to their fire.
That day was more eventful for the French, and it is not quite clear
why they were not assisted by a British offensive on their left. On
the right, the Third and Fourth French armies under Ruffey and Langle
de Cary had advanced from the Meuse to attack the Germans across the
Semois. They were severely checked and withdrew behind the Meuse,
while an unsuspected army of Saxons under Von Hausen attacked the
right flank of the Fifth French army under Lanrezac which lay along
the Sambre with its right flank resting on the Meuse. The fall of
Namur in the angle of the two rivers made Von Hausen's task
comparatively easy, and the Fifth army, which was also attacked by Von
Buelow in front, fell back in some confusion. A breach was thus made
in the French line, and Von Hausen turned left to roll up the Fourth
and Third armies of Langle de Cary and Ruffey; they, too, in their
turn retreated in some haste, and the Germans were free to concentrate
on the British. They had cleared their left and centre of danger, and
Von Kluck was able on the 23rd not only to face our troops with
superior forces in front, but to outflank them towards the west and
bring Von Buelow down upon them from Charleroi on the east. He had at
least four army corps with which to crush the British two, and our
75,000 men were spread out on a line of twenty-five miles thinner far
than the French line just broken at Charleroi. Finally, owing to
defective staff-work and the confusion of the French retreat, they
were left in utter ignorance of what had happened, and faced the
German attack as if they were part of one unbroken front instead of
being a fragment round which the tide of battle surged, and under the
impression conveyed to them on their arrival at the scene of action
that their opponents numbered little more than one or at most two army
corps.

Fighting began at 12.40 p.m. on Sunday the 23rd with a bombardment
from between five and six hundred German guns along the whole
twenty-five miles of front. It did surprisingly little damage in spite
of the spotting by German aeroplanes; and when the German infantry
came forward in massed formation, they discovered that their shelling
had had no effect upon the moral of our troops or the accuracy of
their rifle-fire. The Germans fought, of course, with obstinate
courage and advanced again and again into the murderous fire of our
rifles and machine guns and against occasional bayonet charges. But
their own shooting went to pieces under the stress, and the frontal
attack was a failure. Success there could not, however, ward off Von
Buelow's threat to our right flank, and under the converging pressure
Binche and then Mons itself had to be evacuated. But it was the
long-delayed news of the French defeat and withdrawal on the whole of
the rest of the line, coupled with more accurate information about the
size of the German force, that determined the abandonment of the
British position. Sir John French had to hold on till nightfall, but
orders were given to prepare the way for retreat. The weary troops
were to have a few hours' rest and start at daybreak. Their retreat
was covered by a counter-attack soon after dawn by the First Division
on the right which suggested to the Germans that we had been strongly
reinforced and intended an offensive. Meanwhile Smith-Dorrien moved
back five miles from the Canal, and then stood to protect the
withdrawal of the First Division after its feint attack. It was a
heavy task, and the 9th Lancers suffered severely in an attempt to
hold up the Germans at Audregnies. But by Monday afternoon Haig's
First Army Corps was back on the line between Maubeuge and Bavai, and
Smith-Dorrien fell into line from Bavai westwards to Bry.

The design was to offer a second battle in this position, and
entrenchments were begun. The fortress of Maubeuge and the Sambre gave
some protection to the British right, but the Sambre was only of use
in front if the Meuse was held by the French on the right and Von
Kluck could not outflank on the left. Neither of these conditions was
fulfilled: Von Kluck had seized Tournai and captured the whole of the
French Territorial brigade which attempted to defend it, while the
Meuse had been forced and the three French armies were in full
retreat. A battle on the Maubeuge-Bry line would invite an
encirclement from which the British had barely escaped at Mons, and
the retreat was reluctantly continued to Le Cateau. Marching, the
First Army Corps along the east of the Forest of Mormal and the Second
along the west, our troops reached at nightfall on the 25th a line
running from Maroilles through Landrecies and Le Cateau to
Serainvilliers near Cambrai; but they had little rest. About 10 p.m.,
amid rain and darkness, the Germans got into Landrecies. In the fierce
hand-to-hand struggle which ensued, the individual resourcefulness of
our men gave them the advantage, and the Germans were driven out by
detachments of the Grenadier, Coldstream, and 1st Irish Guards. They
were simultaneously repulsed at Maroilles with some French assistance;
but daybreak saw a third and more powerful attack delivered on Le
Cateau. Sir John French had told Smith-Dorrien the night before that
he was risking a second Sedan by a stand. But Smith-Dorrien thought he
had no option. For eight hours on the 26th his men, reinforced by
Snow's Division, but outnumbered in guns by nearly four to one, held
their own, until another envelopment was threatened by Von Kluck.
Fortunately the struggle had apparently exhausted the Germans;
Sordet's cavalry had ridden across Smith-Dorrien's front and protected
his left from envelopment; and the remnants of the three divisions
were able to withdraw. The retreat was harrowing enough, and the 1st
Gordons, missing their way in the dark, fell into the hands of the
Germans and were all killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. But Le
Cateau had taken the sting out of the German pursuit, and touch was at
last regained with French forces to the east, with a newly-formed
corps under D'Amade to the west, and with a Sixth French army which
Maunoury was collecting on the Somme. On the evening of Friday the
28th Smith-Dorrien reached the Oise between Chauny and Noyon and Haig
at La Fère. The First Army Corps had marched by Guise; the loss of a
detachment of Munsters by misadventure early on the 27th was redeemed
by the defeat on the 28th of two German columns by two brigades of
Allenby's cavalry led by Gough and Chetwode. That night the
Expeditionary Force had its first real sleep since Sunday, and next
day there were no marching orders.

The British Army had saved itself and a good deal else by its courage,
skill, and, above all, its endurance. But there was much that was lost
in men, material, and ground. The fortification of the French frontier
south and west of Mons was obsolete, and the country had been denuded
of troops save a few Territorials in the process of mobilization.
Maubeuge was the only fortress that made a stand, and Uhlans swept
across Belgium as far as the Lys and down upon Lille and Arras with
the object of cutting communications between the British Army and its
bases at Boulogne and Dieppe. Some resistance was offered at Bapaume,
where the arrival of a British detachment delayed the German advance
until Amiens had been evacuated and the rolling stock removed. But the
threat was sufficiently serious to induce Sir John French to move his
base as far south as St. Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire, and the
Germans could, had they been so minded, have occupied the Channel
ports as far as the Seine. But they were not calculating on a long war
or a serious contest with British forces for the control of Flanders,
and their object was to destroy the French armies and dictate a peace
at Paris before the autumn leaves began to fall.

They seemed to be making excellent progress towards that end. Sir J.
French, indeed, took a sombre view of our losses at Le Cateau, and
apparently it needed a visitation from Lord Kitchener on 1st September
to retain the British Army in co-operation with the French. The fall
of Namur, the battles of Charleroi and Mons, and the defeat of the
French on the Semois were followed by the rout of Ruffey's and
Langle's armies on the Meuse. They stretched north-westwards from
Montmédy by way of Sedan and Mezières down the Meuse towards Dinant
and Namur. But their left flank had been turned by Von Hausen's
victory and the fall of Namur; and on the 27th Von Hausen, wheeling to
his left, rolled up the French left wing while the Duke of Württemberg
and the Crown Prince attacked all along the front. Ruffey had to seek
safety in the Argonne, while Langle's army made for Rethel on the
Aisne. On the 28th Longwy, the last French fortress north of Verdun,
capitulated after a stout resistance. The defence of the frontier had
collapsed, and the hopes that were entertained of resistance along the
upper Aisne and thence by Laon and La Fère towards St. Quentin, proved
delusive. Lanrezac's Fifth army turned on the 29th between Vervins and
Ribemont, and near Guise inflicted on the Germans the most serious
check to their advance. This reaction was not helped by the British
retreat on Lanrezac's left, and its principal value was to protect
that withdrawal. Nor was it better supported on the right. The Third
and Fourth French armies were too severely hustled in their retreat to
make a stand, and the reserves were still far away to the south. On
the 28th-29th the Aisne was forced at Rethel, and Reims and Chalons
were abandoned to the enemy; and La Fère and Laon followed on the
30th.

The British fell back from the Aisne and the Oise through the forests
of Villers-Cotterets and Compiègne towards the Marne. At Néry on 1
September a battery of Royal Horse Artillery was almost wiped out, and
the guns were only saved by a gallant cavalry charge of the 1st
Brigade; and on the same day a hard rearguard defence had to be fought
by the 4th Guards Brigade. On the 3rd they reached the Marne, but it
too was abandoned farther east without resistance, and on the 5th the
Expeditionary Force was concentrated behind the Grand Morin. A
retreat, upon the successful conduct of which depended the existence
of the Force, the security of France, and the cause of the Entente,
had been successfully accomplished by the skill of its commanders and
still more by the fortitude and unquenchable spirit of the men. The
French, too, showed a steadiness in misfortune for which their enemies
had not looked; their reverses had been more severe, and their
preparation less complete than our own, and a high morale was required
for armies to react against such a run of ill-success with the
effectiveness that was presently displayed upon the Marne.

A public on both sides of the Channel which was unfamiliar with the
elements of military science and history, looked, as soon as it was
allowed to learn the facts about the German advance, for the
investment of Paris and regarded the French capital as the objective
of the German invasion. But Napoleon's maxim that fortresses are
captured on the field of battle was even truer in 1914 than it was a
century earlier; for only the dispersal of the enemy enables an army
to bring up the heavy artillery needed to batter down modern
fortifications, and the great war saw no sieges worth the name
because, the armies being once driven off, no forts could stand
prolonged bombardment by the artillery which followed in the victor's
train. The cities that suffered were not isolated units, they were
merely knotty points in the lines of battle, and there could be no
siege of Paris so long as Joffre's armies kept in line along the Marne
or anywhere in contact with the capital. There was therefore no change
of plan and no mystery when Von Kluck's right veered in the direction
of its advance from south-west to south and then south-east. It was
both avoiding an obstacle and pursuing its original design of
outflanking the Entente's left. Not that Paris was without its
strategic value. It and the line of the Seine impeded the
encirclement, offered a nucleus of resistance, and provided a screen
behind which could be organized a blow against the right flank of the
deflected German march. Still, there was no certainty that Joffre
could hold the Marne, and the French Government took the somewhat
alarming precaution of removing to Bordeaux.

The presence of the British on the French left, the spectacular threat
to Paris, and the comparative proximity of these operations to our own
shores have possibly led to too great an emphasis being placed upon
Von Kluck's attempt to outflank the left, or at least to too little
weight being attached to the German effort to turn the right in
Lorraine. The Crown Prince was in front of Verdun and the Kaiser
himself went to stimulate the Bavarians at Lunéville and Nancy, and it
was not the imperial habit to bestow the light of the imperial
countenance upon scenes of secondary importance. Lunéville had been
occupied on the 22nd after the French failure on the Saar, and on the
23rd fighting began for the Grand Couronné de Nancy defended by
Castelnau. The line of battle stretched from St. Dié to
Pont-á-Mousson; but although the fiercest attack was still to come,
the German thrust had been decisively checked at Mirecourt before
Joffre determined to stand on the Marne. At last the French seemed to
have a security on their right flank, the lack of which had proved
fatal at Charleroi and on the Meuse. Paris on the one wing and Nancy
on the other forbade the threat of encirclement which had hitherto
compelled retreat; and the French armies were also at last in touch
with their reserves.

There were other elements in the situation to encourage resistance The
momentum of the German rush was somewhat spent in its rapidity, and
the Germans were to illustrate the defect in their own maxim that the
essence of war is violence; for violence is not the same as force and
often wastes it. Moreover, the Russian invasion of East Prussia, if it
did not actually compel the transference of divisions from France to
the Eastern front, diverted thither reserves which might otherwise
have appeared on the Marne or released the troops detained until 7
September by the siege of Maubeuge. Assuredly Joffre seized the right
moment when on the 4th he decided to strike his blow. Two new armies
of reserves had come into line, Foch's Ninth and Maunoury's Sixth; and
two old armies had new commanders, the Third with Sarrail instead of
Ruffey and the Fifth with Franchet d'Esperey instead of Lanrezac. In
the east Castelnau and Sarrail stood almost back to back along the
eastern and western heights of the Meuse above Verdun. On Sarrail's
left was Langle's Fourth army behind Vitry, and the line was continued
westwards by Foch behind Sezanne and the marshes of St. Gond. Next
came D'Esperey's Fifth at La Ferté-Gaucher, and cavalry linked his
left with the British guarded by the Crecy forest. Thence
north-westward stretched across the Paris front the new Sixth army of
Maunoury.

As early as 31 August Von Kluck had turned south-east at a right angle
to his south-western march from Brussels to Amiens; but he had not
thereby replaced his enveloping design by a stroke at Joffre's centre.
For he thought he had disposed of the British at Le Cateau and of
Maunoury on the Somme, and that D'Esperey's Fifth had thus become the
flank of Joffre's forces. He was merely curving his claws to grip, and
by the night of the 5th he had crossed the Marne, the Petit Morin, and
the Grand Morin, and his patrols had reached the Seine. It was a brief
and solitary glimpse of the river on which stood the capital of
France. The battle began, like that of Mons, on a Sunday, the 6th of
September reached its climax on the 9th, and was over by the 12th, The
fighting extended in a curved line from Meaux, which is almost a
suburb of Paris, to Lunéville, which is almost on the German frontier;
and Joffre hoped that this line was too strong to be broken, and could
be gradually drawn tighter until the head of the German invasion was
squeezed out of the cul-de-sac into which, in the German anxiety for a
prompt decision, it had been thrust. The German object, of course,
was, as soon as Von Kluck discovered that Maunoury's new and the
British returning armies forbade the enveloping plan, to break the
line where it bent the most, that is, towards the south-east, and the
weight of attack was thrown against Foch and Langle in Champagne. The
business of those two generals was to stand fast while the right flank
of the Germans was exposed to the counter-offensive of Maunoury and
the British.

Von Kluck had committed the error of underrating his foes, and
assuming that they had been broken beyond the chance of reaction; for
to march across the front of an army that is still able to strike is
inviting disaster, and Joffre had at last been able to shift his
weight from east to west to cope with Von Kluck's unexpected attack
through Belgium. Maunoury's army debouched from Meaux and began
fighting its way to the Ourcq, a little river which runs southwards
into the Marne at Lizy, while the British emerged from the Crecy
forest and drove the Germans back to the Grand Morin. D'Esperey made
headway against the bulk of Von Kluck's army between La Ferté-Gaucher
and Esternay, while Foch held his own against Von Buelow and Von
Hausen's right, and Langle against the Duke of Württemberg. Sarrail's
Third army had, however, to give a little ground along the Meuse. The
morrow's tale was similar: most progress was made by the British, who
drove the Germans across the Grand Morin at Coulommiers, and thus
enabled D'Esperey to do the like with Von Kluck's centre. On the 8th,
however, Maunoury was hard pressed by Von Kluck's desperate efforts to
deal with this sudden danger; but reinforcements poured out from
Paris, the British gained the Petit Morin from Trilport to La
Trétoire, while D'Esperey carried victory farther east and captured
Montmirail. By 11 a.m. on the 9th Von Kluck's army was ordered to
retreat, thus exposing Von Buelow's right, and giving Foch his
opportunity for the decisive stroke of the battle.

It consisted of two blows, right and left, and both came off late on
the 9th. Maunoury's counter-attack on the left had compelled the
Germans to weaken their centre. Not only was Von Buelow's right
exposed, but a gap had been left between his left and Von Hausen's
right, possibly for troops which were detained at Maubeuge or had been
diverted to East Prussia. Nor was this all, for his centre was bogged
in the famous marshes of St. Gond. Foch struck hard at Von Buelow's
centre, right, and left, and by the morning of the 10th he had smashed
the keystone of the German arch. Meanwhile, on the 9th Maunoury had
cleared the Germans from the Ourcq, the British had crossed the Marne
at Chângis, and reached it at Château-Thierry, and D'Esperey farther
east. Von Kluck now received considerable reinforcements which Von
Buelow needed more, and the latter's rapid retreat made even
reinforcements useless for holding the Ourcq. It was equally fatal to
success against Langle and Sarrail, and on the 10th the German retreat
became general. By the end of the week the Germans were back on a line
running nearly due east from a point on the Oise behind Compiègne to
the Aisne, along it to Berry-au-Bac, and thence across Champagne and
the Argonne to Verdun. They had failed in Lorraine as well, where the
climax of their attack was from the 6th to the 9th. Castelnau then
took the offensive, and by the 12th had driven the Bavarians from
before Nancy beyond the Meurthe, and out of Lunéville and St. Dié.

The German right had fallen back thirty-five miles and the centre
nearly fifty; but the retreat was not a rout, and the losses in guns
and prisoners were meagre. The first battle of the Marne was important
by reason of what it prevented the Germans from doing, rather than by
reason of what the Allies achieved, and they had to wait nearly four
years for that precipitate evacuation of France which it was hoped
would follow upon the German repulse from the Marne in September 1914.
Nevertheless it was one of the decisive battles and turning-points of
the war. The German surprise, so long and so carefully prepared, had
failed, and the knockout blow had been parried. The Allied victory had
not decided how the war would end, but it had decided that the war
would be long--a test of endurance rather than of generalship, a
struggle of peoples and a conflict of principles rather than duel
between professional armies. There would be time for peaceful and even
unarmed nations to gird themselves in defence; and the cause of
democracy would not go down because military autocrats had thought to
dispose of France before her allies could effectively intervene.


                             CHAPTER III

                             RUSSIA MOVES

The first month of the war in the West had coincided more nearly with
German plans than with Entente hopes, but both Germany and the Western
Allies agreed in miscalculating Russia. The great Moltke had remarked
early in his career that Russia had a habit of appearing too late on
the field and then coming too strong. The war was to prove that to be
a fault of democracy rather than of autocrats, and Russia intervened
with an unexpected promptitude which was to be followed in time by an
equally unexpected collapse. The forecasting of the course of wars is
commonly left to military experts, and military experts commonly err
through ignoring the moral and political factors which determine the
weight and distribution of military forces. The soldier, so far as he
looks behind armies at all, only looks to the numbers from which those
armies may be recruited, and pays scant regard to the political,
moral, social, and economic conditions which may make havoc of armies,
evoke them where they do not exist, or transfer them to unforeseen
scales in the military balance. Russia appeared to the strategist as a
vast reservoir of food for powder which would take time to mobilize,
but prove almost irresistible if it were given time. Both these
calculations proved fallacious, and still less was it foreseen that
the reservoir would revolt. The first misjudgment deranged the German
plans, the second those of the Allies, while the third upset the minds
of the world.

The outbreak of war found Russia with a peace-strength of over a
million men, a war-strength of four millions, and reserves which were
limited not by her population but by her capacity for transport,
organization, and production of munitions. Her Prussian frontiers were
guarded by no natural defences, but neither were Prussia's. Nature, it
has been said, did not foresee Prussia; Prussia is the work of men's
hands. Nor had Nature foreseen Russia, and men's hands had not made up
the deficiency. Mechanical means had remedied the natural defects of
Prussia's frontier, but not those of the Russian; and Russia's defence
consisted mainly in distance, mud, and lack of communications. The
value of these varied, of course, with the seasons, and the
motor-transport, which atoned to some extent for the lack of railways,
told in favour of German science and industry, and against the
backward Russians. Apart from the absence of natural defences, the
Russian frontier had been artificially drawn so as to make her Polish
province an indefensible salient, though properly organized it would
have been an almost intolerable threat alike to East Prussia and to
Austrian Galicia. But for her preoccupation in the West, Germany could
have conquered Poland in a fortnight, and Russian plans, indeed,
contemplated a withdrawal as far as the line of Brest-Litovsk. As it
was, the German offensive in Belgium and France left the defence of
Prussia to the chances of an Austrian offensive against Lublin, a
containing army of some 200,000 first-line and 300,000 second-line
troops, and the delays in Russian mobilization.

Two of these proved to be broken reeds. Russian troops were almost as
prompt in invading East Prussia as German troops in crossing the
frontiers of France and Belgium, and by the end of the first week in
August a flight to Berlin had begun. The shortest way from the Russian
frontier to Berlin was by Posen, and it lay through a country peopled
with Poles who were bitterly hostile to their German masters. But it
was impossible to exploit these advantages at the expense of deepening
the Polish salient with its already too narrow base, and the flanks in
East Prussia and Galicia had first to be cleared. Under the supreme
command of the Grand Duke Nicholas, who in spite of his rank was a
competent professional soldier, and the more immediate direction of
Rennenkampf, one of the few Russian officers to emerge with enchanced
reputation from the Japanese War, the Russians proceed to concentrate
on East Prussia (see Map). On the east Gumbinnen was captured after a
battle on the 20th, and the important junction of Insterburg occupied
by Rennenkampf, while on the south Samsonov on the 21st turned the
German right, threatened Allenstein and drove the fugitives, as
Rennenkampf had done, into the lines of Königsberg. East Prussia lay
at Russia's feet, and something like a panic alarmed Berlin. The
Teutonic cause was faring even worse in Galicia and Poland. Austria
had a million troops in Galicia, but her offensive under Dankl towards
Lublin only produced a strategic Russia retirement, while Ruszky and
Brussilov overran the eastern borders and menaced Lemberg.

Fortunately for the Germans their own right hand proved a stronger
defence. The incompetent General von François, who had been driven
into Königsberg, was superseded by Hindenburg, a retired veteran of
nearly seventy, whose military career had made so slight an impression
on the German mind that his name was not even included in the German
"Who's Who." Nevertheless he had commanded corps on the Prussian
frontier, and even after his retirement made the study of its defence
his hobby. He knew every yard of the intricate mixture of land and
water which made up the district of the Masurian Lakes, and had,
unfortunately for Russia, defeated a German financial scheme for
draining the country and turning it into land over which an invader
could safely march. Within five days of Samsonov's victory,
Hindenburg, taking advantage of the magnificent system of German
strategic railways, had collected some 150,000 men from the fortresses
on the Vistula and concentrated them on a strong position stretching
from near Allenstein south-west towards Soldau, his left resting on
the railway from Eylau to Insterburg and his right on that from Eylau
to Warsaw. In front of him were marshes with the ways through which he
was, but Samsonov was not, familiar; and the railways enabled him to
threaten either of the enemy's flanks.

Samsonov was practically isolated. Rightly ignoring the strong
defences of Königsberg but wrongly getting out of touch with
Rennenkampf, he had pushed on, thinking there could be no serious
resistance east of the Vistula and hoping to seize the bridge at
Graudenz. Hindenburg made a feint on his right, but pushed his real
outflanking movement along the railway on his left. But the feint was
enough to outflank Samsonov's left and close the retreat towards
Warsaw. It also diverted his reserves from his centre and from his
right, which on the 27th was cut off from a possible junction with
Rennenkampf. A gallant attempt by Gourko to relieve him on the 30th
came too late. The only exit was along a narrow strip of land between
the marshes leading to Ortelsburg, and here between the 28th and the
31st the Russian forces were almost annihilated. Less than a third
escaped, and the loss of guns was even greater. Over eighty thousand
prisoners were taken, and the Germans who had missed their Sedan in
the West secured a passable imitation in the East. Samsonov perished
in the retreat. The Russian censorship suppressed the news, and what
was allowed to come through from Germany was treated in Entente
countries as a German lie. For more than a fortnight little was known
of a victory which, save for Allenby's four years later, was the
completest in the war. The relief in Berlin was immense; Hindenburg
became the popular idol, Field-Marshal, and Generalissimo of the
Teutonic armies in the East; and a little village, which lay behind
Hindenburg's centre, was selected to give its name to the battle and
to commemorate a national revenge for that defeat at Tannenberg five
centuries before when the Slavonic kingdom of Poland had broken the
power of the Teutonic Order in Prussia.

Russia, however, was a different power from the Teutonic Order, and
Austrian generals were not Hindenburgs; Ruszky and Brussilov, too,
were better leaders than Samsonov, and though Rennenkampf had to
evacuate East Prussia before Hindenburg's advance, the Austrians were
driven like chaff before their enemies in Galicia. The object of
Russian strategy was to straighten the serpentine line of the frontier
for military purposes. Hence, while pushing forward her wings in East
Prussia and Galicia, she would merely stand on guard or withdraw in
the Polish centre, and the Germans encountered little opposition when
they seized Czenstochowa and Kalisch and pushed towards the Warta, or
the Austrians when they advanced by Zamosc towards the Bug. The
advance in East Prussia was also represented as a chivalrous attempt
to reduce the pressure in France by a threat to Berlin, and the real
Russian effort was the sweep westwards from the eastern Galician
frontier, where the Second Russian army under Ruszky and the Third
farther south under Brussilov were already threatening the envelopment
of Lemberg (or Lwow [Footnote: Pronounced and sometimes spelt Lvoff.])
and the Austrians under Von Auffenberg. Ruszky, formerly like Foch a
professor in a military academy, was perhaps the most scientific of
Russian generals; Brussilov showed his strategy two years later at
Luck; [Footnote: Pronounced Lutsk: the Slavonic "c" = "ts" "cz" = "ch"
and "sz" = "sh."] and Radko Dmitrieff was a Bulgarian general, now in
Russian service, who in the Balkan wars had won the battle of Kirk
Kilisse and helped to win that of Lule-Burgas. There was not an abler
trio in any field of the war.

By the end of August Brussilov had captured Tarnopol and Halicz and
forced the successive rivers which guarded the right flank of Lemberg
and Von Auffenberg's forces and protected their communications with
the Carpathian passes; and on 1 September the battle for the capital
of eastern Galicia began. It lasted for nearly three days, and was
almost as decisive as that of Tannenberg. Brussilov's outflanking
movement was continued with success, but the coup de grâce was given
here, as at Charleroi and the Marne, by isolating a central group and
thus breaking the line. Thrusting forward his right, Ruszky outflanked
Lemberg and interposed between Von Auffenberg and the Austrian army in
Poland. On the 3rd Lemberg was evacuated, and the retreat, which was
for a time protected by the entrenched camp at Grodek, gradually
became more disorderly. Over 70,000 prisoners were taken, mostly, no
doubt, Czecho-Slovaks and Jugo-Slavs who had more sympathy with the
Russians than with their Teutonic masters, and masses of machine guns
and artillery. The victory was brilliantly and promptly followed up.
While Brussilov pressed on to Stryj and the Carpathians, Ruszky and
Dmitrieff beat Von Auffenberg again at Rawa Ruska near the frontier on
the 10th, and Ivanoff, who had taken command in Poland, drove Dankl
and the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand from the line they held between
Lublin and the borders. The whole of the Austrian forces fell back
behind the Vistula and the San, Von Auffenberg finding safety in
Przemysl, and others a more temporary refuge at Jaroslav, while the
van of the retreating army did not stop short of Cracow. The German
detachments in Poland had to conform, and by the middle of September
Poland had been cleared as far as the Warta, and Galicia was
defenceless, save for invested Przemysl, as far south as the
Carpathians and as far west as the Dunajec. The days of the Marne were
even more sombre for the Central Empires on the Vistula and the San.

Their gloom was relieved by the halo which shone round Hindenburg's
head. Rennenkampf was gone and all the faculties of the University of
Königsberg conferred degrees on the victor to celebrate its escape.
Reinforcements were sent to the frontier, and on 7 September Russia
was invaded. The object of the offensive is not clear except on the
assumption that Hindenburg's strategic acumen was defective, and that
he thought he could turn the Russian right by an advance across the
Niemen. But the difficulties were insuperable and the distances were
vast. Even if he got to Kovno it would need far greater forces than he
possessed to cover and control the illimitable land beyond; and
between him and success lay swamps more extensive then the Masurian
Lakes and the heavily fortified line of the Narew. He was, indeed, in
his turn falling into Samsonov's error, and seems to have been saved
from his fate mainly by the prematurely successful Russian defence. He
was allowed to reach the Niemen at various points between Kovno and
Grodno, but was unhappily prevented from committing his fortunes to
the eastern bank by the Russian artillery, which repeatedly destroyed
his pontoons as soon as they were constructed. Lower down on his right
an attempt on the fortress of Ossowiec proved equally futile, because
the Germans could find no ground within range solid enough to bear the
weight of their artillery. The inevitable retreat began on the 27th,
and it was sadly harassed by the pursuing Russians, especially in the
forest of Augustowo, where Rennenkampf claimed to have inflicted
losses amounting to 60,000 men in killed, prisoners, and wounded. By 1
October the Russian cavalry was again across the German frontier, and
Hindenburg was called south to attempt in Poland to frustrate the
Russian advance on Cracow which his turning movement in the north had
failed to check.

The call was urgent, for the conquest of Galicia portended disaster to
the Central Empires. Cracow was a key both to Berlin and Vienna; its
possession would turn the Oder and open the door to Silesia, which was
hardly less vital to Germany than Westphalia as a mining and
manufacturing district. It would also give access to Vienna and
facilitate the separation of Hungary, and all that that meant in the
Balkans, from the Teutonic alliance. Even without the loss of Cracow,
that of the rest of Galicia was serious enough; her oil-wells were the
main sources of the German supply of petroleum, and her Slav
population, once assured of the solidity of Russian success, would
throw off its allegiance to the Hapsburgs and entice the
Czecho-Slovaks on its borders to do the same. These prospects were not
visionary in September 1914. Jaroslav fell on the 23rd and Przemysl
was invested. Russian cavalry rode through the Carpathian passes into
the Hungarian plain, and west of the San patrols penetrated within a
hundred miles of Cracow. In her own interests as well as in those of
her ally, Germany was compelled to throw more of her weight against
the Russian front. The German and Austrian commands were unified under
Hindenburg, and having failed on the north he now tried to stop the
Russians by a blow at their centre in Poland. Here Ruszky was now in
command, while Ivanoff with Brussilov and Dmitrieff as his two
lieutenants controlled the armies in Galicia.

Like every German general Hindenburg believed in the offensive being
the best form of defence, and like all Germans in the advantage of
waging war in the enemy's country. His plan of attack was a concentric
advance on Warsaw along the three railway lines leading from Thorn,
Kalisch, and Czenstochowa, combined with an effort to cross the
Vistula at Josefow while the Austrians kept step in Galicia, relieved
Przemysl, and recovered Lemberg. There was even a movement southwards
from East Prussia which captured Mlawa, but it was only a raid which
did not hamper the Grand Duke's contemplated counter-offensive. Warsaw
had obvious attractions; Josefow was selected because it was far from
Russia's railway lines but near to Ostrowiec, the terminus of a line
which led from the German frontier; and the object of crossing the
Vistula was to take in the rear the great fortress of Ivangorod lower
down, and then to get behind Warsaw. The Grand Duke had divined these
intentions, while he concealed his own by misleading the Germans into
a belief that he proposed abandoning the Polish salient and retiring
on Brest. His real plan was to stand on the east bank of the Vistula
save for the defence of Warsaw which lies upon the west, and to
counter-attack round the north of the German left wing under the guns
of the great fortress of Novo Georgievsk. Rennenkampf was brought down
to command this movement, while Ruszky took charge of the defence at
Josefow.

On 10 October Hindenburg's centre moved out from Lodz and on the 15th
the battle was joined all along the Vistula. Warsaw was vigorously
defended by Siberian and Caucasian troops, aided by Japanese guns. The
battle raged from the 16th to the 19th, when the planned surprise from
Novo Georgievsk forced back the German left and threatened the centre
before Warsaw. Ruszky was still more successful with his stratagem at
Josefow. The Germans were suffered to construct their pontoons, cross
the river, and make for the railway between Warsaw and Lublin. Then on
the 21st the Russians came down upon them with a bayonet charge, and
not a man is said to have escaped across the river. Next day the
Russians also crossed at Novo Alexandria lower down, and a general
attack drove the Germans back to Radom on the 25th and thence from
Kielce on 3 November. Threatened by Rennenkampf on the north and
Ruszky on the south, the German centre had to abandon Skierniewíce,
Lowicz, and then Lodz, destroying every vestige of communication as
they withdrew and lavishly sacrificing men in rearguard actions to
protect their stores and their equipment.

Ironically enough the chief success of Hindenburg's offensive was
achieved by the Austrian subordinates he had come to help. Ivanoff was
a bad substitute for Ruszky, and Dankl temporarily retrieved the
reputation he had lost the previous month. Jaroslav was recovered,
Przemysl was relieved and abundantly revictualled for a second and a
longer siege, and an attack on Sambor bade fair to put the Austrians
once more in Lemberg. But the German defeat in Poland compelled an
Austrian retreat in Galicia. Przemysl was reinvested and the Russians
resumed their march with quickened pace on Cracow. This time they
threatened it first from the north of the Vistula, and on 9 November
their cavalry, pursuing the Germans, was at Miechow, only twenty miles
from Cracow. Moving more slowly through Galicia while Brussilov
occupied the Carpathian passes, Dmitrieff pushed his cavalry into
Wielitza south-east of the city on 6 December, and on the 8th he
fought a successful action in its outskirts. Farther north the
Cossacks had occupied Nieszawa, a few miles from Thorn, on 9 November,
and on the following day a Russian raid across the Silesian frontier
cut the German railway from Posen to Cracow. It was high time that the
Germans turned the weight of their offensive from the Flanders front
and the Channel ports to parrying the Russian menace on their East.

Austria was in no happier case. Her invasion of Serbia which had
opened the flood-gates of war had been almost submerged in the
torrent, and the punitive expedition she had planned had brought
punishment mainly upon herself, and that not merely at the hands of
Serbia's powerful patron, but at those of the little people who were
to be chastised. The early fighting was of a desultory character, and
Austria's two first-line corps having been withdrawn to meet the
Russians, the Serbs and Montenegrins made a combined effort on 12
August to invade Bosnia and capture Serajevo. No great progress was
made, and on the 16th the Austrians retaliated with the capture of
Shabatz in the north-west corner of Serbia. But next day the Serbs
routed a large Austrian force in the neighbourhood, and the Crown
Prince Alexander followed up this victory by another on the 18th
against the Austrians on the Jadar, who were seeking, in co-operation
with those at Shabatz, to cut the Serbs off from their base. The
result was that by the 24th the Austrians were practically cleared out
of the country, and Vienna announced that the punitive expedition,
which had cost 40,000 casualties and fifty guns, had accomplished its
object.

A second attempt to achieve it was, however, provoked by the invasion
of Bosnia with which the Serbs had supplemented their victory, and by
their capture of Semlin in order to stop the Austrian bombardment of
Belgrade. On 8 September the Austrians launched an attack across the
Drina which forms the boundary between Serbia and Bosnia, and the
battle raged till the 17th. Again the Serbs were victorious, though
they made no impression on Serajevo and the Austrians retained a
foothold on the eastern bank of the Drina; and for six weeks Serbia
was left in comparative peace. But at the end of October the entrance
of Turkey into the war and the relief afforded to Austria's troops
farther north by the increasing activity of Germany in Poland and
Galicia encouraged another effort; and under General Potiorek the
Austrians began a more ambitious campaign. The Serbian frontier
constituted a sharp salient which was indefensible against a superior
force, and the Austrians exploited this advantage by extending their
front of attack from Semendria on the Danube right round to Ushitza
beyond the Drina. Their object was to envelop the Serbs and seize,
firstly, Valievo, their advanced base, secondly, Kraguievatz the
Serbian arsenal, and, finally, Nish, to which the Serbian Court and
Government had withdrawn.

The only chance the Serbs had of success was to shorten their line by
withdrawing to the semicircular mountain ridge which lies south and
south-east of Valievo, and even so their prospects were gloomy. Two
wars had already depleted Serbia's manhood and her munitions, and her
numbers were sadly inferior to the Austrians. But individually her
troops were far better fighters than their opponents, and the Crown
Prince, Marshal Putnik, and General Míshitch, the commander of the 1st
Serbian Army, quite outclassed Potiorek in tactics, strategy, and
knowledge of the terrain. By 10 November the Austrians were in
Valievo, and Potiorek was inclined to rest on his laurels. For a fatal
fortnight he did nothing, and even detached three of his corps to
serve in the Carpathians against the Russians who were there doing
Serbia the service they had done in East Prussia to the Allies on the
Marne. In that interval Greek and other munitions were conveyed in
spite of Bulgar and Turkish intervention to the hard-pressed Serbians;
King Peter, old, blind, and deaf, came from Nish to make a stirring
appeal to his troops; and when on 1-3 December Potiorek once more
advanced to the ridges of Rudnik and Maljen, he encountered a
re-munitioned army, skilfully posted in strong positions and pledged
to death or victory. Victory was its guerdon all along the line; the
Austrian left centre and centre were broken on the 5th; at night their
right was shattered near Ushitza; and on the morrow the whole army was
in retreat, which soon became a rout. There were 80,000 casualties
before, on the 15th, the fugitives were back in their own land across
the Drina, the Danube, and the Save, leaving Belgrade once more in the
hands of the heroic Serbs.

Austria had, however, acquired a strange new friend in the Turk, who
had thrice besieged Vienna, and with whom she had waged an
intermittent warfare of the Crescent and the Cross for some four
centuries; and the blood-stained hand of Turkey was stretched out to
save its "natural allies"--to quote Bernhardi--at Buda-Pesth and
Potsdam. There was, indeed, a bond of sympathy, for in each of the
enemy capitals a ruling caste oppressed one or more subject
nationalities. Prussia stood for the Junker domination of the German
tribes; Austria, for Teutonic government of Czechs, Slovaks, and
Poles; Hungary, for Magyar dictation to Jugo-Slavs and Rumanes; and
Turkey, for the exploitation or extermination of Armenians, Greeks,
and Arabs. The Young Turk, who had dispossessed Abdul Hamid in 1908,
only differed from the Old in being more efficient and less of a
gentleman, and in seeking his inspiration from Krupp's guns and
Treitschke's philosophy instead of from the Koran. He was a Turk
without the Turk's excuse, and the adventurer Enver, who inaugurated
the rule of the Committee of Union and Progress by assassinating his
rivals, was willing to give Germany control of the Berlin-Baghdad
route in return for a free hand with the subject nationalities of the
Ottoman Empire. Russia was the common obstacle to both ambitions; but,
Russia finally crippled, the Balkan States would become Turco-Teutonic
provinces, and the Near East a German avenue into Asia, while Egypt
might be recovered for the Sultan and made a base for German
penetration of Africa.

Millions of German money had already been invested in this scheme, and
the Kaiser's versatile piety had assumed a Mohammedan hue in the East.
He had proclaimed himself the friend of every Mohammedan under the
sun, and had carefully refrained from wounding the feelings of the
authors of the Armenian massacres. The defeat of his Turkish friends
in the Balkan Wars had been almost as great a blow to him as to them,
and he had seen in the subsequent discord of the victors a chance of
crushing them all. Rumania, he thought, was tied to his chariot-wheels
by its Hohenzollern king, and Greece by its Hohenzollern queen; and
Bulgaria could be won through its hatred of the successful Serbs.
Serbia conquered, the corridor would be complete; but Serbia could not
be permanently crushed while Russia remained intact, and Turkey would
be a useful ally in the Russian campaign. There were millions of
Mohammedans under Russian rule, and a Turkish invasion of the
Caucasus, even if it did not stimulate insurrection in Russia, would
keep hundreds of thousands of Russian troops from East Prussia,
Poland, or Galicia.

Apart from the vulgar bribes which affected the Young Turk politicians
there were other motives to move the populace. A Jehad against the
Christian might stir the honest fanatic; well-to-do Turks had invested
some of their savings in two Turkish Dreadnoughts under construction
in England which the British Government had commandeered; and two
German warships, the Goeben and the Breslau, had arrived at the Golden
Horn to impress or to encourage the Ottoman mind. Such were some of
the straws which finally broke the back of sober resistance to the
warlike gamble of Enver and Talaat; but the substantial argument was
the chance which was offered for Turkey to get back some of what her
inveterate Russian enemy had seized in the course of a century and her
inveterate British friend had pocketed as the price of her protection.
On 29 October a horde of Bedouins invaded the Sinai Peninsula while
Turkish torpedo boats raided Odessa, and on 1 November the British
ambassador departed from Constantinople. The two Central Empires had
enlisted their first ally, and the war had taken another stride
towards Armageddon.


                              CHAPTER IV

                    THE WAR ON AND BEYOND THE SEAS

The declaration of war by Great Britain on 4 August converted the
conflict into one unlike any other that had been waged since Napoleon
was sent to St. Helena in 1815; and sea-power was once more revealed
to a somewhat purblind world. There had, indeed, been wars in which
navies had been engaged, and Japan in 1904 had exhibited the latest
model of a naval battle. But Japan only commanded the sea in Far
Eastern waters; and the wars in which Great Britain herself was
engaged since 1815 had displayed her command in limited spheres and at
the expense of enemies who had no pretensions to be her naval rivals.
But in 1914 the second navy in the world seemed by the conduct of
Germany to challenge the first, and for nearly four and a half years
there were hopes and fears of a titanic contest for the command of the
sea. But in fact the challenge was not forthcoming, and from first to
last the command remained in our hands through Germany's default.
There was no Trafalgar because no one came forth to fight, and in the
end the German Navy surrendered without a struggle.

But while our command of the sea was not disputed in deed by the
Germans, it was disputed in word by domestic critics and denied by
loquacious generals; and the exploits of German submarines, airships,
and aeroplanes lent some colour to the denial and to the assertion
that England had ceased to be an island. Both contentions were the
outcome of inadequate knowledge and worse confusion of thought.
Islands are made by the sea and not by the air; even if the Germans
had secured command of the air, which they did not, that command would
not have given them the advantages which accrue from the command of
the sea. It might please pessimists to believe that England would be
cowed into submission by air-raids, but the most inveterate
scaremongers hesitated to assert that armies with their indispensable
artillery and equipment could be dropped on British soil from the
skies. Belgium and France were far more troubled than we by aircraft;
but it was not aircraft that carried German armies to Brussels and
near to the gates of Paris, and London was saved from the fate of
Louvain by British command of the sea. Nor was that command abolished
or even threatened by submarines, and the fear lest it was came of the
mentality which denies the existence of a power on the ground that it
is not perfect. Command of the sea never has been and never can be
absolute. French privateers had never been more active nor British
losses at sea more acute than after Trafalgar, when no French Navy
ventured out of port; and the destruction of every German Dreadnought
would not have affected by one iota the success of German submarines.

The command of the sea does not mean immunity from the risks of naval
warfare or from loss by the capture or sinking of merchant vessels. It
does not imply absolute security for British coasts, for British
coasts have been raided in every great war that Britain has waged. It
does not even involve the defeat or destruction of the enemy's naval
forces, or it would be a simple task for any naval Power to deprive us
of the command of the sea by locking its fleets in harbour, and on
that theory the forts of the Dardanelles would have enabled Turkey to
deny the command of the sea to the combined fleets of the world. The
meaning is familiar enough to intelligent students of history. Bacon
sketched it three hundred years ago when he wrote, "He that commands
the sea is at great liberty and may take as much and as little of the
war as he will ... and the wealth of both Indies seems in great part
but an accessory to the command of the seas." "Both Indies" have grown
to-day to include the resources of nearly the whole extra-European
world which the command of the sea placed at the disposal of the
Entente and denied to the Central Empires; and the last great war,
like those against Napoleon, Louis XIV, and Philip II, was decided by
the same indispensable factor in world-power. Others might control for
a time a continent; only those who command the sea can dispose of the
destinies of the world.

But while an essential factor in world-power, the command of the sea
is not its sum; and the war throughout its course illustrated the
weakness of attack by sea against a well-defended coast. No attempt
was made to land an army on German territory, and complete command of
the Ægean did not avail for the capture of Gallipoli. It could not
turn sea into land nor enable a navy to do an army's work, and command
of the sea while a more extensive is a less intensive kind of power
than command of the land. The nature of the command varies, indeed,
with the solidity of the element in which it is exercised: land is
more solid than water, and water than air; the command of the land is
therefore more complete than command of the sea, and command of the
sea than command of the air; and endless confusion arose from the use
of the same word to describe three different degrees of control.
Victory can be achieved on sea, conquest only on land; and nothing
like victory, let alone conquest, in war has yet been won in the air.
Conquest, however, while it cannot be effected, can be prevented on
sea, as it was at Salamis in 1588, at Trafalgar, and Navarino; for
sea-power, while conclusive for defence, is merely conducive to
offence, and that is why it has ever been a means of liberty rather
than of despotism. Armies are the weapons of autocracy, navies those
of freedom; for peoples do not live upon water, and only armies
command their homes. Command of the sea is a sufficient protection for
an island-empire; to conquer others it needs a superior army, and the
absence of such an army proved the defensive aims of the British
Empire before the war. World domination could only be secured by the
combination of a dominant army with a dominant navy, and hence the
significance of the German naval programme designed at least to
prevent the counteraction of one by the other.

But while a supreme navy suffices to protect an island empire, it does
not suffice to defend continental states; and the importance of
British sea-power was that it gave us and other oversea peoples the
liberty to take as much or as little part as we chose in a war to
defend states that were threatened on land. The existence of that
facility did not determine the extent to which it might be used by
ourselves or by allies. That would depend upon the size of the armies
we raised and the labour we spent upon their equipment; and we might
have restricted our expeditionary forces to the numbers we sent under
Marlborough against Louis XIV or under Wellington against Napoleon.
But we could not have sent any without the command of the sea; and the
essence of that command is that, firstly, it prevented the enemy from
using his armies to invade our shores, and, secondly, it enabled us to
send whatever forces we liked to whatever sphere of operations was not
commanded by the enemy's armies. Philip II had demonstrated once for
all the emptiness of the invasion scare when he sent a superb military
expedition, the Spanish Armada, across a sea which he did not command;
and the efforts of German submarines failed to affect the transport of
our own and our Allies' troops or seriously to impede their
communications.

The command of the sea was, in fact, abandoned by the Germans when on
26 July 1914 their fleet was recalled from the Norwegian fiords; and
the cruisers which the outbreak of war found beyond reach of German
territorial waters were in turn and in time destroyed. One
Dreadnought, the Goeben, and a light cruiser, the Breslau, escaped to
play a chequered part in the war. Caught by its outbreak in the
Mediterranean, they attempted to make the Straits, were headed off by
the British, and gained Messina on 5 August. Evading the British Fleet
under circumstances which were held to cast no reflection on the
British commander, and with assistance which it was deemed impolitic
to make public, they pursued their flight eastward, gallantly
assaulted by the smaller and slower Gloucester off Cape Matapan, until
they reached the Dardanelles and took the Turkish Government under
their charge. Out in the Atlantic the swift Karlsruhe caused some
anxiety till she was wrecked in the West Indies, and the Geier was
interned at Honolulu by the United States. A few converted merchantmen
also pursued a brief career as raiders: the Cap Trafalgar was disposed
of in a spirited action by the converted Cunarder Carmania on 14
September off Brazil; the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was sunk by the
Highflyer off Cape Verde Islands on 27 August; and the Spreewald was
captured in the North Atlantic by the Berwick on 12 September. For the
rest, the German mercantile marine was interned in neutral ports or
restricted to Baltic waters, and apart from Von Spee and the
submarines the German flag disappeared from the seas.

The Germans had realized from the start a vital difference between war
on sea and war on land. The land affords some protection to the weaker
combatant especially on the defensive; the sea gives none. There are
no trenches in the sea, but only graves. It is merciless to the
vanquished, and the casualties in a beaten fleet are total losses;
instead of prisoners, fugitives, and wounded, there is one vast list
of drowned. Ships that are sunk do not return to the battle-line, and
their loss takes long to repair. Years are required to build a
Dreadnought, and years to make a seaman. Armies are easier to create
and more difficult to destroy than fleets, and the sailor's fight is
ever one to a finish, with little chance of escape from the dread
alternative. It is a case of all or nothing; there are no water-tight
compartments in sea-power, no fluctuating spheres of power, no
divided areas in some of which one and in some the other combatant may
be supreme. Apart from land-locked waters the sea is one and
indivisible, and he who has the command, commands it everywhere. The
battle at sea is a battle without a morrow for those who lose; and
from the day when the Germans wisely withdrew into Kiel and
Wilhelmshaven there was little chance that they would come out to
fight to a finish except as a counsel of despair or until they could
by mine or submarine or skilful raid reduce the disparity of force.
That was the purpose of their early naval strategy; it proved
ineffective owing to British skill and caution, and it became hopeless
when it appeared that we could build ships much faster than the
Germans could sink them or build ships themselves; and the Germans
then turned from the task of destroying the British Navy to that of
destroying the commerce on which we depended for subsistence, from the
hope of securing the command of the sea for themselves to that of
turning it into a "no man's land," a desert which no allied or neutral
ship could cross.

The mine-sowing began the moment war was declared, and on 5 August the
Konigin Luise was sunk in the nefarious act of sowing loose mines in
the North Sea. Fixed mines for coast and harbour defence or minefields
at sea are legitimate means of war, provided that warning is given of
the dangerous area; loose mines are prohibited by international law,
because they can make no distinction in their destruction between
neutrals and belligerents, merchantmen and men-of-war. But the German
flag having practically disappeared from the seas, the Germans paid
little heed to the risks of other people. On 6 August a light cruiser,
the Amphion, struck one of these mines and was sunk, and on 3
September a gunboat, the Speedy, met with a similar fate. A more
serious loss, though only one man was killed, was that of the
super-Dreadnought Audacious, which struck a mine to the north of
Ireland on 27 October and sank as she was being towed into harbour;
and a mine caused the loss of the Hampshire, with Lord Kitchener on
board, in June 1916.

The submarine proved, however, the greater danger, and there was
nothing illegal in the sinking of men-of-war or transports. On 5
September the Pathfinder, a light cruiser, was torpedoed and sunk, and
on the 13th the British retaliated by sinking the German light cruiser
Hela near Heligoland. The warning, however, had not been taken to
heart, and on 22 September the German submarine commander, Otto
Weddigen, successively sank the Aboukir, the Hogue, and the Cressy,
three old but substantial cruisers on patrol duty off the Dutch coast.
The Hogue and the Cressy were lost because they came up to the rescue
and were protected by no screen of destroyers, and 680 officers and
men were drowned. A fourth cruiser, the Hawke, was torpedoed off
Aberdeen on 15 October, and on 1 January 1915 the Formidable, of
15,000 tons, was sunk off Start Point on her way to the Dardanelles,
with a loss of 600 of her crew. The Germans were not, however, immune
in their submarine campaign. H.M.S. Birmingham rammed and sank a
German submarine on 6 August, the Badger did the like on 25 October,
and U18 was sunk on 23 November; Weddigen himself was rammed, with the
loss of his submarine and all on board, later on by the Dreadnought.

The British losses by mine and submarine created some discontent on
the ground that our naval strategy was defensive rather than
offensive; and military critics, whose notions of naval warfare were
derived from the study of German text-books on the principles of war
on land, continually pressed for a more active policy, and asked why
our superior navy did not treat the German Fleet as the German Army
treated its enemies in France and Belgium. It was forgotten that he
who possesses all must always be on the defensive; there must be
something tangible to attack before there can be an offensive, and
there could have been no Trafalgar had Napoleon kept his fleet in
harbour. The abandonment of the high seas by the German Navy precluded
a naval battle, and the defensive strength of harbour defences which
kept Nelson outside Toulon had so increased as to make it vastly
harder for Jellicoe to penetrate Wilhelmshaven or Kiel. Naval power,
which the war proved to be more than ever effective on sea, was shown
to be more than ever powerless on shore. The mine and the submarine
made the sustained bombardment of land fortifications a dangerous
practice, and moving batteries on shore were more than a match for
ships, because they could not be sunk and could be more easily
repaired or replaced. There were wild dreams of British forces landing
on German coasts, and still wilder alarms about German armies
descending on British shores; but the only landing effected on hostile
territory during the war was at Gallipoli, and it did not encourage a
similar attempt against the better defended lands held by the Germans.
We had to content ourselves with the practical realization in war of
our continual claim in peace that sea-power is an instrument for the
defence of island states rather than one for offence against
continental peoples. Only when and where those peoples wished to be
defended and opened their ports to their allies, was it found possible
to land a relieving force. The British armies which liberated Brussels
had to travel via Boulogne and not Ostend; and the German ships which
sheltered in port had to be routed out by the pressure of Allied arms
on land.

The naval actions of the war were therefore of the nature of outpost
raids and skirmishes rather than of battles. The first that developed
any serious fighting took place in the Bight of Heligoland on 28
August. Apparently with the design of inducing the Germans to come
out, a flotilla of submarines under Commodore Keyes was sent close in
to Heligoland, with some destroyers and two light cruisers, the
Arethusa and Fearless, behind them, and more substantial vessels out
of sight in the offing. Presently there appeared a German force of
destroyers and two cruisers, the Ariadne and the Strassburg; they were
driven off mainly by the gallant fighting of the Arethusa; but
thinking there was no further support the Germans then sent out three
heavier cruisers, the Mainz, the Koln, and apparently the Yorck. The
Arethusa and Fearless held their own for two or three hours until
Beatty's battle-cruisers, led by the Lion, came safely through the
German mine-fields and submarines to their assistance. The Lion's
13.5-inch guns soon settled the issue: the Mainz and the Köln were
sunk, while no British unit was lost, and the casualties were 32
killed and 52 wounded against 300 German prisoners and double that
number of other casualties. The overwhelming effect of heavier gunfire
had been clearly demonstrated, and it was further illustrated on 17
October by the destruction of four German destroyers off the Dutch
coast by the light cruiser Undaunted accompanied by four British
destroyers; but the next exhibition of naval gun-power was to be at
our expense.

Among the incidental advantages which the adhesion of Great Britain
brought to the Entente was the intervention of Japan, which, apart
from its alliance with us, had never forgiven Germany the part she
took in depriving Japan of the fruits of her victory over China in
1894, and regarded as a standing offence the naval base which Germany
had established at Tsingtau and the hold she had acquired on North
Pacific islands. On 15 August Japan demanded within eight days the
surrender of the lease of Tsingtau and the evacuation of Far Eastern
waters by German warships. No answer was, of course, returned, but the
German squadron under Von Spee wisely left Tsingtau in anticipation of
its investment by the Japanese. It began on the 27th, and troops were
landed on 2 September: on the 23rd a British contingent arrived from
Wei-hai-wei to co-operate, and gradually the lines of investment and
the heavy artillery were drawn closer. The final assault was fixed for
7 November, but the Germans forestalled it by surrender; there were
3000 prisoners out of an original garrison of 5000, and Germany's last
overseas base, on which she had spent £20,000,000, passed into the
enemy's hands. Australian troops had already occupied without serious
opposition German New Guinea, the Bismarck archipelago, and the
Gilbert and Caroline Islands, while Samoa surrendered to a New Zealand
force, and the Marshall Islands to the Japanese.

Von Spee's squadron was thus left without a German naval base; but one
of its vessels was to show that there was still a career for a raider,
and the others were to demonstrate the paradox that neutral ports
might be more useful than bases of their own, inasmuch as they could
not be treated like Tsingtau. On fleeing from the Japanese menace Von
Spee had steamed eastwards across the Pacific, but two of his
cruisers, the Königsberg and the Emden, were detached to help the
Germans in East Africa and to raid British commerce in the Indian
Ocean. On 20 September the Königsberg sank H.M.S. Pegasus at Zanzibar,
but failed to give much assistance in the projected attack on Mombasa,
and was presently bottled up in the Rufigi River. The Emden under
Captain Müller had better success. Throughout September and October
she haunted the coasts of India and harried British trade, setting
fire to an oil-tank at Madras, torpedoing a Russian cruiser and a
French destroyer in the roadstead of Penang, and capturing in all some
seventeen British merchantmen. She had, however, lost her own
attendant colliers about 25 October, and a raid on the Cocos or
Keeling islands on 9 November was interrupted by the arrival of H.M.S.
Sydney, which had been warned by wireless, on her way from Australia.
In less than two hours the Sydney's 6-in. guns had battered the Emden
to pieces, and with only 18 casualties had killed or wounded 230 of
the enemy. Müller became an honourable prisoner of war; he had proved
himself the most skilful of German captains and the best of German
gentlemen.

Meanwhile Von Spee had gained the South American coast and made
himself at home in its friendly ports and islands. He had with him two
sister cruisers, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, each of 11,400
tons and an armament of eight 8.2-inch guns, and three smaller
cruisers, the Dresden, Leipzig, and Nürnberg, each about the size of
the Emden, from 3200 to 3540 tons, and carrying ten 4.1-inch guns;
none of them had a speed of less than 22 knots. To protect the South
Pacific trade the British Government had in August sent Admiral
Cradock with a somewhat miscellaneous squadron, consisting of the
Canopus, a pre-Dreadnought battleship of nearly 13,000 tons, with
6-inch armour, four 12-inch guns, and a speed of 19 knots; the Good
Hope, a cruiser of 14,000 tons, with two 9.2-inch and sixteen 6-inch
guns, and a speed of 22 knots; the Monmouth of 9800 tons, fourteen
6-inch guns, and the same speed as the Good Hope; the Glasgow of 4800
tons, with two 6-inch and ten 4-inch guns, and a speed of 25 knots;
and the Otranto, an armed liner. Reinforcements were expected from
home, and possibly from Japan; but the squadrons were not unequally
matched in weight of metal, though the British were handicapped by the
diversity and antiquity of their armament. The balance was, however,
destroyed before the battle, because, as Cradock in the third week of
October made his way north along the Pacific coast, the Canopus
developed defects which necessitated her being left behind for
repairs.

The squadrons fell in with one another north-west of Coronel late in
the afternoon of 1 November. Cradock had turned south, presumably to
join the Canopus, but Von Spee secured the inestimable advantage of
the in-shore course, and as the sun set it silhouetted the British
ships against the sky while the gathering gloom obscured the Germans.
The fight was really between the two leading cruisers on each side,
the Good Hope and the Monmouth against the Scharnhorst and the
Gneisenau. The Germans got the range first, and the Good Hope's two
9.2-inch guns were soon put out of action in spite of their superior
weight. At 7:50 she blew up, and the Monmouth was a wreck. The
lightly-armoured Glasgow had no option but to use her superior speed
and escape to warn the Canopus. This she did, and the two got safely
round Cape Horn to the Falkland Isles, leaving for the time the
Germans in command of the South Pacific coast. Sixteen hundred and
fifty officers, midshipmen, and men lost their lives with Cradock, and
none were rescued by the Germans. There was hardly a parallel in
British naval history for such a defeat.

Prompt measures were taken to retrieve it. Lord Fisher had succeeded
Prince Louis of Battenberg at the Admiralty on 30 October, and one of
his first acts was to dispatch on 5 November a squadron under Admiral
Sturdee, comprising the Invincible and Inflexible, and four lighter
cruisers, the Carnarvon, Kent, Cornwall, and Bristol; the Glasgow was
picked up in the South Atlantic, while the Canopus was at Port Stanley
in the Falklands. The Invincible and Inflexible were the two first
battle-cruisers built; each had a tonnage of 17,250, a speed of 27-28
knots, and eight 12-inch guns which could be fired as a broadside to
right or left; and there would be little chance for Von Spee if he
encountered such a weight of metal. Sturdee reached Port Stanley on 7
December. Von Spee, who had been refitting at Juan Fernandez, left it
on 15 November, possibly fearing the Japanese approach, and made for
Cape Horn and the Atlantic. His plan was to snap up the Canopus and
the Glasgow, get what he could out of the Falklands, and then proceed
to support the rebellion in South Africa. Early on 8 December he
unsuspectingly approached Port Stanley, not discovering the presence
of Sturdee's squadron until it was too late. He then made off
north-eastwards with the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, while his
lighter cruisers turned south-eastwards. The former were sunk in the
afternoon by the two British battle-cruisers and the Carnarvon, while
the latter succumbed in the evening to the Kent, Glasgow, and
Cornwall; only the Dresden escaped, to be sunk in five minutes on 14
March 1915 at Juan Fernandez by the Kent and the Glasgow. The
Invincible had no casualties, the Inflexible one man killed; the Kent
had four killed and twelve wounded, and the Glasgow nine and four.
About two hundred Germans were saved from drowning, but they did not
include Von Spee.

Such were the effects upon human life of a disparity of weight of
metal in naval action. No skill could avoid the brutal precision of
mechanical and material superiority. Von Spee had it at Coronel,
Sturdee at the Falklands, and there is no reason to suppose that if
the persons had been exchanged, the result would have been any
different. It is the romance of the past which attributes naval
success mainly to superior seamanship or courage; the "little" Revenge
was the super-Dreadnought of her time, and the victories of the
Elizabethan sea-dogs were as surely won by superior weight of metal as
those of Nelson or to-day. Von Spee and his men fought as bravely and
as skilfully as Cradock and his; and the war for command of the sea
went against the Germans because while the Germans were building
pre-Dreadnoughts and casting 8-inch guns, we were building
Dreadnoughts and casting 10 or 12-inch guns; and while they were
constructing their Dreadnoughts, we were building super-Dreadnoughts
with 13.5 and 15-inch guns. Success in naval warfare goes not so much
to the brave as to those who think ahead in terms of mechanical force.

The last German cruisers outside harbour were now destroyed, and
barely a raider remained at large, while the British went on gathering
the fruits of their command of the sea by mustering in Europe the
forces of the Empire and acquiring abroad the disjointed German
colonies. Naval strategy was reduced to the dull but arduous task of
blocking the exits from the North Sea and guarding against the furtive
German raids. The battle-fleet was stationed in Scapa Flow, the
cruisers off Rosyth, while little more than a patrol--backed by a
squadron of pre-Dreadnoughts in the Channel--was left to watch the
Straits of Dover and supplement the mine-fields. Both combatants drew
advantage from the narrow front of Germany's outlook towards the sea;
the exits were easier for us to close than Nelson had found the
lengthy coast of France, and no German Fleet slipped across the
Atlantic as Villeneuve did in 1805. On the other hand, the narrow
front was easier to fortify, protect with mine-fields, and defend
against attack. If there was to be a conclusive naval battle, the
field would be in the North Sea, and the only hope of success for the
Germans lay in the dispersion of our battle-fleet.

This was the object of the German raids on Yarmouth on 3 November, and
on Scarborough, Whitby, and the Hartlepools on 16 December. The former
effected nothing except sowing of some floating mines which
subsequently sank British submarine and two fishing-smacks, while one
of the participating cruisers, the Yorck, struck a German mine and
sank on entering Wilhelmshaven. The December raid was more successful
in its murderous intention of extending the schrecklichkeit practised
in Belgium to civilians on British shores. British delegates had
insisted at The Hague in 1907 on large rights of naval bombardment,
and the Germans expanded the plea that the presence of civilians does
not exempt a fortified town from bombardment into the argument that
the presence of a soldier or even of war-material justifies the
shelling of a crowd of civilians or a watering-place. There was a
cavalry station at Scarborough, a coastguard at Whitby, and some
infantry and a battery at Hartlepool; Scarborough also had a wireless
installation, and Hartlepool its docks, and both were undoubtedly used
for purposes of war. The truth is that war tends to pervade and absorb
the whole energies of the community, and the only legitimate criticism
of German methods is that they pushed to extremes of barbarity
premisses which were commonly admitted and could logically lead in no
other direction. The old restriction of war to a few actual combatants
disappeared as manhood took to universal service, womanhood to
munition-making, and whole nations to war-work, and as the reach of
artillery and aircraft extended the sphere of operations hundreds of
miles behind the battle-lines. Eighteen were killed at Scarborough,
mostly women and children, and 70 were wounded; Whitby had 3 killed
and 2 wounded, but the damage at Hartlepool was serious. Six hundred
houses were damaged or destroyed, 119 persons were killed, over 300
were wounded, and the mines the Germans scattered sank three steamers
with considerable loss of life. The raiders escaped by the skin of
their teeth in a fog which closed down just as two British
battle-cruisers appeared on the scene of their retreat. That the raid
had been effected at all evoked some protest from a public unaware
that such incidents have always been an inevitable accompaniment of
all our naval wars; and critics declared that we had lost the command
of the sea in the first great war in our history in which not an enemy
landed on English soil except as a prisoner. It was the German plan to
provoke such comment, a feeling of insecurity, and a demand for the
scattering of our Grand Fleet along the coasts for defence in order
that it might be dealt with in detail; but the design was happily
defeated by the restraint of the people and the sense of better
judges.

The Germans, however, were encouraged by their success to repeat the
attempt once too often, and on 24 January 1915 a more ambitious effort
was made by Admiral Hipper to emulate these raids, or perhaps rather
to lure the British on to mine-fields north of Heligoland which he
extended before he set out. He had with him three of the best German
battle-cruisers, the Derfflinger, Seydlitz, and Moltke, with speeds
ranging from 27 to 25 knots, tonnage from 26,000 to 22,000, and 12 or
11-inch guns; the Blücher of 15,550 tons, 24 knots, and 8.2-inch guns;
six light cruisers and a torpedo flotilla. The Germans rarely if ever
came out without information of their intended movement preceding
them, and Beatty put to sea within an hour of their start. His
flagship was the Lion, 26,350 tons, 29 knots, and eight 13.5-inch
guns, and he had five other battle-cruisers, the Tiger, 28,000 tons,
28 knots, and the same armament as the Lion; the Princess Royal, a
sister ship of the Lion; the New Zealand, 18,800 tons, 25 knots, and
eight 12-inch guns; and the Indomitable, sister to Sturdee's
Invincible and Inflexible. There were also four cruisers of the "town"
class, three light cruisers, and torpedo flotillas. The fight was,
however, mainly between the battle-crusiers. As soon as Hipper heard
of Beatty's approach he turned south-east. Gradually he was
overhauled, each of the leading British cruisers, Lion, Tiger, and
Princess Royal firing salvos into the slower Blücher as they passed on
to tackle the Moltke, Seydlitz, and Derfflinger. The Blücher was
finally reduced to a wreck by the New Zealand and Indomitable, and
then torpedoed by the Meteor; bombs from German aircraft prevented our
boats from rescuing more than 120 survivors from the sinking ship.
Meanwhile the Lion was damaged by a shell and had to fall behind, and
an hour and twenty minutes passed before Beatty could return to the
scene of action; he found that his second in command had broken off
the fight out of respect for the German mine-field, which seems,
however, to have been still thirty or forty miles away. The German
battle-cruisers, which might apparently have been destroyed, thus got
home with a severe battering which incapacitated them for action for
some months. No British ship was lost, and our casualties were about a
score of men.

The result was disappointing in the escape of the German cruisers, but
it left no doubt about the command of the sea. It was, indeed, being
daily demonstrated by the security of the Channel passage, the muster
of forces from oversea, and the conquest of German colonies. These
were mainly in Africa, and consisted of Togoland, the German
Cameroons, German South-West Africa, and East Africa. The tide of
conquest flowed in this order round Africa from north-west to
south-east, and Togoland, which was also the smallest, was the first
to be subdued. It was about the size of Ireland, and was hemmed in on
all sides, by British sea-power on the south, Nigeria on the west, and
French colonies on the north and east; and converging attacks forced
the handful of German troops to unconditional surrender on 27 August,
The Cameroons were larger than the German Empire in Europe, and the
first attacks, being made with inadequate preparation, were repulsed
in the latter days of August. On 27 September, however, by co-
operation between French troops and two British warships, Duala the
capital was captured and the whole coast-line was seized.

The conquest of German South-West Africa was a more serious matter,
not only because the Germans were there more numerous and better
organized, but because the task was complicated by the politics of the
Union. It was not a Crown colony subject to the orders of the Imperial
Government; troops could only move at the instance of a responsible
local administration, and the back-veld Boers, led by Hertzog and De
Wet, were strenuously opposed to participation in the war on the
British side. Fortunately, perhaps, the Germans began hostilities by
raiding the frontiers of Cape Colony, and on 18 September the British
retaliated by seizing Luderitz Bay, which, like their other port,
Swakopmund, the Germans had abandoned to concentrate at their inland
capital, Windhoek. On the 26th there was a small British reverse at
Sandfontein, which was followed by the more serious news of Maritz'
rebellion in the Cape. Maritz had fought against the British in the
Boer War and for the Germans against the revolted Hereros; he now held
the ambiguous position of rank in the German Army and command of
British forces, but came down on the German side of the fence. Botha
ordered his arrest, and Maritz, with German assistance in arms and
ammunition, attempted to overrun the north-west of Cape Colony. A
fortnight's campaign in October ended with the dispersal of his
commandos by Colonel Van Deventer.

Maritz was the stormy petrel of a far more serious disturbance. While
the grant of self-government to the Transvaal and the Orange River
Colony in 1908 had placated the great majority and the better-educated
Boers, tradition and prejudice kept their hold upon the more
conservative minority; and some like Beyers, who had once been
received by the Kaiser, looked to a war with Germany to restore their
ancient independence. On 24 October De Wet seized Heilbronn in the
Orange State, and Beyers Rustenburg in the Transvaal. Botha's appeal
to the loyal Boers met, however, with an effective response, and soon
he had 30,000 men at his disposal. He acted with remarkable swiftness:
on the 27th he dispersed the commandos of Beyers and Kemp, and on 7
November General Smuts announced that there were but a few scattered
bands of rebels in the Transvaal. De Wet made a longer run by his
elusive heels, but found the motor-transport of his enemies an
insuperable bar to the repetition of his exploits of 1900-2. He had a
slight success at Doornberg on 7 November, when his force amounted to
2000 men; but Botha now came south into the Orange State and
completely defeated De Wet on the 11th to the east of Winburg. De Wet
himself escaped and attempted a junction with Beyers who had fled
south from the Transvaal. But he was gradually driven westward into
the Kalahari desert and overtaken by Colonel Jordaan's motors a
hundred miles west of Mafeking on 1 December, while Beyers was drowned
in trying to cross the Vaal on the 8th. De Wet was once more given his
life, and the other rebels were treated with a lenience which nothing
but its wisdom could excuse.

The rising put off to another year the conquest of German South-West
Africa. The conquest of East Africa (see Map, p. 249) was postponed
for a longer period by the inherent difficulties of the task and the
imported defects in its management. German East Africa was actually
and potentially by far the most valuable of German oversea
possessions. Twice the size of Germany, it had a population of eight
million natives and five thousand Europeans. Although tropical in its
climate, high ground, and especially the slopes of Kilimanjaro,
provided inhabitable land for white men, and its wealth in forests,
gold and other minerals, pastoral and agricultural facilities was
considerable. There were four excellent ports, and from two of them,
Tanga and the capital, Dar-es-Salaam, railways ran far into the
interior. On the north it was bounded by British East Africa and
Uganda, on the west by the Belgian Congo State, and on the south-west
by British Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, while on the south
Portuguese Mozambique provided some means of supply and an ultimate
refuge in defeat. The German forces were greatly superior to those of
the British in East Africa, and the Uganda railway from Mombasa to
Lake Victoria Nyanza running parallel with the frontier was a tempting
object of attack. The Germans took the offensive against the British
north and south-west, without achieving any great success. But only
the arrival of reinforcements from India on 3 September and the
failure of the Konigsberg to co-operate prevented the fall of Mombasa,
and only the inadequacy of the British maps, on which the Germans had
for once to rely, frustrated their attack on the Uganda railway.
Karungu was also besieged on Lake Victoria Nyanza, but relieved by a
couple of British vessels; the invaders of Northern Rhodesia were
beaten back; and a naval force bombarded Dar-es-Salaam and destroyed
the wireless installation. The arrival of a second expeditionary force
from India on 1 November was the prelude to a greater reverse. Landing
at Tanga on the 4th, it was met by a German force, superior in the art
of bush fighting if not in numbers which hurried down from Moschi, and
was compelled to re-embark with a loss of 800 casualties. During the
brief span of their colonial experience the Germans had learnt as much
about colonial warfare as we could teach them after centuries; for
traditions are not an unmixed blessing in the art of war.


                              CHAPTER V

                    ESTABLISHING THE WESTERN FRONT

                       The Battles Of The Aisne

Throughout the war there was an undercurrent of criticism against the
dispersion of British forces and dissipation of British energy, and
the briefest history of it cannot avoid a certain amount of
discursiveness. The reason, if not the justification, is the same in
both cases; for happily or unhappily the British Empire is scattered
all over the globe, and unless colonies were to be abandoned to enemy
attacks and the natural forces of native discontents, they had to be
defended in part at least by British troops. Fortunately the task
required but a fraction of the military strength which Germany needed
to hold Alsace-Lorraine in time of peace, and long before the end
Great Britain received from her dominions fourfold the help in Europe
that she had to lend them overseas. The rally to the British flag was
to us one of the most inspiring, and to the Germans one of the most
dispiriting, portents in the war; but it took time to bear its fruits,
and meanwhile the cause of civilization had to rely upon the gallantry
of French armies and the numerically weak British forces fighting on
the Marne and on the Aisne.

The human eye is ever longing to pierce the veil of the future, but it
was perhaps as well that men could not foresee, as the Allies drove
the Germans across the lower reaches of the Aisne, how long that river
would be reddened with the blood of the contending forces. They
thought that the tide of invasion would recede as fast as it had
advanced, and it was only as the days of German resistance lengthened
into weeks, and the weeks into months of the longest battle in
history, that staffs and armies and peoples began to grasp the awful
potentialities of scientific progress in the art of modern war. The
battle without a morrow had long been the ideal consummation for
victorious strategy, but no one had yet foreseen the battle without an
end and armies without flanks. That sooner or later one or other
combatant would be outflanked had been the universal assumption of the
strategist; but in the autumn of 1914 the combatant forces gradually
extended their fronts in the effort until they rested upon the
frontier of Switzerland and the sea, and the deadlock of a deadly
embrace began which was not effectively broken until the wrestling of
four years wore down the strength of the wrestlers and left the final
decision in the hands of new-comers to the European field of battle.

The deadlock was no part of the original German plan, but German
forethought during the advance to the Marne had provided entrenchments
in the rear for the event of a retreat, and the natural strength of
the forest of St. Gobain, the Chemin des Dames, and the Argonne as
well as a study of the campaign of 1814 had suggested an obvious line
of defence. It was not, however, expected by the Entente higher
command which proceeded with its frontal attack on the assumption that
the Germans were merely fighting rearguard actions to secure their
further retirement; and it was only when the German front refused to
budge that pressure spread out to the Allied left wing in an attempt
to turn the German right flank, which would have stood more chance of
success had it come a fortnight earlier as a first instead of a second
thought. An even better alternative might have been to revert to
Joffre's original plan, which had failed in August on the Saar, to
thrust forward against the Crown Prince and threaten the left of the
Germans and the communications of their forces in Belgium and northern
France. But it is easier on paper after the event than it was in
action at the time to convert an improvised defensive into a
considered offensive strategy; and the Germans themselves had occasion
during the autumn and the rest of the war to regret that their second
thoughts had not come first.

The battle of the Aisne began, like that of the Marne, on Sunday, 13
September. The Germans' retreat had taken them north of the river
except at a few bridgeheads, but the river was deep and its crossings
were all commanded by fire from German batteries concealed on the
slopes rising up from the northern bank. Maunoury's 6th Army attacked
on the left from Compiègne and the Forêt de l'Aigle to Soissons, and
several divisions were got across. From Soissons eastward for fifteen
miles to Pont-Arcy the line of attack was held by the British Army;
the whole of the 4th Division got across near Venizel, and most of the
5th and 3rd Divisions farther east, but the Germans succeeded in
holding the bridge at Condé. The 2nd Division was also only partially
successful in the region of Chavonne, but the whole of the 1st got
across at Pont-Arcy and Bourg. On Monday, Maunoury pressed forward up
the heights, capturing Autrèches and Nouvron, but, like the British on
his right between Vregny and Vailly, he found the German positions
impregnable on the plateau. Haig's First Corps was more successful
farther east; Vendresse and Troyon were captured and the Chemin des
Dames was almost reached. But D'Esperey's 5th French army could make
little impression on the Craonne plateau; Foch's 9th was unable to
force the Suippe to the east of Reims, and Langle's 4th, while it
occupied Souain, was similarly held up in Champagne.

On the 15th the Germans counter-attacked. Maunoury was driven out of
Nouvron and Autrèches, the British were forced back from Vregny almost
to the river, and the Moroccan troops withdrew on Haig's right flank.
There was a lull on the 16th, and on the 17th Maunoury recovered the
quarries of Autrèches; but east of Reims the 9th Army had fallen back
from the Suippe, and the Prussian Guard had captured Nogent l'Abbesse
and was threatening Foch's connexion with Langle in Champagne. The
18th saw little progress on either side, except along the Oise, where
Maunoury had as early as the 15th begun to outflank the German right.
This success, coupled with the stalemate along the rest of the front,
suggested to Joffre a change of strategy. Numerically the opposing
forces were not unequal, but the Germans had all the advantages of
position. To attack up carefully protected slopes with a river in the
rear and its crossings commanded by the enemy's fire, promised little
hope of success, and threatened disaster in case of failure and
retreat. Accordingly, Joffre, taking some risks by weakening his
centre, began on the 16th to lengthen and strengthen his left by
forming two new armies. Castlenau gave up his command of the 2nd to
Dubail in Lorraine and took over the new 7th, and a 10th was entrusted
to Maud'huy, another of the professors of military history to whom the
French and the Russian armies owed so much of their generalship. By
the 20th Maunoury had swung his left round until it stretched at a
right angle from Compiègne north to the west of Lassigny. Castelnau's
7th continued the line north through Roye to the Albert plateau; and
on the 30th Maud'huy's 10th took up the tale through Arras to Lens.

But if the impact of equal forces on the Aisne flattened them out
towards the west, it had the same effect in the other direction,
though here it was the Germans who took the offensive in trying to
penetrate Sarrail's flank on the Meuse and thus get behind the whole
front of the Allies. Verdun was the nut to be cracked, but Sarrail had
been extending its defences so as to put the city beyond the reach of
the German howitzers and surrounding it with miles of trenches and
wire-entanglements; and the Germans preferred to attempt another
method than frontal attack. About the 20th four new corps, chiefly of
Württemburgers, appeared in Lorraine, bringing their forces up to
seven against Sarrail's three; and an attack was made on Fort Troyon
on the Meuse which reduced it to a dust-heap but failed to carry the
Germans across the river. A more serious onslaught was made on the
23rd against St. Mihiel, which was captured while the neighbouring
forts of Paroches and the Camp des Romains were destroyed. But again
the Germans were prevented from pushing their advantage, and were left
with no more than a wonderful salient which looked on the map like
Germany putting out its tongue at France and resisted all efforts to
repress this insolence until the closing months of the war.

Having achieved but a sterile success to the south of Verdun, the
Crown Prince encountered a greater failure to the west. On 3 October
he attacked Sarrail's centre in the forest of the Argonne, seeking to
recapture St. Menehould, the headquarters he had abandoned on 14
September. His troops were caught in La Grurie wood and so badly
mauled that they temporarily lost Varennes and the main road through
the Argonne to Verdun. Foiled in both these directions, the Germans
revenged themselves by bombarding Reims in the centre and ruining its
cathedral; "the commonest, ugliest stone," wrote a German general,
"placed to mark the burial-place of a German grenadier is a more
glorious and perfect monument than all the cathedrals in Europe put
together." The bombardment did not help them much; Neuvillette, which
they had seized two miles north of Reims, was lost again on 28
September, and the French also recovered Prunay, the German occupation
of which had driven a wedge between Foch's and Langle's armies. On the
other hand, Berry-au-Bac, where the great road crossed the Aisne and
the French often reported progress, remained in German hands for four
years longer. Both sides were now firmly entrenched, and their armies
were learning that new art of trench warfare which was to tax their
ingenuity, test their endurance, and drain their strength, until years
later this war of positions once more gave place to a war of movement.
The lines had become stabilized, and between Reims and the Alps they
did not alter by half a dozen miles at any point from September 1914
until September 1918. The question of October was whether and where
they would be fixed between the Aisne and the sea.

Joffre's outflanking move was promptly countered, if not indeed
anticipated, by the German higher command, and in the first days of
October there was a general drift of German forces towards their right
and the Channel ports. Most and the best of the new levies were sent
into Belgium, and the stoutest troops in the fighting line were
shifted from East to West. Alsace was almost denuded; the Bavarians
were moved from Lorraine towards Lille and Arras, and the Duke of
Württemberg into Belgian Flanders. Von Bulow was sent to face
Castelnau and Maud'huy between the Oise and the Somme, and only Von
Kluck and the Crown Prince with a new general, Von Heeringen, from
Alsace were left to hold the line of the Aisne. Von Moltke was
superseded by Falkenhayn, and a new phase came over German strategy.
The knock-out blow against France had failed, and the little British
Army threatened to grow. France had been the only foe the Germans had
counted in the West, but a new enemy was developing strength, and the
German front was turned to meet the novel danger.

The British Army made a movement which was sympathetic with this
change and symptomatic of the future course of the war. It was clearly
out of place along the Aisne in trenches which could be held by French
territorials and where its long communications crossed those of three
French armies. It was needed in Flanders close to its bases and to the
Channel ports which the Germans had now resolved to seize in the hope
of cutting or straining the Anglo-French liaison and furthering their
new campaign on land and sea against their gathering British foes. The
idea had occurred to Sir John French before the end of September, and
on the 29th he propounded it to Joffre; Joffre concurred, called up an
8th Army under D'Urbal to support and prolong the extension of the
line into Flanders, and placed Foch in general charge of the
operations north of Noyon. The transport began on 3 October and was
admirably carried out, though some of the ultra-patriotic English
newspapers did their best to help the enemy by their enterprise in
evading the Censor and giving news of the movement to the public; for
if business was business to the profiteer, news was news to its
vendors.

For a fortnight the British were on the road and out of the fight,
which was left for the most part to Castelnau's 7th and Maud'huy's
10th Armies; and strenuous fighting it was for all-important objects.
There was little profit in a British out-march round the German flank
in Flanders unless the links between it and the Oise could be
maintained, and the Germans were as speedily reinforcing and extending
their right as we were preparing to turn it. At first Castelnau seemed
to be making rapid and substantial progress; he captured Noyon on 21
September, was pushing on by Lassigny to Roye, and optimistic maps in
the English press depicted the German right being bent back to St.
Quentin and the French outflanking it as far north-east as Le Catelet.
These were not intelligent anticipations. Von Kluck had been
reinforced, and a desperate battle ensued from the 25th to the 28th,
in which Castelnau was driven back from Noyon and Lassigny. This
counter-attack was repulsed with great losses at Quesnoy and Lihons a
little farther north, but Maud'huy was not less heavily engaged north
of the Somme in a several days' struggle for the Albert plateau. The
line established was supposed to run through Combles and Bapaume, and
it was not till long afterwards that the public realized how far it
had sagged to the westwards, or what that sagging meant when the
British had to fight their way up to Bapaume.

North of that watershed the fronts were fluid, if the scattered bodies
of French Territorials and German cavalry could be said to constitute
a front at all; and there was a strenuous race and struggle to turn
the respective flanks. Neither side, it was soon apparent, would
succeed in that object, and the practical question was at what point
the outflanking contest would reach the coast. The German ambition was
to push their right as far south as the mouth of the Seine, while the
Allies hoped to thrust their left to the north until it joined the
Belgian Army at Antwerp. Maud'huy had entered Arras on 30 September,
and some of his Territorials pushed forward to Lille and Douai. During
the first three days of October he was fighting hard on the eastern
slopes of Vimy Ridge but was compelled to fall back on Arras, while
the Germans occupied Lille and Douai and their cavalry penetrated as
far as Bailleul, Hazebrouck, and Cassel. But the British from the
Aisne were moving up towards their positions on Maud'huy's left, the
Aire-La Bassée Canal being fixed as the point of their junction, and
the 7th Division, with a division of cavalry, had landed at Ostend and
Zeebrugge while the Naval Division was sent to assist in the defence
of Antwerp. The Allied dream of a front along the Scheldt to Antwerp,
barring German access to the sea, seemed on the verge of realization;
but dramatic as the moment was, the tension would have been far more
acute had men grasped what a difference possession of the Belgian
coast was to make in the course of the war.

Success was missed by the Allies because it had been a more urgent
task to break the German offensive on the Marne than to save the
remnants of Belgian soil and assist the detached Belgian Army; and the
whole of our available force had been sent to the vital spot.
Isolation is always dubious strategy, but there were sound as well as
natural motives behind the decision which led the Belgian Army after
the German occupation of Brussels on 20 August to fall back
north-westwards on Antwerp instead of southwards to join the Allies at
Mons and Charleroi. The isolation did not involve ineffectiveness, and
so far away as the Marne the Allies experienced the benefit of Belgian
fighting at Antwerp. Three successive sorties alarmed the Germans for
the safety of their far-flung right and its communications, and
diverted reserves from their front in France to their rear in Belgium
(see Map, p. 34). The first began on 24 August and drove the Germans
from Malines, while 2000 British marines landed at Ostend. Then the
Belgian right stretched out a hand towards the British and captured
Alost, while the left struck at Cortenburg on the line between
Brussels and Louvain. The communications of the capital were thus
threatened on three sides, and the Germans had to recall at least
three of their corps from France. It was this interference with their
vital plans in France, coupled with the panic produced by the Belgian
advance, which provoked the Germans into their barbarities at Louvain,
Malines, and Termonde. Schrecklichkeit was to deter the contemptible
Belgian Army from spoiling a mighty German success. That was the view
of the German staff, and a soldiery prone as ever to pillage and
rapine, needed little encouragement to extend to civilians, women, and
children the violence which their leaders organized against cathedrals
and cities.

Panic produces plots in all countries--in the minds of the
panic-stricken, and Germans no doubt believed in the tales of civilian
conspiracies which they used to justify their military crimes. Major
Von Manteuffel ordered the systematic destruction of Louvain, with its
ancient university and magnificent library. The Cathedral and Palais
de Justice at Malines were ruined by bombardment after the Belgian
troops had left it; and Termonde was burnt because a fine was not paid
in time. Massacre, looting, and outrage attained a licence which only
the Germans themselves had equalled during the Thirty Years' War. It
and other orgies were a natural expression of German militarism; for
excessive restraint in one direction provokes relaxation in others,
and the tighter the bond of martial law, the less the respect for
civil codes. The proverbial licence of soldiery is the reaction
against their military discipline.

The second, called "the great sortie" from Antwerp, nearly coincided
with the battle of the Marne. It began on 9 September: Termonde was
reoccupied, but the main effort was towards Aerschot and Louvain.
Aerschot was recaptured on the 9th, though the fiercest struggle took
place at Weerde between Malines and Brussels. Kessel, just outside
Louvain, was taken on the 10th, but German reinforcements began to
arrive on the 11th, and two days later the Belgians were back in their
positions on the Nethe, their retirement being marked, as before, by a
fresh series of German atrocities. A third sortie induced by
representations of the French higher command and by the impression
that the German forces before Antwerp had been reduced, was planned
for 26-27 September, and some fighting occurred at Alost and Moll. But
by this time the new Germany strategy was at work, and the
"side-shows" of the first phase of the war became the main objectives
of the second. The French Army was fairly secure in its trenches and
the way to Paris was barred. But the approach to the Channel ports was
not yet closed, and Antwerp was on the way to the Belgian coast. It
was a fine city to ransom; its loss might convince the Belgians that
there was no hope for their independence; and historical Germans
bethought themselves of Napoleon's description of Antwerp as a pistol
pointed at England's heart. Its fall would be some consolation for the
lack of a second Sedan, and on 28 September the siege began.

The Antwerp defences had been, like those of Liège and Namur, designed
by Brialmont, and were begun in 1861. But the rapid growth of the city
and the increasing range of guns made Brialmont's ring of forts, which
was drawn little more than two miles from the walls, useless as a
protection against bombardment, and twenty years later a wider circle
of forts, which was barely completed when war broke out, was begun ten
miles farther out, beyond the Rupel and the Nethe, and extending
almost to Malines. One of the objects of the Belgian sorties had been
to keep this ring intact and prevent the German howitzers from being
brought up within range of the city. But there are only two means by
which forts can be made effective defences; either their artillery
must be equal in range and power to that of the attacking force, or
the attacking force must be prevented by defending troops from
bringing its howitzers within range. Neither of these two conditions
was fulfilled. The Belgian trenches, so far as any had been dug, were
close under this outer ring of forts, and the German 28-cm. howitzers
had an effective range of at least a mile and a half longer than that
of any guns the Belgians could mount. These howitzers had already
disposed of the fortifications of Liège, Namur, and Maubeuge, and it
was only a question of days and hours when they would make a breach in
the outer defences of Antwerp.

Their fire was concentrated on Forts Waelhem and Wavre, south and east
of Antwerp. Both had been destroyed by 1 October, and the reservoir
near the former, which supplied the city with water, was broken down,
flooding the Belgian trenches north of the Nethe, beyond which they
had now taken refuge. Farther to the left Termonde was seized by
German infantry and the Belgians driven across the Scheldt. On the 2nd
the Government resolved to leave Antwerp, but its departure and the
flight of the civilians were postponed by the arrival of Mr.
Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, and first a brigade of Royal
Marines and then two naval brigades of splendid but raw and ill-armed
recruits. They were at once sent out to help the Belgians to defend
their trenches along the north bank of the Nethe against the German
numbers and their more effective shells. On the 5th and following
night both the left and centre of the defence were pierced, the
Germans crossed the Nethe, and began to concentrate their howitzers on
the inner line of ramparts. On the 7th the exodus from the city began
by land and water, and amid heartrending scenes a quarter of a million
people strove to reach the Dutch frontier or safety on the sea. The
Belgian and British troops did their best to hold off the Germans
while the flight proceeded and the city was subject to bombardment. It
was doubtful whether any would get away, for the Germans had at last
begun serious fighting up the Scheldt in order to cut off the retreat
towards Zeebrugge and Ostend. In the narrow gap between the intruding
Germans and the Dutch frontier some were forced across the latter and
interned; others fell into the enemy's hands; and less than a third of
the first Naval Brigade escaped to England. On the 9th the bombardment
ceased, and on the 10th the Germans made their formal entry into a
well-nigh deserted city. They had got their pistol pointed at the
heart of England, but like Napoleon they learnt that it was a pistol
which could only be fired by sea-power.

Most of the Belgian Army with the remnants of the British forces got
away to the coast through the gap beyond the Scheldt which Von Beseler
had failed to close in time; and it is impossible to say whether the
gallant efforts of the Royal Marines and naval brigades did more to
facilitate this escape than the postponement of the retreat, caused by
their arrival, did to frustrate it. As an end in itself the expedition
for the relief of Antwerp was a failure; but it was designed to
subserve a larger operation, the scope of which has not yet been
revealed. At the time of its dispatch there may still have been hopes
for the success of Joffre's larger strategical scheme of bending back
the German flank in Flanders behind the Scheldt; and obviously, if the
failure of the Germans at the Marne and a successful defence of
Antwerp by the Entente should induce the Dutch to intervene, the
German position in the West would be completely turned. In either case
"other and more powerful considerations," as the Admiralty expressed
it on 17 October, prevented the "large operation" of which the
expedition of the Naval Division had been merely a part, from being
carried out; and the "powerful consideration" may have been the forces
which Germany was massing at Aix and in Belgium to defeat the Entente
strategy in Flanders.

                     The Campaigns In Artois

The fall of Antwerp was as fatal to our scheme of controlling the
Scheldt as Castlenau's and Maud'huy's successful defence between the
Oise and Arras had been to the German project of reaching the mouth of
the Seine; and it still remained to be seen at what point the
expanding pressure upon the opposing flanks would impinge upon the
coast. Neither side had yet reconciled itself to or perhaps conceived
of such a stalemate to their strategy. Rawlinson's 7th Division of
infantry and 3rd of cavalry had not been landed at Zeebrugge and
Ostend on 6 October to defend those ports or even the Yser, and the
fresh German armies advancing through Belgium were not intended to
waste their strength on the ridges in front of Ypres or floods around
Dixmude. The Germans hoped, if not to turn the Entente flank, at least
to seize Dunkirk, Calais, and Boulogne; and Joffre and French were
planning to make La Bassée, Lille, and Menin the pivot of a turning
movement which should liberate Brussels, isolate Von Beseler in
Antwerp, and threaten the rear of the German position along the Aisne.
To render these plans feasible it was necessary that La Bassée and
Lille should be held and that the indefinite German flank in Flanders
should be outreached; and thus the country from Arras northwards to
the coast became the ground on which the autumn campaign in the West
was doomed to be decided.

Antwerp fell amid a fluid front. On 9 October Maud'huy's 10th Army was
holding up in front of Arras; but his Territorials were falling back
on Lille and its environment as the Belgians retreated to join
Rawlinson at Ostend. French's three corps were on their way to prolong
and establish Maud'huy's left, and an 8th French army under D'Urbal
was designed to fling the line yet farther north. But the Germans were
bent on a similar object, and their masses of cavalry, released from
the front on the Aisne by its settlement into trenches, were keeping
open the country and the issue. The rival armies were like two doors
swinging towards one another on the same hinge; but they were not
wooden or rigid, and the banging together began at the hinge near La
Bassée and extended northwards to the coast in a concussion spread
over several days. On 11 October Smith-Dorrien's 2nd Corps reached the
La Bassée Canal between Aire and Béthune, while Gough's cavalry was
clearing the German patrols out of the forest of Nieppe. On the 12th
he attempted a frontal attack on La Bassée, but found the German
position too strong, and determined to try to wheel round it on the
north. This movement had some success; the 3rd Division drove the
Germans from village to village until on the 17th Aubers and Herlies,
north to north-east of La Bassée, were taken by assault. But the
Germans were simultaneously and in the same way driving in the French
Territorials; on the 13th they occupied Lille, and on the 19th an
Irish brigade which had advanced beyond Herlies to Le Pilly was cut
off and captured. So far as the 2nd Corps was concerned the doors had
banged together.

Pulteney's 3rd was moving towards collision on the left. It detrained
from St. Omer on the 11th, drove the Germans out of Meteren on the
13th, occupied Bailleul and Armentières and then crossed the Lys,
gaining a line from Le Gheir, north of Armentières, to Bois Grenier by
the 17th. An attempt to clear the right bank farther north failed
against the opposition of the German front from Radinghen to
Frelinghien and thence along the river. Here, too, the way was barred,
but north of the Lys there was as yet no stable control. There were
some French and British cavalry and some weak detachments of infantry;
but Haig's 1st Corps had not yet completed its transport from the
Aisne, Rawlinson's 7th Division was being expanded into a 4th Corps,
and the Belgian Army was painfully making its retreat from Antwerp. On
the 13th Von Beseler was in Ghent, on the 14th in Bruges, and on the
16th in Ostend. The outflanking here was being done by the Germans
with uncomfortable rapidity. On the day that the Germans entered
Ostend, the Belgians were driven out of the forest of Houthulst and
took refuge far behind the Yser. Four French cavalry divisions
recovered the forest on the 17th, but the 7th British Division which
had occupied Roulers on the 13th was driven back to a line south-east
of Ypres running through Zandvoorde, Gheluvelt, and Zonnebeke (see
Map, p. 288).

D'Urbal's 8th French army now, however, came up to support the
exhausted Belgians and assist in holding the Yser from Dixmude to the
sea, where British warships were assembled to harass the German flank
along the dunes; and Sir John French thought the moment had come for
an offensive wheel round Menin towards the Scheldt. Haig's 1st Corps
was expected shortly to fill the gap between Rawlinson's 4th and
D'Urbal, and Rawlinson was instructed to advance on the 18th, seize
Menin, and then await Haig, who was to move through Ypres on to
Thourout, Bruges, and Ghent. In England it was confidently expected
that the Germans, who had arrived at Ostend on a Friday, would enjoy
but a week-end visit to the seaside resort, and the newspapers were
not more sadly optimistic or ill-informed than headquarters in France.
The orders given on the 18th and 19th could only have been the outcome
of complete ignorance of the strength of the German Army, which was as
much underestimated by the Intelligence Department on the spot as it
was later exaggerated by writers on the campaign. In reality four new
German Corps were already at Brussels or Courtrai mainly from
Württemberg and Bavaria, and although the presence in them of men with
grey beards and boys with none gave rise to some ill-timed
satisfaction in the British press, these Landsturm troops were not to
be despised. Rawlinson moved on Menin on the 19th, but was stopped
three miles away by the German masses coming from Courtrai, and had to
entrench on a line running east of Gheluvelt. On the same day the 1st
Corps detrained at St. Omer and marched towards Ypres. Instead of
advancing on Thourout and beyond, it had to dig itself in on a line of
defence from Rawlinson's left at Zonnebeke to Bixschoote, where the
French began their own and the Belgian front along the Yser to
Nieuport.

The impact of the opposing forces had flattened them out until they
extended to the coast, and the point at which they reached it remained
fixed for four years to a day. Instead of a brilliant strategical run
round the enemy's flanks to a distant goal in his rear, there was
fated to be a strenuous scrimmage all along the line. It was a
democratic sort of war, depending for its decision upon the stoutness
of the pack rather than on the genius of the individual. The pressure
was differently distributed at different periods during those endless
years; now it was Ypres, now Verdun, then the Somme and the Chemin des
Dames that was selected for the special push; and in time as their
man-power began to fail the Germans laid greater stress on the
concrete of their lines. But the line was never really broken, and no
flank was ever fully turned. It wavered at places and times now in
favour of one side and now in that of the other; but the end only came
when the whole was pushed back by superior weight of numbers,
advancing at an average rate of less than a mile a day.

The first great trial of strength is associated in British minds with
the first battle of Ypres. The French dwell rather on the equally
strenuous struggle farther south round Arras under Foch. For the line
of battle stretched north from the Albert plateau for a hundred miles,
and we can hardly claim that the boys and the middle-aged men, at whom
some were inclined to scoff, in Flanders were the pick of the German
troops sent into the fray. The glory of the defence consisted rather
in the resistance of better troops to superior numbers backed by a
vast preponderance of artillery. The estimates of the German forces
are still little more than conjectures; and the figures of a million
and a half Germans to half a million French, British, and Belgians, or
of fifty corps to twelve and a half, will probably be corrected when
the German statistics are known. If it is further true that at the
actual points of fighting the disproportion was five to one, we need
no further illustration of the ills which inadequate co-ordination
imposes on an Alliance, and inadequate staff-work and intelligence on
any fighting force. The Allied tactics were probably not so clumsy nor
the German troops so feeble as these thoughtless estimates imply.

It was not a struggle in which there was much scope for strategy on
either side, because there had been no fixed data on which to base it.
Each combatant had been bent on out-flanking the other before the sea
was reached and success denied; but neither knew from day to day or
hour to hour where his own or the enemy's line would be. It was idle
to plan at headquarters the investment of places which might at the
moment be well behind the lines, or the defence of others which the
enemy might already have passed; and the alleged inexplicable nature
of the German strategy seems to be largely due to an antedating of the
establishment of a line of battle. They might have done better to
concentrate on Arras with a view to breaking the Anglo-French liaison
on the La Bassée Canal and isolating the British Army, than to
distribute their onslaughts over a front of a hundred miles. But the
problem was to outflank a wing which was still in the air, and not to
break a line which was not yet formed; and even if it were in
existence, subsequent experience would have justified the conviction
that success was to be obtained by pressure along an extended front
rather than by concentration on limited sectors like Verdun, or even
the 18-mile front of the battle of the Somme. The struggle which
closed the autumn campaign in the West was not, in fact, a new battle
fought on a preconceived plan, but the final clash of armies seeking
to outmarch each other's flanks in a battle begun on the Marne; and
the popular German advertisement of a new campaign against the Channel
ports and a different enemy than the French was merely a fresh coat of
paint designed to cover a structure that had gone to pieces.

Apart from the effort to outflank, neither side could therefore have
any definite plan, and neither was able to choose the scene of
conflict. Two years later, when they withdrew to the Hindenburg lines,
the Germans admitted freely enough that the earlier line had been none
of their choice, and it was certainly none of ours. It was, in fact,
imposed upon both the combatants by that same balance of forces which
eventually also imposed upon them, against their will, the deadlock in
the West. On 19 October Sir John French was still hoping that Haig
could outflank the Germans at Ghent, and the presence of the Kaiser on
the coast a few days later suggests that his generals still cherished
the idea of an outmarch rather than a break-through. It was the
British Navy that put the final check on that design, and accident
played its part. Three Brazilian monitors of shallow draught but heavy
armament had been purchased by the Admiralty in August: they could
work inshore even along the shallow waters of the Belgian coast which
precluded counter-attack by submarines, and from 18 to 28 October
their guns swept the Belgian shore for six miles inland and repelled
the onslaught of the German right on Nieuport. Haig's outflanking
project had been rendered equally impossible by the strength of the
German resistance to Rawlinson's move on Menin, and by the 21st both
sides had been pinned down to a ding-dong soldiers' battle all along
the front. Its chronology is as important as its localities, and it is
hard to follow the course of the struggle if the narrative loses
itself in the different threads of the various corps engaged. For all
were fighting at the same time, and the only generalizations possible
are that the struggle tended to concentrate from both wings towards
the apex at Ypres and to culminate in the combat of the last day of
the month.

This bird's-eye view and lack of information about the details do less
than justice to the crucial battle, which Maud'huy under Foch's
general direction waged against the Germans round Arras and both they
and the French regard as one of the decisive incidents in the war.
Clearly, if Von Buelow succeeded in breaking through towards Doullens
or Béthune there was little to stop his reaching Boulogne or
Abbeville, and the British Army would be first isolated and then
driven into the sea. The struggle for Arras began on the 20th, after
the Germans had secured an initial advantage by seizing Lens, and Von
Buelow was given the Prussian Guard to achieve its capture. The climax
was reached on the 24th in an attempt to take the important railway
junction of Achicourt just south of the city. Arras itself was reduced
almost to ruins by the German bombardment; but Maud'huy's men held
good, and on the 26th were even able to take the offensive. The
Germans were driven out of their most advanced positions, though they
held the Vimy Ridge, and accepting defeat before Arras, transferred
some of their best troops, including the Prussian Guards, farther
north. Possibly this relinquishment was the worst of their tactical
mistakes, but the higher commands on both sides had learnt the cost of
persisting in attempts to break through, and Falkenhayn may well have
thought it best to seek a weaker spot.

Maud'huy's successful resistance made it possible for Smith-Dorrien's
2nd Corps to hold a line north of the La Bassée Canal, though not the
line on which he had first come up against the Germans advancing from
Lille. That formed a right angle, stretching north-east from Givenchy
to Herlies and then north-west to Fauquissart; but on the 22nd his
right was driven out of Violaines, and the salient had to be evacuated
by withdrawal to a line in front of Givenchy, Festubert, and Neuve
Chapelle. On the 27th Neuve Chapelle was taken by the Germans. A
gallant attack by Indian troops, who had been brought up from
Marseilles to assist Smith-Dorrien's tried and depleted corps, checked
their advance on the 28th and drove them back into Neuve Chapelle; and
another German attack was held before Festubert. Here Sir James
Willcock's Indian Corps had a hard task for the next few days, and a
breach in our lines on 2 November was only repaired by a desperate
charge of the Gurkhas. The winter of northern France was to have more
effect on their physique than German warfare on their moral, and after
a final assault on Givenchy--one of the virgin pivots of the war in
the West--on 7 November, the battle in front of the 2nd Corps subsided
into an artillery duel. The fighting in front of Pulteney's 3rd Corps,
which carried on the line from Smith-Dorrien's left towards Ypres, was
overshadowed by the struggle round that city; but it had enough to do
to maintain the connexion. Its hold on the left bank of the Lys north
of Armentières was strenuously disputed; on the 20th the Germans
seized Le Gheir at the south-east corner of Ploegstreet Wood, but were
immediately driven out. They took it again on the 29th and some
trenches in the wood with no more permanent success, but managed on
the 30th to take and retain St. Yves a little farther north.

This was part of the Ypres fighting, and downwards from the coast the
surge of battle was also drawn into that maelstrom. The British naval
guns had destroyed the attraction of the dunes, and the Germans turned
towards the inland marshes along the Yser. On the 23rd they crossed it
and advanced to Ramscapelle, but were driven back by the Belgians,
while fourteen unsuccessful attacks were made the following night on
Dixmude, farther south. A more successful attempt was made on the 24th
and 25th on Schoorbakke, and the Germans advanced towards the railway
embankment near Pervyse. The Belgians now bethought themselves of the
expedient their forbears had found effective in the days of William
the Silent and Alexander Farnese. The Yser was dammed at Nieuport, the
sluices were opened above Dixmude, and slowly the river rose above its
banks and spread over the meadow-flats the Germans were striving to
cross. Men were drowned and guns submerged, and presently an
impassable sheet of water protected the Belgians on the railway from
Nieuport to Dixmude. The Germans, however, made two more efforts to
pierce the Belgian line north and south of the inundation. On the 30th
they seized Ramscapelle, but were expelled by the French on the 31st,
and on 7 November a determined attack was made on Dixmude, now
defended by Admiral Ronarc'h and his French marines. It succeeded
after three days' fighting and a heavy bombardment on the 10th. But
Dixmude had, as was natural in a country which had generally feared
attack from France, been built on the eastern bank of the Yser; and
the Germans were never able to debouch across the river (see Map, p.
288).

The capture of Dixmude coincided with the last attack on Ypres. That
famous battle was but an act in the drama played along the Flanders
front, and it may not have been more decisive and was perhaps less
dramatic than the battle of Arras. But the act extended throughout the
play, and gradually attracted more and more attention. It was a
natural continuation of the outflanking struggle, and there was no
interval between the British attempt to get to Ghent and the German
effort to reach the Channel ports. The two ambitions here clashed in
front of Ypres. Rawlinson's failure before Menin left him facing
south-east, while the expulsion of the Belgians and then the French
Territorials from the Houthulst forest left Haig and the French
contingents facing north-east from Bixschoote to Zonnebeke; the apex
of this Ypres salient was at Becelaere. D'Urbal's 8th Army from
Bixschoote north to Dixmude played a subsidiary part similar to that
of Pulteney's 3rd Corps farther south; but had it not been for the
supports he was able to send to Haig's assistance, the Germans would
assuredly have broken through.

The attack began from the apex to our right at Zillebeke on the 21st,
and its momentum showed that nothing more than stubborn defence was
possible. The 7th Division bore the brunt of the attack, and Haig's
1st Corps was precluded from a counter-offensive by the need of
detaching supports to the south-east of Ypres, where long stretches of
line were only held by cavalry, and Pulteney was being pressed in
front of Ploegstreet. On the 23rd the Germans made an impetuous
onslaught on Langemarck, but the pressure was relieved by a French
advance on the left and their taking over the line of our 1st
Division, which enabled Haig to move in support of the centre.
Nevertheless the Germans drove it from Becelaere and got into Polygon
Wood. At night on the 25th they struck at Kruseik, between Gheluvelt
and Zandvoorde. There followed a suspicious lull, and on the 29th the
reinforced Germans drove against the centre of the 1st Corps at
Gheluvelt; an initial success was reversed later on in the day, but on
the 30th the attack shifted towards the right at Zandvoorde, and the
1st Division was forced back a mile to Zillebeke, while the 2nd
conformed and the 2nd Cavalry Division was driven from Hollebeke back
to St. Eloi. The Kaiser arrived that day and the crisis on the morrow.
Gheluvelt was the point selected for the blow, and the 1st Division
was thrust back into the woods in front of Hooge, where headquarters
were heavily shelled. The flank of the 7th Division was thus exposed,
and the Royal Scots Fusiliers were wiped out. Fortunately the arrival
of Moussy with part of the 9th French Corps averted further disaster,
though he had to collect regimental cooks and other unarmed men to
help in holding the line. Allenby's cavalry farther south was in
equally desperate straits near Hollebeke, and he was only saved by the
transference of Kavanagh's 7th brigade from the north of Hooge to his
assistance. North of the Ypres-Menin road the German attack had not
been seriously pressed, and it was from this direction that help came
between 2 and 3 p.m., the hour which Sir John French once described as
the most critical in the Ypres battle. The main instrument was the 2nd
Worcesters, who fell upon the German advanced and exposed right, and
retook Gheluvelt by a bayonet charge. This relieved the pressure on
the 7th Division, and by nightfall their positions had been regained.

But the battle was not yet over. On 1 November the Germans renewed
their attack on Allenby and captured Hollebeke and Messines, and then
in the night Wytschaete. Luckily on that day the French 16th Corps
arrived and recovered Wytschaete. The Germans themselves now needed
reinforcements and time to recover, and for some days there was little
fighting except an unequal artillery duel. On the 6th a German attack
on Zillebeke nearly succeeded, but was eventually repulsed by a charge
of the Household Cavalry. Another pause followed, but the Germans were
bent on one more effort, and the Prussian Guards were brought up from
Arras to make it on the 11th. They charged on the Menin road against
Gheluvelt and drove the 1st Division back into the woods behind; but
then they were held, and counter-attacks recovered most of the lost
positions. The Germans by this time were tired of Ypres, though they
continued for four days longer to struggle for Bixschoote, where
Dubois and his Zouaves put up a splendid and successful defence, and a
few spasmodic attempts were made at Zillebeke and elsewhere between 12
and 17 November. Then, with the arrival of further French
reinforcements, the Germans desisted, and the line of battle in
Flanders sank into an uneasy winter torpor. The second as well as the
first thoughts of the German command for the campaign of 1914 in the
West had come to nought, or to what was nearly as bad, a stalemate;
and the East was calling with an urgent and distracting voice to other
fields of battle.


                              CHAPTER VI

                     THE FIRST WINTER OF THE WAR

The lull which followed the battle of Ypres was not entirely due to
the winter season or to the Flanders mud, for both sides had other
reasons for quiescence in the West. The Germans had definitely failed
in their original plan of destroying the French armies before the
Russians could intervene, and they were now threatened with the ruin
of their Austrian ally and the invasion of their own Silesian borders.
The steam-roller, which had been moving to and fro across the Polish
plains, seemed to have at last secured a solid impetus in the forward
direction which might conceivably carry it to the Brandenburg Gate by
Christmas. Württemburgers and Bavarians might afford to keep their
eyes fixed on the Channel ports and their troops in Belgium; but the
affections of Prussians were set on their homes in the East, and
Hindenburg was calling for reinforcement more clamantly than the
Western commanders. Defence was for many a month to be the German
strategy in the West, and, in spite of the failure of their higher
ambitions, they had secured a good deal worth defending. Belgium, with
its great mining and other industrial resources, was theirs to relieve
the strain on German labour and raw materials; from the Briey district
in Lorraine they were drawing ores without which they could not long
have continued the war; and the coalfields of northern France were
divided between their owners and the invaders. The strain which the
lack of these resources put upon the industries and shipping of Great
Britain was incalculable, and the inability of the Entente to defend
the French and Belgian frontiers or to expel the invader prolonged the
war for at least a couple of years.

There were thus compensations for the Germans if they could merely
hold what they had taken from other people; and the Entente on its
side had its reasons for quiescence. French reserves, which were too
late at Charleroi and Sedan, were in time at Arras and Ypres, but our
own were still in the making. A dreadful toll had been taken of the
heroes of Mons, and the original Expeditionary Force had been sadly
depleted. It was a difficulty which time would remedy, for Great
Britain was teeming with recruits in training from every quarter of
the Empire. The response to its need had been almost overwhelming, and
the Government was hard pressed to embody the hundreds of thousands of
volunteers at home and to provide transport for those overseas. At one
moment in September the War Office took the extraordinary step of
checking the rush by refusing all recruits, however fit, who were less
than 5 ft. 6 in. in height; and to arm and equip and train the
accepted was a task which required time and a vast readjustment of
industry. It was not assisted by a business community which took as
its early motto "business as usual," and was mainly alarmed by the
fear of unemployment. But the traditions of peace were potent in other
than Government circles, and history afforded no precedent for the
crisis, nor for the spirit in which it was met by the youth of the
Empire, who feared less for their lives than most of their elders did
for their profits.

The first source from which the regular forces could be recruited was
the Territorials. They had been formed before the war on the idea that
they were required merely for home defence, and no one had yet thought
of the equivocation that home defence included that of India, Egypt,
Belgium, and France, or offence in Mesopotamia and the Dardanelles.
There was no need for the Government to rely on that quibble, for the
Territorials volunteered almost in mass for foreign service, and the
difficulty was to impress Lord Kitchener with the value of a force
with which his absence in the East had made him unfamiliar. As it was,
some of the best of the regiments, like the London Scottish, put in an
appearance at Ypres, while numbers were sent to Egypt and India to
release for service in Europe the regular forces there. With them came
native Indian regiments, Sikhs, Gurkhas, and Bhopals, whose voluntary
service provided the most touching testimonial to its character that
the British Empire has ever received; for they did not govern
themselves, and it is no small thing to govern others in such a way as
to provoke loyalty unto death. No less moving was the response from
Dominions which were thought by the ill-informed to be straining at
the leash of Imperial domination. The Canadians, having the shortest
route, were the first to come, and on 16 October the advance guard
disembarked at Liverpool. They were followed by scores and then
hundreds of thousands from Australia and New Zealand, and finally from
South Africa, where for the moment the task of suppressing rebellion
and dealing with German South-West Africa kept them at more immediate
duties nearer home. They were all volunteers; for although Canada
adopted conscription in the last year of the war, Australia rejected
the proposal twice, and it was never made in South Africa; and the
splendid colonial troops which covered themselves with glory in the
war contained no conscripts among their numbers.

During the winter of 1914-15 Great Britain was a vast camp of men from
all quarters of the Empire training for that offensive in the spring
on which men's hopes were set. A saying attributed to Lord Kitchener
passed from mouth to mouth, to the effect that he did not know when
the war would end, but that it would begin in May. Hitherto our forces
engaged had been merely an advance guard of our manpower, and it was a
common anticipation that the Allied offensive would bring the war to a
successful conclusion by the end of 1915. With such hopes President
Poincaré cheered the French troops in their trenches at Christmas, and
in January a semi-official communiqué announced that the French had
broken the German offensive and could break the German defensive
whenever they chose. This pleasing illusion was maintained, not so
much by a censorship of the truth as by incapacity on the part of
those in authority to discern it, and by a natural tendency of the
wish to be father of the thought. German communiqués afforded some
means of correction, but they were universally disbelieved or
discounted as containing an amount of falsehood of which no ally could
be guilty, although, until the last few months of the war, they were
rather less misleading than our own. Nor was it only official news
that was delusive. "The Times," for instance, in January put the total
German "losses" down to date at two million and a quarter; and an
expert historian debited Germany with a "dead loss, perhaps, of little
less than three million by the beginning of April," whereas the
casualties barely reached half that figure, and of the casualties a
vast percentage consisted of slight wounds which did not prevent a
speedy return to the fighting-line. Medical science prolonged the war
by reducing disease and restoring the sick and wounded; and the
military statistician went as far astray in his prophecies of the
exhaustion of Germany's man-power as the economist in his predictions
of its bankruptcy and starvation by blockade.

Nevertheless the conviction that, whether we or the Germans attacked,
they had double our casualties, comforted the public during the war of
trenches; not merely were we holding our own while our reserves in
training were mounting to millions, but all the time we were thought
to be wearing down the enemy's strength, and his prudent economy in
the use of men and munitions was taken as proof of his poverty in
resources. His real work in those winter months was done behind the
lines in factory and in barracks, and its value was tested and
revealed in the coming campaign, which found the front in the West
almost precisely where it was left to the autumn. Here and there a
village or a line of trenches had been taken, but by different sides,
and the balance was hardly worth counting. A sand-dune was captured
near Nieuport, a trench in front of St. Eloi, and ten days' fighting
round La Bassée, which severely tried the Indian troops, nearly led to
the loss of Givenchy, but quite to the gain of a brickfield. Early in
December the French took the château of Vermelles and improved their
positions at Lihons and Quesnoy, but suffered in January a reverse
north of Vailly. In Champagne they captured Perthes in February and
made some progress in the Argonne; in the Woevre they nibbled at both
sides of the St. Mihiel wedge, while in Alsace they acquired Steinbach
but lost the Hartmannsweilerkopf. But against this balance of gain
must be set a more subtle but comprehensive loss. The contest was not
limited to the occasional bursts of fighting or to the steady
endurance required for holding the trenches amid the discomfort of mud
and water, bombs and shell-fire. It also took the form of incessant
competition in the perfection of surface and underground defences. The
Germans excelled in this art; but even if they had not, the silent
development of the strength of defence would have told in the
defenders' favour when the time came for attack; and it was an
advantage which told all along the line and more than atoned for the
local loss of a trench or position. The truth was that during a
seeming stalemate the Germans made ample provision for holding their
lines in the West while they prepared and dealt a staggering blow at
their formidable foe in the East.

A week before the Prussian Guard made its final charge at Ypres,
Belgians reported the moving of masses of German troops away to the
East. We have seen that the need was urgent, for Cossacks were already
across the Silesian frontier, and Hindenburg required all the help he
could get for his counter-offensive. He was planning an attack from
Thorn up the Vistula primarily to strike the right flank of the
Russian advance through Poland on Silesia and Cracow, and secondly to
menace Warsaw. The command was entrusted to Mackensen, while Ruszky
withstood the Germans with his right near Plock on the Vistula, his
centre behind the Bzura, and his left stretching out towards Lodz. The
Germans attacked all along the line on 18 November, but Ruszky's left
seemed to afford the easiest prey; it had no natural line of defence,
and Hindenburg's devastation during his retreat in October made the
arrival of reinforcements from Ivanov farther south unlikely.
Nevertheless Mackensen's most impetuous drive was against Ruszky's
centre across the causeway at Piontek; it promised a dramatic success,
and nearly ended in resounding disaster. The Russian centre was broken
and the left thrust back upon Lodz, where it was attacked on three
sides and seemed doomed to destruction. But the wedge was not
sufficiently wide; it merely created a pocket in the Russian line. The
sides held fast and Ruszky began to close the mouth. For three days,
24-26 November, the Germans fought desperately to get out, and at
length the remnant succeeded, owing mainly to the lateness of
reinforcements sent by Rennenkampf at Ruszky's request. Troops,
however, were rapidly being rushed up to Mackensen's help, and on 6
December the Russian left withdrew from Lodz, the industrial capital
of Poland with half a million inhabitants. The advantage of the
retirement was to straighten the Russian line in face of the
determined effort which Hindenburg was bent on making to secure Warsaw
as a Christmas present for the Kaiser (see Map, p. 146).

The line selected for defence ran almost due north to south from the
Vistula up the Bzura and its tributary the Rawka to Rawa and thence
across the Pilitza to Opocznow. The territory abandoned was well worth
the security gained on this line, and for three weeks the Germans
stormed against it in vain. A flank attack from the north of the
Vistula was driven back by the Russians at Mlawa, and no better
success attended the German frontal onslaughts at Sochaczew, where the
main road to Warsaw crosses the Bzura, and at Bolimow, where another
crosses the Rawka. The Germans spent their Christmas in the trenches
instead of in the Polish capital, thirty-five miles away. Somewhat
better fortune was experienced by the Hungarian offensive against the
Russians in Galicia, which was part of Hindenburg's plan. Dmitrieff
was almost in the suburbs of Cracow at the beginning of December, but
his left was then threatened by the Hungarian seizure of the Dukla
pass, and he had to retreat to the line of the Dunajec and the Nida
with his flank drawn back to Krosno and Jaslo. Presently the
Hungarians threatened also the Lupkow and Uszok passes farther east;
but reinforcements arrived, Brussilov closed the passes, and
Dmitrieff's left swung forward again. It did not, however, advance
beyond the Biala, and the Russians spent their Christmas as far from
Cracow as the Germans did theirs from Warsaw.

Winter, however, brought less respite from war on the frozen plains of
Poland than on the sodden soil of Flanders. The first and second
attacks upon Warsaw were followed by a third in January; there was a
winter battle by the Masurian lakes in February, and a fierce struggle
along the Niemen in March; and the Russian offensive across the
Carpathians was only stopped by the German spring campaign. The
Russians, indeed, were doomed to bear the brunt of the war in 1915, at
first with success and afterwards in adversity; for the Germans had
reversed the strategy with which they had begun the war. Then they had
relied on the defensive in the East while they gathered up all their
strength for the crushing of France. That blow having failed, they
were now preparing to drive Russia out of the war, while they trusted
to their line in the West to hold against any efforts to break it. The
change of plan was probably a mistake, though it brought such success
at the moment that volatile critics in England were persuaded that the
original war on the West had been merely a blind for real designs in
the East. At any rate, in the West we had cause to be thankful that
the German attacks were but local, and that the serious offensive
against Verdun did not come until 1916, when we were prepared to
counter it on the Somme.

Meanwhile there was some excuse for the German choice. There was
safety enough for the moment in France and Flanders, and events
justified Germany's confidence that no Entente attack in 1915 could
seriously disturb the German lines. No such grounds for complacence
existed on her Eastern frontiers. East Prussia was not yet free, and
graver danger threatened the Hungarian ally on which the Prussian
relied only less than he did on himself. Galicia was in Russian hands,
and Russian man-power was thought to be inexhaustible. The menace on
both the Carpathian and the Prussian flanks could only be properly met
by destroying the central position in Poland, and persistence in the
attacks on Warsaw was essential to German strategy in the East. The
frontal attack at the end of January which failed for the third time
was followed by a flanking attack on the Niemen which also failed, and
then by a drive on the southern flank in Galicia which turned the
whole Russian front of 900 miles, led to a wholesale retreat, and
precipitated the greatest set-back the Allies suffered in the war.
Germany failed against the democracies of the West, she succeeded
against a government more autocratic than her own.

During January the Russian centre in front of Warsaw had been weakened
for the sake of movements against the enemy's extreme flanks, which
were undertaken in response to requests from the Western Powers in
order to divert German reinforcements from France and Flanders. There
was a fresh advance towards the Masurian lakes in East Prussia, and
far to the south Alexeiev captured a Carpathian pass at Kirlibaba.
Mackensen took advantage of this dispersion to organize a strenuous
attack on the Russian lines near the confluence of the Bzura and the
Rawka. It began on the night of 1 February, and the Russians were on
the 2nd and 3rd pressed back from their position on the heights at
Borzymow and Gumin. But two railways from Warsaw ran north and south
of the threatened front, and reinforcements brought up along them
stopped the German advance. It would in any case have been held before
the still stronger lines at Blonie which were the real defences of
Warsaw on the west, and Hindenburg now gave up the frontal attack as
hopeless. It was only, however, to turn to the northern flank and
repeat his attempt of October to pierce the great chain of fortresses
which defended Poland along the line of the Niemen and the Narew from
Kovno to Novo Georgievsk.

His movement was further provoked by the Russian raid which had
already advanced once more across the border to close on Tilsit,
Insterburg, and Angerburg and well to the west of Lyck. Hindenburg was
ever fertile in surprises on this familiar ground, and on 7 February
his left, commanded by Eichhorn, drove the Russians back along the
railway to Kovno, and within a week had occupied Mariampol. His right
was also well across the frontier, marching on Grodno and Ossowiec.
Superior forces and railway communications accounted for his success,
and one Russian corps met with a disaster. But conditions on the
Russian side of the frontier equalized matters. The Germans occupied
Suwalki and Augustowo, and even crossed the Niemen at Drusskeniki
between Olita and Grodno, while farther north they seized Tauroggen.
But they were unable to cut the Kovno-Warsaw railway which ran but ten
miles east of the Niemen, and Ossowiec farther south successfully
stood a siege. By the middle of March Hindenburg had withdrawn his
left and centre to cover the Prussian frontier. He had suffered
considerably, but his right got off even less lightly.

It was here that his main strategic objective lay. The thrust against
the Niemen had been simply designed to drive the Russians out of
Prussia and protect the left of the German offensive to the south on
the Narew and Warsaw. Since the German failure in December a Russian
army had been pushing slowly down the right bank of the Vistula in
front of Plock. This movement was checked in February, and the Germans
hoped by an advance from Mlawa to get across the Narew south of
Pultusk. The centre of the Russian defence was at Prasnysz where eight
roads meet, but the defending force was weak, and on 24 February the
Germans captured the town. But the extreme Russian left made a heroic
stand on the ridge between Prasnysz and Ciechanow against Germans in
front and on both sides of them. Their resistance produced a situation
somewhat resembling that at Lodz, for a rapid concentration of Russian
reinforcements swept round to the help of the flank at Ciechanow,
while others attacked the German left at Krasnosielce. The Germans
encircling Ciechanow found themselves encircled at Prasnysz, and as at
Lodz they had to fight desperately for three days to escape. They were
assisted by the rudimentary equipment of the Russian forces; rifles
and ammunition were scarce, bayonets and hand-grenades were none too
plentiful, and some of the privates are even said to have fought with
pitchforks. By such hand-to-hand and bloody warfare the Germans were
driven out of Prasnysz back towards Stegna and Chorzele and their
flank attack on Warsaw foiled. Ruszky's strategy and Russian heroism
had gained one of the most singular victories in the war.

At the other end of the Russian front, along the Carpathians, politics
were beginning to exert a powerful influence upon strategy.
South-Eastern Europe was reacting to the Serbian successes in
December, and Rumania, like Italy, and with similar Latin feelings,
was negotiating with the Entente about terms of intervention. On 27
January a loan of five million pounds was arranged by Great Britain,
and while we provided financial inducements Russia dispatched a
sympathetic force to overrun the Bukovina, a country kindred to
Rumania which she might acquire by co-operation. There would be little
risk in joining the war if Russian armies could debouch from the
Carpathians; and the intervention of Rumania would link up the
Serbians with the Russians and envelop unfortunate Hungary on three
sides. But the spring was not yet, and Rumania would wait and see. Her
king was a Hohenzollern, and his people were divided in their
sympathies. If there were Rumanes under Magyar rule across the
Transylvanian Alps, there were also Rumanes under Russian rule across
the river Pruth; and the filching of Bessarabia by Russia in 1878
still rankled in the Rumanian mind. Bratianu, the Prime Minister, was
a cautious statesman, quite capable of seeing that the occupation of
the Bukovina by the Russians was a political demonstration rather than
a proof of military capacity to burst the Carpathian barrier. But
another argument was thus adduced to show the Prussians the need of
victory in the East unless they wished the defence of their two
existing fronts to be complicated by another in the south. Hungary was
their chief economic, political, and military bastion outside their
own dominions, and the subtle bond between Magyar and Prussian notions
of government, which gave them a common interest in the war, was now
drawn closer by the appointment of Tisza's henchman, Count Burian, as
Foreign Secretary to the Hapsburg Empire. For Tisza, the Hungarian
Premier, was in all but nationality a Prussian Junker, and his
domination depended as much upon a Teutonic victory over the Slavs as
a Teutonic victory did upon the retention of the Hungarian granary and
a bulwark in the south.

The Carpathians were therefore the key to the future of the war and
history of south-eastern Europe. The Russians had in the autumn
established a solid control of the Galician outlets from the mountain
passes, but had made no serious attempt to achieve the far more
difficult task of securing command of the foothills south of the
range, which alone would enable them to conquer the plains of Hungary.
For a mountain pass is like a river bridge-head; one may often possess
it without being able to debouch. The Austrians experienced that
difficulty in their winter offensive against the Russian flank in
Galicia. They made little progress against Brussilov at the Dukla and
Lupkow passes, but farther east they seized most of the mountain
routes, and Alexeiev was pressed back in Bukovina. Their centre under
Linsingen was, however, held up by the Russians at Hill 992 near
Kosziowa, and all efforts to dislodge the defenders failed. This
defence saved Galicia for the time and prevented the relief of
Przemysl, which otherwise would have been certain. For the Austrian
right succeeded late in February in recovering Czernowitz, Kolomea,
and on 3 March, Stanislau. Reinforcements, however, now reached the
Russians; Stanislau was recaptured, the Austrians lost much of what
they had gained, and on the 22nd Przemysl weakly surrendered. Its fame
as a fortress had been enhanced by its five months' siege since
October, but it did not redound to the credit of its defenders. They
were superior in numbers to the besiegers, were amply provisioned, and
well supplied with heavy artillery and all the munitions of war. Every
sort of blunder seems to have been committed by the commander, who
apparently regarded the siege as a relief from more arduous work in
the field, and capitulated because the repulse of the rescuing
expedition foreboded an increase of inconvenience.

The surrender liberated the besieging force for operations elsewhere,
and the Russians began a serious effort to surmount the Carpathian
rampart. They got well to the south of the Dukla, made substantial
progress in the centre through the Rostoki pass, and by the middle of
April held the crests for a continuous seventy miles; cavalry
penetrated much farther down the slopes, and the Austrians prepared to
evacuate the Ungvar valley. Reciprocal raids occurred elsewhere on the
Eastern front: the Russians seized and burnt Memel, and the Germans
retaliated by the bombardment of Libau. Despite warnings like that of
"The Times" Petrograd correspondent on 13 April to the effect that the
Germans had not only sent enormous reinforcements to the Carpathians,
but had taken charge of the operations, there was general confidence
in the West in a coming triumphant Russian offensive. Dmitrieff
himself had no suspicion of what was in store until a few days before
the storm broke; and a Panslav society in Petrograd passed and
published abroad a resolution that in view of the victorious progress
of the Russian armies across the Carpathians, the contemplated
intervention of Italy in the war was belated and undesirable.

The Russian Government cannot have been ignorant of the weakness of
Russian armies, not in man-power, still less in skill or courage, but
in artillery and equipment; but it had no conception of the material
and mechanical force which Germany was prepared to bring to the urgent
task of relieving the pressure on her ally. Nor was it for nothing
that Turkey had been cajoled and bribed into making war. Turkish
generalship and organization were negligible quantities, but Germany
could supply those defects, and Turkish bravery and man-power could be
used as a valuable means of distracting Russia's attention and
diverting forces from the Polish and Galician fronts. This had been
the main purpose of the campaign in the Caucasus which Turkey waged in
the winter. They began by seizing Tabriz in the province of
Azerbaijan, which though nominally Persian had been for some time
occupied partly by Russian and partly by Turkish troops; but the
Russians were first across the Russo-Turkish frontier and captured
Bayazid, Khorasan, and Kuprikeui. These advance-guards were, however,
pushed back by the Turks, whose leader and evil genius, the
half-Polish and German-educated adventurer, Enver, had conceived an
ambitious design of encircling the Russian armies between Sarikamysh
and Ardahan. In December the Turks succeeded in making their arduous
way across the snow-clad mountains, and on 1 January they were in
Ardahan. But the task would have tried the German Army itself in
summer, and Enver had attempted more than he could achieve. His army
corps were successively isolated and defeated in a series of
engagements collectively known as the battle of Sarikamysh, and driven
back across the frontier with heavy losses. Tabriz was reoccupied by
the Russians, though they were not able to follow up their victory by
the capture of Erzerum (see Map, p. 182).

The other diversion, which the Turks were used to create against the
Entente, was in Egypt. British rule, in spite of the vast benefits it
conferred, was not universally acceptable to the Egyptian people and
still less to Egyptian officials; and chief among those who resented
their restriction to the straight and narrow path of honest
administration was the Khedive Abbas II. He threw in his lot with the
Turks, and was deposed in his absence, while the shadowy Turkish
suzerainty over Egypt was converted into a substantial British
protectorate. Cyprus, which had been in British occupation since 1878,
was annexed at the same time to the British Crown. The Turks had been
deluded by the Germans with hopes of recovering their ancient control
of Egypt, and they at once began their feeble efforts to realize their
ambitions. In November an expedition started from Palestine to cut the
Suez Canal, a main artery of the British Empire, and stir the embers
of Moslem fanaticism in Egypt. It disappeared in the sands of the
intervening desert. Another, better prepared with German assistance,
reached the east bank of the Canal at various points on 2 February,
but miserably failed to effect a crossing; its only success was its
escape, which was partly explained by a sandstorm, and Egypt had rest
until the winter brought the campaigning season round again (see Map,
p. 352).

The British retort to Egypt and the Caucasus lay in the Persian Gulf
and the Dardanelles. The Persian Gulf had long been a scene of British
trade and political enterprise to which the inertia of its rulers
rendered Persia susceptible; and its position as a possible Russian
outlet to the sea on the flank of our communications with India had
produced some rivalry for Persian favours. The advent of a third comer
in the shape of the Germans, with their plans for a Germanized Turkish
Empire controlling the Berlin-Baghdad route, changed the rivalry into
co-operation; and an attack on the Turks at the head of the Persian
Gulf was an obvious reply to the Turkish campaign in the Caucasus. It
afforded an easy means of employing the native Indian army in the
common cause without the long sea journey to France or the risks
inflicted by northern winters upon sub-tropical races. During the
first half of November detachments of the Indian army sailed up the
Shat-el-Arab, the joint estuary of the Tigris and the Euphrates,
defeated the Turks at Sahil on the 17th, occupied Basra on the 22nd,
and cut off Kurna, which surrendered on 9 December. The local Turks
were weak in numbers and equipment, and distance removed them from the
stimulus of Enver's energy and German organization. It was not until
April 1915 that an effective reaction to the British advance was
attempted. Then the Turks and Arabs concerted a movement against the
whole line stretching round from Ahwaz within the Persian frontier to
Shaiba south-west of Basra. The real attack was on Shaiba, and the
battle lasted from 12 to 15 April. The Turks were completely defeated,
with some 6000 casualties; but the most important effect was to
convert the Arabs into our allies. The advantage was pressed in June,
and on the 3rd Amara was captured seventy-five miles to the north of
Kurna. The way was open for an advance on Baghdad as soon as autumn
made exertion possible in that torrid zone (see Map, p. 177).

Sir John Nixon's success in the Mesopotamian delta was, however, but a
pin-prick in a distant part compared with the blow that was aimed at
the heart of the Turkish Empire in the Dardanelles; and the merits of
that famous but ill-starred enterprise, and of the strategy which
inspired it, have been one of the most debated questions of the war.
Soldiers and civilians, writers and talkers, and even thinkers were
divided into two camps, Westerners and Easterners, those who believed
that the war could only be won by frontal attack in the West, and
those who discerned a way round to victory in the Near or the Farther
East. Volumes might be, and no doubt will be, written on this
controversy, and its implications have infinite variety. It involved
questions of policy as well as strategy, and therefore raised the
delicate problem of the relations between civil and military
authority. The soldier only deals with armies, and in the field his
voice is properly supreme; but policy may be as far above strategy as
strategy is above tactics; and policy may dictate a strategy which
would not commend itself on military principles. The soldier has
nothing to do with the policy, but policy and diplomacy may or may not
bring fresh allies into the war and fresh armies into the field; and a
strategy which may be unsound on purely military grounds may be
completely justified by political reasons. The diversion of a force
from the main field of operations where it is needed to a more distant
objective, seems suicidal to the general in command; but if, without
provoking disaster on the field it has left, it has the effect of
turning the enemy's flank, detaching his actual or deterring his
potential allies, and inducing neutrals to intervene, it may win a war
although it postpones or risks the success of a campaign.

On the other hand, it was urged that the fundamental principle of
strategy is to concentrate all available forces where the enemy has
concentrated his, beat him there, and thus win a victory which will
carry with it the desired results in all the subsidiary spheres.
Germany once beaten in the West, it was argued, there would be no need
to trouble about the Balkans or the amateur strategy which looked to
Laibach or Aleppo as the vital spot in the situation. This principle
was erected into a dogma, and dogma is a dangerous impediment to the
art of war. War is an art, and therefore consists in the adaptation of
varying means to conditions which are not constant. Strategy is not,
apart from its mechanical adjuncts, a science in which properties are
fixed, axioms can be assumed, and the results of experiments foretold;
the combination of two armies and a commander-in-chief does not
produce the same uniform result as the combination of two parts of
hydrogen and one of oxygen; and formulae are as irrational in war as
in any other human art. Dogmas deduced from the experience of some
wars are inapplicable to others; and the science of wars between
France and Germany becomes mere imposture when it seeks to dictate
dogma to wars in which the British Empire is involved. The particular
dogma about concentration had three defects: it left the initiative to
the enemy, thus surrendering the advantage, secured by the command of
the sea, of being able to strike in other directions; it assumed that
the enemy could be beaten on that front without disturbance on his
flanks or in his rear; and it abandoned the Near and the Farther East
to any schemes on which the Germans might choose to employ their own
or their allies' subsidiary forces.

No one, on the other hand, imagined that the Western front could be
denuded of the armies required to maintain it. The question was really
how to use the considerable margin of force between what was essential
for defence and what was needed for a successful offensive. Should it
be employed for frontal attack in the West, or flank attack in the
East? Caution counselled one course, adventure suggested the other.
Surplus force intended for an offensive on the West would be
available, if need arose, for defence; it would not, if it were a
thousand miles away, and our needs in the spring of 1918 seemed to
supply an effective answer to arguments drawn from our later successes
in the Balkans and in Syria. The antithesis is, however, largely a
false one, due to the exigencies of popular debate and the habit of
treating war as an abstract science independent of changing but actual
conditions. No one denies that a diversion of our main effort from
France to Laibach in the winter of 1917 would have been fatal to us in
the spring of 1918, but it is not clear that the thousands of troops
we lost at Loos and the French in Champagne in the autumn of 1915
might not better have been employed in saving Serbia or forcing the
Dardanelles.

                         The Dardanelles

There was much to be said for the policy, and even the strategy, which
led to the Dardanelles expedition. Flanks had disappeared on the
Western front; the lines extended from the Alps to the sea, and it was
natural that, commanding the sea, we should seek to turn them farther
afield. We had asked Russia to relieve the pressure on our Western
front by using her military force in Prussia and Galicia; and it was
reasonable enough for Russia to ask us to reciprocate and relieve the
Turkish pressure on her flank in the Caucasus by a naval attack on
Turkey. The German Fleet lay snug in port beyond the reach of naval
power: could not our supremacy on the sea find an offensive function
somewhere else? There was, moreover, our own position in Egypt to be
defended; no one proposed evacuation, and the best defence of Egypt
was a blow at the Dardanelles in the direction of Turkey's capital. It
was, in fact, no more a dissipation of forces to send troops to force
the Dardanelles than to send them to hold the Suez Canal, and from the
point of view of policy, which was even more important, the effect of
the expedition might be a concentration of power or Powers against the
Central Empires. Serbia had successfully held the gate of the Balkans
against Austria: Rumania's intervention would extend the lines of
possible attack, Greece inclined in the same direction, and the
forcing of the Dardanelles would assuredly have deterred Bulgaria from
hostile intervention, and almost certainly have decided her to join a
common Balkan move against the Teutons and the Turks. To the war on
the Eastern and Western fronts, which was already a German nightmare,
would be added one on an almost undefended Southern frontier. Austria
could not long resist if Italy also intervened, and the collapse of
the Hapsburg Empire would open up an advance against Germany from the
south which would circumvent the Rhine and the Oder and turn the
gigantic bastion she had constructed in France and Belgium into a
house of cards. Well might the Dardanelles expedition be hailed in the
press as a stroke of strategical genius and associated with Mr.
Churchill's imagination. Easy also is it to understand the
concentrated fear and force which the Germans put into Mackensen's
coming drive in Galicia.

There is, indeed, less material for censure in the policy of the
Dardanelles expedition than in the Allies' decision to couple with it
a military offensive on the Western front and to divorce the naval and
military efforts in the Aegean. Divided counsels produced divided
efforts. Mr. Churchill, backed up, we are led to infer, by Mr. Lloyd
George, secured his naval expedition; but he failed, until it was too
late, to secure its military complement because the troops were
earmarked for costly and premature attacks on the German lines in
France. Deprived of this assistance, the naval expedition seems to
have relied on the hope of Greek co-operation to the extent of two
army corps, which Venizelos was only prevented from dispatching by the
vigour of the Prussian Queen of Greece and by the veto of the King.
Possibly there was precipitation, for the naval attack did not await
the arrival of the military forces, which were before long on the way,
extorted, it would seem, by impetuous pressure from a reluctant and
unconvinced authority.

For this purely naval attack on the defences of the Dardanelles there
is little to be said; for no argument of advantage from success can
justify an attempt which is fore-doomed to failure, and history
demonstrated beyond a doubt the strength of modern forts against the
modern battleship. Nor was it in the Dardanelles a test between an
ordinary sea attack and a normal land defence. The strength of the
position attacked was trebled by the forts on both sides of the
channel and by its twist at the Narrows, which enabled the land
batteries to concentrate fire on the attacking fleet from in front as
well as on both flanks. There was no room to manoeuvre in a channel
less than a mile in width, and even when the mine-fields had been
swept, the Turks could send fresh mines down the constant stream, and
discharge torpedoes from hidden tubes along both shores. Against such
formidable defences even the guns of the Queen Elizabeth were an
inadequate attack, and forts that were said to be silenced repeatedly
renewed their bombardment.

The first stage of the attack began on 19 February; it consisted in
demolishing by concentric fire the outpost fortifications at Kum Kale
and Cape Helles. This proved comparatively simple, and after a week of
bad weather the mine-sweepers were able to clear the channel for four
miles. It was a different matter when the real defences in the Narrows
were attacked early in March. The chief bombardment was from outside
in the Gulf of Saros, where it was hoped that the guns of the Queen
Elizabeth and her consorts would by indirect fire dispose of Chanak
and the other forts. None of them were, however, silenced with the
possible exception of Dardanos, and Turkish howitzers, cunningly
concealed in the scrub along the shore, provided an unpleasant surrise
by hitting the Queen Elizabeth. Nevertheless, it was thought that
enough had been effected to justify an attempt to force the Narrows on
the 18th. Three successive squadrons of British and French ships were
sent up the Straits, but the Turks had only waited till the channel
was full of vessels to release their floating mines and land-
torpedoes. First the French Bouvet, then the Irresistible, and thirdly
the Ocean were struck by mines and sunk, the Bouvet with most of her
crew. Three battleships and 2000 men had been lost in an attack which
did not even reach the entrance to the Narrows; and for six weeks
occasional bombardments hardly concealed the fact that the frustrated
naval attack was awaiting the co-operation of the army to give it some
chance of success.

More progress was happily made during the winter in still more distant
spheres, although the conquest of German colonies was regarded by the
pure strategist as belonging to the illegitimate and divergent rather
than to the legitimate and subsidiary type of military operation.
Policy may, however, outweigh strategy, and the circumstance that the
victor only retains as the price of peace his conquests, or part of
them, made in war, extenuates if it does not justify divergent
operations. They were divergent enterprises which gave us India,
Canada, and the Cape of Good Hope; and assuredly the defeat of Germany
on the Western front would not alone have brought German colonies
under the sceptre of a League of Nations. Even from the point of view
of a strategy limited to Central Europe these operations had their
value; for they enlisted against the common foe forces which would
certainly not have been employed had we merely stood on the defensive
in the overseas Dominions, and when their work was done in distant
parts these forces gravitated towards the centre with a weight which
would have grown more crushing had resistance been prolonged. Only
surrender by the enemy stayed Allenby's and Marshall's Oriental hosts
in Asia and anticipated the arrival on the Western front of further
aid from Africa. A blow at the heart may be the normal strategy, but
it is not the only nor always the best means of dealing with an
antagonist clad in a breastplate of steel.

The scene of the least successful of these colonial wars was still
East Africa. The reverse of Tanga in November was followed by another
at Jassin on 19 January, and at the end of the winter the Germans
could claim that their territory was clear of our troops while several
German detachments were in ours; but we had seized the island of Mafia
off the mouth of the Rufigi and declared a blockade of the German East
African coast. On the other side of the continent we made steady
progress in reducing the vast territory of the Cameroons; but the
success of the season was Botha's conquest of German South-West
Africa. The last remnants of the rebellion under Maritz and Kemp were
stamped out at Upington on 3 February, and on 14 January Swakopmund
was captured from the sea. Botha selected that as his base, while
Smuts directed three columns farther south. The first advanced on the
capital Windhoek from Luderitz Bay, the second from Warmbad near the
Orange River, and the third from Kimberley. The second, under Van
Deventer, had the heaviest work, but the fighting was not as a rule
severe. The campaign was a triumph of forethought, strategy, and
organization which left the Germans no choice but a series of
retirements, culminating in the surrender of Windhoek on 12 May, and
the capitulation of the entire remaining German forces at Grootfontein
on 9 July.

On the sea the Germans had abandoned hope of victory. The balance of
power in our favour, which had been insufficient to relieve Jellicoe
of considerable anxiety, began to increase rapidly with the completion
of the Queen Elizabeth class in April; and Germany turned her
anticipatory gaze towards her submarines. Just as Napoleon's efforts
by means of the Berlin and Milan decrees to ruin us by war on commerce
came after the final collapse of his naval ambitions at Trafalgar, so
Germany's submarine campaign followed upon her recognition of the
hopelessness of her naval situation. On 18 February she proclaimed the
waters round the British Isles a war zone in which enemy merchantmen
would, and neutrals might, be sunk by submarines irrespective of the
risks to non-combatants and neutrals. This was a flagrant violation of
the rules of international law which safeguarded the shipping of
neutrals, and only sanctioned the condemnation of contraband goods in
prize courts, and the destruction of enemy vessels when they could not
be taken into port and provision had been made for the safety of their
crews and passengers. The German submarines were not in a position to
guarantee any of these conditions; and trading on the legal maximum
that no one can be required to do what is impossible, the Germans
claimed immunity from these obligations.

To this the British Government replied on 1 March with a blockade
which was more humane and more effective, but none the less involved
an autocratic extension of belligerent rights. All oversea trade with
Germany was to be as far as possible intercepted; goods, whether
contraband or not, were at least to be detained; and the right of
search was to be rendered more secure by being exercised in British
ports, to which neutral ships were brought, instead of on the high
seas amid the danger of submarine attack. These measures inflicted no
loss of life and no loss of property that was not contraband. But they
made havoc with the ideas that neutrals were entitled to trade with
both belligerents, and that neither belligerent could intercept
commerce which did not directly serve for military purposes. It was
not, for instance, a breach of neutrality to sell munitions to a
belligerent, though belligerents were entitled to seize them if they
could; and we ourselves bought vast quantities from the United States.
America was, however, deeply attached to that "freedom of the seas"
which enabled neutrals to sell, without interference, goods which were
not contraband, to either belligerent; and our extension of contraband
to cover food supplies gave deep offence. The difficulty arose not
only from the inevitable tendency of law to disappear amid the clash
of arms, but from the modern absorption of all energies, civilian as
well as military, in the warlike operations of the State. The food of
civilians making munitions became a vital element in the conduct of
war, and the distinction between civil and military purposes was lost
in the fusion of all activities for a common end.

Disquieting as was the course of military operations during the
spring, the diplomatic situation caused even more anxiety; and public
opinion was as impervious to the one as to the other. American
protests against our action on the seas were received with
ill-concealed resentment, popular newspapers adjured the Government to
"stand no nonsense from the United States," President Wilson's name
was hissed by British audiences, and the man in the street seemed bent
on estranging the neutral on whose assistance we were in the end to
rely for victory in the war. It needed all the resources of an
unpopular wisdom and diplomacy to steer between the Scylla of
alienating friends by our blockade and the Charybdis of being, in Mr.
Asquith's words, "strangled in a network of juridical niceties." The
Germans came to our aid with a colossal crime. On 7 May the
passenger-ship Lusitania was torpedoed off the south coast of Ireland
with the loss of 1100 souls, many of them women and children, and some
of them Americans; and the news was hailed in Germany with transports
of delight from ministers of religion and all but an insignificant
section of the people; medals were officially struck to commemorate
the deed. British lives had been lost through Russian action off the
Dogger Bank in 1904 without provoking war, and the sinking of the
Lusitania did not precipitate war between Germany and the United
States. But it eased the friction over our blockade, and gave for the
first time some general American support to the pro-Entente sentiment
which had from the beginning been strong in the New England States. A
moral force was created in reserve which would in time redress the
military disasters which the Entente had yet to encounter.


                             CHAPTER VII

                 THE FAILURE OF THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE

Effective and timely military co-operation had been denied to the
naval attack on the Dardanelles because our available forces had been
mortgaged since January to an allied offensive in the West; and the
gradual recognition of the fact that the naval enterprise could not
succeed without the diversion of troops to that object committed the
Entente to the simultaneous prosecution of two major operations which
could only converge in case of success. This was but one of the
factors in the spring campaign which exhibited Allied strategy at its
worst. Even in the West there was inadequate co-operation, and the
efforts made were both disjointed and premature. We had yet to learn
that alphabet of annihilation without which the art of breaking German
lines could not be mastered; and there still lingered the idea that
isolated attacks on distant and narrow sectors of the front could
rupture the German line and either roll it up or compel a general
retreat. Possibly some such plan might have had some chance of success
had the forces of the Entente been concentrated upon a single effort,
and optimistic critics anticipated a breach to the north of Verdun
which might close or at least threaten the neck of the German bottle
between Metz and Limburg and precipitate a withdrawal from their
carefully prepared positions in northern France and Belgium. But fear
of a German counter-offensive threatening the Channel ports,
difficulties of transport across lines of communication, and defective
unity in ideas and in command condemned the Allied attacks to separate
sectors of the front and spheres of operation; even that general
supervision which Foch had exercised over all the forces engaged in
the October and November battles seems to have disappeared before the
spring, and the French offensive began in the Woevre while the British
attacked the other flank protecting Lille (see Map, p. 79).

The point selected was Neuve Chapelle, a village at the foot of the
Aubers ridge which guarded La Bassée to the south-west and Lille to
the north-east. The German line there formed a marked salient, and an
attack on the ridge, if completely successful, would shake the
security of Lille, and if but moderately successful would cut off La
Bassée and straighten the line as far as Givenchy. The moral indicated
by the elaborate defences constructed by the Germans during the winter
had been at any rate partially learnt, and the infantry attack on the
morning of 10 March was preceded by an artillery preparation which set
a new standard of destruction and was designed to obliterate trenches,
barbed wire, and machine-gun positions. It was effective over the
greater part of the front attacked, and in the centre and on our right
the Fourth and Indian Corps quickly overcame the dazed and decimated
Germans and pushed beyond Neuve Chapelle to the Bois du Biez and
slopes of the Aubers ridge beyond. But our left had no such fortune in
the north of the village and at the neighbouring Moulin de Piétre.
There, for some inexplicable reason, the defences had hardly been
touched by the artillery preparation, and the 23rd Brigade in
particular suffered dismally as they tore with their hands at the
barbed wire and were shot down by the German machine guns. The
defences unbroken by artillery were impenetrable by human bodies, and
the defenders were also able to enfilade the troops which had got
through farther south and were now attacking the second German line.
The staff-work, too, was deplorable, and reserves were late or went
astray, though it is doubtful whether anything could have retrieved
the initial error which left the German defences intact, impeded the
whole advance, and enabled the enemy to recover and bring up reserves
before the attack was renewed on the two following days. Possibly our
high-explosive had been exhausted. In any case there was nothing to do
but to count and consolidate our gains. A village and a strip of
territory some three miles by one had been secured, and we estimated
the German casualties at 20,000, and they themselves at 12,000; our
own were nearly 13,000. The chief effect was produced on the German
mind by the shock of our artillery: "this," was the childish complaint
of the masters of high-explosive, "is not war, it is murder." But
German annoyance was poor compensation for the shrinking of our
ambitions, and there was cold comfort in the failure of the German
counter-attacks here and at St. Eloi farther north; for the Germans
were merely out for defence in the West and we for a successful
offensive, which had to be tried again.

The French with their larger forces and greater experience were
perhaps somewhat more fortunate, but their local successes in the
Woevre and Alsace had no more effect upon the general situation. Early
in April a series of attacks, spread over five days and hampered by
snowstorms, gave them the plateau of Les Éparges on the northern side
of the St. Mihiel wedge and enabled them to advance towards Étain on
the road from Verdun to Metz. The importance they attached to these
operations is shown by their claim on 10 April that at Les Éparges the
Germans in two months had had losses amounting to 30,000. Progress was
also made along the southern side of the wedge between St. Mihiel and
Pont-à-Mousson; but although ground was gained as a result of
strenuous combat extending over several weeks, the wedge stood firm;
and the effort to drive it out as a preliminary to the larger
operations contemplated in Lorraine was presently abandoned. In Alsace
Sondernach was taken and an advance was made during April down the
Fecht towards Metzeral and Munster, and the summit of the
Hartmannsweilerkopf was recovered. But the progress never really
disturbed the Germans, and indeed they would probably have viewed
greater success in that divergent sphere with comparative equanimity,
knowing that it would waste an unfriendly country and would not
threaten their main communications or position.

These operations, combined with the Russian descent of the
Carpathians, were announced in "The Times" of 10 April as "the opening
of the Allied offensive in the summer campaign of 1915." But the
disaster which soon overtook the Russian plans had its effect upon
Allied designs in the West, and induced an attempt to menace the
Germans in a quarter more likely to disturb their concentration on the
East than a campaign against the St. Mihiel wedge or in the mountain
frontiers of Alsace. The tender spot on the West was Lille, with its
concentration of railways and importance as protecting the right flank
of the German front along the Aisne and the left flank of their hold
on the Belgian coast. The Germans learnt, divined, or anticipated the
design, and sought to parry or break the force of the projected blow
by a defensive-offensive against Ypres. The attack was not their real
offensive for 1915, but they developed the habit of distracting
attention from their main objectives by decking out their subsidiary
operations with some new devilry of ingenuity; and just as in 1918
they bombarded Paris with guns having a range of 75 miles when their
real objective was the British front, so in 1915, when their main
effort was against the Russians, they treated the defenders of Ypres
to their first experiments in poison-gas. They had tried the effect on
the humbler creation some time before, and had indicated their
intentions by accusing their enemies of the practice they had
themselves in mind; but it came as a ghastly surprise to the French
Territorials and British and Canadian troops along the Yser on 22
April (see Map, p. 288).

The attack had clearly been planned beforehand, because the
preparation of the chlorine gas, arrangement of the gas-tubes along
the front, and delay for the requisite conditions wind and weather
required time; and the absence of any great concentration of troops
merely showed that, in view of their commitments in the East, the
Germans only sought at Ypres a local and tactical success. It was a
mere accident that the gas attack north-east of the city followed upon
strenuous fighting for Hill 60 at the south-east re-entrant, and the
choice of locality was due to the German knowledge of the facts that
the French regulars had been removed from the Yser and our own heavy
guns from Ypres in order to take part in offensives farther south. The
attack on Hill 60 was begun by us on 17th April, and its object was to
acquire a gun position which commanded the German trenches in the
Hollebeke district. The struggle lasted for five days and was one of
the fiercest local combats in the war; at the end of it we were still
on what was left of a mound of earth.

The German offensive on the north-eastern front of Ypres was heralded
by a bombardment of the city on the 20th which was designed as a
barrage to cut off communications with the front along the roads which
all ran through Ypres. On the evening of the 22nd the gas attack
developed, and as the clouds of green vapour moved down on the French
Territorials, unprovided with any sort of gas-masks and unprepared for
the terrifying effects of poison en masse, they broke and fled,
exposing the flank of the Canadians on their right from Langemarck to
Grafenstafel. Never did troops make a more heroic debut in war under
more trying conditions. Less affected by the gas than the French
Territorials, the Canadians counter-attacked the German left flank,
temporarily recaptured guns, and stayed the advance. The gaping breach
on their left was partially filled by reinforcements from the 28th
Division on the 23rd, but the Germans were across the canal at Het Sas
and Lizerne, and the Canadians between St. Julien and Grafenstafel
were fighting on three fronts. A second gas attack followed on the
24th, and presently St. Julien had to be abandoned. Reinforcements
were, however, coming up; French regulars brilliantly recaptured
Lizerne and Het Sas and secured the west bank of the canal against a
German advance; and by the 29th the Canadians, who had saved the
situation but had suffered heavily in the effort, were replaced by
British troops. There was still desperate fighting to do for many
days, and the curve of the Ypres salient had been reduced to a narrow
oblong stretching from Ypres to Grafenstafel and the Polygon Wood, and
little more than half in breadth what it was in length. A shortening
of the line was inevitable, and it was effected with great skill and
little loss on 3-4 May. But heavy bombardment continued to take a
dreadful toll of life until a final gas attack on the 24th concluded
the German effort. Crude respirators had been hastily supplied to our
troops and the gas attack was less effective than before, but we were
left with a line which ran in a curve a bare three miles from Ypres,
and

                         "an acre sown indeed
                   With the richest royallest seed
                  That the earth did e'er suck in."

But if that soil round Ypres was a tomb of British bodies, it became
the grave of German hopes. The shrunken line was enough, and it
remained unbroken till the war had ceased. The military gain, if any,
lay with the Germans, whose casualties were far less than ours. But
the moral advantage lay with us. It was not quite so clear as is
commonly thought. The use of poison-gas as a weapon of war was not a
German invention; it was suggested by a British chemist to Japan
during the Russo-Japanese War. But chemists have nothing to do with
international law or morality, and responsibility rests with
Governments for their adoption of methods provided by science. Nor is
there any clear moral distinction between asphyxiating shells and gas
emitted from tubes. All war is torture; and, the morality of torture
once admitted, the moral reasons for discrimination between particular
degrees of suffering and efficiency cease to be very convincing. The
moral advantage to us consisted in the heroism which our troops
endured the torture. If they could unprepared withstand the gas
attacks at Ypres, there was nothing of which their manhood need be
afraid; while the Germans were in the humiliating position of one who,
foiled in legitimate combat, had tried to take an unfair advantage and
has failed. Poison-gas was an ill-bred attempt at revenge for what
they called murder at Neuve Chapelle, just as they found consolation
in the sinking of the Lusitania for the ignominous situation of their
High Seas Fleet.

The offensive at Ypres slackened to meet the Allied attacks elsewhere,
and our troops in the salient at least were not insensible to the fact
that even the Germans had insufficient artillery or high-explosive to
maintain an intense bombardment all along the line. Both the French
and ourselves began on 9 May, and the object was to threaten the
German position in front of Lens and Lille. Lens was protected by a
bulge in the German front which ran round by Grenay, Aix-Noulette,
Notre Dame de Lorette, Ablain, and Carency to the north-west of Arras,
and then south-eastwards by La Targette, Écurie, and Roclincourt.
Between this line and Lens lay the Vimy Ridge, and in front of its
southwestern slopes the Germans had constructed elaborate
fortifications above and underground known as the White Work and the
Labyrinth. For the attack the French had made careful preparations,
and their concentration of eleven hundred guns and almost limitless
shells exceeded in intensity any previous experiment. They were
rewarded by the comparative ease with which their initial successes
were secured. Barbed wire and earthen parapets were blown to pieces
before the infantry attacked and in an hour and a half coveted two and
a half miles. La Targette and the White Work were captured and an
entrance forced into Neuville St. Vaast. Farther north a second attack
was required, and it was not until the 12th that Carency, Ablain, and
the summit of Notre Dame were mastered. The line had been broken, but
the fragments resolved themselves into almost impregnable strongholds;
it took another fortnight before the Souchez sugar-refinery, half a
mile in front of Ablain, fell, and the Labyrinth held out, while
behind these defences rose the Vimy Ridge to defy for another two
years all attacks upon Lens (see Maps, pp. 79, 302).

The lesson was that of Neuve Chapelle on a larger scale, and all the
more impressive because of the careful preparations made for victory.
The breach of narrow front was useless, because lines were no longer
made of men, but of fortifications which held instead of rolling up,
when broken, and seeking safety in retreat. The simultaneous British
attacks near Neuve Chapelle repeated the French experience and our own
in March. The first was north of Neuve Chapelle towards Fromelles, and
broke down through inadequate artillery preparation; the second, made
on 16 May in front of Richebourg l'Avoué towards the Bois du Biez and
Rue d'Ouvert, was somewhat more successful, and Sir John French wrote
encouragingly about the entire first line of the enemy's trenches
having been captured on a front of 3000 yards with ten machine guns;
but one brigade alone lost 45 officers and 1179 men, and La Bassée and
the Aubers ridge were as forbidding as ever. It was not by victories
of that compass that the Germans would be diverted from their Galician
drive; and the other major operation in the Dardanelles to which the
Entente had been committed gave little better cause for satisfaction.

The French had naturally refused to divert a single division from
their troops on the Western front, and their contingent consisted of a
detachment of some colonial troops, fusiliers marins, and the Foreign
Legion. The substantial force took longer to collect, and had to be
provided by Britain. Sir Ian Hamilton was placed in command, and he
was given the 29th Division, the Naval Division, a Territorial
Division, and the Australian and New Zealand Divisions serving in
Egypt, which was now considered safe for the summer. The total
amounted to three corps, or 120,000 men. The Turks were directed by
the German general Liman von Sanders, and he expected the landing to
be attempted near Bulair on the flat and narrow isthmus which joined
the Gallipoli Peninsula to the mainland. His expectation is perhaps
the best justification for Sir Ian's selection of other spots, but
there were few that were practicable, and none that did not involve
enormous difficulties, for Liman von Sanders' anticipation of an
attack at Bulair did not preclude some effective precautions against a
landing elsewhere.

The attempt began on 25 April at six different points. Some way up the
outer or north-western shore of the peninsula the Australian and New
Zealand Army Corps effected a landing at Gaba Tepe, later called Anzac
from the initials of the force. Farther down another was made in front
of the village of Krithia, and the remaining four attempts were on
beaches stretching round the point of the peninsula from Tekke to
Morto Bay. All prospered fairly well except at Sedd-el-Bahr, where a
concentration of Turkish fire kept most of the troops from
disembarking for thirty-two hours, and near Krithia, where on the 26th
a counter-attack drove our forces back into their boats. Zeal carried
the Anzacs nearly to the summit of the hills overlooking the Straits,
and excess of it led to heavy losses in a Turkish counterattack; nor
could the parties of British troops who got within a few hundred yards
of Krithia on the 28th maintain their position, and the result of this
first attempt was to give us possession of the extremity of the
peninsula from a mile above Eski Hissarlik inside the Straits to three
miles above Tekke on the Aegean, and of an exposed ridge of cliffs at
Anzac. A French force had landed at Kum Kale on the Asiatic mainland,
but only to destroy the Turkish batteries there (see Map, p. 107).

The coup de main had obviously failed, and the struggle for Gallipoli
resolved itself into a costly attack by inferior forces on land
against an almost impregnable position. Never were the difficulties of
invasion by sea more strikingly demonstrated, and it was a misfortune
that the generals who continued throughout the war to distract the
popular mind by depicting a German invasion of England, were not all
sent to study the process in the Dardanelles. In front of our narrow
footholds the Turks, amounting to 200,000 men, held positions rising
to over 700 feet at Achi Baba and Pasha Dagh, and defended by masses
of artillery and machine and elaborate systems of trenches upon which
the big guns from our ships appeared to have little effect. Two
British submarines did gallant work by getting up the Straits under
the mine-fields and disturbing the Turkish communications across the
Sea of Marmara; but there remained land-routes on either shore, and
reserves arrived more quickly on the Turkish than on the British
front. From 6-8 May a second attack was made up the Saghir Dere
towards Krithia and the Kereves Dere towards Achi Baba, while the
Anzacs created as much diversion as possible from Gaba Tepe. But the
bombardment from ships and shore-batteries failed to destroy the
Turkish trenches, and an advance of a thousand yards, which failed to
reach the enemy's main positions, was only achieved at the cost of
casualties amounting by the end of May to more than the losses in
battle during the whole Boer War. A third attack on 4 June reinforced
the lesson that nothing short of an army large enough for a major
operation could master the Dardanelles, and meanwhile an elusive
German submarine was threatening the naval supports. The Goliath had
been sunk by a Turkish torpedo boat on 12 May, and the submarine
disposed of the Triumph on the 26th and the Majestic on the following
day. Silently the Queen Elizabeth and her more important consorts
withdrew to safer waters, and the naval attempt to force the
Dardanelles was gradually transformed into a military siege of the
peninsula.

The spring offensive of the Allies had gone to pieces everywhere
except in the distant spheres of South Africa and Mesopotamia, while
the German offensive was carrying all before it in Galicia. The first
great disillusionment of the war was at hand, and its promised
beginning in May looked uncommonly like a repetition of the previous
August. Popular discontent focused itself on the lack of munitions,
and especially of high-explosives, which "The Times" military
correspondent declared on 14 May to have been a fatal bar to our
success. "Some truth there was, but brewed and dashed with lies," as
Dryden remarked of Titus Oates' plot. There were other bars as fatal,
the lack of guns, men, and generalship; and the ultimate
responsibility for the shortage rested with those experts, Allied as
well as our own, who thought six Divisions an adequate British force
when the war broke out. For the amount of high-explosive required
depends upon the number of guns and gunners to use it and the length
of line that is held; and experience of South African warfare had led
generals to discount the value of heavy guns and high-explosive and to
magnify that of mobility and mounted men. It was only when trenches
stretching from the Alps to the sea were made impervious by German
wire and concrete to assault that the need for unlimited
high-explosive dawned on the minds of the higher commands. The French
were able, thanks to the protection afforded by the British Navy, to
divert labour from naval construction and repair to the production of
munitions and even to send naval guns to the trenches. But that very
fact added to the paramount claim of the navy in Great Britain for
munitions; and a soldier must have been strangely blind to the debt
the Empire and the Entente owed to the British Navy before he could
urge his own Government to follow the French example.

The British Cabinet had begun to appreciate the need in September
1914, and on 21 April 1915 Mr. Lloyd George gave in the House of
Commons the rate of our increased output as from 20 in September to 90
in November, 156 in December, 186 in January, 256 in February, and 388
in March, and added that the production of high-explosives had been
placed on a footing which relieved us of all anxiety. Even an increase
of 2000 per cent was doubtless inadequate to our needs, and Mr.
Asquith's frequently misquoted denial that our operations had been
hampered by the deficiency, showed that both Ministers had been misled
by their technical advisers. But the French, who fired 300,000 shells
on 9 May, were, in spite of that fact and their greater forces, not
much more successful in front of Lens than we at Neuve Chapelle; and
unlimited explosives did not bring us far on the road to victory until
more than three years after Mr. Lloyd George had been appointed
Minister of Munitions in May 1915 to revolutionize the situation which
had inspired him with such confidence in April. We had more to learn
in the art of war than the manufacture of munitions, and the dream
that a better supply would have enabled us to beat the Germans in the
spring of 1915--without any American troops at all and with a British
Army about a tenth of the effective strength that was in the end
required--was as idle as the German fancy that their similar
superiority should have brought us to our knees in the autumn of 1914.

The delusion served, however, to shake Mr. Asquith's Government to its
foundations. Lord Kitchener himself, the popular idol for whom the
press had clamoured at the beginning of the war, was deposed from his
shrine in ultra-patriotic hearts because he had devoted himself to the
raising of armies more than to the making of munitions. But the first
offensive in the press, as often happened in the field, fell short of
its objective: Lord Kitchener received the Garter amid the plaudits of
"Punch," and the curious spectacle was exhibited of the most excitable
journal in the realm being publicly burnt on the Stock Exchange by the
nation's most excitable body of citizens. Another incident supervened
upon the munitions outcry; Lord Fisher resigned from the Admiralty on
15 May. He had had notorious differences with Mr. Churchill over the
Dardanelles and other questions; and unable to do without either at
the Admiralty, Mr. Asquith dispensed with both, and covered up the
deficiency by a Coalition. The principal Unionists joined the Cabinet,
and the chief Liberal Jonah was Lord Haldane, who knew a great deal
about Germany and was therefore accused of being pro-German. He also
knew something of science, and might conceivably have been more alive
to the need of munitions than Lord Kitchener. But the nation would not
have tolerated his presence at the War Office, and even resented it on
the Woolsack. He left his seat to successors who did not fill his
place.

Apart from this concession to popular prejudice, the Coalition was an
advantage from the national though not from the Premier's personal or
party point of view. He would have been wiser in his own interests to
have resigned and left the responsibility to men whose supporters
believed that with a little more energy and foresight the war could be
won in a few months or at most a year. Few had as yet realized that
the struggle was one between mighty nations which only the
perseverance of peoples, and not the merits of Ministers, could
decide; and the inevitable deferment of foolish hopes would sooner or
later have produced a reaction in favour of the retiring Premier and
his party. But it would have been accompanied by a revival of party
warfare which would have undoubtedly weakened national unity and
impaired the prospects of success; and all parties to the
Coalition--Liberal, Unionist, and Labour--were patriotically inspired
when they agreed to share a burden which the wiser among their leaders
foresaw would tax their united strength.

There was need enough for unity during the summer of 1915 when the
Allied offensive in the West had broken down, little progress was
being made in the Dardanelles, and the Germans were driving the
Russians like chaff before them. The one gleam of light was the
intervention of Italy, which might distract Austrian forces from the
Galician front and in any case meant some accession of strength to the
Allied cause. Italy had already rendered inestimable services to the
Entente by proclaiming that Germany's action was offensive in
character, and therefore dispensed Italy from an obligation to support
her partners in the Triple Alliance; and her neutrality during August
and intervention in May disproved the gibe of the French diplomatist
that she would rush to the rescue of the conqueror. The question
throughout the winter was whether she would complete her breach of the
Triple Alliance by attacking her former Allies. The grievance upon
which diplomacy fixed was the reciprocal compensation which Austria
and Italy had promised each other in case either were forced to
disturb the status quo in the Balkans. Austria pleaded that her
invasion of Serbia involved no permanent disturbance, because no
permanent annexation was intended; to which Baron Sonnino retorted
that Austria had declared, during the Turkish-Italian war, that an
Italian bombardment of the Dardanelles or even the use of searchlights
against the Turkish coast would constitute a breach of the agreement.
In March Baron Burian accepted the principle that compensation was due
to Italy, and discussion arose as to its nature and extent. The
Italian Government pressed its advantage, and demanded not only the
whole of Italia irredenta, that unredeemed territory peopled by
Italians in the Trentino and across the Adriatic, which had been left
under Hapsburg dominion after the wars of Italian liberation, but
practically the whole north-eastern coasts of the Adriatic which were
inhabited by a predominantly Slav population.

Austria, under German pressure, travelled far on the path of
concession, but no conclusion could be reached that way. For
concessions at the expense of the Jugo-Slavs would not be recognized
by the Entente if it won the war; and if the Central Empires were
successful, they were not likely to regard these promises extracted
from them in their hour of need as more binding than other scraps of
paper. The negotiations were, indeed, no more than a diplomatic method
of forcing the issue and setting a standard for the concessions to be
demanded from the Entente as the price of Italy's intervention. We
could not afford, it was thought, to offer less than Austria, and we
probably underestimated Italy's fears and difficulties. She was really
bound to intervene, because if she stood out, she would lose whichever
side won. There was a triangular duel for the control of the Adriatic;
if the Central Empires were victorious the Adriatic would become a
Teutonic lake; if the Entente succeeded, its north-eastern shores
would become Jugo-Slav. Italy could only avoid that dilemma by
intervention in favour of the winning side, and thus establishing a
claim to share in the fruits of victory. Her ambitions were
considerable: not only did she insist that control of the eastern
shores of the Adriatic was essential to the safety of her own exposed
and harbourless coasts, but she regarded herself as the heir of
Venice, which "once did hold the gorgeous East in fee"; and she hoped
to retain the Greek islands of the Dodecanese which she had seized
during the Turkish War, and to acquire a foothold in Asia Minor and on
the Illyrian coast along the Straits of Otranto. It would not be easy
to harmonize her claims with those of Serbia who was already our ally,
nor those of Greece whose adhesion was expected. But Italy's sword
seemed worth the risk and the price in the spring of 1915, and the
Treaty of London was concluded on 26 April which promised her most of
what she desired, and produced some of the hardest tasks for the
ultimate Congress of Peace.

The compact was from the first more honoured in the breach than the
observance. Italy undertook to wage war by all means at her disposal
in union with France, Great Britain, and Russia against the Powers at
war with them. But for another year she remained at peace with
Germany. War was, indeed, declared upon Austria on 22 May, but the
union with the Allies was limited almost exclusively to the
prosecution of Italy's territorial ambitions, and the forces employed
hardly produced effects to correspond with the facts that the
population of Italy was almost equal to that of France and that the
bulk of the Austrian armies were involved in the struggle with Russia.
Italy had, indeed, peculiar disadvantages; she was more divided in
mind about the war than any of the great protagonists, and the
splendid qualities of her Bersaglieri and Alpini were not shared by
all her troops. Her war strength was put at a million men, and she
still had to cope with Turkish forces in Tripoli which only
surrendered at the end of the war as a condition of the armistice
concluded between Great Britain and Turkey. She was further hampered
by lack of coal and inadequate industrial equipment, and her northern
frontier had been so drawn in the Alps as to give Austria every
advantage of the passes both for offence and defence. To these
drawbacks were added a defective strategy dictated by political
idiosyncrasies. The capture of Trieste rather than the defeat of the
enemy was made the great objective of the campaign. It had the
advantage that it might not involve German troops in its defence, and
the defect that it was a divergent operation which even if successful
would have no material influence on the general course of the war.
Soon, too, it became evident that Trieste was not likely to fall until
Austria was defeated on other fields or fell into impotence through
domestic disruption (see Map, p. 298).

The campaign began with scattered Italian offensives all along the
northern frontier, designed to wrest from the Austrians their control
of the Alpine heights and passes, and to secure the flank of the main
attack across the Isonzo towards Trieste. Slight successes were gained
at various points, and the enemy was pressed back almost to the head
of Lake Garda. But no serious impression was made on his positions
except along the lower reaches of the Isonzo. Here the west bank from
Tolmino down to Monfalcone and the sea fell into Italian hands.
Gradisca was captured on 10 June and the river was crossed at
different points. On the 20th the Italians announced their firm
establishment on the slopes of Monte Nero above Tolmino and Caporetto,
and on 26 July a similar success on Monte San Michele and Monte dei
Sei Busi farther south near Gorizia. On 4 August they were even said
to be making progress on the Carso to the south-east. But all these
gains were illusory. Gorizia itself remained in Austrian hands for
another year, the heights east of it were not mastered until 1917, and
neither Tolmino nor the Carso fell to the Italians until the war had
been lost and won. There was nothing here to disturb the Austrian
concentration of effort against their Russian foes or to call for
German assistance to their Austrian allies. Italy did, however, on 20
August declare war upon Turkey, with which she had not yet made a
definitive peace since the outbreak of hostilities in 1911; and it was
even announced that she would send an expedition to the Eastern
Mediterranean. This was taken to mean a descent upon Adalia in Asia
Minor, where Italy desired to stake out her claims in the expectation
of an early dissolution of the Turkish Empire. But the Turks showed
unexpected signs of animation under German stimulants, and the
"eastern Mediterranean" expedition was reduced to the nearer and more
practical exploit of seizing Avlona which there were not even Turkish
troops to defend. Italy was not alone to blame, for the first use the
Serbs made of Italy's committal to the Entente cause was to dash
across to the Adriatic coast where their rival claims conflicted.

The Gallipoli campaign therefore dragged its weary length along
throughout the torrid heat of summer without an Italian diversion,
serving mainly as a demonstration of practical though ineffective
sympathy with our Russian allies. Another attack on Krithia, launched
on 28 June, gave us control of the Saghir Dere and led to considerable
Turkish losses in the counter-attacks which Enver, defying Liman's
wiser advice, had ordered; and the French under Gouraud made a
corresponding advance on the eastern shore of the peninsula. Gouraud
received a wound which required the amputation of his leg and his
retirement to France, where he later rendered more brilliant and far
more effective service. On 12 July yet another effort was made to
capture Krithia without substantial success; and the much-tried armies
on that forbidding and barren field then sat down to await the
reinforcements demanded and the new plan which was maturing for the
solution of the problem.

Stagnation also set in along the Western front, and the summer
campaign was marked by as little movement as the winter. An attack was
made in the Argonne on 20 June more in the interests of the Crown
Prince's reputation than in those of strategy; and the advance which
attained the depth of a mile was reduced by counter-attacks on 14 July
to 400 yards. Another at Hooge in front of Ypres on 30 July was marked
by the first employment in battle of one of our new divisions
recruited since the war began, and on the German side by the use of
liquid fire. It was successful in making an awkward dent in our line,
but again a counterattack on 9 August restored the situation. That,
however, was one which suited the Germans, for they were simply out to
hold their lines in the West, while behind those lines they
commandeered French and Belgian labour and worked French and Belgian
mines to eke out their own munitions of war and supply the needs of
their campaign on the other side of Europe. Towards stopping that our
checks to their local attacks in the West and offensive operations of
our own did nothing. Important and sweeping French successes continued
to be announced from time to time in the press, and occasionally
positions were captured and retained, as at Buval near Souchez,
Hébuterne, and Quenneviéres. The Germans, too, failed in their attacks
on Les Éparges, while the French succeeded in capturing Metzeral in
Alsace. But the great offensive in Artois had subsided into stubborn
hand-to-hand fighting in the Labyrinth, which was as costly as a
first-class battle without producing its results.

So spring passed into summer and the days began to wane, with the
Germans reaping the fruits of their foresight and preparations in the
East, while we pinned our faith to the silver lining of the clouds and
looked day by day for that offensive which was to relieve our
hard-pressed Allies but did not come. The truth was hidden from the
public eye, and possibly with prudence; for there are times in which
without illusions the weight of gloom would be intolerable. The
difficulty is that illusion also dims the sense of danger and of duty;
our belated provision for war was still retarded by strikes,
profiteering, and perversity, and the King's example of total
abstinence failed to prevent the nation from spending more on drink in
war than in peace. An imperfectly educated people is slow to grasp a
novel situation; and it was only by stealth and caution that it could
be led along the path of preparation for the part we had to play by
national service, national thrift, and national control.


                             CHAPTER VIII

                         THE DEFEAT OF RUSSIA

THE winter, spring, and summer which had passed with so little change
on the other fronts, owed their lack of decisive movement not to the
comforting delusion of the French official communiqué that Germany's
offensive had been broken and her defensive could be broken whenever
it was thought desirable, but to the fact that she had reversed her
strategy, and reached the conclusion that Russia could be defeated
more easily than France. Russia, indeed, had almost limitless
man-power, but the war had already shown the importance of munitions,
and Germany quickly learnt the lesson. Russia was ill-equipped with
munitions and the industrial facilities for their manufacture; nor
could the want be supplied by her allies, since, apart from their own
needs, their communications with Russia were circuitous, uncertain,
and inadequate. The Murmansk railway was not complete, the route to
Archangel was icebound from November to May, and the single rail
across Siberia was further hampered by indolence and corruption on the
part of the railway workers and their staff. Russia was the most
isolated of the Allies, and the attempt to open a shorter connexion by
a naval attack on the Dardanelles had been frustrated. Without
assistance from the West, Russia would be beaten, and without it she
could not recover. There were good reasons for the policy which led
Germany, during the winter and behind an unpenetrated veil of secrecy,
to concentrate her energies upon the production of guns and munitions
for the Eastern front.

The strategical position of Russia was no more sound than the state of
her armaments. She occupied a vast salient, the southern flank of
which was the Carpathians. They formed a substantial protection, since
the passes afforded poor facilities for transporting the mass of
artillery on which Germany relied for success in her attack. But the
safety of the flank depended upon the integrity of the front, and a
successful German drive in Galicia would expose the entire position of
the Russian armies in Poland. The two reasons subsequently given for
the dismissal of the Grand Duke Nicholas from the supreme command
were, firstly, that he had in the autumn advanced too precipitately
into Silesia, and secondly, that in the spring he exhausted his
strength in trying to pierce the Carpathians and thus left his front
on the Dunajec too weak to resist Mackensen's furious onslaught. But
it is doubtful whether any strategic correctitude could have saved the
Russian armies from the effects of German superior armaments. The
Germans were playing for high stakes, nothing less than the
destruction of Russia's offensive capacity; but they were justified in
their game by the cards they held in their hand.

The attack began on 28 April with a forward move on Dmitrieff's left
at Gorlice. The pressure compelled him to weaken his centre along the
Biala in front of Ciezkowice. Then on 1 May Mackensen's vast volume of
fire burst forth; over 700,000 shells are said to have fallen upon the
Russian position, and their defences were blown out of existence.
Under cover of this fire, to which the Russians could make little
reply, the Biala was crossed, Ciezkowice and Gorlice were captured,
and Dmitrieff's line was broken; on the 2nd his army was in full
retreat to the Wisloka, twenty miles back in his rear, where no
trenches had been dug, and there was little hope of checking the
Germans. Nevertheless a heroic stand was here made for five days by
Caucasian and other reinforcements. On the 7th Mackensen forced a
crossing at Jaslo, and next day he pursued his advantage by seizing
two bridgeheads across the Wistok farther on, one at Fryslak to the
north and the other at Rymanow to the south. Brussilov's army along
the Carpathian foothills at Dukla had to beat a precipitate retreat
and lost heavily; it was nearly severed from Dmitrieff's centre. But a
counterattack from Sanok in the south and a stand by the Russians at
Dembica towards the north procured a slight respite, and by the 14th
the bulk of the Russian armies were across the San with their right at
Jaroslav, their left at Kosziowa, their centre at Przemysl, and their
forces in Poland conforming to the retirement.

The latter part of the retreat had been of a more orderly character
and began to follow a plan, but the plan involved a great deal more
than the surrender of Galicia between the San and the Dunajec.
Mackensen's force was overpowering, and the German design was not to
lengthen the line by compelling a Russian retreat to the San; it only
fell short of complete success because the Russian armies had not so
far been isolated and destroyed, but there was still the likelihood of
their being driven back until the whole of Galicia was recovered and
Poland lost. For the rest of the month Mackensen's huge machine of
destruction was moving forward to the second stage of its journey on
the San. Its progress was delayed by Russian counter-attacks on the
Austrians under Von Woyrsch in Poland and on Mackensen's other wing
which was advancing from the Carpathians on to the Dniester. But by
the 18th Kosziowa had fallen and the Germans had seized the line of
the San from Sieniawa to Jaroslav. Przemysl had not been further
fortified by the Russians since its capture; it would clearly meet the
same fate as Antwerp from the German howitzers unless the Russian
armies in the field could keep the German artillery at a distance.
They could only delay matters until the stores and material were
removed from the fortress. It was now a salient threatened with
encirclement on the north and south. Russian counter-attacks at
Sieniawa and Mosciska relieved the pressure for some days, but before
the end of May Mackensen's howitzers were at work, and Przemysl was
evacuated by the Russians on 1 June.

On the same day Stryj fell to Von Linsingen and on 7 June he forced
the Dniester at Zurawno. But he had advanced too far ahead of his
communications and reserves, and on the 8th Brussilov drove him back
over the Dniester with severe losses. The Dniester was indeed the
scene of stubborn fighting for many days, and on the 18th the Russian
Government announced that the enemy had lost between 120,000 and
150,000 men in their efforts to cross it on a front of forty miles.
But the Russian stand on the Dniester only left it to Mackensen's
centre and left to turn the Grodek position and ensure the fall of
Lemberg. By 20 June the Russian communications north of the Galician
capital were severed by a battle at Rawa Ruska, and on the 22nd, after
nine months' Russian occupation, it once more fell into Austrian
hands. The Russians had not done much to commend their cause to the
inhabitants during their stay; the opportunity was seized for
proselytizing in the interests of the Orthodox Church, and Sczeptycki
the Archbishop of Lemberg, a member of the Uniate Church which had
made terms with Roman Catholicism, was treated with a harshness
compared with which the indignities inflicted by the Germans upon
Cardinal Mercier of Malines were trivial; he was interned in a Russian
monastery and deprived of all religious rites save those which were to
him heretical.

The fall of Lemberg was followed by the loss of the Dniester line as
far as Halicz, and all beyond it including the Bukovina, and the
Russians fell back behind the Gnilia Lipa, where Ivanov prolonged a
stubborn resistance. But the aims of the Germans in Galicia had been
achieved with the capture of Lemberg except in so far as the remnants
of the Russian armies remained intact. The city formed a formidable
bastion for defence because of its ample lines of communication with
the south and west, and inadequate lines to the north and east. A
farther German advance across the Russian frontier in that direction
would be an eccentric movement, and the front of attack was
accordingly swung round from east to north, where the Russian position
in Poland had been outflanked. The reconquest of Galicia produced
fruits enough in the restoration of Austrian and Hungarian confidence
and the repression of pro-Entente tendencies in the Balkans. But it
was only a part of the most ambitious and successful campaign the
Germans fought in the war. May and June were but the prelude to
greater successes in July, August, and September.

The heaviest blows were to be struck in the Polish centre, but
diversions had already been made on the extreme German left in the
north. Libau had fallen on 9 May, and during that and the following
month the German armies under Von Buelow overran the duchy of Courland
as far as Windau on the coast and Shavli half-way to Riga. This
movement was regarded with comparative indifference as being a
divergent operation calculated at worst to do no more than distract
Russian forces from more critical points. But it was in keeping with a
German design considered grandiose until it nearly succeeded. The bulk
of Russia's forces were concentrated in the Polish triangle of which
the apex was at Warsaw, the base ran from Kovno by Brest-Litovsk to
the Galician frontier, the north-western side in front of the railway
from Kovno to Warsaw, and the southern in front of that from Warsaw to
Lublin, Cholm, Kovel, Rovno, and Kiev. The German plan was not merely
to squeeze the Russians out of the triangle by pressure on the sides
and intercept as much of their forces as possible, but also to
outflank the whole position by striking behind the base from the north
at Vilna; and a naval attack on Riga was part of the projected
operations.

The Galician drive had furnished the territorial means for the attack
on the southern side of the Polish triangle; and although Ivanov was
farther pushed back from the Gnilia Lipa to the Strypa and thence
almost to the Sereth, this Eastern advance became irrelevant to the
main strategic design, and German reinforcements were collecting
mostly under Gallwitz, Scholtz, and Von Eichhorn along the Narew and
the Niemen for an onslaught on the north-western side of the triangle.
The Austrian Prince Leopold's forces which fronted Warsaw on the Bzura
at the apex were comparatively weak, and were only intended to gather
the fruits of the real fighting done by the Germans on the flanks. The
Germans rode roughshod enough over Austrian susceptibilities when
efficiency required it; but they atoned for the brusqueness by
conceding a large share in the spectacular aspects of triumph; and
just as the Austrians entered Lemberg first and not its real conqueror
Mackensen, so Prince Leopold was cast for the part of the victor of
Warsaw. But first of all the Galician armies had to face north to take
their allotted share in the scheme by driving the Russians back across
the railway between Lublin and Kovel.

Within a few days of the fall of Lemberg they had crossed the Russian
frontier, turning the Vistula and advancing in two columns, one under
the Archduke Joseph towards Krasnik on the road to Lublin, and the
other farther east under Mackensen towards Krasnostav on the way to
Cholm. The Russian army in Poland west of the Vistula had gradually to
conform to the retreating line and fall back in a north-easterly
direction towards the river. By 2 July the Archduke was in Krasnik,
but here he was checked by the Russian position defending the railway
line; on the 5th the Russians, who had been reinforced,
counter-attacked, and in a battle lasting till the 9th drove the
Austrians back. Similarly Mackensen found himself held up between
Zamosc and Krasnostav, and for a week the struggle for the Lublin-
Cholm railway resolved itself into an artillery duel. The attack was
resumed on the 16th simultaneously with Von Gallwitz's movement
against the other side of the triangle. The Archduke failed after ten
assaults to carry the Russian position in front of him at Wilkolaz,
but Mackensen was more successful at Krasnostav. He enveloped the
Russian right, drove it beyond Krasnostav, and was soon within
striking distance of the railway.

Meanwhile, to the north Gallwitz had forced the Russians from Prasnysz
towards the Narew on the 14th, and crossed it himself on the 23rd
between Pultusk and Rozhan as well as between Ostrolenka and Lomza;
and by the 25th he was on the banks of the Bug, within twenty miles of
the railway connecting Warsaw with Petrograd. The great line of
fortresses along the Narew were now exposed to bombardment by German
howitzers; the Russians in front of Warsaw withdrew from their winter
defences along the Rawka and Bzura to the inner lines of Blonie; and
south of Warsaw they retired from Opatow, then from Radom, and then to
the great fortress of Ivangorod on the Vistula. Even that was now
threatened by Mackensen's advance to the Lublin line in its rear. It
was broken on the 29th, and on the 30th the Germans were in Lublin and
Cholm. Warsaw was doomed, and, indeed, the Grand Duke Nicholas had as
early as the 15th decided upon its evacuation. The fighting along the
Lublin-Cholm line, and the strenuous resistance the Russians offered
on the 26th to Gallwitz's renewed attacks on the Narew, were intended
not to save Warsaw, but the armies defending and the stores within it.
On 4 August the troops abandoned the Blonie lines and marched through
the city, blowing up the bridges across the Vistula. Next day Prince
Leopold made his triumphal entry, and the first year of the war closed
on the Eastern front with an event of greater significance even than
that which the Kaiser attached to it. To him the capture of Warsaw was
a resounding tribute to the success of German arms: to future
generations the import of the Russian departure will doubtless be the
term it set to Russian rule in Poland, and it may be deemed one of the
ironies of history that Hohenzollern autocracy should have been made
the instrument to wreck the Russian domination. In spite of themselves
the Germans assisted to achieve the common purposes of the great war
of liberation.

Russian autocracy was indeed stricken to death by its own inherent
maladies nearer home than Poland. Shallow democrats in the West were
deploring the lack of prevision and provision exhibited by their
democratic Governments, but no democracy endured a tithe of the
sufferings inflicted upon Russian soldiers by the blindness,
incompetence, and corruption of the bureaucratic Tsardom. Confident in
the successes which the heroism of its troops had won over the
discordant forces of the Hapsburg Empire and those which Germany could
spare from the Western front, it had neglected to perform any of the
promises it had made to conciliate the inhabitants of Poland and
Galicia, and had even failed to take the commonest military
precautions to safeguard its victories. Nothing had been done in
Galicia to put the captured Przemysl into a state of defence, and even
the bridge across the San had not been repaired to provide a direct
line of supply to the front on the Dunajec. Offers of skilled labour
from other countries to improve the inefficient service of Russian
railways and the inept direction of industries and munition factories
were ignored. The business organization of Russia had been managed
mainly by Germans before the war; too much of it was left in their
hands after war began, with the result that the Putilov munition
works, for instance, were reduced to half-time by German control; and
there was no one to take the place of those who departed. Russian
generals were among the most skilful of strategists, and men like
Ruszky, Alexeiev, Brussilov, and others would have been invincible had
Russia's man-power been competently equipped. As it was, every sort of
provision was neglected; the artillery of one army was limited to two
shells a day; a whole division had on one occasion to face an attack
without a rifle among them, and troops were put into trenches relying
for weapons on those which fell from the hands of their dead or
wounded comrades. These were the organized atrocities of autocratic
bureaucracy, and it was little wonder that in time they bred in the
breasts of Russian soldiers a fiercer resentment against their rulers
who betrayed them than against the enemy whom they fought.

The retreat which followed the fall of Warsaw was sympathetically
represented as a masterly operation, and the failure of the Germans to
envelop and isolate the Russian armies as proof of the breakdown of
their strategy. But all retreats in the war, with the exception of the
Turks' before Allenby, were similarly described in the appropriate
quarters. It was the common characteristic of the victors that they
could not win decisive battles in the sense of earlier wars, and of
the vanquished that they evaded the expected Sedans and Waterloos.
Even the Germans with all their initial advantages of preparation and
surprise could not break the Allied armies in their first offensive on
the West, and the same inability dogged their still more rapid
footsteps in the East. It is a consequence of the reliance of modern
armies on the mechanical force of artillery to which the Germans were
especially addicted; for while 16-inch howitzers could pulverise any
position, they could not pursue with the speed required to encircle
and capture armies in the field. Hence salients, which when viewed in
the light of older conditions seemed traps which could not be eluded,
were in practice evaded because, with Allenby's one exception, cavalry
failed to atone for the slower movement of the more powerful arm of
artillery. There was nothing therefore miraculous in the Russian
escape, and the strategy of the Grand Duke was hardly so brilliant as
it was represented. At the beginning of the war Alexeiev, then
Ivanov's chief of staff, is said to have counselled a Russian retreat
like those which lured Charles XII and Napoleon to their doom; but the
temptations of Austrian weakness and German concentration on the West
and the plight of France and Belgium led to the adoption of other
advice and the premature invasion of Prussia, Galicia, and Hungary;
and in August 1915 it was too late for a voluntary and innocuous
retreat. The safety of the majority had to be bought at a heavy price
in casualties, in loss of guns and material, in suffering for the
troops and civilians, and in national dejection. What might have been
cheerfully done by choice was despondently done by compulsion.

The evacuation of Warsaw was the first step in the withdrawal from the
apex of the Polish triangle which it was hoped the resistance of the
sides would enable the Russians to complete without disaster; and a
large garrison with adequate guns and ammunition was left at Novo
Georgievsk to impede the German advance and hamper communications with
their front. The greatest menace was on the north-west along the Narew
and beyond in Courland where Von Buelow was preparing to strike behind
the base of the triangle. On 10 August Von Scholtz breached the line
of fortresses by storming Lomza, but Kovno was a much more critical
point. It was the angle of the base, and its fall would not only
threaten the base running south to Brest-Litovsk and all the Russian
armies west of that line, but would greatly facilitate Von Buelow's
sweep round beyond it and Vilna. The bombardment began on the day that
Warsaw fell. Kovno was expected to hold out at least to the end of the
month, but it fell on the 17th, and the general in command was
subsequently sentenced to fifteen years' hard labour for his
inadequate defence and absence from his post of duty. On the following
day Von Gallwitz cut the line between Kovno and Brest at Bielsk, and
on the 19th Novo Georgievsk fell to the howitzers of Von Beseler, the
expert of Antwerp. Ossowiec, which had stood so well against the
earlier German invasions, followed on the 23rd, and Von Beseler was
brought up to give the coup de grâce to Brest. Its loss was perhaps
inevitable after the fall of Kovno, but it completed the destruction
of the base of the triangle and involved the withdrawal of the whole
Russian line beyond the Pripet marshes which would break its
continuity; and there was cold comfort in the fact that Ewarts got
away with most of his troops and stores and that a Russian mine,
exploded two days after their departure, destroyed a thousand Germans
and set a precedent for similar machinations on their part when they
retreated in the West.

Fortresses now toppled down like ninepins. On the 26th Augustowo was
evacuated and Bialystok captured. On the 27th Olita was abandoned and
on 2 September Grodno. The Germans thus gained the whole line from
Kovno to Brest, and things were going no better in the south. The fall
of Lemberg had given the German right a position far to the east of
their left, and Mackensen advancing from Lublin and Cholm had driven
the Russians across the Bug at Wlodawa before Brest-Litovsk was taken.
The marshes of Pripet were at their driest in August, and Mackensen
encountered few obstacles as he pressed on from Brest to Kobrin and
thence to Pinsk along the rail to Moscow. In Galicia Ivanov was pushed
back to the Strypa and then the Sereth, and on the upper reaches of
those rivers Brody was captured and two of the Volhynian fortresses,
Dubno and Lutsk. Rovno itself was threatened, and with it the southern
stretch of that lateral railway from Riga to Lemberg on which the
Germans had set their hearts.

But the most ominous German advance was far to the north, where Von
Buelow was profiting by the fall of Kovno, marching on Mitau and Riga,
and threatening both to cut the railway between Vilna and Petrograd
and confine the Russian retreat to congested and narrow lines of
communication along which they could not escape. This northern advance
was accompanied by a naval offensive in the Baltic, designed to seize
Riga and turn the line of the Dvina on which the Russians hoped to
stand in the last resort. Fortunately this part of the campaign broke
down before matters had reached their worst on land. It looked like a
naval operation planned, or at least attempted, by soldiers
professionally incapable of grasping the elementary principles of
naval or amphibious warfare. After an unsuccessful attack on the
southern inlet to the Gulf of Riga on 10 August, the Germans during a
thick fog on the 17th sought to land troops at Pernau in large
flat-bottomed barges without having secured command of the sea; and
the entire landing-force was captured or destroyed. Simultaneously
the Russian Fleet engaged the Germans, who had eight destroyers and
two cruisers sunk or put out of action; the only Russian vessel lost
was an old gunboat. The Dvina lines were not to be turned by strategy
like this, and Russia was henceforth free from naval interference
until her sailors played her false.

Von Buelow was still, however, to be reckoned with, and he was the
substantial danger. On 28 August he began his movement against the
Dvina, which would, if successful, cut off all the Russian armies from
direct communication with Petrograd. The blow was struck at
Friedrichstadt, where the river is crossed by the only practicable
road between Riga and Jacobstadt, but the design was to turn the whole
front as far as Dvinsk; and Von Buelow held out to his troops the
alluring prospect of winter quarters in Riga and a march on Petrograd
in the spring. On 3 September the left bank was cleared for some
miles, but all attempts to cross were frustrated. The out-march on the
extreme German left had failed, and the critical point moved south
towards Vilna. The danger here was serious enough, for the depletion
of the Russian forces and length of their line had left a gap between
Dvinsk and Vilna, and into this gap the Germans thrust a huge cavalry
force which more nearly turned the Russian line than any other
movement in the campaign.

The way was prepared by the great ten-days' battle of Meiszagola. The
unexpectedly rapid fall of Kovno and Grodno had enabled the Germans to
threaten the envelopment of Ewarts' army both on the south and the
north, on the Niemen towards Mosty and Lida and farther north towards
Vilna. The struggle for Vilna was decided at Meiszagola, a village
about fifteen miles north-west of the old Lithuanian capital. It was
captured on 12 September, and masses of German cavalry swept round
from Vilkomir towards Sventsiany and crossed the Petrograd railway to
outflank the retreating Russian troops. The evacuation of Vilna began
on the 13th, and two days later the menace from the German cavalry
became more apparent. Fresh divisions were apparently brought up from
Courland with 140 guns; on the 16th they were at Vidzy and on the 17th
at Vileika, nearly seventy miles due east of Vilna and in the rear of
the Russians escaping thence. They were thus also close to Molodetchno
on the railway along which Ewarts was falling back from Skidel, Mosty,
and Lida; and control of that junction would have put two Russian
armies at their mercy.

Just in time Ruszky was restored to the command of the northern group
of Russian armies, and the victor of Rawa Ruska and Prasnysz was not
doomed now to break his uniform record of success. The situation was
not unlike that at Prasnysz, and it was relieved in a similar way by a
Russian counter-offensive from Dvinsk against the flank of the German
cavalry. Vidzy was recaptured on the 20th, and farther south the
pressure slackened along the Vilna-Vileika railway; Smorgon was
retaken by a brilliant bayonet charge on the 21st. The door had been
kept from closing on Russian armies seeking to escape from the salient
between Lida and Molodetchno, while the Germans were squeezed out of
that which they had made to the north. They were driven out of
Vileika, and gradually the lines were straightened and stabilized so
as to run almost due south from Dvinsk by Postavy, Lake Narotch, and
Smorgon. Other factors than Ruszky's brilliant strategy contributed to
this dramatic defeat of the final German effort of the campaign to
annihilate the Russian forces. The Germans had lost in men and impetus
during their long advance. Superb though their organization was,
lengthening lines of communication across a country ill-supplied with
roads and railways, and the necessity of guarding against a hostile
population told upon their armies in the fighting-line. The heaviest
blow will spend itself in time against an elusive foe, and the longest
arm will find the limit of its reach. The Germans had not planned a
march on Moscow, but they had hoped to overrun the Russian armies and
occupy the winter quarters of their choice. These were denied them on
the Dvina, and they had not secured the coveted Riga-Rovno line.

They were indeed left farther from it in the south than in the north.
Their defeat east of Vilna enabled Ewarts to escape from the
encirclement threatened by the advance from Kovno and Grodno; and
although he had to leave Lida and was subsequently pushed behind the
junction of Baranowitchi, thus surrendering to the Germans the control
of the railway from Vilna to that point, it remained in Russian hands
to Rovno. Mackensen was unable to advance from Pinsk, which he
occupied on 16 September, to the railway at Luninetz, while Ivanov
reacted successfully against the German attacks along the Kovel-Sarny
line and recovered a good deal of the ground lost in the Volhynian
triangle and eastern extremity of Galicia. Mackensen's army may have
been weakened by calls from the north and from the south for a
campaign which was already planned but not yet suspected; at any rate
it was too weak to achieve its objectives, the capture of Sarny,
Rovno, and Tarnopol, which would have completed the hold of the
Germans on the Vilna-Kovno line and given them a base for a farther
advance in the spring on Odessa and for the isolation of Rumania. On 7
September, as Mackensen's forces were moving on Rovno and the Sereth
at Tarnopol and Trembowla, Ivanov counter-attacked from Rovno and
Brussilov and Lechitzky on the Sereth. By the 9th the two latter had
captured 17,000 prisoners and a considerable number of guns; and
Ivanov followed up this success by retaking Lutsk and Dubno by the
23rd. Kovel was even threatened, but the pressure was not maintained.
Sarny, Rovno, and Tarnopol were saved, but Lutsk and Dubno reverted to
the Germans, and the line in the east was stabilized with the
Volhynian triangle and the railway from Vilna to Rovno divided between
the antagonists.

The success of Ruszky in the north and of Ivanov in the south in
setting a term to the terrifying sweep of the German advance produced
a temporary optimism in Russia comparable with that which followed the
victory on the Marne; and in neither case did the Allies realize the
extent of the advantage gained by the Germans or foresee the years
that would pass before the loss could be recovered. The Grand Duke
Nicholas was relieved of his command and sent to take over that in the
Caucasus. He was succeeded by the Tsar himself, who was unlikely to
interfere with the military measures of Alexeiev, his chief of staff;
and the Duma seconded the Tsar's attempt to express the determination
of the Russian peoples to withstand the Germans until victory was
secured. Nevertheless, the profound effects of the Russian defeat
could not be removed by any laudable efforts at keeping up
appearances. It was a resounding disaster which condemned Europe to
three more years of war, and Russia to a convulsion which would
permanently alter the whole course of her history and position in the
world. Miliukov raised in the Duma the question of responsible
government, and if the debacle of 1915 was slower than Sedan in
producing the downfall of the system to which it was due, it was not
because the disaster was less, but because Russia was a less organized
country than France, and her illiterate population reacted more slowly
than the French.

                        The Russian Front

At the moment the best face was put on affairs; and although one
correspondent was allowed to report that the heart of the Russian
people had grown cold to the Allies who had watched their misfortunes
without raising a finger in the shape of a serious offensive to help,
public opinion was fed on the comfort in which a facile optimism is so
fertile. German casualties were multiplied at will, despondent diaries
of individual German officers killed or captured were given unlimited
publicity, and roseate pictures were painted of the colossal drain of
man-power involved in winter trench-warfare in Russia and in holding
vast tracts of hostile country. It was assumed that the Germans would
suffer more than the Russians, although again and again whole Russian
battalions in those trenches were wiped out by German artillery and
machine guns to which the Russians had not the wherewithal to reply
except with fresh masses of human flesh; and little was said of the
millions of Russian prisoners and civilians who were put to far more
effective use in making munitions and producing food for their enemies
than they ever had been for Russia or themselves, and without whose
labour Germany's man-power would have been exhausted one or two years
before the end of the war. It was considered a triumph that the
Germans had not reached Petrograd or Moscow, but it might have been
well if they had. They had, however, no such ambitions. Just as the
reconquest of Galicia had been mainly designed as providing the base
for a flank attack upon Russia, so the conquest of Poland was to be
used as providing protection for Germany against Russian interference
with her plans in the Balkans. Sofia and Constantinople opened up more
alluring prospects and a path that led farther than Moscow or
Petrograd; and while public opinion in England and France was dreaming
of a repetition of 1812, public opinion in Germany was feasting on
visions of Cairo, Baghdad, and Teheran, and the possibility of evading
the British blockade through outlets to the Indian Ocean.

All eyes that could see were turned to the Dardanelles. There British
troops were making the one serious counter-offensive to the German
attack on Russia, and success would redeem the Russian failure and
foil the hopes the Germans were building upon their victory. The
immediate future of the Balkans, the Black Sea, and Asia Minor, and it
might be the more distant future of Egypt and the East, hung upon the
issue at Gallipoli. During July the reinforcements for which Sir Ian
Hamilton had asked were gathering in Egypt and in Gallipoli; and on 6
August the new plan of attack was begun. There were to be four
distinct items; a feint was to be made of landing north of Bulair, the
attack on Krithia was to be renewed in order to hold the Turkish
troops there and draw others in that direction, and a similar advance
was planned for the Anzacs with a similar motive, but also to
co-operate with the real and fresh offensive. This took the form of a
landing at Suvla Bay, the extreme north-westerly point of the
peninsula between Anzac and Bulair. The diversions were reasonably
successful, as successful, indeed, as previous attacks had been in
those localities when they were the principal efforts. The chief of
them was a threefold advance north-east, east, and south-east from
Anzac Cove on Sari Bair with its highest point at Koja-Chemen.
Conspicuous gallantry was shown in the three days' fighting; and
while, as earlier at Krithia, the summits defied the greatest valour,
enough progress was made in these subsidiary attacks to justify the
hope of general success if the principal effort at Suvla Bay went well
(see Map, p. 107).

It began without any great mishap, and General Stopford's 9th Corps
was successfully landed on the shores of Suvla Bay during the night of
6-7 August and deployed next morning in the plain without serious
resistance. The surprise had been effected, but it would be useless
unless the attack was pressed with energy and without delay. Yet
torpor crept over the enterprise during that torrid afternoon; many of
the troops were in action for the first time in their lives, and,
understanding that water was obtainable from the lake close by, they
had drained their water-bottles by eight o'clock in the morning. A
thunderstorm mended matters a little, and Chocolate Hill was carried
on the right. But all next day an inferior Turkish force, assisted by
a planned or accidental conflagration of the scrub, managed by skilful
use of a screen of sharpshooters to hold up our advance all along the
line. Sir Ian Hamilton himself arrived that night and strove by
persuasion to infuse some energy into the attack. But by the 9th it
was already too late, for the Turks had had time to bring up
reinforcements, and an attack on the Anafarta ridge on the 10th was
repulsed. Five days later General Stopford relinquished the command of
the 9th Corps, to which he had been somewhat reluctantly appointed by
Lord Kitchener, and the 29th Division was brought up from Cape Helles
to renew the attack on 21 August. It might have succeeded had it been
originally employed in place of the inexperienced troops; but by this
time there could be nothing but a frontal attack on a watchful foe,
and it ended like the similar efforts in May and June. Some ground was
gained, contact was established with the Anzacs, and a continuous line
of six miles was secured from the north of Suvla Bay to the south of
Anzac Cove. But before the Turks could be expelled from the peninsula
and a passage cleared through the Dardanelles there would be a long
and weary struggle, in which progress would be as slow and beset by as
many obstacles as it was on the Western front. Russia was to obtain no
relief that way; as a counter-offensive to the German campaign of
1915, the attack on the Dardanelles had failed; and the failure
produced a deeper impression upon the Balkans than if the attempt had
never been made. The way was clear for the next move of German
diplomacy and war.


                              CHAPTER IX

                     THE CLIMAX OF GERMAN SUCCESS

No one's eyes had been more keenly trained on the Dardanelles
operations during the spring and summer than those of Ferdinand, King
and Tsar of Bulgaria. Descended from Orleanist Bourbons on the
mother's side and from the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on the father's,
he was purely Prussian in his realpolitik, and observed no principle
in his conduct save that of aggrandizement for his adopted country and
himself. The treaty of Bukarest in 1913 had given them both a common
and a legitimate grievance, and the great war was welcomed in Bulgaria
as an opportunity for revenge. The means would be the assistance
Bulgaria might render to the victor, and who that might be was a
matter of indifference if he possessed the essential qualifications of
victory and insensibility to the feelings of Bulgaria's neighbours and
to the sanctity of scraps of paper. This was a defect in the Entente
from Ferdinand's point of view. Bulgaria could with difficulty be
satisfied except by Serbian sacrifices which the Entente was loath to
make. The Central Empires had no scruples on that point; but Bulgaria
also wanted something from Rumania, Turkey, and Greece, and Turkey was
an ally, Rumania a neutral whom it was not wise to offend, and Greece
had as its queen a sister of the Kaiser who was distinctly her
husband's better half.

                           The Balkans

Serbia alone, however, had received by the Treaty of Bukarest enough
territory claimed by Bulgaria to provide a sufficient inducement for
Bulgaria's intervention in the war, once she was persuaded that a
victory of the Central Empires would place it at their disposal.
Efforts were made by the Entente during the summer to counteract this
attraction by inducing Serbia to reconsider her annexations in
Macedonia. But her successes in the autumn of 1914 had stiffened her
attitude, and in any case she could not be expected to make that
comprehensive surrender of Macedonia which the Central Empires were
quite prepared to promise Bulgaria. The decisive factor in the
diplomatic situation was, however, the progress of German arms and
prospects of German victory; for it was only the victor who would have
any favours to bestow, and the course of the war in the summer
convinced the Bulgarian Government that Germany was the horse on which
prudent people should put their money. On 17 July a secret treaty was
concluded guaranteeing Bulgaria in return for intervention the whole
of Macedonia possessed by Serbia as well as an extension of Bulgaria's
frontiers at Serbia's expense farther north. Bulgaria was also allowed
to extort a separate price from Turkey in the shape of a strip of land
along the Maritza controlling that river and Adrianople. An even more
sinister concession to Bulgarian exorbitance was that of Epirus, a
district assigned to Albania in 1913 but populated by Greeks who had
revolted and claimed incorporation in Greece. This Prussian
complaisance was doubtless due to the fact that Venizelos, who had
resigned owing to Constantine's opposition to his policy, had at the
Greek general election in June secured nearly a two to one majority in
the Greek Chamber. Greece could not be allowed the benefit of a
Prussian queen when it chose Venizelos as Prime Minister.

The bond had been signed between the Central Empires and their
Bulgarian taskmaster; but the doctrine of rebus sic stantibus was as
well understood in Bulgaria as in Prussia, and the treaty would have
remained a scrap of paper had Russia expelled the German invaders or
Britain broken the barrier at the Dardanlles. As it was, nothing
occurred in August or September to weaken Bulgaria's fidelity to the
secret compact. The failure of the attack at Suvla Bay was followed by
the futile routine of trench warfare; an equally barren result
threatened the long-prepared attacks in Artois and Champagne; and,
Russia having more than enough to do in reorganizing her shaken
armies, the Central Empires were free to turn their attention
southwards. Success in the Balkans was not this time to be staked on
Austrian control, and Mackensen, whose armies in Galicia were nearest
to the scene, was naturally selected to repeat in Serbia the triumphs
of his Galician drive. The task would be all the easier because Serbia
was a country small compared with Russia, and would, moreover, be
distracted by the coming Bulgarian stab in the back. Her Government,
conscious of this danger, had, indeed, wished to anticipate it by a
frontal attack on Bulgaria; but her offensive was vetoed by the
Entente. Possibly it was a case in which moral scruples unduly
weighted the scales against military advantage. There was no real
doubt about Bulgaria's intentions, and she would have had no grounds
for complaint had Serbia attacked before Mackensen was prepared for
his part in the joint assassination. The real doubt concerned the
attitude of Greece. She was bound by treaty to assist Serbia in that
case, and Venizelos would assuredly do his best to fulfil the bond.
But the obligation would not arise if Serbia were the aggressor, and
Venizelos would be powerless. The fault of the Entente, if it was a
fault, lay in the failure to act on the presumption that Constantine
would prove as false to international obligation as his imperial
brother-in-law when he invaded Belgium, and in the assumption that the
difference between Serbian aggression and defence would involve the
difference between Greece being an ally and a neutral.

The diplomatic crisis grew to a climax as Mackensen's forces reached
the northern bank of the Danube, for the arrest of the German
offensive in Russia was not entirely due to German difficulties or
Russian valour and strategy, and by the middle of August German
divisions were already being diverted from the Russian front. In the
middle of September Bulgaria concluded her compact with Turkey, and on
the 19th Mackensen's batteries opened their bombardment of Belgrade.
On the 21st Venizelos asked the Western Allies for 150,000 troops,
which were promised on the 24th, and on the 23rd Bulgaria ordered a
general mobilization and Greece retorted in kind. Bulgaria proclaimed
her intention to observe neutrality, and when on the 27th Serbia
requested the consent of the Allies to an offensive, it was refused.
Entente diplomatists at Sofia were still under the impression that
Bulgarian intervention could be avoided, and a vigorous protest by the
leaders of all the Opposition parties in the Sobranje against the
Government's policy gave some colour to their views. But by 10 October
it became known that many German officers were busy in consultation
with the Bulgarian Staff; on the 3rd Russia required Bulgaria to break
with the Teutonic Powers, and on the 5th herself broke off diplomatic
relations. A week later the Bulgarian Army invaded Serbia and the
Bulgarian Government declared war. Mackensen had crossed the Danube on
the 7th and taken Belgrade on the 9th. On the 19th an imperial
manifesto was issued from Petrograd denouncing Bulgaria's treason to
the Slav cause and leaving the fate of the traitor to the "just
punishment of God." It was assuredly not to be inflicted by the
Government whose designs on Constantinople had been the principal
obstacle to the success of Entente diplomacy in the Balkans. Bulgaria
did, indeed, betray the Slav to the Teuton, but no Balkan State could
view with equanimity the prospect of being ground to powder between
the upper and nether millstone of Russia on the Danube and on the
Dardanelles.

Nor was Bulgaria the only traitor responsible for the Serbian tragedy.
On 5 October Venizelos announced to the Greek Chamber in no uncertain
terms the intention of his ministry to draw the sword on Serbia's side
if Bulgaria attacked. The following day he was summoned to the palace
and told that Constantine disapproved; he resigned in the afternoon,
and the Chamber compromised its future and its country's by supporting
an alternative ministry under Zaimis, which proclaimed its neutrality
and refused on 11 October the assistance for which Serbia asked under
the terms of their alliance. Russia was willing but unable to help,
and large threats and insignificant demonstrations against the
Bulgarian coast were all she could contribute to the protection of the
little State in whose interests she had entered the war. The burden
fell on the Western Powers who had never contemplated it, and they
were divided in mind. British ships wrought effective destruction upon
the Bulgarian depots and communications along the Aegean coast; but
bombardment there was of little use to Serbia, and the British General
Staff pronounced against an expedition to Salonika. Sir Edward Carson
resigned as a protest against this inaction, while Delcassé resigned
in France because Briand was more adventurous. Briand carried his
point, succeeded Viviani as Premier, and committed both Powers to the
Salonika policy. Italy stood aloof; her antagonism to Serbia and
Greece made her ever averse from an offensive against Bulgaria.

The Salonika expedition, which consisted at first of troops
transferred from Gallipoli, came too late and was too weak to effect
more than a part of its purpose. It would have been more effective had
the Allies consented to the Serbian proposal for an attack on
Bulgaria; for in that case the Serbian armies would have been aligned
along the Bulgarian frontier with their right within reach from
Salonika. As it was, they faced north towards Mackensen, and the
Bulgarian offensive towards Uskub took the Serbians in the rear, cut
their communications with Salonika down the Vardar, and eventually
forced a retreat into the Albanian mountains. Serbia would in any case
have been overrun, and Mackensen's conquest of its northern half would
have been more rapid than it was. But the Serbian armies might have
remained intact and given a good account of themselves against both
their enemies in the mountain fastnesses of the south with their
retreat secured to Salonika, instead of being split into two and most
of them driven, to escape as best they could with frightful mortality
along impossible tracks towards the Adriatic.

War and disease had reduced the Serbian armies before the campaign
began to some 200,000 men, and their enemies brought at least double
that number against them. The Serbians were, moreover, constrained by
the counsels of the Allies to preserve what they could of their forces
as a nucleus for future resistance, and thus to stand only so long as
retreat remained open. Threatened on three sides by superior numbers,
they were in an untenable position and had a well-nigh impossible
task; and only skill, endurance, and courage brought the remnants out
of the death-trap laid by collusion between the Central Empires and
Bulgaria. The campaign was for the Serbians simply a series of
rearguard actions encouraged at first by the delusive hope that the
Allies might yet be in time. They might have been, had they been
numerous enough. The French from Cape Helles came first, landed at
Salonika on 5-7 October, and by the 27th had occupied the valley of
the Vardar as far north as Krivolak. They also seized the commanding
heights of Kara Hodjali north-east of the river, and repulsed the
Bulgarian attempts to drive them off in the first week of November;
while to the west they stretched out a hand towards the Serbians
defending the Babuna Pass. With adequate forces they could have pushed
beyond Veles to Uskub, broken the wedge which the Bulgarians had
driven in between them and the Serbians, restored the line of the
Vardar, and secured the Serbian retreat.

It was this Bulgarian stab in the back which made havoc of the Serbian
defence. Mackensen made slow progress at first, partly because he had
no wish to drive the Serbians south until the Bulgars had cut off
their retreat down the Vardar. Belgrade did not fall until three weeks
after the bombardment had opened; but with the intervention of the
Bulgarian armies all along the bare Serbian flank, events moved with
tragic rapidity. On 17 October the Salonika line was pierced at
Vrania, Veles fell on the 20th, and Uskub on the 21st. By the 26th
Mackensen and the Bulgarians had effected a junction in the north and
cleared the Danube route into the Balkans. Nish fell on 5 November
after three days' fierce fighting, and the Constantinople railway thus
passed into enemy hands. In the north-west the Austrians were pressing
on from Ushitza down by the Montenegrin frontier towards Mitrovitza,
threatening to crush the Serbians on the Kossovo plateau between them
and the Bulgars. To save the main Serbian force and keep open a
retreat through Albania, a stand had to be made at Katchanik against
the Bulgars advancing north from Uskub. It was successful to that
extent, and when at one moment the Serbs temporarily broke the
Bulgarian front, a junction seemed possible with the French advance
from Veles. But both Allies were too weak for the solid Bulgarian
wedge. The Serbs had to fall back from Kossovo and the French to their
entrenched camp at Kavadar. A still narrower chance intervened between
the French and the Serbs who were fighting at the Babuna Pass to bar
the way to Prilep and Monastir, and at one time the French flung out
their left to within ten miles of the Serbian position. But their own
communications were threatened all down the narrow line of the Vardar,
and they were hopelessly outnumbered by the Bulgarian forces. Retreat
was the common misfortune and necessity. Prilep fell on 16 November;
and farther north, as the Serbians retreated into Montenegro and
Albania, the Austrians occupied Novi Bazar on 20 November, and
Mitrovitza and Prishtina on the 23rd. On the 28th the Germans
announced that "with the flight of the scanty remnants of the Serbian
army into the Albanian mountains our main operations are closed."

There was something still for the Bulgars to do. Pursuing the Serbians
in retreat from the Babuna Pass they reached the Greek frontier and
cut the railway between Salonika and Monastir at Kenali on 29
November, and on 5 December occupied Monastir itself. The Greek
frontier was a feeble protection, and the French at Kavadar were
threatened with encirclement on their left. Kavadar had to be
evacuated and a retreat secured by hard fighting at Demir Kapu.
Simultaneously the British holding the front towards Lake Doiran were
severely attacked, and on 6-7 December had 1300 casualties and lost 8
guns. But the enemy failed to cut off the retreat, and by the 12th
both the French and British forces were on Greek territory fortifying
a magnificent position which stretched from the mouth of the Vardar
round to the Gulf of Orphano and enclosed the Chalchidice peninsula.
Strong measures had to be taken to ensure the safety of Salonika with
its cosmopolitan population, and the enemy hoped for its fall in
January. But there was great reluctance to attack lines which were
daily growing more formidable and were held by troops that were being
gradually reinforced. Bulgarian ambition was also restrained by German
counsels, for even Constantine and his new and pusillanimous premier,
Skouloudis, might resent the occupation of Salonika by their
hereditary rivals, and the Kaiser trusted more to family and
diplomatic influence at Athens than to Bulgarian valour. The Germans
themselves were more intent on consolidating the Berlin-Constantinople
corridor and their hold upon the Turks than on Salonika, which fell
within the Austrian sphere of influence, and might thus, if taken,
become an apple of discord between its captors.

Austria had to content herself with dominion along the eastern shores
of the Adriatic. The conquest of Serbia had left Montenegro an
unprotected oasis surrounded by enemy territory; and Italy, which
alone might have defended the Black Mountain, was unable or
disinclined to make the effort. Lovtchen fell on 10 January, and the
Austrians occupied Cettinje three days later. The Germans announced
the unconditional surrender of the country, and some sort of
capitulation was made by some sort of Montenegrins. But King Nicholas
escaped to Italy and thence to France, while the greater part of his
army made their way south to Scutari to join the Serbians who had
retreated to the Adriatic coast. An Italian force marched up from
Avlona to Durazzo to protect them, and Essad Pasha, a pro-Entente
Albanian who had established a principality of his own on the fall of
the Prince of Wied, rendered useful assistance. Eventually about
130,000 Serbian troops were transported to safety across the Adriatic,
while the Serbian Government was provided with a home at Corfu in
spite of the protests of the Greek administration. Save for neutral
Greece and Rumania, the Italian foothold at Avlona and ours at
Gallipoli, the whole of the Balkans had passed into the enemy's hands;
for Essad's rule was as brief as it was circumscribed, and the
Italians withdrew from Durazzo as the Austrians advanced to the
southern frontier of Albania, and menaced Greek territory far beyond
the reach of protection from Salonika.

While Greece and Rumania seemed to depend for their existence upon the
forbearance of the Central Empires, our foothold in Gallipoli was even
more precarious, and the first use the Germans made of their corridor
to Constantinople was to furnish the Turks with howitzers designed to
blow our forces off the peninsula. In October Sir Charles Monro had
been sent out to take over the command from Sir Ian Hamilton and
report on the situation. His report, which, owing to the singular
relations then existing between someone in the Government and the
press, was known to selected journalists within a few hours of its
reception in London, was in favour of evacuation. The Cabinet was not
prepared to accept that decision without further advice, and
dispatched Lord Kitchener to make a survey of the political and
military situation in the Ægean on the spot. He confirmed Monro's
opinion; and in spite of the damage to our reputation and the losses
which it was thought such an operation would inevitably involve,
orders were given for a complete withdrawal from the Gallipoli
Peninsula.

Some of the forces had already been transferred to Salonika, and the
evacuation was to be completed in two stages, the first at Suvla Bay
and Anzac and the last at Cape Helles. Success depended upon weather
suitable for embarkation and skill in organizing transport and
concealing our intentions from the enemy. No one dared to hope for so
complete a co-operation of these factors as that which characterized
the enterprise on 18-19 December. The weather was ideal in spite of
the season, an attack from Cape Helles diverted the attention of the
Turks, and the whole force at Suvla Bay and Anzac was embarked during
two successive nights with only a single casualty. Marvellous as this
success appeared, its repetition at Cape Helles on 7-8 January was
even more extraordinary, although a Turkish attack on the 7th
threatened to develop into that rearguard action which had been
considered almost inevitable. But it was a mere incident in trench
warfare, and they were as blind to our real intentions at Cape Helles
as they had been three weeks before at Suvla Bay and Anzac--unless,
indeed, with true Oriental passivity, they were content to see us
leave their land in peace and had no mind to seek a triumph of
destruction which would inure to the benefit of their uncongenial
allies.

The brilliant success of the withdrawal from the Dardanelles provided
some solace for the failure of the campaign, but did nothing to
relieve from responsibility those who had designed its inception and
directed its earlier course; and a Commission, which was appointed in
the following summer, produced on 8th March 1917 an interim report
which threw a vivid but partial and biased light not only on the
Dardanelles campaign, but on the governmental organization which was
responsible for the failures as well as the successes of the British
Empire during the greater part of the war. Both were largely the
outcome of that autocracy in war with which popular sentiment and the
popular press had invested Lord Kitchener. It swallowed up everything
else: the Cabinet left the war to the War Council and the War Council
to a triumvirate consisting of Mr. Asquith, Lord Kitchener, and Mr.
Churchill; but of these the greatest was Lord Kitchener.
"All-powerful, imperturbable, and reserved," said Mr. Churchill, "he
dominated absolutely our counsels at this time.... He was the sole
mouthpiece of War Office opinion in the War Council.... When he gave a
decision it was invariably accepted as final." He occupied, in the
words of the Report, "a position such as has probably never been held
by any previous Secretary of State for War," though it cannot compare
with the elder Pitt's in 1757-61. Oriental experience had not improved
his qualifications for the post; secretiveness, testified the
Secretary of the War Council, made him reluctant to communicate
military information even to his colleagues on the Council; the
General Staff sank into insignificance, and the regulations
prescribing the duties of its Chief were treated as non-existent. Mr.
Churchill was debarred from a similar dictatorship at the Admiralty
mainly because he was not a seaman and had Lord Fisher as his
professional mentor; while Mr. Asquith busied himself with keeping the
peace between his two obtrusive colleagues, neither of whom expressed
the considered views of the Services they represented.

Thus the Dardanelles campaign was less an active expression of policy
or strategy than the passive result of conflicting influences and
opinions. As early as November 1914 Mr. Churchill had suggested an
attack there or elsewhere on the Turkish coast as a means of
protecting Egypt, but the idea was not seriously considered until on 2
January 1915 an urgent request was received from Russia for some
diversion to relieve the Turkish pressure in the Caucasus. There was a
corresponding need to deter Bulgaria from casting in her lot with the
Central Empires, and on 13 January the War Council resolved upon the
"preparation" of a naval attack on the Dardanelles. Its members were
in some doubt as to what was meant by their resolution. Lord Fisher
was averse from the scheme because he preferred another sphere of
action, possibly the Baltic or Zeebrugge, with which Jellicoe's mind
was also occupied; and he hoped that preparation did not involve
execution. Lord Kitchener warmly supported the idea of a naval attack,
but most of his colleagues assumed that the operation would
automatically become amphibious and involve the army as well; at any
rate this impression was clearly stamped on their' minds after the
purely naval attack had failed. Lord Kitchener, however, was strongly
opposed to military cooperation; a great advantage of a purely naval
attack was, he thought, that it could be abandoned at any moment, and
he maintained that he had no troops to spare. Meanwhile Russia
enthusiastically welcomed the notion, France concurred, and Mr.
Churchill had secured an uncertain amount of naval backing for an
expedition, the nature of which was not defined. But Lord Fisher grew
more pronounced in his opposition, and when on 28 January the War
Council proceeded from preparation to execution, he accepted the
decision with a reluctance that nearly drove him to resign.

No sooner, however, had the War Council decided on a purely naval
expedition than it found itself involved in an amphibious enterprise.
"We drifted," said the Director of Military Operations, "into the big
military attack"; and on 16 February it was resolved to send out the
29th Division and to reinforce it with troops from Egypt. The naval
bombardment did not begin till three days later, and therefore it was
no naval failure that produced this resolution; it was rather an
unconscious reversion to the Council's original idea which had been
dropped out of deference to Lord Kitchener. The same influence delayed
the execution of the plan of 16 February: the 29th Division was to
have started on the 22nd, but on the 20th it was countermanded by Lord
Kitchener. Animated discussions ensued at the War Council on the 24th
and 26th, but Lord Kitchener could not overcome his anxieties on the
score of home defence and the Western front, and the Council yielded
to his pressure. It was not till 10 March that the ill-success of the
naval attack, advices from officers on the spot, and reassurances
about the situation nearer home overcame the reluctance to dispatch
the 29th division and other forces under Sir Ian Hamilton. Lord
Kitchener now desired haste, and complained that 14 April, the date
suggested by Hamilton, would be too late for the military attack. It
was not found practicable until the 25th, and according to Enver Pasha
the delay enabled the Turks thoroughly to fortify the Peninsula and to
equip it with over 200 Austrian Skoda guns. Enver's further statement
that the navy could have got through unaided, although it agreed with
Mr. Churchill's opinion, is more doubtful. Out of the sixteen vessels
employed to force the Dardanelles by 23 March, seven had been sunk or
otherwise put out of action.

The same hesitation that characterized the inception of the military
attack marked its prosecution, and forces which might have been
adequate at an earlier stage were insufficient to break down the
defences which delay enabled the Turks to organize. Nevertheless the
enterprise might have succeeded but for errors of judgment in its
execution, notably at Suvla Bay; and success would have buried in
oblivion the mistakes of the campaign and its initiation just as it
has done similar miscalculations in scores of precedents in history.
There were, moreover, vital causes of failure which could not be
canvassed at the time or even alleged in mitigation by the Commission
of Inquiry; and the publication of its report on 8 March 1917, without
the evidence on which it was based or reference to these other causes,
was a masterpiece of political strategy designed to concentrate the
odium of failure on those who were only responsible in part and to
preclude their return to political power. Of these hidden causes there
were two in particular: one the possibly justifiable refusal of Greece
to lend her army to the scheme when a comparatively small military
force might have been sufficient, and the other the far more culpable
failure of Russia to co-operate with the 100,000 troops which were to
have been landed at Midia and would have either found the northern
approaches to Constantinople almost undefended or have diverted enough
Turkish forces from the Dardanelles to give the southern attack a
reasonable prospect of success. As it was, the British Empire had to
content itself with the idea that 120,000 military casualties, apart
from the French and the naval losses--which might have bought the
downfall of Turkey, shortened the war by a year at least, and saved a
greater number of lives--had the minor effect of immobilizing 300,000
Turks and facilitating the defence of Egypt and the conquest of
Mesopotamia and Syria.

The failure of the larger hope was a blow to the "Easterners" who
discerned in the Dardanelles the strategic key to victory in the war
and expected to turn the argument against divergent operations by
pointing to a converging advance from the Balkans upon the Central
Empires. But the "Westerners," who maintained that the war could be
won and could only be won in France and Belgium, were not much happier
at the end of 1915. The British and French commands alike had
subordinated the Dardanelles and Salonika expeditions to the needs of
an autumn offensive on the West; and the argument between the two
schools of thought is narrowed down, so far as the autumn of 1915 is
concerned, to the question whether the troops we lost in September and
October at Loos and in Champagne might not have been more effectively
employed at the Dardanelles or Salonika. That they were not needed for
defence in the West is obvious, since the line was held in spite of
their loss. They were, in fact, mortgaged to an offensive which
produced less strategical effect than the casualties in the East; for
without the Salonika expedition, at least, Greece would have fallen
completely under German dominion, and our control of the Ægean and our
communications with Egypt would have been seriously imperilled. The
controversy was an idle one so far as it was conducted on abstract
principles, because war is an art in which success depends upon
changing conditions which dictate one sort of strategy at one time and
another at another. There were times when neglect of the West would
have been fatal; there were others at which neglect of the East was
almost as disastrous, and the autumn of 1915 belonged to the latter
rather than to the former category. Neglect of the East would, indeed,
have been not merely excusable but an imperative duty, had the
situation in the West been what it was in the autumn of 1914 or spring
of 1918. But there was no such necessity in September 1915: troops
were not then withheld from the East to defend our lines in the West
against a German offensive, but to take the offensive ourselves; and
illusory hopes of success were based upon the known inferiority of
German numbers in France due to their concentration in Russia.

The Entente advantage in bayonets on the Western front was between
three and four to two, and it also had the ampler reserves. Sir John
French commanded nearly a million men and General Joffre more than
double that number, while our advantage in guns and munitions was not
less marked; an almost unlimited supply of shells had been accumulated
during the summer, and the new Creusot howitzers outdid the monsters
from Essen and Skoda. Thirty fresh miles of French front had been
taken over by the British, but it was not continuous. Plumer's Second
and Haig's First armies still held the line from Ypres to south of La
Bassée, but D'Urbal's Tenth French army intervened between Haig and
the new Third British army which stretched from Arras to the Somme. It
was not, however, along the British front but in Champagne that the
main attack was planned. The objective was Vouziers, and the design
was to break the German communications from east to west along the
Aisne and thus compel an extensive retreat from the angle of the
German front on the Oise and the Somme. If the subsidiary attack on
the British front also succeeded, the Germans would suffer disaster
and be compelled to evacuate much of the ground they held in France
(see Map, p. 67).

A desultory bombardment of the whole front had begun early in the
month, and on the 23rd a more intense fire, designed to obliterate the
first line of German defences, opened from La Bassée to Arras and in
Champagne. On the 25th the infantry attacked in high hopes and high
spirits: for months, declared Joffre in his order of the day, we had
been increasing our strength and our resources while the enemy had
been consuming his, and the hour had come for victory. The striking
force was Langle de Cary's Fourth Army, and the front of attack ran
for fifteen miles from Auberive to Massiges. The bombardment had been
effective and the élan of French, and particularly Marchand's colonial
troops, carried most of the German first and parts of their second
line of defence, and thousands of prisoners and scores of guns fell
into their hands. But victory was not in this Western warfare of the
twentieth century won in a day, and the morrow of a successful attack,
which used to be fatal to the defeated, was now more trying to the
victors. Instead of their well-protected lines they had to lie in the
open or in the blasted trenches of the enemy, and from thence to
attack a second and a third line of defences not less strong than the
first, but less battered by bombardment. The second French effort,
made on the 29th, was less successful than the first; some more
prisoners and guns were taken, and a breach was made in the second
line, but it was too narrow for the cavalry to penetrate. A third
French attack on 6 October secured the village and Butte de Tahure
which commanded the Bazancourt-Challerange railway, the first of the
lateral lines of communication which it had been the object of the
campaign to break; and later in the month the French made some local
progress in other parts of the front. But on 30 October German
counter-attacks, which had failed elsewhere, succeeded in recapturing
the Butte de Tahure and recovering the use of the railway; and while
the French had advanced on a front of fifteen miles to a depth of two
and a half in places, the net result of the great attack was to leave
them without appreciable advantage save in the disputable respect of
greater German losses and the withdrawal of some divisions from the
Russian front.

The subsidiary attacks between Ypres to Arras produced the same
general kind of result. They extended almost continuously all along
the line, but except to the north and south of Lens do not appear to
have been designed to do more than prevent the opposing troops from
being sent to reinforce the defence against the main offensive. For
this purpose they were perhaps needlessly aggressive, for each
resulted in the capture of ground which could not be held, and the
forces engaged in these local enterprises were badly needed to clinch
the nearly successful major operation. Later on in the war it was
found that enemy troops could be contained along the line without such
numerous and expensive precautionary attacks, and possibly these were
really intended not so much to contain the enemy as to test his line
with the idea of finding some weak spot which might be pierced. None
of them succeeded to that extent, though Bellewarde was temporarily
taken in front of Ypres, Le Bridoux redoubt in front of Bois Grenier,
the slopes of the Aubers ridge, and some trenches near La Bassée. The
last operation, if more force had been put into it, might have secured
La Bassée and done more to convert the battle of Loos into a
substantial victory than could ever have been achieved by a series of
local successes farther north.

That battle was the principal British effort, and it only fell short
of a real victory because the reserves were not on the spot to follow
up the initial success which might almost seem to have surprised the
higher command. The front extended from the La Bassée Canal to the
outskirts of Lens, and as in Champagne the attack on 25 September was
preceded by an intense bombardment which destroyed the first German
trenches and wire-entanglements. Nearly everywhere the advance was at
first successful. The Hohenzollern redoubt was captured, the Lens-La
Bassée road was crossed, and even Haisnes and Hulluch reached. But the
greatest success was farthest south, where the village of Loos was
rushed by the 15th Division and then Hill 70. Even there the
Highlanders would not stop, but went on impetuously as far as the Cité
St. Auguste, well outflanking Lens and past the hindmost of the German
lines. This was all by 9.30 a.m., within four hours of the first
attack. But there were no reserves at hand to consolidate the victory
and hold up the German counter-attacks. There were plenty miles away
in the rear, retained by Sir John French because along the extended
line of attack from Ypres to Lens it was not known where they would
most be needed; and even when the need was clear, interrupted
telephones and defective staff-work caused confusion and delay.
Eventually the 11th Corps fresh from England and to fighting was
marched eight miles and put into the battle line without sufficient
food or water. Gradually our troops were pushed back from Hill 70,
across the Lens-La Bassée road, and out of the Hohenzollern redoubt.
The line was restored to some extent by the Guards on the 27th, and
Loos remained firmly in our hands; but a great opportunity had been
lost, and the great stroke of the 15th Division had not been turned
into a great advance. Lens had been almost in our grasp, and with it a
lever to loosen the German hold on Lille (see Map, p. 79).

The fault was partly due to the fact that D'Urbal's simultaneous
offensive south of Lens had fallen short of the Vimy Ridge and left
our right flank almost in the air in front of Grenay where the two
lines joined. D'Urbal's army was, like our own, greatly superior in
numbers to the Germans opposite, seventeen to nine Divisions, and the
French artillery preparation for the attack on 25 September was
equally elaborate. Unhappily the French offensive did not begin till
one o'clock, three hours after the Highlanders had swarmed over Hill
70 and into Cité St. Auguste; and when it did begin, its left, where
it joined the British right, was held up in front of Souchez till the
following day, and the Germans used the interval to recover from the
staggering blow they had received at Loos. On the 26th the French were
more successful. Souchez, most of the Givenchy Wood, La Folie farm,
and Thelus were captured, and on the 28th they made some progress up
the Vimy slopes. The impression of success exceeded the reality, and a
historian writing some months afterwards declared that by the 29th
"the Vimy Heights had been won": it required a considerable Canadian
victory a year and a half later to give much substance to this claim,
and most of the ground secured in September 1915, including the
Givenchy Wood, La Folie, and Thelus, was found to be in German hands
when the line from Lens to Arras was taken over by British troops.

Attacks and counter-attacks, particularly round the Hohenzollern
redoubt, during October led to little but slaughter, and the line in
the West relapsed into winter stability and stagnation where they had
been a year before with changes which only a large-scale map revealed.
There had been at least 120,000 French casualties and more than 50,000
British; each side claimed that the enemy's losses far exceeded its
own, and there was probably little to choose. A fortnight's battle in
the West cost the Allies as much as nine months in the Dardanelles,
though in the former it was the French and in the latter the British
who bore the brunt. The optimism of the civilians with regard to the
Dardanelles was capped by the optimism of the soldiers on the Western
front; and neither was in a position to throw stones at the strategy
of the other. Mr. Churchill disappeared from the Admiralty in May and
from the Cabinet in October, and Sir John French lost his command of
the British forces in December. His ostensible cheerfulness had been
useful in the early days of shock and stress; but the part had been
somewhat overdone in public and underdone in private, and it was
becoming clearer, though not yet sufficiently clear, that brilliant
cavalry generalship was not the quality most required to control the
gigantic machinery of a modern army. Nevertheless, the criticisms that
were levelled against the ineptitude and mental inelasticity of the
generals and the staff of the old army overshot the mark. No one
ventured to bring such a charge against the staff-work of the French,
and yet the French had been no more successful in Champagne than we
had been in Artois. The truth was that no generalship could have given
the Entente victory over the Germans in 1915. The war was constantly
and correctly described as a soldiers' war or a war of nations, but
the meaning of the description was not fully realized. The Entente had
to deal with a mighty people, splendidly organized and equipped for
war, and against that colossal force mere generalship was like a sort
of legerdemain pitted against an avalanche. The only power that could
cope with the Germans was that of people similarly determined and
equally trained and organized, and the only way in which they could be
defeated was by exhaustion. Individual skill in modern politics and
war tells mainly in matters of personal rivalry; it is our
aristocratic quality which breaks its head in vain against the stolid
mass of democratic forces. The single people in the long run beats the
single man, and the community of nations overcomes the rebel State.

So far the rebel had succeeded because he took the world by storm and
by surprise. The Germans in 1915 had played a skilful game and won.
They had calculated that their line in the West could be held by
inferior forces against any attacks the Entente could launch against
it, while they broke the strength of Russia and overran the Balkans;
and their calculations proved correct. It is conceivable that they
might have done better to concentrate in 1915 as in 1914 against the
Western Powers, but it is more probable that here, too, they were wise
in their military conceit. The offensive that had failed in 1914 when
British forces were a hundred thousand without munitions to
correspond, would hardly have succeeded when they had grown to a
million; and neglect of the East might well have meant invasion by
Russia, the collapse of Austria, Czecho-Slovak and Jugo-Slav revolts,
the defeat of Turkey, and the intervention of Rumania and Bulgaria on
the Entente side. More could hardly have been achieved by Germany with
the resources at her disposal; but she had not won the war. She had
won a respite from defeat, as she was to do again in 1916 and in 1917,
and her successes enabled her to postpone the reckoning from 1916 to
1918. But it was a fatal reprieve which she only used to weave her
winding-sheet; and her efforts to snatch a German peace out of the
transient balance of power, which her victories had set up, involved
her in that fight to a finish with civilization which made her an
outcast in disgrace as well as in defeat.


                              CHAPTER X

                     THE SECOND WINTER OF THE WAR

The failure of the Entente offensives in the Dardanelles and in France
had at last convinced the public of the truth of Lord Kitchener's
prophecy, that the war would be long if it was to result in a German
defeat. Obstinate optimists had in 1914 believed in a victory before
the first Christmas, while more reasonable critics hoped for one by
the end of the following year. When the second Christmas came round
the date of triumph had been postponed for another year or two, and
few expected that it would arrive much before the end of the three
years' term Lord Kitchener had suggested, or come at all unless
greater efforts were made than had hitherto been the case. The
magnificent response to the call for voluntary enlistment in 1914 had
confirmed the traditional English view in favour of volunteers;
between two and three million men had been raised by this method,
either as members of the new army or as Territorials who freely
surrendered their privilege of being called upon to serve for home
defence alone; and it was but slowly that the nation was constrained
to abandon the voluntary principle for that system of conscription
which savoured so strongly of the militarism we were out to fight. But
the Russian disasters and the failure of our offensives in the spring
warned the Government of the advisability of at least preparing for
other measures, and an Act had been passed for a national registration
on 15 August of all males between the ages of 15 and 65. The autumn
confirmed the foreboding of spring, and on 5 October Lord Derby
undertook on behalf of the Government a recruiting campaign by which
those who had not enlisted were induced to do so on the condition that
they would not be compelled to serve before those who had feebler
claims to exemption.

This campaign failed to produce the comprehensive results required,
and at Christmas the Government took the plunge of proposing
conscription for all unmarried men under the age of forty-two who were
physically fit, and whose enlistment was not precluded by the national
importance of their occupation or the onerous nature of their domestic
liabilities. Even this measure of conscription was found inadequate by
the following spring, and in May 1916 the exemption of married men was
cancelled, and a general system of conscription on the continental
model was introduced. Both measures were passed by large majorities,
and encountered no organized opposition in the country. A few hundreds
of conscientious objectors preferred to be treated as criminals rather
than contribute in any way to the shedding of blood even in the
defence of their country and themselves; and only the baser among
their fellow-men attributed to them any worse motive than impractical
idealism. The example of the mother-country was subsequently followed,
with more liberal exemptions, by New Zealand and the Dominion of
Canada; but Australia, which had long enjoyed compulsory military
service for home defence, and was the only country in which the issue
had to be submitted to a referendum, twice rejected the extension of
the principle of compulsion to service outside the borders of the
Commonwealth. The Channel Islands, which also had compulsion for their
own insular defence, were equally loath to expand the idea, and
Ireland was for political and some logical reasons exempted from the
scope of the British Act; the Home Rule Bill had been placed on the
statute-book, though its operation had been suspended, and it was
thought as politic to allow her as it was to allow the Dominions to
make her own decision.

In other matters than conscription Great Britain was slowly and
reluctantly constrained to follow the German lead until the whole
country became a controlled establishment; and a series of Defence of
the Realm Acts deprived Englishmen of nearly all those liberties which
they had regarded for centuries as proofs of their superior wisdom,
but were now found to be merely the accidents of their past insular
security. Freedom of the press, of speech, and even of private
correspondence was subjected to censorship, and there was not in the
whole range of our indictments against foreign autocracy one charge
which might not with some colour be brought against ourselves. Fear
entered once more into the English mind, and fear produced its
invariable results, until precedents for what was done in the
twentieth century had to be sought in the worst days of the Star
Chamber, Titus Oates, and Judge Jeffreys. Once more, when the panic
reached its height during the spring of 1918, British subjects were
deprived of liberty without due process of law and by arbitrary
tribunals sitting behind closed doors; once more we reverted to the
old maxim of Roman law and the everlasting plea of despots, salus
populi suprema lex, and learnt to practise ourselves the precepts we
scorned in others. Liberty and even law were found to be luxuries in
which war made us too poor to indulge. Truth itself was made
tongue-tied to authority and became the handmaid of the State. To save
ourselves and the world from barbarism we had to descend to the
barbarous level of our foes, and poison-gas and the killing and
starvation of women and children were developed into effective methods
of warfare. It was all done in the name of humanity; for to shorten
the war was the humanest course, and the shortest way was that of the
greatest destruction. The means of destruction were developed at a
prodigious rate, and England became a vast laboratory of death. War
for the time was our only industry, and all who could be spared from
the actual work of killing were pressed into the task of providing the
weapons, the food, and the education for those on more active service.

Germany set the pace both in efficiency and in cruelty, and her
success in 1915 convinced her that she could defy the moral scruples
of mankind with impunity. Nothing save verbal protests had followed
the sinking of the Lusitania, and even those had led Mr. Bryan,
President Wilson's Secretary of State, to resign for fear lest they
might prove too strong. That crime was accordingly succeeded by
others, and further American lives were lost by the torpedoing of the
Arabic on 19 August, the Ancona on 7 November, and the Persia on 30
December. The unneutral conduct of Dr. Dumba, the Austro-Hungarian
ambassador in the United States, did, however, precipitate a demand
for his recall; and American relations grew far more strained with
Austria than with her more powerful and pernicious partner. For the
moment President Wilson seemed more concerned with Great Britain's
disrespect for American trade than with Germany's disrespect for
American lives, and put forward a claim to be regarded as the champion
of neutrality which contrasted oddly with his inaction a year before
when Belgian neutrality was at stake. No one, however, could boast of
consistency during the war, and President Wilson atoned for his
earlier tenderness towards neutral rights by fathering in the end a
league of nations which would abolish neutrality altogether. No doubt,
his somewhat censorious protests against the British blockade and the
methods of its enforcement were primarily intended for domestic
consumption, and even then their effect was severely discounted by the
growing tale of German outrage; the world at large was in no mood to
listen to the laments of profiteers when its ears were tingling with
the story of Edith Cavell's execution. She was an English nurse in
Belgium who had tended with impartiality German and Belgian wounded;
but she had facilitated the escape of some of the latter, and the
Germans allowed no feeling of chivalry or humanity to interfere with
the barbarous logic of their martial law. On 12 October, in spite of
the efforts of American diplomacy and the horror of the civilized
world, she was shot by order of a German court martial confirmed by
the German military governor of Belgium. There were many heroines in
the war, but none achieved a surer fame, because no one's fate
exhibited in a clearer light the spirit with which humanity was at
grips.

It was to the credit of humanity that this single outrage produced a
greater horror than the German Zeppelin campaign, which reached its
height in the winter and affected a large proportion of the civilian
population. It was an extension of the policy of the Scarborough
raids, and while it could be justified on the ambiguous and
contradictory provisions of The Hague Convention, which exposed to the
risk of bombardment any locality containing soldiers, munitions, or
material for war, or means for military transport, its object was
mainly to terrorize the civilian population; and the Zeppelin, in
particular, was an engine of war which could not discriminate between
legitimate and other objects of attack. This disability also applied
to the aeroplane, and there was something very childish in the
persistent assumptions that Entente air-raids were not only
exclusively aimed at, but invariably successful in achieving military
damage--even when the French boasted of having on 22 September
dropped thirty bombs on the King of Württemburg's palace at
Stuttgart--and that the Germans always projected civilian destruction
and never succeeded in effecting anything else. It was part of that
delirium of wartime psychology, which induces all belligerents to
believe that no one but an enemy ever commits atrocities, and no one
but an ally is capable of virtue.

The possibility of air-raids had long been foreseen, and as early as
the first October of the war the lights of London had been dimmed. The
first attempt by Zeppelins was made on Norfolk on 19 January 1915
without any loss of life or appreciable loss of property. More damage
was done to property by a second raid on 14 April directed against the
Tyne, and four more were made in April on various parts along the East
Coast. On 10 May a woman was killed and some houses demolished at
Southend, and on the 31st the Zeppelins first reached London to the
great delight of the German people. The East and North-east coasts
were repeatedly raided in June, and by the end of the first year of
war, 89 civilians had been killed and 220 injured, while possibly half
a dozen Zeppelins had suffered destruction in the various theatres of
war. One was destroyed by Lieutenant Warneford's monoplane in Belgium
on 7 June, but none fell victims to anti-aircraft defences in
England. The raids became more serious as the nights grew darker: on 7
September 20 were killed and 86 injured in London, and on 13 October
56 were killed and 114 injured. Bad weather produced a respite in
November and December, but on 31 January 1916 the north Midlands had
67 killed and 117 injured, and in March and April similar casualties
attended raids on the Lowlands of Scotland and the East Coast from
Yorkshire to Kent. France suffered as well as England, but the Germans
took a peculiar pleasure in the English raids, because they thought
Zeppelins were the only means of bringing home to the English people
the realities of war.

Air-raids were, however, one of the horrors of war rather than a means
of achieving victory, and the military importance of aircraft never
attained proportions corresponding to the space the subject occupied
in the public press and the popular mind. They did not affect the
duration of the war by a single day, and throughout the winter of
1915-16 it seemed to increase in horror without any other sort of
progression on land or water. There was no naval action because
Germany kept her fleet in harbour, and relied upon mines and
submarines to wear down not so much the naval strength as the economic
resources of the Allies. Occasionally a cruiser or smaller vessel was
lost, and one pre-Dreadnought battleship, the Edward VII. But German
successes were mostly scored against merchant vessels and similar
craft; and our activities in the Balkans, coupled with the facilities
afforded by the Aegean to submarines, made the Eastern Mediterranean a
favourite scene for their operations. By the end of 1915 over a
thousand vessels, Allied and neutral, of one sort or another, had been
put out of action by mines and submarines; but the fact that few of
them had any fighting value concealed the importance of their economic
loss from the eyes of the public if not of the Government itself. A
more legitimate and romantic form of depredation was the cruise of the
Moewe, a disguised auxiliary cruiser, which succeeded in January and
February 1916 in capturing fifteen British merchantmen in the
Atlantic, and returned safe to Kiel with prisoners and booty. The
absence of German commerce made British retaliation impossible except
in the Baltic, where our submarines had some remarkable successes
until Sweden closed the entrance by mining her territorial waters. She
was within her rights in doing so, but the effect of her action was to
give German commerce in the Baltic a security which was lacking to the
commerce of the world outside, because Holland and Denmark shrank from
following Sweden's example. Mr. Balfour pointed out the unfriendly
nature of Sweden's action, but Russia was particularly averse from
adding Sweden to her enemies at that juncture, and remonstrances were
in vain.

On land the most active spheres of operation were in winter naturally
in the tropical or sub-tropical regions. The East African campaign
still hung fire owing to various causes, principally perhaps because
of doubts and possibly disputes whether it belonged primarily to the
sphere of purely British, Indian, or South African activity, and could
best be fought with the different kinds of troops those various
Governments had at their disposal. The earlier operations had been
undertaken mainly by troops from India, and for a year longer there
was little but border fighting until in March 1916 General Smuts
arrived with South African forces to begin the serious work of
conquest. The principal work of the winter was the reduction of the
Cameroons. Considerable progress had been made by June in overrunning
this vast territory, half as large again as the German Empire in
Europe: the French had occupied Lome from the south, while the
British, after some checks on the Nigerian frontier, had advanced to
Ngaundere. The rainy season then set in, and operations were suspended
until October. The Germans had transferred their capital to Yaunde,
which was made the objective of converging attacks by British, French,
and Belgian columns from north, east, and south. The British reached
it on 1 January 1916, but the movements had been admirably timed, and
the French came three days later. Only isolated posts in distant
localities remained, and the last of them fell on 18 February.

                           Mesopotamia

From Egypt the Turks had been diverted, since their defeat in February
1915, by the attack on the Dardanelles; but the German advance in the
Balkans had synchronized with attempts to disturb us on the western
borders of Egypt by German and Turkish intrigues with the Senussi
federation of Moslem tribes, and in Tripoli, which the Italians had
never succeeded in completely subjugating. Trouble began to threaten
in November 1915, and the frontier post at Sollum was withdrawn to
Mersa Matruh, the terminus of a railway line from Alexandria. The Arab
attacks began on 13 December and increased in strength until the
middle of January 1916; but with their inferior equipment and means of
communication they had little chance of success and were easily beaten
off with considerable losses, which led to dissension among the Arab
forces and then to their dissipation. They were finally defeated at
Agagia on 26 February, and Sollum was regained on 14 March. There was
no further trouble on the western frontier of Egypt, and a
repercussion of the Senussi discontent far south in Darfur was
satisfactorily suppressed by a detachment of the Egyptian Army which
occupied El Fasher on 22 May. East of the Suez Canal there were only
raids in which we were generally successful, except for the loss of
Katia on 23 April; in retaliation El Arish was destroyed by
bombardment from British monitors on 18 May.

In Egypt we stood and were still to stand for another year upon the
defensive; but farther east in Mesopotamia we were slipping into an
adventurous and chequered offensive which grew insensibly after the
manner of the Dardanelles campaign. Our original operations at the
head of the Persian Gulf had, indeed, unlike the attack on Gallipoli,
been defensive in their purpose; but the distinction between the two
easily disappears in military operations, and the Germans were only
more logical militarists than other people when they openly avowed
that offence was the best means of defence. British dominion in India
and in Egypt had grown upon that principle, and it grew in much the
same way in Mesopotamia. The security of our control of the Persian
Gulf required, we discovered, the occupation of Basra; the defence of
Basra demanded an advance to Kurna, and from Kurna we had proceeded in
June to Amara. There we realized that our left flank might be turned
at Nasiriyeh, and having got both Amara and Nasiriyeh, one on the
Tigris and the other at the junction of the Euphrates with the
Shatt-el-Hai (which links the Euphrates with the Tigris at Kut), we
concluded that our position would be improved if, by seizing Kut, we
could bar a Turkish advance down either the Tigris or the
Shatt-el-Hai. The logic was sound enough for those who had the means
to enforce it; and in spite of the torrid heat, the river route and
our gun-boats enabled us to master Nasiriyeh on 25 July. Early in
August began the advance up the Tigris from Amara to Kut, whither the
Turks had retired. They had been well taught by their German
instructors, and their position astride the river was well entrenched.
But Townshend's attack was skilfully planned; feinting on the Turkish
right on 27 September, he outflanked and drove in their left on the
28th, and at the end of a long day disposed of the Turkish
reinforcements and entered Kut on the 29th.

The campaigning season was only about to begin; the Turks had decamped
in disorganization towards Baghdad; and the temptation to follow
proved irresistible. When so much had been done with such ease, it
seemed to be flying in the face of Providence not to make a dash for
Baghdad and seize the end of that railway-route on which the Germans
were beginning to work with such energy from the other direction in
the Balkans. If it led from Berlin to Baghdad, might it not also lead
from Baghdad to Berlin? There was assuredly a touch of fantastic
imagination in the transformation which first came over and then
overcame our strategy in the East, and we found that the transition
from defence to offence was slight compared with the change from a
sound to a speculative offensive. Kut might be essential to the
defence of the delta, but if Baghdad was needed for the protection of
Kut, there was no limit east of the Bosporus to which the line and the
logic of defence might not be pushed. The argument might have been
sound, had it reposed on a firmer foundation of force. But the impetus
and the organization which had carried us to Kut would be spent before
we reached Baghdad; and arrangements for transport, commissariat, and
medical aid, which might have served for the lesser needs and the
shorter lines of communication, broke down in utter confusion under
the demands of the larger ambition which they had not been planned to
fulfil. We had but 13,000 bayonets, two-thirds of whom were Indian
troops, while the Turks could call up reserves many times that number;
and our men were worn with ten months' incessant campaigning under a
tropical sun. General Townshend protested against the adventure, but
was overruled by Sir John Nixon and the Commander-in-chief in India.

Within a week from the fall of Kut the advance on Baghdad began, and
at Azizie half-way between the two, the Turks were routed again as
they had been at Kut. By 12 November, Townshend was in front of
Ctesiphon, about twenty-four miles from Baghdad. Here the Turks were
strongly entrenched. Their right was protected by the Mahmudiyeh Canal
which ran from the Tigris to the Euphrates, and their main position
consisted of two strongly fortified lines on the eastern bank of the
Tigris. Townshend's attack on the 22nd resembled his attack on Kut,
and after hard fighting the first line was carried. But the second was
the real Turkish defence, and our wearied and smaller forces could not
cope with the continuous stream of Turkish reinforcements. The Turks
lost heavily in their counterattacks on the 23rd, but they could
afford to do so, while we could only succeed by a speedy and
inexpensive victory which the strength of the Turkish position and
reinforcements forbade. The gamble had failed, and the only thing to
do was to cut the loss and retreat as well as we could. No proper
provision had been made for such an eventuality, and the horrors of
that retirement reflected grave discredit on those responsible for the
campaign. Hard pressed by the pursuing Turks, our diminished force was
back at Kut on 3 December, where in a few days it was surrounded by
the enemy now under the command of the German Marshal von der Goltz.

The Germans had not been idle on the flanks of this bid for Baghdad,
and their intrigues in Persia led to a revolt of the gendarmerie,
which was officered by Swedes, and to the seizure by the pro-German
insurgents of Kum, Hamadan, and other towns in central Persia.
Fortunately this move was countered by prompt action on the part of
Russia. Teheran was occupied by Russian forces by the end of November,
Kum and Hamadan by 11 December, and a pro-Entente Government was
established. The German route through Persia towards Afghanistan was
blocked for the time; but pro-German forces at Kermanshah impeded a
Russian march to the relief of Kut, where a fresh Turkish division
from Gallipoli arrived on 23 December and a vigorous effort was made
to carry the place by assault. It failed, and the Turks sat down to a
blockade, while farther south they constructed formidable obstacles to
the advance of the relieving forces coming up the river. Their
position was selected with considerable skill at Sanna-i-Yat on a
narrow strip of land between the Suweicha marshes and the river, while
between it and Kut there was established the strongly-fortified Es
Sinn line. The depth of these defences was nearly twenty-five miles,
and the task of carrying the successive lines would tax anything but a
relieving force far greater than that which was attempting it.

Sir John Nixon had been succeeded by Sir Percy Lake, but the advancing
force was under the immediate command of General Aylmer. On 21 January
he failed to carry the first of the lines at Umm-el-Hanna, although it
was announced in Parliament that British forces had reached the last
position at Es Sinn; and it was not till 7-8 March that Aylmer made a
bold attempt at once to turn the Sanna-i-Yat defences and relieve Kut
by a surprise attack on the right bank of the river. Everything
depended once more upon initial success, for length of communications
and lack of supplies made continuous pressure impossible; and the
Turks were ready and their defences strong. Aylmer was no more
fortunate at Es Sinn than Townshend at Ctesiphon, and the command was
taken by General Gorringe. He reverted on 5 April to the lines on the
left bank at Umm-el-Hanna. They were carried, and twelve hours later
the further line at Felahiyeh. Keary's Lahore division had been
equally successful on the right bank; but a flood caused by the
melting snows on the Armenian hills interposed to bar the way to the
relief of Kut. A final attempt was made on the 23rd across the
water-logged land in front of Sanna-i-Yat; but advance was impossible
along the narrow causeway which alone gave foothold for the troops,
and on the 29th Townshend's force in Kut, consisting of 2000 British
and 6000 Indian troops, surrendered after a siege of nearly five
months.

After Gallipoli, Mesopotamia. Until March 1918 our reverses in these
two "side-shows" were counted our worst disasters in the war, and to
the electorally-heated imagination of Mr. Lloyd George they appeared
even later as the sum and substance of British achievement before he
became Prime Minister. In the case of Kut the responsibility rested
mainly with the Indian Government, to which also was due our brilliant
recovery in the East when Lord Chelmsford, Sir Charles Monro, and Sir
Stanley Maude--all appointed in 1916--had time to retrieve the
mistakes of their predecessors in the Viceroyalty, Command-in-chief of
the Indian Army, and command of the Mesopotamian forces. Meanwhile, it
was fortunate for the prestige of the Entente in the East that
Russia's collapse in Europe appeared to have no effect upon the vigour
of her action in the middle East. The Grand Duke Nicholas, who had
been transferred to the command in the Caucasus, found an admirable
chief of staff in General Yudenitch, and between them they brought off
a stroke against Turkey which was more sensational than the Turks'
success at Kut and Gallipoli.

Erzerum was reckoned the strongest fortress in the Turkish Empire, but
amid the distractions of the Dardanelles and Mesopotamian campaigns it
had escaped proper attention from the Turks and their German experts,
and the Grand Duke profited by the fact that Turkish troops, relieved
from the pressure at Gallipoli, were sent to Kut and not to the
Caucasus. Moreover, the ordinary line of communication with Erzerum by
the sea and Trebizond had been cut by the Russian destruction of
Turkish shipping, and transport by land was almost as difficult as it
was between the head of the Persian Gulf and Kut. The Russian
communications were better, but theirs was an adventurous enterprise
across mountain passes under the arctic conditions of midwinter; and
few people had any inkling of its inception when Yudenitch began to
move on 11 January. By the 16th he was at Kuprikeui where the road
crosses the Araxes, and in a two days' battle he broke the Turkish
army, driving its remnants south towards Mush and clearing the way to
Erzerum. Time was required to bring up the heavy guns, but early in
February the forts on Deve Boyun were under bombardment, and another
Russian army advancing from the north down the valley of the Kara Su
defeated a Turkish division and captured Kara Gubek on the 12th and
Tafta on the 14th. From the south the Russians were also crossing the
Palantuken Dagh, and the fate of Erzerum was sealed. Its evacuation
was completed early on the 16th, and a few hours later the Cossacks
rode into the city. To the south the Russian left entered Mush and
Bitlis, gaining the northern shores of Lake Van, while their right
slowly pushed along the Black Sea coast in the direction of Trebizond.
In Persia, too, the Russians occupied Kermanshah and descended the
pass to Khanikin and the Mesopotamian plain; but it was an adventurous
body of cavalry rather than a substantial military force which joined
hands with the British on the Tigris some weeks after the fall of Kut.
The Russians had to some extent redeemed their failure in Europe, but
others they had not been able to save.

                           The Caucasus

In Europe their defence was materially assisted by the British and
French attacks in Artois and Champagne and by the needs of Mackensen's
offensive in the Balkans. To both areas troops were diverted from the
German front in Russia, and the centre was especially denuded. No
advantage was, however, taken of this weakness, partly because of
Russia's general debility and partly because what efforts she could
afford were required for the defence of the Dvina and for the
sympathetic activity of Ivanov in Galicia, which was the nearest
approach Russia could make to intervention in the Balkans. The German
attack on the line of the Dvina was not merely intended to fend off a
Russian attack in the centre; it had also the positive aim of securing
Riga and comfortable winter quarters for the German army in the north.
Riga, however, was not an easy nut to crack; its flank was defended by
the sea, immediately south of it were marshes across which only
causeways ran, and to the east stretched the formidable obstacle of
the Dvina. Roads and rails for the most part crossed it at Dvinsk, and
the southern approaches to Dvinsk itself lay through land and water as
intricately mixed as in the Masurian mazes of East Prussia. But on
Dvinsk the German attack was concentrated, and after a preliminary
failure on 25 September a week's bombardment and assault began on 3
October. The siege guns which had been so fatal at Kovno and elsewhere
were brought up against a minor fortress and failed. Ruszky was in
command, and he took care to keep the howitzers out of range of the
city by an arc of far-flung trenches which the numerous scattered
lakes saved from outflanking. Illukst was at one time taken by the
Germans but found of little value for the larger purpose; and German
prisoners complained that Dvinsk, which they failed to take, had cost
them more than all the greater fortresses they had captured. In the
third week of October Hindenburg transferred his efforts back to Riga,
where he met with little better success. He got as far as Olai on the
direct route from Mitau, and even secured a foothold on Dahlen Island
in the river south-east of Riga; but these successes profited him no
more than the capture of Illukst. On 7 November the Russians
recaptured Olai, and on the 10th, with the help of their fleet, drove
back the Germans, who had advanced along the coast, beyond Shlock and
Kemmern and Kish, extending their lines to Ragassem and Kalnzem. In
the same month a similar Russian counter-offensive recaptured Illutsk
and pushed the Germans farther away from Dvinsk (see Map, p. 274).

Far to the south below the Pripet marshes which divided the Russian
front into two, the Germans and the Russians under Brussilov engaged
in thrust and counter-thrust along the Styr which caused Czartorysk to
change hands again and again, and earned for these operations the
nickname of "the Poliesian quadrille"; and the fluctuations on the
Strypa were equally indecisive. But the situation in the Balkans
suggested the need for something less ambiguous nearer the Rumanian
frontier if Rumanian neutrality was to be preserved; and the objective
selected for Ivanov's new offensive was Czernowitz the capital of the
Bukovina. The attack began on 24 December, and the struggle lasted for
over three weeks. Containing battles were fought along the Strypa and
the Styr, and Czartorysk passed once more into Russian hands and Kolki
was added to their gains. But the main object was not attained. The
Russians seized the heights between Toporoutz and Rarancze and threw
some shells into Czernowitz, but they failed to capture the crucial
point at Uscieczko on the Dniester. Mackensen and five divisions had,
however, to be diverted from the Balkans, and Russia's offensive in
the Bukovina helped to conceal her designs on Erzerum. Rumania was
saved from descending on the wrong side of the fence; but her natural
reluctance to abandon her perch prohibited that Russian attack on
Bulgaria through Rumanian territory which might otherwise have been
made, but would probably have failed and would in any case have come
too late to relieve the Serbian disaster.

The winter of 1915-16 thus passed with little to relieve the gloom.
Erzerum had balanced Kut, and the Cameroons had ceased to be a German
land. But these were trifles compared to the gigantic clash of arms in
Europe, and here the Germans had done more than in their first year's
fighting. Russia had been dealt a far more staggering blow than France
in 1914, and Serbia and Montenegro had fared worse than Belgium, while
in both East and West our counter-offensives had been ineffectual.
The Germans naturally thought they had won the war; they had merely
reached the climax of their success, and that climax did not
constitute a victory. The Allies' heads were "bloody but unbowed," and
they were still the masters of their fate. The sea was theirs and all
that therein lay; some of them were only in process of mobilizing
their resources; and the moral factor in war which, like the mills of
God grinds slowly but grinds exceeding small, required patience for
its full development. Meanwhile the German military machine had done
no more than establish a balance of power which was to be tilted in
one direction by the Russian Revolution and then in the other by
American intervention.


                              CHAPTER XI

               THE SECOND GERMAN OFFENSIVE IN THE WEST

It was a commonplace of the old diplomacy that the most effective way
to deceive a rival diplomatist was to tell him the truth, and similar
conditions enabled the Germans to delude the British public if not the
British Government, so general was the conviction that the Germans
would not or could not say anything that was not false. This
simple-minded attitude towards our enemies made it easy for them to
combine virtue with efficiency, and German statesmen were at times
singularly candid in the estimates they published of the situation.
One of these truthful pictures was drawn by the German Chancellor in
December 1915 when he pointed out that it was not in Germany's
thoughts or interests to seek further conquests for her arms: the more
territory they conquered, the thinner would be their lines and the
greater the difficulty of maintaining them. But patriotic imagination
detected behind this apparent frankness a design to conquer Egypt and
India, or at least to dominate the Persian Gulf, and averted attention
from the probability that it implied a desire to substitute a solid
decision in the West for territorial speculation in the East. Nothing,
indeed, was more certain than that Germany, having temporarily freed
herself and her allies from danger in the East, would recall her
attention to these enemies in the West by whose defeat alone could she
hope to win the war; and before the end of 1915 there were rumours of
the transport of German guns and troops from the East to the Western
front.

It was also reasonably certain that the new offensive would not follow
the lines of the old, and that, whatever form it took, it would not be
a repetition of the attempt to outmarch the Allied left and crush a
British force which had grown from a hundred thousand to over a
million bayonets. Time was also to show that no subsequent German
offensive could hope to achieve the kind of success that had been
missed on the Marne. The German ambition had in 1914 been to
annihilate the French and British armies and dictate a victorious
peace. In 1916 such a triumph was out of the question. In spite of her
victories, Germany had been reduced to the defensive, and her future
offensives were merely means to prolong her defence, to anticipate and
frustrate the attacks of her enemies, and wring an advantageous peace
out of the defeat of their attempts to drive her from the territorial
conquests she had made. The height of her expectations was to show
that her fronts were impregnable East and West, and that the Allies
could not compel, but could only purchase German evacuation of the
occupied ground by accepting the surrender of such tracts and other
terms as Germany chose to concede. She was really in the position she
pretended to have been before the war broke out of having to attack in
order to maintain what she held; and if she began, it would not be for
the purpose of breaking and enveloping the Allied armies, but to
preclude their offensive and improve and strengthen her own position.
She was, in fact, beleaguered, her attacks were really sallies, and
her hope was to keep the besiegers at such a distance that they could
make no impression upon the heart of her economic and military
situation.

The battles of Verdun therefore bear no resemblance to the Western
campaign of 1914 or the Eastern campaign of 1915. They were limited to
a narrow area, and involved but a fraction of the German forces, while
the bulk even of those in the West was distributed along the other
sectors of the front. They were fought partly to deprive the French of
what the Germans regarded as a "sally-port" into Germany, and partly
to anticipate in detail that general pressure on all fronts which the
Germans dreaded as the Allied strategy for 1916. At last, they feared,
there was really co-ordination in the Entente, and there might be such
a synchronizing of its offensives that Germany, in spite of her
interior lines, would be unable to transfer the weight of her forces
from one threatened point to another. Her strategy in the spring was
to forestall this comprehensive danger. By an attack on Verdun in
February the French and the British might be provoked into a premature
movement before their allies were ready; Italy's threatened advance
might be paralysed by a thrust at its flank in May; and both Western
dangers might thus be parried before Russia was ready to move once
more in the summer. The excellence of Germany's transport organization
would enable her, in spite of her numerical inferiority, to bring
adequate if not superior forces to repel attacks which depended for
success upon their being simultaneous.

It was, however, incumbent on Germany to prevent her defensive
offensives from combining the major costs of an offensive with the
minor advantages produced by a defence; and economy in the waste of
man-power was becoming urgent. Hence her attacks must be on a more
limited front than those of the Allies in September, and resistance
must be overcome rather by artillery than by infantry charges. The
guns were to do at Verdun what they had achieved on the Dunajec, but
there is little to show that the Germans expected to repeat in France
their drives of the year before in Galicia and in Poland. The Entente
lines in France were stronger and less thinly held than the longer
lines in the East, and while they might be pushed back from a salient
like Verdun, it was not imagined that they could be broken and rolled
up as they might have been in 1914. Eighteen months of war had set
limits to German ambition which were admitted in counsel and
conversation though not allowed to appear in print; and the strategy
of 1916 was not one which the Germans would have chosen had their
choice been free, but the best they could devise under the conditions
imposed upon them by their situation. It was not until Russia had
completely collapsed that they recovered for the moment in the spring
of 1918 that freedom from fear on the Eastern front which enabled them
to resume the action with which they started the war and put all their
strength into a final and real offensive in the West.

While throughout the winter the Allies were congratulating themselves
upon the inferiority of German shelling in the West and innocently
vaunting a superior expenditure of ammunition, which made no more
impression on the German lines than the enemy's shelling did on ours,
the Germans were reserving their fire and accumulating shells for more
effective use; and in addition to their artillery, they had recovered
the advantage in respect of aircraft. Hitherto we had done better than
the Germans in the fighting, as distinguished from the raiding, in the
air, not so much because our machines were better and certainly not
because they were more numerous, but because in the air youthful
ingenuity and daring had its chance unfettered by the restraining and
depressing hand of regimental mediocrity; and where machine-made
discipline was at a discount, youth and enterprise were at a premium.
This general rule was subject to exceptions caused by the ding-dong
race of scientific invention, and for the moment the Germans had in
their Fokker an aeroplane of decisive superiority. They began to
appear in increasing numbers above and behind our lines, and to secure
some of those advantages in reconnaisance which transferred to
aircraft in this war the functions performed in earlier wars by
cavalry. The Germans were able to concentrate at Verdun with their
minds easier about the rest of their front when their aircraft could
detect any signs of an approaching offensive elsewhere.

They also succeeded in concealing their own intentions; for while
there were premonitory symptoms which had given some French officers
an inkling of what was coming, adequate preparations had not been made
for the storm at Verdun, and attention had been distracted by German
feints at other points of the line. These attacks were made on both
the British and French sectors. The taking and retaking of
Hartmannsweilerkopf went on with a frequency that was all the more
confusing because each side only published its successes. On 28
January the Germans made a successful attack on the French near Frise
on the Somme and pushed back their lines towards Braye on a two-mile
front; but they were less fortunate in their simultaneous effort
against Carnoy, where the British had just taken over that part of the
front previously held by the 10th French Army and extending thence to
the north of Arras. Probably the Germans imagined that this extension
had weakened our lines at Ypres; and on 8 February they began a
bombardment which developed into a fierce struggle for Hooge and The
Bluff on the Ypres-Commines Canal. The ground lost was mostly
recovered by counter-attacks on 2 and 27 March and 3 April, but it
could not all be held against further German attacks later in the
month. Similarly some gains on the Vimy Ridge in the middle of May
were lost again on the 21st, and early in June the Germans thrust us
back behind Hooge. But these attacks and others along the front were
merely feints designed to conceal the German preparations against
Verdun, and to prevent the Allied forces from concentrating on its
defence after the plan had been revealed.

Verdun was selected for attack because its proximity to the German
frontier made it dangerous in the hands of the enemy, and also made it
easier for the Germans to concentrate on its attack the masses of
artillery with which they proposed to do the fighting, while its
salience hampered the French lines of communication. There were three
lines of defence. The outermost ran in an arc nine miles from Verdun
round in front of Malancourt, Béthincourt, Forges, Brabant, Ornes,
Fromezey, and Fresnes; the second was some three miles nearer in, and
the third ran by Bras, Douaumont, Vaux, and Eix. The danger consisted
in the facts that the outer lines were thinly held by Territorials and
the inner lines had not been properly fortified; for the French,
unequalled in the élan of attack, never developed that patient and
meticulous preparation for defence which stood the Germans in good
stead, and always found it easier to visualize attacks than to
materialize defences. Verdun, having survived the epidemic so fatal to
fortresses in 1914, was treated as immune from serious danger in 1916.
If, therefore, the Germans could batter to pieces the first position,
the rest might easily fall, and they came dangerously near to
fulfilling their hopes of reaching Verdun in four days.

At seven o'clock on the morning of Monday, 21 February, there burst
forth on the centre of the front a heavier bombardment than any before
experienced. The French defences were obliterated, and five hours
later the Germans walked into possession. A counter-attack checked
their progress in the afternoon, and the flanks of the French centre
held out at Brabant and Herbebois throughout that day and the next.
But the depression in the centre created a salient on either side, and
the French could only fight desperate rearguard actions while the line
was straightened out; by Wednesday morning they were back on a line
running due east from Samogneux. But the German pressure on the centre
was renewed and the French were pressed back to Beaumont and the Bois
des Fosses. Ornes on the east and Samogneux on the west had to be
abandoned, and on the 24th the Germans were threatening the centre of
the last of the French lines of defence at Louvemont and Hill 347.
Only a desperate rally enabled the French to keep their front intact
while their left was withdrawn from Champneuville and Talou hill to
Vacherauville and the Poivre hill, and their right from Bezonvaux and
the Bois des Caurières to the Douaumont plateau. On the 25th the
Germans launched what they thought was their final attack in the
battle for Verdun, and before nightfall the news was telegraphed to
Berlin that Fort Douaumont, the key of the last line of defence, had
fallen.

It was a natural but unrealized anticipation. Eighteen German
divisions were pitted against the worn and weary remnants of the
original French defenders, and the Brandenburgers had captured the
fort. But its ruins were merely a detail in the Douaumont position. To
the east the French held the redoubt and to the west the village of
Douaumont; and instead of carrying the plateau the Germans had been
checked on its summit. Their other main attack had fared even worse on
the Poivre hill to the west; and although Louvemont and Hill 347 had
been carried in the centre, the fifth day of the battle closed with
the Germans behind instead of beyond the real defences of the city
they had hoped to reach in four. On that day, too, Pétain arrived to
take over the command, and he was followed by reinforcements. On the
morrow a furious counter-attack drove the Germans out of the greater
part of Fort Douaumont and back to the northern edge of the plateau,
and the crisis of the first surprise had passed. The battle continued,
but the fact that it spread eastwards round to Eix and Manheulles
showed that the concentrated thrust at the centre had failed; and the
shortening of the French curve round by Fromezey, Étain, Buzy, and
Fresnes to a straight line running from Vaux to Les Éparges
strengthened rather than weakened the defence.

The Germans now shifted their ground of attack from the east to the
west of the Meuse, and on 2 March a four days' bombardment began of
the Malancourt-Forges line. They sought to conceal their change of
plan by renewing the struggle for Douaumont, but on 6 March they drove
the French from Forges and Regnéville back to their real defences on
the ridge behind, of which the Mort Homme (Hill 295) was the crest,
and Hills 304 and 265 its western and eastern supports. Their first
attack was on the eastern sector of this front, and by nightfall they
had gained Hill 265 and penetrated into the Bois des Corbeaux which
stretched between it and Mort Homme. The struggle continued throughout
the 7th and 8th, but on the 9th-11th the Germans varied it by
reverting to the east bank of the Meuse and making a costly but
unsuccessful attempt to outflank Douaumont by capturing Vaux, Damloup,
Eix, and Manheulles. This diversion did not slacken the pressure on
the west bank of the Meuse, and the French were forced back from the
Bois des Corbeaux to the Bois de Cumières; on 14 March the Germans
made a great bid for Mort Homme, and Berlin announced its capture. But
they had only taken its north-eastern slopes, and on the 17th they
sought a fresh approach from the west by means of a converging attack
from Avocourt and Malancourt on Hill 304. The bombardment lasted until
the 20th, when the Germans forced their way through Avocourt wood.
They were driven back by a counter-attack on the 29th, but Malancourt
fell on the 31st, and the French further withdrew from Haucourt. On 2
April the Germans also succeeded in driving an awkward wedge into the
Bois de la Caillette between Vaux and Douaumont, but Mangin thrust it
back on the following day.

There was yet another struggle for Mort Homme. On 7 April the French
had evacuated their salient at Béthincourt and re-formed their front
on a straight line running just north of Mort Homme. On the 9th the
Germans, having failed in their local attacks, attempted a general
movement against the whole front west of the Meuse. The battle raged
for three days, and at one time the Germans penetrated into Cumières;
but they were driven back by the French artillery, and the general
assault, in spite of its carnage, produced no greater gain for the
Germans than a ravine on the edge of the Poivre hill. From that date
the first battle of Verdun died away amid local efforts along the
lines east and west of the Meuse. But the Germans were still
obstinately wedded to their scheme of exhausting France before the
time came for a general Allied offensive; and they felt that they
could not cut their losses and acquiesce in the blow to their prestige
and to the credit of the Crown Prince. A respite, however was needed
for the reorganization of the command and the re-formation of the
armies shattered in the fruitless attacks and it was not until 3 May
that the Germans were ready to begin the second battle of Verdun.

This time it opened on the west bank of the Meuse, and Mort Homme was
as before the obstacle and the objective. After two days' bombardment
the Germans gained some trenches north of Hill 304, and on the 7th
they attacked it on three sides and compelled the French to abandon
the crest. This reduced Mort Homme to a difficult salient, and after a
few days' lull the Germans gained the summit on 21 May by an
expenditure of man-power out of all proportion to the value of the
result. By the 24th they had secured what was left of Cumières at a
similar cost, and the French line ran straight from Avocourt in front
of Esnes and Chattancourt to the Meuse. On the east bank the onslaught
was no less furious, and on 7 May the Germans drove the French out of
Douaumont fort and down the road towards Fleury. Mangin recovered the
greater part of Douaumont on the 22nd, but German reinforcements took
it again on the 24th, and on the 25th pushed on by Haudromont wood and
Thiaumont farm, outflanking Vaux on the west. Further progress was
made in the following days, and on 1 June the fall of Damloup
uncovered the eastern flank of the Vaux position. The fort itself made
a marvellous resistance under Major Raynal, and held out till the 6th.

There was a lull for four days, but on the 11th the struggle
recommenced with the Germans only four miles from Verdun. It raged
chiefly on the slopes of Froideterre and round the village of Fleury
close by, and the climax came on the 23rd. On that day the Germans got
into Fleury and were driven out; on the 24th they were in again, but
on the 30th the French recovered Thiaumont and neutralized the German
advantage. On the morrow the Western front was aflame with the battle
of the Somme. Verdun had done its work and taken its wages. The
struggle flickered on; Fleury changed hands again in July and August,
and so did Thiaumont. But the attack had lost its vital importance and
the decisive scene had shifted to the west where the Germans and not
the French were on the defensive. Pétain and then Nivelle, who
succeeded him in April, had held the fort till the appointed time; and
their heroic troops had made their name and that of Verdun a
possession for ever. Falkenhayn, who had taken Moltke's place as chief
of the German Staff and was responsible for the German strategy at
Verdun, was removed to another sphere of activity; but the Germans
themselves were right when they attributed failure less to their own
defects than to the valour of their foes. These, they exclaimed, were
not the French they had met at Sedan in 1870. They were not. Then,
they were the soldiers of an Emperor who went to war with the cry "to
Berlin" on their lips. Now, they were the soldiers of a democratic
Republic fighting for home and freedom, a fragment of the eternal soul
of France.

                       The Attack On Verdun

The central act of the German offensive thus closed with defeat at
Verdun; there were two others, one fought in the Alps and the other on
the sea. The Italian campaigns were never more than subsidiary
operations in the war, for it was not until 27 August 1916 that Italy
declared war on Germany, and the number of German divisions on the
Italian front was never more than six. Even to Austria Russia was the
dangerous foe, and Italian strategy threatened at worst no more than
the temporary loss of Trieste, a trifle compared with that of Galicia.
For the difficulties of the terrain, jealousy between Italians and
Jugo-Slavs, and Italy's lack of the industrial means for equipping a
sufficiently formidable army, put it beyond her power to threaten any
vital spot in the Hapsburg dominions. Italy, moreover, had not entered
the war with the same motives or same unanimity as the other Powers,
and her army at the front was not the same embodiment of national
strength and spirit. The Austrian offensive in May was therefore due
rather to the temptations held out by the weakness of the Italian
flank than to any urgent necessity of defence against the projected
Italian advance. Nevertheless the Italian plains were always
seductive, and it would obviously be convenient to dispose of the
Italian threat before Austria had again to face the serious menace of
Russian invasion; and an attack on the Asiago plateau was Austria's
natural contribution to the general German plan of anticipating in
detail the combined Entente offensive (see Map, p. 298).

The first year of the Austro-Italian war had seen no real impression
made on Austria's mountain defences, and even in the valley of the
Isonzo Gorizia still forbade an Italian advance on Trieste. The
Italian line was the worst possible for defence, and it depended for
its security upon the fact that the bulk of the Austrian forces were
involved in Russia and in the Balkans. The front was on the Isonzo,
but a flank of over 200 miles invited a thrust down one of the various
passes towards Venice which, if successful, would cause the whole
front to collapse like a pack of cards; and marvellous though the
feats of Italian valour and mechanical ingenuity had been in the
mountain fighting throughout the winter, they had not wrested the
passes from Austria's hands. The attack was preceded by a bombardment
which began on 14 May, and the scene selected lay on a line drawn from
Trent to Venice through the Sette Communi, Posina, and Pasubio. The
flanks held fairly firm, but the centre gave way, and on the 20th-24th
the line was withdrawn on the left to Posina and Pasubio. Things were
no better in the Sette Communi on the right, but west of Pasubio the
Italians stopped the Austrian advance in the pass of Buole on 30 May.
On the same day, however, they had to evacuate Arsiero and Asiago,
south of the Sette Communi. But by now Cadorna had got his
reinforcements, and on 3 June he announced that the Austrian offensive
was checked. The attack was, however, renewed on the 13th, and the
Austrians advanced to within four miles of Valstagna and the railway
running down the Brenta valley to Padua. They got no farther, and
before the end of June Cadorna began his counter-offensive. By that
time the thoughts of the Austrians and most of their troops were
elsewhere; and just as the German campaign at Verdun was ruined by the
Entente offensive on the Somme, the Austrian advance from the Trentino
was stopped by the Russian attack in the East. In the first week of
June Brussilov had gone through the Austrian lines like brown paper at
Lutsk and Dubno.

The third German offensive was on the sea, but no operation in the war
remains more obscure with regard to its motives, conduct, and
importance than the battle of Jutland; a century passed before
Nelson's tactics at Trafalgar were made clear, and a long period may
have to elapse before there is any solution of the problems
surrounding the great naval battle of modern times. The British
admiral in command has expressed his considered opinion that the
meeting of the German and British fleets on 30 May was an accident;
but assuredly it was not by accident that the whole naval forces of
Germany were on that day outside their accustomed harbours, and they
could not have been brought into action against their own consent.
There was some motive in that unusual appearance, and the motives of
strategy are to be found in the conditions of policy. That Germany
needed a victory in 1916 is obvious from her persistence, despite the
gravest losses, in the Verdun campaign; but if she needed one over
France, she needed one yet more sorely over Britain; and if it was
worth while losing one or two hundred thousand men at Verdun, it was
worth while taking considerable risks at sea on the chance of
frustrating British participation in the coming offensive on the
Somme.

Deliverance from the nightmare of a combined Entente offensive was but
a part of the fruits which would follow from a German victory at sea.
It would probably decide the issue of the war at a single blow.
Germany had, of course, known all along that the Entente depended
absolutely for success upon Great Britain's command of the sea; but it
was not easy to shake that command, and so long as there seemed a
prospect of winning the war by other means, the frightful risks of a
naval battle would be avoided. By the spring of 1916 those other means
were receding beyond the region of hope or possibility. Russia was
repairing her arms; Great Britain was making stupendous preparations;
France had withstood the shock of Verdun; and the hopes which Germany
built on discontent in Ireland, her intrigues with Irish prisoners of
war, and the escapades of Sir Roger Casement, crumbled after the
insurrection which broke out in Dublin in April. The autumn promised a
sere and yellow leaf to the German High Command. Nor did this darkened
European vista exhaust the clouds on the horizon. After the torpedoing
of the Sussex on 24 March President Wilson had extorted from the
German Government a pledge not to sink without warning merchant
vessels found inside or outside the war zone which the Germans had
proclaimed in February, and had refused to accept the condition they
sought to attach to the pledge, that he would require corresponding
pledges from Great Britain to observe the "freedom of the seas."
Tirpitz had been dismissed to give verisimilitude to Germany's new
virtue; but she had no intention of keeping her pledge any longer than
was convenient, or abandoning any reasonable prospect of bringing us
to our knees by a submarine campaign, and she knew that its effective
extension would provoke American intervention. Such intervention
would, however, be negligible if in the meantime Britain's Fleet had
been crippled and her control of the sea undermined.

A successful naval battle might therefore not only impair British
participation but preclude that of the United States. Otherwise the
two together would dissipate any lingering German hopes of victory;
and the imminence of the danger counselled the taking of risks which
had hitherto been eschewed. But the results of a naval defeat are not
risked if they are likely to prove fatal, unless there is some chance
of success; and Germany had some grounds for hope under both these
heads. A fleet which flees is little better than no fleet at all, and
for two years Germany had put up with British command of the seas. The
destruction of her battle-fleet would no doubt depress her people,
but it would not seriously interfere with her submarine campaign, and
on land the war would go on as it had done. Still, the existence of
the German Fleet was a factor in the moral of the German people; and
the Government would not have risked it without some hopes of at least
a partial success. The hopes depended partly on the skill of the new
commander, Von Scheer, and partly on his too-well justified belief
that the Germans possessed better shells, better armour, better
searchlights, and more accurate range-tests than the British Navy. The
guns were also ranged for elevation up to 30 deg., whereas the British
elevation was only 15 or 20; and the difference was fatal to some of
our battle-cruisers. The conclusion seems to have been that an
adventure was worth while, and that if the weather conditions were
wisely selected, it was feasible to fight a naval battle on the
principle of limited liability, breaking it off if and when the losses
incurred exceeded the value of the results obtained. Clearly, for
instance, if the German battle-fleet could engage the British
battle-cruisers without itself being engaged by the British
battle-fleet, the event might justify moderate expectations.

On the morning of 31 May the German High Seas Fleet set out on its
"northern enterprise." What the German Government meant by that phrase
has never been revealed. It has been inferred that a concentration of
naval and military force against Russia was planned to anticipate
Brussilov's coming offensive, but there were no signs of that movement
on land, and the Germans had enough to do with Verdun and their lines
elsewhere in France without committing themselves to another adventure
in Russia; while the idea of a raid on the shipping between England
and Norway seems an inadequate explanation of the force sent out. On
the other hand, if the design was to cripple the British Navy, the
opportune moment had been lost, for the adverse balance against the
German Fleet had been enormously increased since the war broke out. In
the autumn of 1914 occasional breakdowns in the machinery of British
super-Dreadnoughts, accidents like the torpedoing of the Audacious,
and the inadequacy of dock-accommodation had made uneasy the minds of
men who dwelt upon these contingencies and made no allowance for
similar mishaps to the enemy. But even they were reassured when in
April 1915 British construction far outstripped any German
possibilities; and as time went on the race grew ever more unequal. It
is true that France ceased to partake in the competition, leaving this
silent struggle of the workshop and the dockyard to Great Britain; and
the chance of a battle in the Baltic had to be abandoned because no
Allied battleships could be relied upon to reinforce the North Sea
Fleet. But Britain's margin was ample enough, and at the battle of
Jutland her weight of metal was as two to one. The Germans, however,
had advantages of their own, particularly in a delaying fuse which
caused their shells to explode after penetrating the enemy's armour
instead of before. Their capital ships were also better armoured, and
rarely sank when struck by shells or torpedoes. This was also true of
the British battleships, and none were sunk on either side except the
old German Pommern; but the British battle-cruisers fared badly. The
German marksmanship was also better during the earlier stages of the
battle, though inferior later on; and they had in Von Scheer an
admiral of conspicuous ability.

The accident of the battle arose from the fact that the British Fleet
was simultaneously on 31 May engaged in one of its periodical sweeps
through the North Sea. It had already turned back towards its northern
bases when at 2.20 p.m. enemy vessels were signalled to the east.
Beatty, who had under his orders the four "Cats," Queen Mary, Princess
Royal, Lion, and Tiger, together with two other battle-cruisers, the
Indefatigable and New Zealand, and the four biggest and newest
battleships, Barham, Warspite, Valiant, and Malaya (the Queen
Elizabeth herself was undergoing repairs at Rosyth), at once turned
back south-eastwards to cut off the enemy from his retreat along the
Jutland coast. The enemy vessels were Hipper's cruisers, and they also
turned south to fall back on their battle-fleet, at whose proximity
Beatty can only have guessed. At 3.48 the action began with Hipper's
battle-cruisers, Derfflinger, Lutzow, Moltke, Seydlitz, and Van der
Thann; none of them carried heavier than 12-in. guns, while Beatty's
"Cats" had 13.5-inch and his Queen Elizabeths 15-inch guns. A
light-cruiser attack against our line was crumpled up by corresponding
vessels, but the bigger German ships escaped fatal damage from our
heavier fire (it took hours to dispose of the enemy at the Falklands),
and by 4.42 they were in sight of their battle-fleet.

Beatty's business was now to turn and draw the Germans northwards into
Jellicoe's jaws, but the turning in face of the German battle-fleet
was a critical manoeuvre. Beatty's battleships were north-west on his
starboard quarter, and as his battle-cruisers turned they masked the
Queen Elizabeths' fire while exposing themselves to the concentrated
attention of the German Fleet. A high-angle shell fell on the thinly
protected deck of the Queen Mary; she blew up and sank in a few
seconds. Another fell down the ammunition shaft of the Indefatigable
with the same appalling result. Beatty was not deflected from his
course; possibly no other could have been taken. The rest of his
cruisers got round without mishap, and the brunt of the fighting now
passed to Evan-Thomas's Queen Elizabeths, who stalled off the whole
German Fleet as both forces steamed north in Jellicoe's direction. It
was probably during this stage that most of the damage was done to the
German Fleet. The Lutzow and the Pommern were sunk; the battleship
Konig was so battered that her forecastle was only 61/2 feet above water
when she struggled into port; and the Seydlitz and the Derfflinger
were in little better case.

At 5.56 Beatty sighted Jellicoe's battleships at five miles' distance
on his port bow. His task was now to cross the front of the German
line, head it off east and southwards, and afford Jellicoe room for
deployment between Beatty himself and Evan-Thomas. For reasons of
tactics and prudence Jellicoe deployed on his port wing, i.e., towards
the east, This took him away from the Germans, but tended to cut them
off from their base. The deployment was skilfully executed, though
Admiral Hood and his battle-cruiser the Invincible, while taking
position in front of Beatty, suffered the fate of the Queen Mary and
Indefatigable; and the British Fleet soon formed a single line curving
round east and south-eastwards like a net into which the Germans were
being drawn. The crisis had arrived, and German naval power seemed on
the verge of extinction. But the weather came to assist Von Scheer's
tactical skill. He turned with less misfortune than had attended
Beatty's similar manoeuvre two hours earlier, and set himself to fight
a magnificent rearguard action and extricate his fleet as best he
could. Fortunately for him the visibility grew steadily worse, and
with it the range of fire diminished. This deprived Jellicoe of the
advantage of his heavier guns, and indeed reduced the range of
gun-fire to that of torpedoes. Here Von Scheer discovered his chance,
and it was upon torpedo attacks that he relied for the defence of his
fleet. Jellicoe, with his superior speed, could have closed had he
deemed it wise. But he thought of what hung on the fate of the fleet
he commanded, and shrank from exposing his battleships to the risk of
torpedo destruction. His dilemma was acute: gun-fire was very
effective at 18,000 yards, the torpedo began to be so at 10,000. Our
cue was to fight between the two; but low visibility hid the German
ships outside torpedo range, while within it fifty lucky German
torpedoes might have sent every British Dreadnought to the bottom and
decided the war in Germany's favour. On the other hand, we might have
sunk every German ship and conceivably ended the war in 1917. War is
an experimental science; but this experiment was never made, and no
one can say what the result would have been if it had. Beatty wished
to make it, Jellicoe refrained.

So the fight went on, the mist hiding the Germans at longer range and
their torpedo attacks deterring us from a closer encounter. At 7.5
Jellicoe attempted to close on the Germans by turning three points to
starboard. Von Scheer replied with a torpedo attack, and to avoid it
some of our ships turned four, and some of them six, points to port.
Seizing the opportunity, Von Scheer made off to the west, helped by
the mist and by his own smoke screen; and shortly the Germans were
lost to sight. Night closed in with the British Fleet between the
Germans and their base at Wilhelmshaven hoping to complete their work
on a glorious First of June. Jellicoe and Beatty agreed that to
continue the battle in darkness amid torpedo-craft and submarines was
impossible, and Von Scheer had other designs in view. It was a night
of excursions and alarms with many destroyer actions. When dawn broke
the Germans were not to be seen. Cut off from direct access to
Wilhelmshaven, Von Scheer had turned from south-west round to north
and then east, and had got his ships one by one past the rear of the
British line into harbour. His escape is the mystery of the battle:
throughout the night his starboard ships were continually barging into
vessels on our port, but no news of these encounters reached the
commander-in-chief. Till nearly noon Jellicoe watched for a fleet that
never appeared, and then made his way back to his base, a victor
baulked of the ostensible fruits of his victory. The disappointment
was made worse by the ineptitude of the Admiralty and the ignorance of
the press, which emphasized our losses without explaining the
significance of our success. Besides the three battle-cruisers we
lost three armoured cruisers, Defence, Black Prince, and Warrior of
13,000 or more tons apiece, and eight destroyers, while the
super-Dreadnought Marlborough was badly holed and the Warspite was put
out of action. The German looses in destroyers may have been equal or
greater, but in cruisers they were considerably less. The Government
was foolish enough to deny the loss of the Lutzow and admit it a few
days later. But our own estimates were not conspicuous for their
accuracy; and the German official account published on 16 June and
long regarded as "a tissue of careful falsifications," was admitted
after the armistice to have been substantially correct.

The public in both countries were indeed egregiously wrong in their
judgment because they were completely ignorant of naval warfare, and
measured success at sea by mathematical equations just as they
measured progress on land by miles. It was only the navies engaged
that knew the truth, and they had inadequate means of making their
knowledge known. British sailors were loath to admit even among
themselves the defects in their vessels, gunnery, and leadership which
the battle revealed; but they made less a secret of Von Scheer's
skill. He had with a smaller force inflicted greater damage on his
enemy, and he had snatched his fleet from the jaws of destruction. He
was no doubt favoured by the weather, and he turned to the best
advantage his facilities of defence; for the enemy in retreat can use
his torpedoes with greater effect than his pursuer, can tempt him into
minefields and submarine traps, and conceal himself by smoke-screens.
German Dreadnoughts had, moreover, been built for defence in home
waters and not for keeping the seas. Space, which was used to
strengthen their armour, had in our capital ships to serve the needs
of offence, speed, and comfort; and subsequent inspection at Scapa
Flow showed that the German High Seas Fleet was not designed to
provide its crews with living room for more than seventy-two hours
without recourse to port.

But all these advantages and Von Scheer's skill could not reverse the
verdict in that trial of strength, and our qualms about the battle of
Jutland were a just nemesis on our inveterate habit of judging by
material tests. The decisive factor in war is not the material but the
moral effect; and while the German Fleet was not destroyed at the
battle of Jutland, its moral was hopelessly shattered. Few of the
German sailors who had been in a naval battle had hitherto returned to
tell the tale, and those who went out in the High Seas Fleet on 31 May
had been taught to believe in its invincibility. But, said a German
officer, "the way we were utterly crushed from the moment your battle
fleet came into action took the heart out of them. Another hour of
daylight would have finished it," while only three men in Jellicoe's
main battle fleet were wounded. Der Tag had come with a vengeance, and
from that day every attempt to take out the German Fleet to battle
produced a mutiny or the threat of one.

The third enemy offensive had come to greater grief than the other
two; and the battle of Jutland had justified the earlier German
strategy which kept the German Fleet safe in harbour while it kept our
own in British waters and faint hearts on tenterhooks. Germany's naval
power had now gone with the moral of its crews, though the ghost of it
haunted for two and a half years longer the timid minds of our
materialists on shore, and retained on this side of the Channel
hundreds of thousands of troops needed for offence or defence in
France and Flanders. The German Fleet had never, however, been a
predominant factor in the war, and it was with a different proposition
that the Entente had to deal when at last its turn came to take the
offensive and make a real attempt to break the German lines.


                             CHAPTER XII

                     THE ALLIED COUNTER-OFFENSIVE

In spite of the disasters she had suffered in 1915 and of her winter
campaigns in Galicia and the Caucasus, Russia was the first of the
Allies to take the offensive in 1916. She was, indeed, engaged in
attacking at some point or other along her vast and various fronts
from December till April. In February she again attempted to seize the
important bridgehead across the Dniester at Usciesko and carried it on
22 March. Four days before that she had initiated another offensive on
the shores of Lake Narotch, and in April she was pressing on
Trebizond. The Lake Narotch operation was possibly designed to
frustrate a German attack on Riga, and it was only that preventive
success that was achieved. It is true that the first and second German
lines were carried after artillery preparation by the Russian
infantry. But the scanty Russian artillery behaved like a travelling
circus; having done its business, it packed up and removed to seek
another opening. The Germans discovered the move, blasted the Russian
trenches, and on 28-29 April recovered more than they had lost. The
campaign in Armenia was more successful, and on 18 April Trebizond
passed securely into Russian hands, giving her a shorter route across
the Black Sea and a better base for future operations in Asia Minor
(see Maps, pp. 146, 182).

These, however, were minor operations compared with the offensive for
which Brussilov was preparing in May as the Russian contribution to
the combined attack on the Central Empires. It was not timed to take
place until the end of June. But the Austrian pressure on Italy from
the Trentino seems to have forced an acceleration which the German
attack on Verdun failed to extort from the Western Allies; and on 3
June a bombardment began on the whole of the Russian front from the
Pripet marshes southwards to the Rumanian border. Ivanov had been
recalled to headquarters and the line was under Brussilov, with four
generals--Kaledin, Sakharoff, Scherbachev, and Lechitsky--to command
his various army-groups. Opposed to them were four Austrian generals
and the German Bothmer, who held the front from Zalocze on the upper
Sereth to the Dniester. From Kolki northwards the Pripet swamps made
progress difficult, and Bothmer offered a stubborn resistance on the
Strypa. But in the Volhynian triangle and the Bukovina the attack
achieved a surprising success. The infantry advance began on the 4th
and by noon the Austrian front was completely broken. In two days the
Russians advanced more than twenty miles, and on the 6th they entered
Lutsk, the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's headquarters, capturing
enormous booty and many thousands of prisoners. On both sides the
breach was widened; to the north Rojitche and to the south Dubno both
fell on the 8th, and the Volhynian triangle passed completely into
Russian hands. Their triumph continued for another week: their salient
was deepened by a further advance to Zaturtsky and Svidniki, within
twenty-five miles of Kovel, and broadened by the fall of Kolki to the
north and Demidovka and Kozin to the south. In less than a fortnight
Kaledin and Sakharoff had covered fifty miles and taken 70,000
prisoners.

Scherbachev was less successful against Bothmer in front of Tarnopol;
but his left wing carried Buczacz, farther south, and crossed the
Strypa, while beyond the Dniester Lechitsky outdid Kaledin's success
at Lutsk. Forcing the passage of the Dniester near Okna on that same
4th of June, he broke the Austrian front and drove one half of it west
to Horodenka and the other half south-east towards Czernowitz. The
latter portion was now an isolated and disorganized fragment of the
Austrian army which could do nothing but escape across the Pruth and
the Carpathians leaving Lechitsky to overrun the Bukovina. On the 17th
the Russians entered Czernowitz, its capital, and six days later they
reached Kimpolung, its most southerly town. Other columns swept west
to Sniatyn and Kuty, and by the 23rd the whole of the province had
been conquered. The Austrians were in no position to impose a pause
upon the frontier of Galicia, and Kolomea fell on the 29th. Tlumacz
followed on the 30th and Bothmer's right was seriously threatened.
Gathering some German reinforcements he counter-attacked on 2 July,
recovered Tlumacz, and checked Lechitsky's right, though his left
continued its advance along the Carpathian foothills and captured
Delatyn on 8 July, thus cutting the railway to Marmaros Sziget. The
Dniester and the Pruth were now flooded with July rains, and a month
elapsed before Lechitsky could resume his march.

Other causes had checked the Russians farther north. Brussilov's
offensive may have been merely a vast reconnaissance in force, but its
astonishing success had stirred the Germans to prompt action. Ewarts
was beginning an attack on the important junction of Baranovitchi
north of the Pripet marshes, and presently the line of battle spread
down the Shchara and along the Oginski canal. If he succeeded like
Brussilov, Brest-Litovsk might be caught between two fires with dire
results to the whole German front in Russia and future in the Balkans.
It was a peril to which the German prospects at Verdun and forebodings
on the Somme were secondary considerations; and both the Western
allies profited from Brussilov's campaign. One German corps was
hurried from Verdun to Kovel in six days, and others followed at a
less exhausting speed. Austrians also came from the Tyrol and the
Balkans, and Ludendorff was sent to restore confidence in the command.
Kovel was the southern key to Brest-Litovsk; the northern flank could
look after itself since Ewarts was making little progress, and Bothmer
had barred the way for the time to the other essential points at
Lemberg and Stanislau. But Kovel was in serious danger, for the
Russians had penetrated to Lokatchi due south of that fortress; and it
was for its defence that Ludendorff organized the Austrian
counter-offensive in the latter half of June.

Kovel was saved. The Russian line was pressed back from Lokatchi to
Zaturtsky, from Svidniki to Rojitche, and behind the Stokhod. But the
counter-offensive was spent by the end of the month, and early in July
the Russians resumed their advance. North of the Pripet Ewarts was no
more successful than he had been in June; German divisions were made
of sterner stuff than the Austrian, and Hindenburg knew well enough
what was at stake. After heavy losses the Russian attack died away
without appreciable gain of ground, and north of the Pripet at least
the enemy line was secure. Nor, even south of it, was Brussilov able
to do much more than straighten his own, bringing it forward to the
point reached by his salient in front of Lutsk. This, however,
involved some danger to Lemberg and effected the fall of Stanislau
farther south. The chief obstacle was Bothmer in the centre, on whose
stubborn resistance the Germans prided themselves although most of his
troops were Austrian; and he occupied most of the Russian attention
for the rest of the campaign. But the most striking advance was made
in the north of Brussilov's command, where summer had dried the
low-lying ground south of the Pripet marshes. Here General Lesch,
whose Third Russian Army had been brought down from north of the
Pripet, broke the Austrian line on the Styr between Kolki and
Rafalovka on 4-5 July, and in four days reached the Stokhod. He even
crossed it at points, but failed to carry it in its entirety so as to
threaten the northern defences of Kovel.

The main offensive was launched in Galicia, doubtless with a view to
its reaction upon the attitude of Rumania; and here Bothmer was
menaced by Sakharoff in the north and Lechitsky in the south. To
disconcert the northern attack the Germans had planned a
counter-offensive on the 18th, but Sakharoff got his blow in first
three days before. Forcing the Austrians across the Styr in front of
Dubno, he advanced along its tributary the Lipa, captured Mikhailovka
and Bludov, and then swinging south occupied Berestechko and
threatened Brody on the 20th. It was entered after a week's fighting
on the 28th. Thence he struck south towards the railway from Krasne to
Tarnopol which supplied Bothmer's left, while Bothmer's right was
being simultaneously threatened by Lechitsky now that the floods on
the Dniester had subsided. On 7 August he recaptured Tlumacz and
reached the Dniester near Nijniow; on the 10th he forced his way into
Stanislau, while Scherbachev attacked on the north bank of the
Dniester. Almost outflanked on the north by Sakharoff and on the south
by Scherbachev and Lechitsky, Bothmer had at length to retreat to the
Zlota Lipa with his right in front of Halicz, his centre at Brzezany,
and his left at Zborov. He was vigorously attacked by Scherbachev, and
his right was pushed back on both banks of the Dniester as far as
Halicz until it stood upon the Narajovka. But the centre stood firm
against Scherbachev's great effort of the 29th, though Potutory was
taken and Brzezany reduced to a salient; and the fighting of September
and October failed to modify the position anywhere except far south in
the Carpathians, where Lechitsky secured Mount Kapul and the
Jablonitza and Kirlibaba passes, and advanced as far west as Huta.

This movement was in sympathy with the Rumanian declaration of war on
27 August, and spoilt the Russian chances of a successful
concentration against Bothmer. Russia was not sufficiently furnished
with munitions or trained men to provide for two great efforts on that
front, and her summer campaign had failed of complete success largely
because of the services it rendered to her allies. No fewer than
sixteen divisions were withdrawn, between June and September, by the
Germans from the Western front and one from the Balkans to meet
Brussilov's offensive, and they included some of the best of the
Prussian Guards. Austria diverted seven divisions from Italy, and even
the Turks sent two. The offensive had cost the Central Empires
something like a million casualties, many of them Czecho-Slovak and
Jugo-Slav prisoners, who deserted willingly enough and in time did
valiant service in strange lands to the cause of the Entente and of
their own national independence. But the value of Russia's last great
effort in the war was not limited to the front on which it was made.
It was an excellent, though almost solitary, example of the advantages
of co-ordinated strategy between the Allies, and what progress was
made on the Somme, in Italy, and in Macedonia in 1916 was partly due
to Russian valour on other fronts.

The British Empire, however, had eyes in the summer of that year for
little except its own offensive in the West. It was mainly a British
affair, for the German attack on Verdun had succeeded to the extent of
making impossible both an independent French offensive and an
equivalent French contribution to the joint campaign on the Somme.
Like other realities of the war, this fact was hidden from the public,
and hopes ran high. The failures of the autumn were recognized as due
to their being premature and made on narrow fronts. We had learnt our
lesson; there was a new general in command; in guns and munitions we
had outstripped the Germans; our men were no longer raw recruits, and
we had millions of them; and, unlike Germany, we had no alternative
front to exact its toll like the Russian. The one doubt that was
harboured rather than expressed related to leadership. Lord Kitchener
had lost his life in the Hampshire, sunk by a mine off the west coast
of the Orkneys, on 6 June. But Sir William Robertson, his chief of
Staff, had acquired a great repute as an organizer, and the question
was whether the officers in the field would exhibit qualities of
intellect comparable with his administrative capacity or with the
valour of their men.

Apart from the urgent need of relieving the pressure on Verdun, a
British offensive was due as a contribution to the common task; and
the front on which it would be made did not offer a great variety of
choice. Whatever attractions other localities may have held out
yielded to the Somme, where the French and British lines met by
Maricourt, and an advance side by side was the nearest approach the
Allies had yet made to unity of command or even of design. The
combined effort was to be concentrated on a single front of
twenty-five miles from Gommecourt, half-way between Albert and Arras,
to Fay, five miles above Chaulnes. If it achieved the success that was
hoped, it would roll up the German line north towards the Belgian
coast and render untenable in the south and east the great salient of
the German front. The retreat which the Germans effected to the
Hindenburg lines in the spring of 1917 was the least that was expected
from the summer offensive of the year before. But Germans are seldom
idle, and for months they had been silently and unobserved preparing
to counter the vast storm of explosives about to break on their
trenches. That wire-entanglements however extensive, and trenches
however intricate, could be obliterated had been proved, and the
Germans were ready with their prophylactic on the ground that was
chosen for attack. The rolling downs of the Bapaume ridge offered
natural attractions to an army sick of the water-logged flats of
Flanders, but they also afforded the Germans depth and scope for their
vast underground chambers which no artillery could destroy; and these
defences more than any other single cause defeated the British thrust
at Gommecourt and Serre.

                     The Battle Of The Somme

This was officially described as a subsidiary operation, yet upon the
assistance it rendered to the main attack farther south depended the
whole nature and course of the campaign. Had that thrust eastward
towards Bapaume been successful, the Germans facing the Somme would
have been taken in the rear, and the painful and costly climb up the
slopes to Bapaume, which lasted throughout the summer and autumn,
would have been achieved in a couple of days. Places like Pozières,
well towards the goal, were indeed given as our objectives for the
first day of the battle of the Somme. It began on 1 July. Since the
middle of June there had been an intermittent bombardment of the
German lines which grew in intensity and extent from the 24th. The
attack had been entrusted to the British Fourth Army, under Sir Henry
Rawlinson and the French Sixth under Fayolle. It was expected by the
Germans between Albert and Arras, though not along the Somme, and
their artillery preparation took off some of the edge of our attack.
The troops advanced with the utmost dash and determination, and
detachments got far ahead of the line into Pendant copse, Thiepval,
the Schwaben redoubt, and even the outskirts of Grandcourt. But few of
them got back when they found that the line as a whole had held, and
the losses of these troops in the fire to the left and the right and
in front of them made up the bulk of the British casualties on that
day.

Farther south they fared better. The outskirts of La Boisselle and
Fricourt were reached; Mametz was taken, and also Montauban by the
most striking advance of the day. On our right the French, whose
attack had been planned by Foch, had the advantage of a surprise.
North of the Somme they reached the edge of Hardecourt and Curlu;
south of it they captured Dompierre, Becquincourt, Bussu, and Fay, and
with these villages 6000 prisoners. The advance was greatest the
farthest it was removed from where the Germans had prepared their
resistance; complete success south of the Somme dwindled away to
complete failure at Serre. That northern attack was not renewed, but
from Ovillers south and eastwards the advantage was stubbornly pressed
on the 2nd. Fricourt fell and its surrounding defences, while the
French took Frise, Curlu, and Herbecourt. It was clear, however, that
the German line had not, and could not be broken in the sense which
the public at least attached to the word. A first or even a second and
third line of trenches might be taken, but there was an indefinite
series behind, and the progress was so slow that anything like a
thrust right through the German defences and rout of the German forces
was out of the question. It was not until the 5th that La Boiselle in
the first German line was mastered, and farther east the initial
success of the British was checked by a line of woods which required
weeks to clear. On the 7th we took Contalmaison, but were driven out
of most of it by a counter-attack. It finally fell on the 10th, but
Ovillers held out till the 16th. The woods to the right offered a no
less stubborn resistance. Bernafay wood was, indeed, gained on the
4th, but the German flanks in Mametz wood to the west and Trônes wood
to the east were only driven in at the cost of five days' ferocious
fighting from the 8th to the 13th. The French encountered similar
opposition north of the Somme, but south of it they were more
fortunate. On the 4th and 5th they extended their gains on their right
by the capture of most of Estrées and Belloy, and after disposing of
German counter-attacks leapt forward on the 9th past Flaucourt to
Biaches, a mile from Péronne.

On 14 July the second stage of the battle of the Somme began with an
attack before dawn. It was the national fête-day of France, but the
attack was made on the British front from Contalmaison to Trônes wood.
The objectives were the wood and two villages of Bazentin, High wood
(the Bois des Foureaux), Longueval, and Delville wood, while Trônes
wood still remained to be completely cleared. The day was one of the
most successful in the four and a half months' battle, and the dash of
the British troops carried them as far as all their objectives.
Bazentin-le-Grand and le Petit and the wood were taken; aided by an
unwonted cavalry charge which raised delusive hopes of breaking
through, a great advance was made to High wood; and the Germans were
driven out of most of Longueval and the Delville wood. But it was more
difficult to retain these conquests; the advanced positions were
exposed to enfilading German fire, and counter-attacks drove us back
at various points and made the retention of others a matter of
desperate conflict for weeks. High wood had to be completely
evacuated; for Delville wood the South Africans, and the troops which
relieved them on the 20th, had to struggle for thirteen days, and it
was not wholly cleared for another month. Much of what was credited to
the 14th of July had to be retaken in detailed fighting spread over
many days.

On the 16th, however, the fall of Ovillers prepared the way for an
attack on Pozières, which was finally captured with the help of the
Australians on the 26th, and the taking of Waterlot farm on our right
opened up an advance on Guillemont. Much of High wood was recovered on
the 20th. On that day the French pushed east of Hardecourt and seized
a section of the Combles-Clery railway, while farther south they
secured the German defences from Barleux to Vermandovillers. On the
27th the last German outpost in Longueval was taken, and on 4 August
the Australians began their advance from Pozières to Mouquet farm and
the windmill which commanded the summit of the Bapaume ridge. The
ground was contested inch by inch, and it took many weary days to win.
Villages and woods all along the front were only captured by
fragments, and most of the fragments were lost again more than once
before they finally passed into our hands. Well into September there
were bits of Delville wood and High wood still in German possession,
and a concerted attack of 18 August was a failure except for the
seizure of Leipzig redoubt. On the 12th, however, and again on the
16th, the French improved their position north of the Somme and got
close to Maurepas, of which they completed the capture on the 24th.

September was a better month for both the Allies. There was a general
attack on the 3rd, when Guillemont, which had been disputed for six
weeks, was carried at length, and the French rushed Le Forest, Cléry,
and the German lines up to the outskirts of Combles. Two days later
the British got into Leuze wood between Guillemont and Combles, and
captured Falfemont farm to the south, while a new French army extended
the line of battle below Chaulnes and took Chilly and Soyécourt; on
the 6th they pushed their advance both north and south of the Somme,
taking above the river L'Hôpital farm and Anderlu and Marrières woods,
and below it parts of Vermandovillers and Berny. The German
counter-attacks were unusually unsuccessful, and on 9 September Ginchy
was carried by the Irish regiments which had helped to take
Guillemont. It looked as though the Allies were at least getting into
their stride, or the wasting struggle was beginning to tell on the
German reserves and resistance. Over two months had been spent in
securing objectives marked down for the first day or two of the
battle; but with the fall of Guillemont the last fragment of the
German second position had fallen into our hands, their third was more
or less improvised, we had a new weapon in reserve, and were half-way
from our original lines to Bapaume. Farther afield Rumania had
declared war, and Brussilov was still drawing German troops from West
to East.

The third stage of the battle therefore opened with hopes which even
the experience of the second had not been able to quench. Gough's
Fifth Army had since early in July been formed as an independent
command to the left of Rawlinson's Fourth, and its right comprised the
1st Canadian Corps which was to attack Courcelette. The other points
of the German third line of defence were Martinpuich, Flers,
Lesboeufs, and Morval. Martinpuich was the objective of a Scottish
division of the New Army, Flers that of the New Zealanders, Lesboeufs
and Morval those of the Guards and another division of the old
Regulars. Behind the British lines were collected twenty-four "Tanks,"
which were to precede them in the attack and prove by this first
experiment their value as a weapon of war. On the 14th a brigade of
Gough's army stormed the Hohenzollern trench and a redoubt called by
the Germans a wunderwerk; apart from this success, the attack diverted
German attention from the real offensive, which began on the 15th with
an intense bombardment. The Tanks spread terror and devastation among
the German lines and the results of the day for once exceeded all
expectations. Courcelette fell to the Canadians, Martinpuich to the
Scots, Flers to the New Zealanders. High wood was at last enveloped in
this advance, and Delville wood passed by the division of the New Army
which pushed from Ginchy towards Lesboeufs. That effort on our right
was, however, hampered by the Germans in the Quadrilateral and
Bouleaux wood to the east of Ginchy, and the Guards were unable to
carry out the most important tactical part of the day's work by
carrying Lesboeufs and Morval.

The French had no such accumulation of gains on the 15th, but they
conquered a larger area between the 13th and 18th. They began on the
13th with the bold capture of Bouchavesnes right across the great road
from Péronne to Bapaume, and supplemented it by taking Le Priez farm
on the flank of Combles. On the 17th they completed their work in
Berny and Vermandovillers south of the Somme, and on the 18th added
Deniécourt. On that day the British at last mastered the Quadrilateral
east of Ginchy, and thus prepared for the great success which attended
the next general attack on the 25th. It was the best day of the whole
campaign. Lesboeufs and Morval fell on the north of Combles, while the
French took Rancourt on the south-east, and away to the west Gough's
army made the surprising seizure of Thiepval. Further fruits were
gathered on the morrow; Gueudecourt, which had been taken but
abandoned on the 25th, was recovered; the French who had then failed
against Frégicourt now took it; and Combles was the prize of their
joint success. Then the weather broke; and the Germans, who had
already begun to prepare their Hindenburg lines far away in their
rear, were enabled to cling to the Bapaume salient until they had
taken all the precautions for an orderly and inexpensive retreat.

The rest of the Somme campaign was an affair of local details until
Gough's Fifth Army intervened on a larger scale. Eaucourt l'Abbaye was
taken on 1 October, lost on the 2nd, and retaken on the 3rd. Le Sars
was captured on the 7th, the Stuff and Regina redoubts, between it and
Thiepval, on the 21st; and progress was made north towards the Butte
de Warlencourt and north-east towards Le Transloy. The French captured
Sailly and Saillisel to the east of Morval and pushed far into the St.
Pierre Vaast wood and towards Moislains, while south of the Somme they
took Ablaincourt, Le Pressoir, Fresnes, Villers-Carbonnel, and
Barleux, and seized the west bank of the river opposite Eterpigny
above Péronne. On 9 November the weather improved, and though the
October rains had made transport almost impossible across the mangled
soil of the battlefield on the Somme, the conditions were not so bad
north of Thiepval, where our advance had been stayed on 1 July. The
situation at Beaumont-Hamel was also changed for the better by the
fact that the German stronghold was now a pronounced salient enfiladed
by our fire from the captured Hohenzollern, Schwaben, Stuff, and
Regina redoubts. But that advantage was less felt farther north at
Serre, and there the left wing of our attack on 13 November was no
more successful than it had been on 1 July. Better fortune attended
our effort between Serre and Beaumont-Hamel, but the farthest advance
of the day was that of a New Army division on the extreme right of the
attacking line. St. Pierre Divion fell almost at once, and our troops
advanced on the southern heights of the Ancre to the Hansa trench
half-way to Grandcourt.

The task of the centre was to take the fortress of Beaumont-Hamel,
including the forked ravine to the south which required a prolonged
and desperate struggle. The work was done by Highland Territorials
before the early November sunset; and meanwhile the Naval Division on
their right drove the Germans out of their first two lines on the
northern bank of the Ancre towards Beaucourt. One battalion penetrated
almost to the village, but was held up in a perilous position owing to
the resistance of a strong German redoubt on its flank and almost in
its rear. It stood its ground throughout the day, and at night the
surrender of the German redoubt to a couple of tanks opened the way
for a general attack on Beaucourt on the 14th. It was stormed by the
battalion which had been waiting outside it since the previous
morning. German counter-attacks on the 15th were repulsed, and on the
17th a further advance was made to the Bois d'Hollande north of
Grandcourt, while Canadians from the Regina trench established
themselves near its western outskirts. Another avenue towards Bapaume
had been opened up, but winter postponed any further advance, and the
Somme campaign had come to an end.

It had proved a sort of inverted Verdun, and the comfort we had
derived from that successful defence was now extracted by the Germans
from their defence of Bapaume. The parallel was not exact, because
while the German gains at Verdun narrowed down to a point, ours on the
Somme expanded in a circle. Yet the arguments were substantially the
same: the French at Verdun were willing to sell any number of acres
for armies, and the Germans professed an equal content on the Somme.
Each side contended in turn that the offensive was the more costly
form of warfare, and then repudiated the contention when it came to
attack itself; and there was not a great deal to choose between them
so far as logic was concerned. It is also clear that the Germans would
have been at least as successful at Verdun as we were on the Somme but
for the relief afforded by counter-offensives elsewhere, and that we
should have profited no more from the Somme than the Germans did from
Verdun had our Somme campaign been interrupted by German offensives on
other fronts. Nor was there much to choose in the way of casualties:
our estimate of the German losses as approximating 600,000 was a
reasonable guess, but our own casualties were well over 400,000. The
French losses were lighter, but the two together cannot have been less
than the German. The Germans on the Somme, like the French at Verdun,
withdrew divisions to refit before they were hopelessly broken; but
what was considered wisdom in the French was reckoned weakness in the
Germans and the Prussian Guards, whose return to Berlin, concealed in
furniture-vans to hide their pitiable plight, was graphically
described in the English press by an imaginative American journalist,
were really sent as a contribution to that immense effort in the East
by which, in spite of the Somme campaign, Germany first closed the
gaps in the crumbling Austrian front and then overran Rumania.

There was thus a good deal of justice in the German comparison between
Verdun and the Somme. The fallacy lay in the facts that our offensive
was not brought to a stand by a German counter-attack but by the
advent of winter, that the moves elsewhere in the West were the French
ripostes at Verdun in October and December and not German
counter-offensives, and that their campaign in Rumania, in spite of
its painful success, had no effect upon the vital situation in the
West. That episode was against us, but the tendencies were in our
favour; our losses might equal the German, but equal attrition would
leave us paramount in the end, barring collapse on the part of a
principal ally. It was the fundamental situation which led to the
German proposals for peace at Christmas, and the superficial
impression which provoked the simultaneous fall of the Asquith
Government.

So, too, there was something superficial and unjust in the lay
criticism of Sir Douglas Haig's generalship. "Tactics of the Stone
Age," was Mr. Lloyd George's later comment, which should not have been
made in public at the expense of a general for whose retention in the
command he was himself responsible. Even Foch controlled the group of
French armies which co-operated with us on the Somme without producing
results of a different character; and it is idle to compare the
achievements of the generalissimo of 1918 with those of the British
commander on the Somme in 1916. Haig controlled the British forces in
France and Flanders, but he had no jurisdiction beyond a mere fragment
of the thousands of miles of front on which the war was waged. Neither
he nor any other Entente general therefore enjoyed the strategical
opportunities of a Falkenhayn, Hindenburg, or Ludendorff, who could
direct their blows east or west as they pleased; and responsibility
for the strategical conduct of the war rested not with the Entente
generals but with the heterogeneous Governments which employed them.
Each commander had to work in his own compartment and could not escape
its limitations. Nor was the diversity merely one of military
commands; there was also the Navy, upon which the whole Allied
strategy hung, to be considered; and not only in the Entente, but in
each of its several Governments there was, and there could be, no such
unity of direction as was possible in the militarist Central Empires.

There was also something naive in the popular clamour for a general as
a Deus ex machina. For, in spite of apparent exceptions, the tendency
of the transition from heroic to democratic ages is to transfer both
in war and in politics the decisive influence from the individual to
the mass, from the protagonist to the private; and modern warfare,
with its complexity and its science, has become mainly a matter of
mechanics. Its hero is the mob, and its generals fight far away in the
rear of the line of battle; even the telescope has given place to the
telephone. Individual valour counts for little compared with accurate
range-tests and spotting by waves of sound. Man has mastered nature
only to become more dependent upon his servants, and the vast
machinery which the modern general controls envelops him in its toils.
He reaches his goal in a motor, and the race is won by the best
machine. Generalship was but one of a vast number of factors which
gave us control of the Bapaume Ridge but also prevented the Somme
campaign from saving Rumania or spoiling the German defence against
Russia.

The battle of the Somme did not, however, quite exhaust the Entente
offensive for 1916. As it died down amid the autumn rains, the French
struck back at Verdun on 24 October. Here Nivelle, who had taken over
the command from Pétain in April, entrusted the attack to Mangin. The
Germans were not taken by surprise, but they were unprepared for the
strength of the blow, and from Fleury to Fort Douaumont positions
which had taken the Germans months to win were recovered within a few
hours. On the right the struggle was more protracted, but on 2
November Fort Vaux and on the 3rd the villages of Vaux and Damloup
were regained. A greater success followed on 15 December. The attack
extended from Vacherauville on the Meuse to Bezonvaux on the east, and
all along the line the French won their objectives. Besides
Vacherauville they retook Poivre hill, Haudromont wood, and Louvemont
on the left, captured Chambrettes farm and Caurières wood in the
centre, and seized Hardaumont wood and Bezonvaux on their right.
Towards the north-east the Germans had almost been thrust back to the
line from which they started in February, though to the north they
still retained some ground, and the French counter-offensive did not
extend to the west of the Meuse. It was a characteristic exaggeration
of the press to represent these gains as a complete reconquest of all
that the Germans had won in the spring; but enough had been done to
give the Germans unpleasant anticipations for 1917 and to counsel them
to draw in their horns in the material sense of retreat from their
threatened position on the Somme and in the metaphorical sense of
seeking peace (see Map, p. 194).

Italy, too, had been making her contribution to the Allied offensive
during these months. Brussilov's onslaught in June had trod on the
tail on* the Austrian invasion from the Trentino, and it was patriotic
pride which led an Italian journal to describe Cadorna's recovery as
the quickest and greatest reaction of the war. Italy's allies at least
were not surprised when during the latter half of June her armies
regained the ground evacuated by the Austrians in a skilful retreat,
including Posina, Monte Cimone, Arsiero, Asiago, and the whole of the
Sette Communi. Having thus protected his flank, Cadorna reverted to
his frontal attack along the Isonzo and on the Carso. The Austrians
still held nearly the whole of the east bank of the river and Oslavia
and Podgora on the west bank in front of Gorizia. Gorizia itself was
protected by two mountain strongholds, Sabatino to the north and San
Michele to the south. Early in August Cadorna had completed his
transfer of guns and troops from the Trentino front, and on the 4th he
feinted an attack across the Isonzo at Monfalcone. On the 6th a heavy
bombardment battered the whole front from Mount Sabatino to Mount San
Michele; both the key-positions were taken by assault in a battle
which lasted two days, and on the 9th Gorizia fell. During the next
few days the advance was pushed across the Doberdo plateau, south of
Gorizia, and beyond the Vallone on to the western end of the
forbidding and formidable Carso. By the 15th the Italian line ran from
Tivoli, north-east of Gorizia, down the river Vertoibizza, across the
Vippacco and along the Carso east of Nad Logem, Opacchiasella, and
Villanova. No such victory had yet been won by unaided Italian troops
against their hereditary foes, and it did much to stimulate Italian
confidence and enthusiasm for the war. Some further progress on the
Carso was made during the autumn, and great Italian victories were
announced in September, October, and November; but the Italians were
never within measurable distance of capturing the key of the Carso at
the Hermada, and Trieste was a very distant prospect until other
causes had brought about the collapse of the Hapsburg Empire. When at
the end of August Italy at last declared war on Germany, the course of
the war remained unaffected, and greater store was set on the
simultaneous intervention of the kindred Latin people of Rumanias (see
Map, p. 298).


                             CHAPTER XIII

                 THE BALKANS AND POLITICAL REACTIONS

The combined offensive of the Allies in 1916 was not limited to the
Russian, French, and Italian fronts, and there is a diplomatic story
that when the battle of the Somme seemed unlikely to produce the
fruits expected from it, pressure was put by one or more Western
Powers upon Rumania to intervene. The story was denied in the
interests of those Powers, and an alternative tale was told of a
sinister plot, engineered by the Russian Prime Minister, Stuermer, by
which Rumania was lured into the war in order that her defeat might
pave the way for her partition between the Hapsburg and Russian
Empires, Wallachia going to the one and Moldavia to the other. Both
explanations were relics of the suspicion engendered by the diplomacy
of the old regime rather than serious contributions to historical
truth; and, while the conduct of the masters and tyros of political
strategy was not calculated to render these fables incredible, there
were other circumstances more intimately connected with Rumania to
account for her action. After all, neither side was in August 1916 in
a position to dictate to neutrals; and the Rumanian Army counted for
too much in the delicate balance for any belligerent Power to invite
its hostility by undue pressure. The decision was Rumania's own, and
it was not unnatural. She had been on the eve of intervention more
than a year before, but German successes in 1915 had constrained her
to caution. By August 1916 it was clear that the Central Empires could
hope for no more than a negotiated peace, and Rumania had claims which
would only enter into the negotiation if she took part in the war.

Natural affinities left no doubt as to the side she would choose. Her
old king Carol, who had died on 10 October 1914, was a Hohenzollern,
though of the elder and Catholic line; but his successor was bred a
Rumanian and a constitutional monarch. There was also a pro-German and
anti-democratic party, led by Carp and Marghiloman and supported by
the landlords, which harped upon Rumania's grievances against Russia
and placed Bessarabia in the scales against Transylvania. But the
Rumanes across the Pruth were few compared with the four millions
across the Carpathians, and the hardships they shared with the
Russians at the hands of the Tsardom irked them less than those
injuries which the Magyars knew so well how to inflict on subject
nationalities under the cloak of equal rights and liberties. The
claims which Rumania might hope to enforce against a defeated Hapsburg
Empire would increase her population by more than 50 per cent and make
her territorially compact, while the gains she could get from Russia
would be less extensive and less homogeneous, and would leave her with
still more straggling frontiers. The cause was fairly clear; the
occasion was provided by the failure of the Germans at Verdun, the
success of Brussilov, the apparent likelihood of Turkey's collapse
before the Russian advance in Asia Minor, and the promise of an
Entente offensive from Salonika.

Turkey, indeed, had exhausted the credit she had won at Gallipoli and
Kut. She had not been able to convert the capture of Kut into an
advance down the Tigris; and on 19-20 May Gorringe had taken the key
to the Es Sinn position and cleared the south bank by an advance
towards the Shatt-el-Hai which would a month earlier have effected
Townshend's relief. Summer, indeed, procured a respite from British
attacks, but not from Russian progress in Asia Minor. On 15 July
Yudenitch captured Baiburt, and Erzinghian on the 25th (see Map, p.
182). A counter-offensive, which led to the temporary loss of Bitlis
and Mush, was nullified by a Russian thrust at Rayat on 25 August, and
Bitlis and Mush were recovered. Asia Minor seemed to be slipping from
Turkey's grasp, and her hold on Arabia was still more precarious. The
Arabs had never been patient subjects of the Sultan, and the
progressive vagaries of Young Turk infidels shocked the fidelity of
the orthodox people of Mecca. On 9 June its Grand Sherif proclaimed
Arab independence, occupied Jeddah, took Yambo, laid siege to Medina,
cut the Hedjaz railway, and was joined by tribes farther south who
captured Kandifah. An ineffectual Turkish effort to cope with this
rebellion postponed another projected attack on Egypt, and when it was
made in August it was crushed at Romani on the 3rd and 4th and the
Turkish retreat was turned into a rout.

Greece remained the most dubious factor in the Balkan situation. There
was no doubt where her interests lay, for the only two allies of the
Central Empires were Turkey and Bulgaria, one the ancient tyrant, and
the other the modern rival, of the Greeks. But Greece was divided in
mind between her faith in a brilliant future and her fear of German
success. Her king, with his Prussian queen and marshal's baton, was
interested in the success of the German Army and of the principle of
royal autocracy; and his wishes made him doubt the prospects of her
foes. Apart from the Court and official influence, he was given a hold
on his people by the fame which had been fathered on him in the Balkan
Wars of 1912-13 and the fable that he was another Constantine the
Great. So far his doubts seemed to have more justification than the
faith of Venizelos; and Greece had in return for her security put up
with an unconstitutional government and the shame of her broken
Serbian treaty. But the strain which Constantine put upon the patience
of his people reached the breaking-point in 1916. In May, acting under
his orders, Greek troops admitted the Bulgars into Forts Rupel and
Dragotin, the keys of the Struma Valley. Popular protests were made at
Salonika, where Constantine's writ did not run; and the Entente
retorted with a pacific blockade in June. But in spite of a shuffle of
ministers, the Court held on its pro-German way and did whatever it
could, by secret communications with Berlin and facilities for German
submarines, to hamper the Entente preparations for an offensive from
Salonika.

Early in August Sarrail, who was now commander-in-chief, ordered a
French attack on Doiran, and Doldjeli was taken. Probably this was no
more than a feint, for the real design was farther west, where the
Serbians under Prince Alexander were looking forward to Monastir.
Their offensive was anticipated by the Bulgars, who after some
pourparlers with Rumania, were induced or constrained by their German
masters to attack on the 17th. In the west Florina and Banitza were
seized on Greek territory, and on the east the whole of new Greece,
including Seres, Kavalla, and Demirhissar, as far as the Struma; the
Greek garrisons surrendered and were sent to Germany as the Kaiser's
guests (see Map, p. 151).

This was the last straw for the better part of Greece. Venizelos
addressed a mass meeting of protest at Athens on the 27th, and on the
30th a revolution broke out at Salonika under Colonel Zimbrakakis, the
Venizelist deputy for Seres. Regiments were enrolled for service
against Bulgaria, and one of them set out for the front on 22
September. On the 24th a similar movement swept over Crete; Mytilene,
Samos, and Chios and smaller Greek islands followed suit; and
Venizelos left Athens to form with Admiral Condouriotes and General
Danglis a provisional government of insurgent Greece at Salonika. It
was grudgingly recognized by the Entente and at once declared war on
Bulgaria. The mainland, south-west of Salonika, however, remained
under Constantine's control, and added to its hostility to the Entente
a murderous vendetta against the Venizelists. The militarist party
engaged in the curious campaign of forming leagues of reservists to
oppose a war which would involve their call to the colours, and a
succession of embarrassed phantoms was established in office to enable
the king to evade the demands of the Allies. They increased in
severity from the surrender of the fleet to that of the army's
batteries and then to its disbandment; but they were backed by
inadequate force and bungling diplomacy. On 1 December detachments of
Allied troops, landed at the Piraeus, were driven back with bloodshed,
and well into the new year the King continued to defy the Entente and
push Greece deeper into anarchy. On its side the Entente wished to
avoid a civil war, which would be almost worse than united enmity,
because it would preclude a naval blockade; but the principal cause of
its blunders was its own divided counsels. France and Great Britain
were stoutly Venizelist; but the Tsar had personal reasons for
dreading revolutions, particularly one against his cousin, and Italy
had no liking for that greater Greece which was represented by
Venizelos, might become a rival in the eastern Mediterranean, and
would certainly reclaim the Dodecanese from its Italian masters.

                      The Rumanian Campaign

Amid these scenes of Hellenic turmoil Sarrail strove to prosecute his
offensive in aid of Rumania. The die had been cast by the northern
kingdom on 27 August, and on the 28th Rumanian troops poured over the
Carpathian passes into Transylvania. This direction of Rumanian
strategy was severely criticized because it did not suit our Balkan
plans. Bulgaria was the foe we had in view, and Rumania, it was said,
should have launched her armies across the Danube in an effort to cut
the corridor and join hands with Sarrail. The criticism was unjust for
other reasons than the fact that in the treaty signed on 16 August it
was stipulated that the principal aim of Rumanian action should be in
the direction of Buda-Pesth. Sarrail's objective was Monastir, an
eccentric route to Sofia or the Danube, and the British troops along
the Struma were not cast for the part of an advance towards Rumania.
Bulgaria, moreover, was not yet Rumania's enemy, and had shown signs
of remaining neutral. Nor is a strategical motive ever an adequate
reason for making war; there must be a political justification, and
the grounds for Rumania's intervention was the injury suffered by the
Rumanian population in Hungary and Transylvania. She had no quarrel
with Bulgaria on the score of national rights; indeed, it was rather
she who ruled over Bulgars in the Dobrudja, and a Rumanian war could
only be defended in principle as a crusade to redeem the Rumania
irredenta north of the Carpathians. Even had it been her business to
pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the Entente, it might be urged
that she did her part in opening the door for a Russian attack on
Bulgaria. In 1915 the Russian reason for non-fulfilment of the threats
of punishment for Bulgarian treason to the Slav cause had been the
obstacle of Rumanian territory. That was now removed; and a Russian
advance through the Dobrudja would not only have saved Rumania from
Mackensen's envelopment, but have given effect to Russia's menace
against Bulgaria, facilitated Sarrail's operations, cut the corridor,
and isolated Turkey. Of all the strategic failures in the war none was
more tragic than this which was imposed upon Russia, partly by her
internal weakness and partly by her divergent ambitions in Asia Minor.
The Rumanian advance across the Carpathians would have been sound
enough strategically as well as politically, had it been properly
supported by her huge but unreliable neighbour.

The Central Empires were preparing but unprepared, and the Rumanian
attack prospered brilliantly at first. Apart from the political
object, there was the strategic purpose of improving Rumania's
defences. Her own frontier--over 700 miles in length--was even worse
than Italy's because of its circular configuration; the enemy, with
the interior lines, military railways, and easier approaches to the
passes, could strike from the centre at any one or more of a dozen
alternative points and could shift his attack from one to another
flank in a fraction of the time it would take Rumania to transport her
forces to meet it. She had no lateral lines for her northern frontier,
and of the vertical lines only two went up to the passes. If, however,
she could reach the Maros, she would not only straighten her line and
shorten it by half, but deprive her enemies of their railway and other
strategic advantages. On that line she might hope to resist the
Teutonic counter-offensive and protect her territory, which would have
been left defenceless if her armies had gone south to invade Bulgaria.
For a fortnight all went well; the enemy troops in Transylvania were
few, inferior, and unreliable, and one Czech battalion went over to
the invaders. By 10 September Kronstadt and Orsova had been taken,
Hermannstadt evacuated, and Hatszeg was in danger; at points the
Rumanians had advanced some fifty miles, and the Maros line seemed
almost in their grasp.

The appearance was delusive. Germany declared war on 28 August, Turkey
on the 30th, and Bulgaria on 1 September. But the real danger did not
come from Bulgaria, and it would have been at least as serious if
Rumania had invited attack by declaring war on Bulgaria herself, and
thus exceeding the requirements of the treaty of 16 August. It came
from Germany, and was as little foreseen by Rumania's critics as by
her Government. That Germany should have divisions to spare for
another Balkan campaign after Verdun, and while the battle of the
Somme and Brussilov's offensive were at their height, amazed the
Entente Powers, and was, indeed, quite inconsistent with the versions
of those campaigns to which they had given currency. Yet it was true:
besides an Alpine corps of Bavarians, Germany sent no fewer than eight
divisions to the Carpathians, and put Von Falkenhayn at their head.
She also sent a lavish supply of guns, munitions, and aeroplanes to
which Rumania had not the wherewithal to reply. The promised Russian
supplies fell short, eaten up perhaps by Brussilov's requirements, and
partly, it was said, surreptitiously withheld in the interest of
Stuermer's treacherous design of a separate peace with Germany at
Rumania's expense. The first blow was struck by Mackensen, whose rapid
concentration of the German forces south of the Danube had not been
disturbed by the promised offensive from Salonika. The treaty had
fixed it for 20 August, but Sarrail's plans were betrayed by two of
his officers and conveyed through a Spanish diplomatist to the enemy;
possibly this was the cause of the Bulgar attack on the 17th, and
Sarrail did not move until 7 September. He did, however, detain the
three Bulgarian armies on the Salonika front, and Mackensen only had
the help of the fourth, which had all along watched the Rumanian
frontier.

On 1 September his forces invaded the Dobrudja and seized Dobritch,
Balchik, and Kavarna on the coast. On the 5th they captured Turtukai
on the Danube with an infantry division and a hundred guns. Silistria
farther down the river was thereupon evacuated, and on the 16th
Mackensen stood on the line Rasova-Kobadinu-Tuzla, a dozen miles from
the important railway running from Bukarest across the Tchernavoda
bridge to Constanza; Tchernavoda was the only bridge across the Danube
in the Balkans, and Constanza was Rumania's only Black Sea port. Here
the stipulated Russian three divisions, composed partly of Serbs who
had escaped into Rumania in 1915 and of Jugo-Slavs taken prisoners by
the Russians from the Austrian forces, came to Rumania's assistance;
and Mackensen was not only held, but driven back some fifteen miles.
Falkenhayn, north of the Carpathians, disposed of greater strength,
and during the latter half of September the Rumanians were steadily
driven out of their conquests. A great feat of the Bavarian Alpine
Corps was the capture on the 26th of the Roterturm Pass in the rear of
the First Rumanian Army; elsewhere the retreat was carried out with
skill, valour, and comparatively slight losses, and Falkenhayn found
it no easy task to break the Carpathian barrier despite the advantages
he possessed in every kind of equipment and in the experience of his
men. But for the paralysis which overcame the Russian effort in the
Carpathians he would have had the tables turned upon him, for no
advance would have been possible against the Rumanian frontier had his
flank been seriously threatened by the Russians from Jablonitza to the
Borgo. Indeed, with a little more energy on the part of the Russian
Government the Central Empires might have encountered in Transylvania
a greater disaster than had yet befallen them. The Russian excuse was
that their liabilities to Rumania involved an awkward extension of
their front, yet it was Russia which had put most pressure on Rumania
to intervene; and no account was taken of the huge extension of the
Teutonic front achieved by that intervention, nor of the fate which
Russia might have suffered if Falkenhayn and Mackensen had
concentrated in the north the forces they led against Rumania. The
relief which Russia secured thereby almost seems to support the
sinister view of Stuermer's policy.

It was not until 10 October that the northern Rumanian armies were
forced back to the Moldavian border; and all Falkenhayn's efforts to
debouch from the central passes towards Bukarest were defeated by
Rumanian valour. Nor was he more successful against Moldavia, and
November arrived with its promise of snow to block the mountain-routes
before he had advanced more than four miles into Rumanian territory.
Mackensen, too, was held up in the Dobrudja, and a month's inactivity
was only relieved by rival raids across the Danube. But by 20 October
he had received reinforcements in the shape of two Turkish divisions
and one German. The Russo-Rumanian line was broken, and on the 21st
the railway between Constanza and Tchernavoda. Constanza was abandoned
on the 22nd, its stores of oil and wheat being burned, and on the 25th
a span of the great bridge at Tchernavoda was blown up by the
retreating Rumanians, while the Russians hastily withdrew thirty-five
miles to Babadagh. Here on 1 November Sakharov arrived to take the
command with several new divisions, for Alexeiev did his best to
redeem the failings of his Government, and a counter-offensive was
begun. On the 9th Sakharov recaptured Hirsova, and by the 15th he had
advanced to within seven miles of Mackensen's lines defending the
Constanza railway. But he was too late, for the Rumanian defence which
had held north and south in the central zone was crumbling fast in the
western salient.

Having failed along the direct route to Bukarest, Falkenhayn now
concentrated his efforts on the passes west of the Törzburg; but he
had little success in October. Two columns which crossed the mountains
east of the Roterturm Pass and made for Salatrucul were flung back
with heavy losses on the 18th, and Falkenhayn transferred his main
attack to the Vulcan Pass still farther west. But he kept up his
pressure from the Roterturm down the Aluta valley in order to detain
there the Rumanian reinforcements which the extension of Lechitsky's
line into Moldavia had released for service in the West; and in the
first week of November his troops were threatening Rymnik. But south
of the Vulcan they had come to grief at Targul Jiu, where on 27
October General Dragalina, with inferior numbers and artillery, won
the most brilliant success of the campaign. Unfortunately he died of
his wounds on 9 November, and with fresh reinforcements and guns the
Germans under Falkenhayn's eyes resumed their advance on the 10th.
Their progress was stubbornly contested, but on the 21st they entered
Craiova on the main Rumanian railway, thus cutting off the western
part of Rumania from the capital and isolating the army defending
Orsova and Turnu Severin. Presently it was surrounded, but for nearly
three weeks of gallant effort and romantic adventure it eluded its
fate and only surrendered at Caracalu on 7 December after the fall of
Bukarest.

Craiova was bad enough, but almost worse was to follow; for on 23
November Mackensen succeeded in forcing the passage of the Danube
beween Samovit and Sistovo, and by the 27th he effected a junction
with Falkenhayn's armies which had swung east and were now across the
Aluta advancing on Bukarest. The Rumanians' flanks were thus both
turned by the crossing of the mountain passes and of the Danube, and
they had no option but a rapid retreat to a line where those flanks
held firm. That line did not cover the capital, and its elaborate
forts would have been merely a trap for the Rumanian army.
Nevertheless, a brave and skilful attempt was made to save it by a
manoeuvre battle, and hopes were entertained in allied countries that
Rumania was about to repeat the success of the Marne. The success
could only come later when Averescu had flanks as secure as Joffre's.
Still a wedge was for the moment driven between Mackensen and
Falkenhayn's centre, and the movement might have succeeded had the
reserves been up to time. Bukarest fell on the 5th, and for the rest
of the year the Germans continued their progress eastwards until the
Russo-Rumanian forces were able to stand on a line formed by the
Danube, the Sereth, and the Putna ascending to the Oitos Pass.
Sakharov had been forced to withdraw from the Dobrudja, and all that
was left of Rumania was its Moldavian province, less than one-third of
the kingdom, with its capital near the Russian frontier at Jassy.

Sarrail's campaign in the south provided inadequate compensation. The
part assigned to the British contingents under General Milne, which
had taken over the front from the Vardar eastwards past Doiran and
down the Struma to the sea, was the somewhat thankless one of pinning
the Bulgars to that sector and preventing them from reinforcing the
threatened line in the west. The various British attacks on villages
east of the Struma, such as Nevolien, Jenikoi, Prosenik, and
Barakli-Djuma, were thus merely raids, and the ground gained was soon
evacuated for tactical or sanitary reasons. The serious offensive was
towards Monastir, and the lion's part was played by the Serbian army
with assistance from the French and a moderate Russian contingent;
Italians from Avlona also fought occasionally. The Bulgarian offensive
from Monastir in August had penetrated far into Greek territory,
patrols even reaching Kailar, and it threatened, indeed, to turn
Sarrail's left wing by an advance to the shores of the Gulf of
Salonika when Sarrail began his attack on 7 September. The first
serious fighting took place to the west of Lake Ostrovo, where on the
14th the Serbians captured Ekshisu. On the 20th they stormed Mount
Kaymakchalan and recovered a footing on Serbian territory, while the
French and Russians drove the Bulgars out of Florina. On the 29th,
after furious Bulgarian counter-attacks, the Serbian general Mishitch
descended the mountains towards the bend of the Tcherna river, and
turning the left flank of the Bulgar-Germanic army forced it back to
the lines at Kenali beyond the Greek frontier. These had been selected
by Mackensen and strongly fortified, and a frontal attack by the
French and Russians on 14 October broke down (see Map, p. 151).

Better success attended the Serbian efforts to turn the enemy flank.
By 5 October they had secured the crossing of the Tcherna at Brod, and
slowly they pushed across it. Bad weather delayed them for a month,
but by 15 November Mishitch had mastered the river bend from Iven to
Bukri; and, thus outflanked on their left, the enemy yielded to the
Franco-Russian attacks on Kenali and retreated to the Bistritza, four
miles from Monastir. On the 16th and 17th the Serbians again attacked
on the mountains in the Tcherna bend, carried the Bulgar positions,
and by the 19th had reached Dobromir and Makovo whence they threatened
the line of retreat from Monastir to Prilep. On that day the Germans
and Bulgars moved out of and the Allies into Monastir. Their position
was further improved before the end of the year, and it is said that
had Mishitch been allowed the use of reserves, Prilep would also have
fallen and Monastir been spared the annoying bombardment which it
suffered at intervals for nearly two years. For its capture marked the
limit of Entente success in that sphere until the closing months of
the war. The campaign had not been fruitless, for Greece had been
saved as a brand from the burning, and presently did her part in the
Allied cause. But the Balkan corridor had been expanded by the
Rumanian disaster into a solid block, and revolution in Russia soon
put an end to all threats from the north. The hopes that were built on
Salonika were destined to remain in abeyance until events in September
1918 justified the faith of those who refused to abandon the Balkans.

The Rumanian disaster was, however, a severe trial to the confidence
and the patience of public opinion. Some critics held that the war had
been lost in that campaign; but it was a worthier sentiment than
pessimism that gave edge to popular feeling against the Government.
Official optimism had not concealed the indecisiveness of the Somme,
and few had the vision to discern the deferred dividends which accrued
as a bonus to other ministers in the spring. But disappointment with
the achievements on the Somme was not so bitter as resentment at the
failure in Rumania. Was friendship with the Entente doomed always to
be fatal to little peoples? One more trusting nation had gone the way
of Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro, and the blow to our self-respect
was keenly felt. The public had little knowledge of the real
responsibility, but where knowledge is rare suspicion is rife; and a
vicarious victim is always required when the actual culprit is out of
reach. Englishmen could exact no responsibility for whatever befell in
the war except from their own responsible Government; and few paused
to reflect that if Russia could not protect her immediate neighbour,
England and France could not save a State from which they were
completely cut off both by land and sea. Nor was it open for those who
knew the facts to make public comment on the conduct of an ally, and
compulsory silence on the part of truth made all the more audible the
malicious tongue of slander. Belgium may have been our affair, but the
Balkans were that of Russia; and not the wildest of Jingoes before the
war had dreamt of British forces protecting Rumania. It was indeed the
very distance of the danger that induced and enabled us to indulge in
recrimination against the Government; for when eighteen months later a
greater and far more preventable disaster threatened us nearer home,
public sense rose superior to the temptation and temper of 1916, and
instead of attacking ministers the nation bent its undivided and
uncomplaining energies to the task of supporting and helping them out
of their dilemma.

In the autumn of the Rumanian reverse there was no peril so imminent
in the West as to impose unity upon public opinion, the press, or
aspiring politicians. The advance on the Somme had been slow, but it
was the Germans who were in retreat; the German Navy had been
demoralized at Jutland; and Germany's only retaliation had been the
judicial murder of Captain Fryatt on 27 July on a charge of having
defended himself against a submarine. Nine-tenths of Germany's last
and greatest colony had been overrun, and German forces oversea
reduced to hiding in unhealthy swamps in a corner of East Africa;
while across the Sinai desert and up the banks of the Tigris were
creeping those railways which were to lead to the conquest of Syria
and Mesopotamia. Two German raids in the dark on the Channel flotilla
and the recrudescence of German submarine activity had, indeed,
provoked some criticism of the Admiralty, and the substitution of
Jellicoe for Sir Henry Jackson as First Sea Lord had been already
decided. But the menace of the Zeppelins, which had earlier stirred
indignation in breasts unmoved by dangers at the front, had been met
when on 2 and 23 September, 1 October, and 27 November successive
raiders were destroyed with all their crews by incendiary bullets from
aeroplanes; and the Zeppelin had ceased to worry the public mind. The
aircraft policy of the Government had been vindicated by a judicial
committee in the summer, and the German mechanical superiority in the
air which was foreshadowed by the advent of the Fokker had not
survived the subsequent improvements in British construction; while
the exploits of Captain Ball put those of every German airman into the
shade.

Impatience and pinpricks were, indeed, the causes of popular
irritation, rather than any such crisis as those of the autumn of 1914
or the spring of 1918. Such irritants are, however, apt to provoke
more resentment and provide more scope for recrimination than the
stunning blows of national disaster; and in the autumn of 1916 the
people felt less need of restraint than in the more perilous moments
of the war. The discontent was not due to any particular causes, nor
was it confined to any particular country. It was a malaise produced
by the fact that the war was lasting longer and costing more than
people had expected, and by popular reluctance to believe that Britons
could not have beaten the Germans sooner but for the feebleness of
their leaders. The public needed a stimulant other than that which
mere prudence could provide; and catch-penny journals, having hunted
in vain for a dictator, found at least a victim in the Cabinet of
twenty-three. It was not an ideal body for prompt decision, and its
chief seemed almost as slow at times to take action that was necessary
as he was to commit the irretrievable blunders urged on him by his
journalistic mentors, who thought the wisdom of a step immaterial
provided it was taken at once. He had other qualities which
disqualified him for popular favour in a time of popular passion. He
was not emotional, and did not respond to the varying moods of the
hour with the versatility demanded by the experts in daily sensation.
He belonged to an older school of politicians who suffered, like our
armies in the field, from the newer and possibly more scientific
methods of their foes. He was scrupulous in his observance of accepted
rules of conduct, and the charge which was pressed against him most
was that of excessive loyalty. He did not intrigue against his
colleagues for newspaper support, nor publicly criticize his
Government's commanders in the field. He put what success his Cabinet
achieved to its common credit, and took the chief responsibility for
its failures himself. He was staid in adversity but slow in
advertisement, and he did not figure in the cinema.

Mr. Lloyd George was the antithesis of his former leader, a Celt of
the Celts, with all their amazing emotion, versatility, and intuition.
There is a true story, which has even found its way into French
literature, of how the Welshmen were stirred to defeat an
all-conquering New Zealand football team by the strains of the "Land
of my Fathers." That was the sort of tonic the British public found in
Mr. Lloyd George, and it would not have been so much to their taste at
a less emotional time. He was the very embodiment of an emotion that
was not overburdened with scruples, and of an impulse which hardly
troubled to think. He imported the temperament and the methods of the
religious revivalist into the practice of politics, and he enlisted
strange allies when he found a vehicle for his patriotic fervour in
the language of the prize-ring. He prided himself on his aptitude for
political strategy, and professed a sympathy with the mind of the man
in the street which was keener even than that of Lord Northcliffe. His
views were always short-sighted, and he had the most superficial
knowledge of the deeper problems of war and politics. Before the war
broke out he had complained that we were building Dreadnoughts against
a phantom; in August 1914 he estimated our daily expenditure of
three-quarters of a million as a diminishing figure; in the following
April he was as much in the dark as Mr. Asquith himself about
munitions, and denied that conscription would assist our success in
the war. According to one of his colleagues, he was the only member of
his Cabinet who favoured British participation in the Pacifist
Conference of Stockholm; in the November before the great German
offensive in the West he quoted with approval a plea for concentration
at Laibach; and the views he expressed on the Salonika expedition
varied with the fortunes of war and the fluctuations of popular
favour. His remark after the armistice that we had achieved nothing in
the time of his predecessor except two defeats at the hands of the
Turks, was an epitome of his own intellectual limitations; and the
intensity of his convictions was discounted by the infirmity of his
principles.

There were, however, substantial reasons for the supplanting of Mr.
Asquith by Mr. Lloyd George. Political failings like these and lapses
like the Marconi scandal might well be forgiven the man who could get
on with the war, or at least persuade the people of its progress. The
man in the street really believed that after the change of government
the war would soon be won, and subscribed with enthusiasm to a
"victory" loan calculated to finance a triumph in eight months. Cooler
observers discerned a solid advantage in a Prime Minister who could
minister at once to the public demands in the rival spheres of speech
and action, who could appease with words the popular clamour for the
moon and yet be guided by others into the mundane paths of practical
common sense. There was at the moment an abnormal dislocation between
public opinion and actual possibilities. The harsh amalgam of
democratic politics and war seemed to demand an adaptable Premier; he
was ex-officio and par excellence the pivotal man, and circumstances
required a liberal amount of lubrication and elasticity to ease the
friction and avert a fracture.

The genesis of the movement which led to the Cabinet crisis of the
first week in December remains obscure, and the transference of power
was effected within the camarilla itself without so much as a
reference to the House of Commons and still less to the electorate.
The old system of Cabinet Government and collective responsibility
disappeared, and while ministers multiplied until they numbered
ninety, there was little connexion or cohesion between the endless
departments. They were all subject, however, to the control of the new
War Cabinet, which soon consisted, like the old War Committee, of
seven members. The old body of twenty-three was reduced to less than a
third its size for the purposes of supreme direction and deliberation,
and increased to twice its numbers for those of departmental
execution. The higher functions were still reserved for the
much-abused politicians; three of them had been members of the old War
Committee, and all of them, with the exception of General Smuts who
was recruited in June, had been members of the old Cabinet. So-called
business men were, however, admitted to departmental duties, though
the most striking successes were achieved by two ministers of academic
training, Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, President of the Board of Education,
and Mr. R. E. Prothero, President of the Board of Agriculture. Both
Navy and Army were entrusted to civilians for political reasons,
though one retired in July 1917, when the submarine campaign had
reached its zenith, and the other as a result of the German offensive
in March 1918. Deliberation had been the foible of the Asquith regime;
the characteristic of his successor's was the speed of its
versatility. The War Cabinet's agenda resembled nothing so much as a
railway time-table with ten minutes allowed on an average for the
decision of each supremely important question reserved for its
discussion; and departmental changes recurred with a rapidity which
was reminiscent of French governments in times of peace.

These bureaucratic revolutions were, however, faithful reflections of
the restlessness which overcame peoples in all belligerent countries
as the war lengthened and produced its logical trend towards anarchy;
for civilization cannot resist an unlimited strain put on it by its
negation, and there were symptoms of social dissolution throughout the
world in the later stages of the war. In Germany they were suppressed
for the time by a powerful government and delusions fostered by the
success of the Rumanian campaign; and the nation was stirred to a
levée-en-masse for national service, supplemented by labour or slave
raids in the occupied territories. But even in Germany the Chancellor
spoke of the need of peace, and was tottering to his fall. A greater
ruin was creeping towards the Russian Government, and in France a
series of stormy secret sessions in the Chamber left M. Briand with
the task of reconstructing his Government and reorganizing the high
command. Joffre was succeeded by Nivelle, and Briand himself was
driven from office four months later. In Austria a more violent fate
overtook the Premier, Count Sturgkh, who was murdered on 27 October,
and his successor Koerber was compelled to resign on 13 December.
Three weeks earlier the old Emperor Francis Joseph, who had ascended
the throne in the midst of the revolutions of 1848, passed away in
time to escape the greater desolation which threatened his empire. His
successor and great-nephew Charles could give no better security to
his ministries. Koerber was followed by Spitzmueller, and he, after a
few days by Clam-Martinitz, a Bohemian noble. Tisza's henchman Count
Burian gave way as Foreign Minister to the anti-Magyar Czernin, though
Tisza himself maintained his despotic sway in Hungary until his murder
in 1918.

This holocaust of European reputations did not extend across the
Atlantic to the neutral United States, where President Wilson, who had
only been chosen by a minority vote owing to the split between Taft
and Roosevelt in 1912, secured re-election by a narrow majority in a
straight fight with Mr. Hughes, the Republican candidate. Discerning
critics rejoiced at the issue of the contest; for apart from the
merits of the candidates, nothing could have been worse than a
practical interregnum during the coming crisis in the history of the
United States and of the world. Yet an interregnum there would have
been, if Mr. Wilson had been defeated; for he would still by the
American Constitution have remained in office till March, and as the
head of a vanquished party he would have had no moral authority to
deal with the German pleas for peace or their unrestricted campaign of
submarine war. The peace manoeuvre began with a letter which the
Kaiser wrote to his Chancellor at the end of October; it was made
public by the latter's speech in the Reichstag on 12 December. The
Allies were simply invited in the interests of humanity to discuss
terms at a conference with their conquering but magnanimous foe. On
the 18th President Wilson addressed an independent inquiry about their
aims to both groups of belligerents. The Allies replied to Germany on
the 30th and to President Wilson on 10 January, intimating that there
could be no peace without the reparation, restitution, and guarantees
which Germany was as yet determined to refuse.

The attitude of the Allies astonished no one but the Germans. On 11
January their Government issued a note to neutrals, and on the 12th
the Kaiser a proclamation to his people. Mr. Balfour also discussed
the situation in a persuasive dispatch to the United States. But the
most illuminating comment was made in private and came from humbler
quarters. A party of interned German officers in the Engadine were
eagerly awaiting the news of the Allied reply to the German offer.
When it arrived they could not conceal their amazement and chagrin;
some of them even burst into tears, and one remarked jetzt ist alles
verloren. While the Government of Great Britain was being dismissed
for having accomplished nothing in the war, intelligent Germans were
bemoaning that all was lost.


                             CHAPTER XIV

                         THE TURN OF THE TIDE

The German presentiment of disaster was justified by events in the
spring of 1917, and the new British Government seemed to have come in
on a flowing tide. In spite of the gloomy picture of the situation
which Mr. Lloyd George had drawn for his chief in December, confidence
in a speedy victory animated the appeal of his ministry for further
financial support; and in most of the spheres of war the first quarter
of 1917 saw the reaping of harvests sown by other hands. The deferred
dividends on the Somme campaign were paid, and the Germans fell back
from hundreds of square miles of French territory. Mesopotamia was
conquered as the result of the patient labours of Sir Charles Monro
and the brilliant strategy of Sir Stanley Maude, who had been
appointed in August 1916. The meagre German holding in East Africa was
further reduced; and even distressful Rumania put a stop to the German
advance.

Security for the Rumanian forces could not, however, be found short of
the Sereth, which would give them a straight line with the Russian
frontier protected by the impassable delta of the Danube on their
left, and a flank in the Carpathians on their right; and from the fall
of Bukarest to the end of December Averescu the Rumanian commander,
and Presan his chief of staff, retreated to this line fighting
rearguard battles on the way. The most stubborn of these was a four
days' conflict at Rimnic Sarat in the centre on 22-26 December, after
which Mackensen entered the town on the 27th. Sakharov conformed to
this retreat in the Dobrudja; on 4 January Macin, the last place east
and south of the Danube, was evacuated, and on the 5th Braila on the
opposite bank south of the Sereth and Danube confluence. On the 23rd
the Bulgarians, taking advantage of the unprecedented frost, crossed
the marshes at Tulcea, but were annihilated by the Rumanians on the
northern bank, and remained content for the rest with the defensive.
The same wintry conditions put an end to fighting at the other
extremity of the line in the Carpathian passes, but in the centre
Mackensen seized Focsani on the 8th and occupied the bank of the
Sereth. That line had originally been fortified against the Russians,
and it faced in the wrong direction; but the position was strong, and
when on the 19th Mackensen sought to force it he was repulsed in a
costly encounter. Russian reinforcements which might have saved
Wallachia came in time to protect Moldavia; and the war-worn Rumanian
army was retired to refit, the defence of the Sereth being left to the
Russians. The Germans made the most of their booty in Wallachia, which
suffered the fate of Belgium and of Serbia; though the stores of grain
had been burnt and the Rumanian oil-wells put out of action for many
months. In one respect Rumania was less fortunate than the other
little nations: in his fanatical hatred of Russia, Carp rejoiced in
her ally's defeat--albeit that country was his own--and Marghiloman
remained in Bukarest to curry favour with its conquerors, and
ultimately to become for a brief and discreditable period the Premier
whom the Germans imposed on Rumania after the Treaty of Bukarest.
Meanwhile the patriotic parties rallied round the ministry at Jassy
and formed a Coalition Government.

The defence of Rumania now seemed to occupy all the energy Russia
could spare from her domestic preoccupations. In January there was a
sound strategical effort to divert German attention from the south by
a counter-offensive from Riga, and an advance of some four miles was
made to Kalnzem. But the Germans soon recovered most of the ground;
and elsewhere the front was quiescent. There was no repetition of the
great blow at Erzerum of January 1916, and in Persia Baratov's small
but adventurous force was driven back by the Turks from Khanikin to
Hamadan, and the resistance to Turco-Teutonic invasion and intrigue
was left more and more to British effort. Co-operation seemed
impossible to synchronize in the East; one partner retreated whenever
the other advanced. While therefore the Russians halted in Asia Minor
and withdrew in Persia, Sir Stanley Maude was gathering his forces for
a spring on Baghdad. Gorringe had already in May 1916 advanced some
way up the right bank of the Tigris towards Kut; but summer forbade
active operations, and Maude had been duly impressed by the force
which previous experiences in Mesopotamia had given to the adage about
more haste and less speed. The autumn was spent in careful study and
preparation, which would preclude a repetition of the retreat from
Ctesiphon and the fall of Kut (see Map, p. 177).

By 12 December he was ready to attack. The Turks still held the
Sanna-i-Yat positions on the left bank of the Tigris, but on the right
they had been pushed back to a line running across the angle from the
Tigris at Magasis towards its southern tributary the Shatt-el-Hai. The
Turks under their German taskmasters had not been idle, and this
angle, as well as the extension of the Turkish line along the
Shatt-el-Hai and their secondary defences on the right bank of the
Tigris above Kut, had been well protected by trenches and wire
entanglements. The breaking down of these obstacles required stubborn
fighting as well as skilful tactics, but the only alternative was to
penetrate the Sanna-i-Yat positions and they had proved impregnable in
the spring. A serious attempt had, however, to be made at Sanna-i-Yat
in order to detain there a serious Turkish force; and while Marshall
pushed his way through on the right bank, Cobbe was kept hammering on
the left. On the 13th crossings of the Shatt-el-Hai were effected at
Atab and Basrugiyeh some eight miles from Kut, and Marshall advanced
on both banks to Kalah-Hadji-Fahan. On the 18th he reached a point on
the Tigris just below Kut in the Khadairi bend. Rain and floods then
impeded our advance for a month, but the Khadairi bend was gradually
cleared of the Turks, and most of their positions in the angle of the
Tigris and Shatt-el-Hai were taken. On 10 February Marshall pushed on
beyond the Shatt-el-Hai, reached the right bank of the Tigris above
the Shumran bend, and by the 16th forced the Turks in the Dahra bend
across the river.

The Turks had now been driven off the right bank below, in front of,
and far above Kut, but they held the left bank as far down as
Sanna-i-Yat, and Maude's task was to find a way across. He chose the
Shumran bend, but diverted the attention of the Turks by thrusting at
Sanna-i-Yat from 17 to 22 February. On the 22nd he also made feints to
cross at Magasis and Kut, but on the 23rd the real attack was made at
Shumran. Troops were ferried across and a bridge built before evening,
and on the 24th the Turks were driven back on to their lines of
communication between Baghdad and Kut. Meanwhile Cobbe had forced six
enemy lines at Sanna-i-Yat and then found the remainder deserted. The
Turks were in full retreat towards Baghdad, and Cobbe entered Kut
unopposed. The pursuit was taken up by Marshall, who reached Azizieh
in four days. There he halted till 5 March to prepare for his final
advance. On the 6th he passed deserted trenches at Ctesiphon, and on
the 7th reached the Diala. For two days the Turks disputed the
passage, but a force, transported to the right bank of the Tigris,
enfiladed their position on the Diala and captured their trenches at
Shawa Khan on the 9th. Our forces on both sides of the river entered
Baghdad on the 11th, thus concluding a model campaign which reflected
glory alike on the British and Indian troops engaged and on their
commanders, and raised British prestige in the East higher than it had
been before the fall of Kut.

The work of our armies in Egypt was less sensational, but it was
making solid progress and laying firm foundations during the autumn of
1916. The Grand Sherif of Mecca was proclaimed king of the Hedjaz, and
he was a thorn in the side of the Turks. Their defeat at Romani had
been followed by the steady construction of a railway eastward across
the desert from Kantara, and on 20 December El Arish was captured,
while on the 23rd the Turks who had fled south-east to Magdhaba were
there surrounded and forced to surrender. The success was repeated at
Rafa on the Palestine frontier a fortnight later, and presently the
whole Sinai peninsula was cleared of the enemy forces (see Map, p.
352). Early in February a final blow was struck on the western
frontiers of Egypt at the Senussi, and Egypt was converted from an
enemy objective into a fruitful basis of operations against the
Turkish Empire. Whatever might be said for frontal attacks in the west
of Europe, ways round were proved to be the shortest in the East, and
the failure of the direct blow at Turkey's heart in the Dardanelles
was redeemed by success along the circuitous routes through Egypt and
Mesopotamia.

Among the other forgotten achievements of the first two and a half
years of the war was the completion, chiefly by British arms, of the
establishment in the African continent of Entente and mainly British
supremacy. For even before the Turks had been driven from the
frontiers of Egypt the Germans had been expelled from all the
important parts of East Africa. The progress had been slow and not
very creditable to our earlier efforts, which failed through an
underestimate of the German strength, and particularly of the skill
and resource of the German commander Von Lettow-Vorbeck. But it was
sound as well as inevitable strategy to make sure of what we had by
suppressing rebellion in the South African Union and then securing its
frontiers by the conquest of its German neighbour before proceeding to
concentrate forces for an offensive against an isolated German
stronghold which could not threaten any essential interest nor affect
the main struggle for victory in the war. The case against divergent
operations was strongest of all against the East African campaign; and
it would have been criminal folly for the sake of amour propre or
imperial expansion to diminish our safeguards against a German victory
in the West, or weaken the defence of our threatened communications
with Egypt and India. Von Lettow-Vorbeck had forces enough to hold his
own, but he never even attempted the conquest of British East Africa
or the Belgian Congo, and the most nervous anticipation could not
picture him as a serious danger to other dominions.

                   The Conquest Of East Africa

He was therefore left very much to himself until the South African
Union, having set its own house in order and secured its frontiers by
expelling German rule from the southern part of the continent, was
able to lend its military power and its generalship to the task of
reducing the Germans in East Africa. It was formidable enough, not so
much from the opposition of man as because of the obstacles nature
placed in the way. A tropical climate, torrential rains which played
havoc with transport, the tzetze-fly which slew beasts of burden in
hundreds of thousands, impenetrable forests, impassable swamps,
immense mountain masses, and an area almost as large as Central
Europe, provided a problem as vast as that of the great Boer War, and
more difficult of solution but for the fact that Von Lettow-Vorbeck's
forces could not be compared with those of our past antagonists and
present allies. Still they were far more dangerous than any we had
encountered in our normal wars against native races; for they had been
trained by German officers, experts with machine guns and the other
scientific equipment of civilized conflict; and three ships at least
had eluded the blockade and relieved Von Lettow-Vorbeck's most
pressing need of munitions; and he had selected his coloured troops
from the hardiest and most bellicose of the native tribes. With their
help he had kept the German colony intact until 1916, and even held at
Taveta an angle of British East Africa.

Smith-Dorrien had been selected for the command in the autumn of 1915,
but ill-health prevented him from taking it up, and in February 1916
General Smuts arrived at Mombasa to conduct the campaign. Experience
had made us shy of enforced landings from the sea; and rejecting the
idea of seizing as bases Tanga or Dar-es-Salaam, which would have
given him shorter lines of communication with the Cape, Smuts adopted
the more circuitous route by the railway from Mombasa, with the design
of forcing the gap below Kilimanjaro and driving the Germans
southwards, while British and Belgian subsidiary forces impinged upon
the enemy's flank from the Lakes, the Congo State, and Nyasa in the
west. His advance began on 5 March and Taveta was occupied on the
10th. A frontal attack on the pass between Kilimanjaro and the Pare
mountains savoured rather of British than Boer methods, and Smuts
preferred to send Van Deventer round the north of Kilimanjaro to turn
the German position from Longido and cut off their escape. Van
Deventer was successful, and at Moschi blocked the Germans' retreat
westwards; they managed, however, to slip away south-eastwards by Lake
Jipe, but the Kilimanjaro massif had been cleared, and Smuts
established his headquarters at Moschi. His force was now arranged in
three divisions, the first under Hoskins, the second under Van
Deventer, and the third under Brits; the first consisted of British
and Indian troops, the two others of South African. The plan was to
strike with the second division from Moschi towards Kondoa Irangi and
thence at the German central railway, while the first and third
cleared the Pare and Usambara mountains and the coast, and then
marched on Handeni and threatened the central railway on a parallel
line to Van Deventer's attack. Van Deventer's second division marched
with almost incredible speed. He started from Aruscha on 1 April, and
by the 19th had driven the Germans from Kondoa Irangi, more than a
hundred miles away. In May and June the other divisions cleared the
Pave and Usambara mountains, reached Handeni and Kangata, and with
naval assistance occupied Tanga, Pangani, Sadani Bay, and Bagamoyo in
July and August almost without opposition. Von Lettow-Vorbeck had
transferred the bulk of his troops south and then westwards up the
central railway to bar Van Deventer's progress; and in the process he
had been forced to abandon the north-eastern quarter of the colony. No
small part of the north-western province of Ruanda had been lost as
well: the Belgians had occupied Kigali and the British had driven the
Germans from their shore of Lake Victoria Nyanza.

The rapidity and divergence of these attacks, which were admirably
timed, distracted Von Lettow-Vorbeck's strategy, and in spite of his
interior lines he was unable to offer successful resistance. No sooner
did he send troops to bar Smuts' advance from Kangata into the Nguru
hills than Van Deventer struck west, south, and south-east from Kondoa
Irangi. To the west he took Singida, thus getting behind the Germans
on Lake Tanganyika; to the south and south-east he got astride the
central railway by 14 July and pushed down it eastwards to Kilossa,
which he reached on 22 August. He was now almost due south the Nguru
hills, whence Smuts, attacking from the north, had driven the Germans
before the middle of August. This converging advance made Mrogoro the
only line of retreat, and Smuts planned a complicated outflanking
movement to intercept it. They escaped by a track unknown to our
forces on the 26th, and prepared to stand south of the central railway
in the Ulunguru hills. Smuts was too quick for them, but they repelled
a badly-timed attack at Kissaki on 6 September. Their retreat had,
however, made the coast untenable: on 3 September the capital
Dar-es-Salaam surrendered, and all the remaining ports before the end
of the month. Van Deventer, too, had pressed south to the Ruaha on the
10th, the Belgians occupied Tabora on the 19th, and General Northey,
advancing from Nyasa in the south-west, had reached Iringa before the
end of August, while some Portuguese troops crossed the Rovuma river,
the frontier between German East Africa and Mozambique, and made a
pretence of marching north. By the end of September the great German
colony had been conquered save for the unhealthy south-eastern corner,
where only the Mahenge plateau provided a decent habitation for white
troops.

The campaign had, however, tried the health and endurance of our
forces, and three months' respite was now taken for recuperation and
reinforcement before the final task of eradicating the Germans from
the remnants of their territory. The great difficulty was that, apart
from the Mahenge plateau, they were not rooted to any spot, and their
elusiveness was illustrated by the fact that the Tabora garrison
evaded the encircling forces and joined Von Lettow-Vorbeck at Mahenge.
The campaign reopened on 1 January 1917, and consisted of a converging
attack on Mahenge by Hoskins from Kilwa on the coast, by Northey from
Lupembe, by Van Deventer from Iringa, and by Beves and subsidiary
forces from north of the Rufigi. Smuts was summoned on the 29th to
England to take part in the imperial conference, and Hoskins succeeded
to the chief command. Unprecedented rains impeded our operations;
progress became slow, and remained so after Van Deventer replaced
Hoskins at the end of May. Not till October was Mahenge occupied by
the Belgians. On 26 November half of the German forces under Von
Lettow-Vorbeck's lieutenant Tafel were forced to surrender between
Mahenge and the Rovuma; but Von Lettow himself escaped across the
frontier with sufficient troops to terrorize the Portuguese and
maintain himself in their territory until the end of the war.

The victor in the East African campaign came in 1917 to a Europe where
victory seemed also on the way, for the early spring saw the only
German retreat of moment until the war was near its end. The battles
of the previous September had convinced the Germans that their line
upon the Somme was barely tenable, and they had employed the winter
pause to perfect the shorter and better line upon which they had begun
to work at Michaelmas. Possibly it was to frustrate these preparations
that Haig reopened his campaign so early as he did. On 11 January, the
day on which the Allies answered President Wilson's note, British
troops began to nibble at the point of the salient on the Ancre which
had been created by the battle of the Somme. It was a modest sort of
offensive; for it was no part of the Allies' combined plan of
operations, which had been settled in conference during November, to
launch a first-class attack across the devastated battlefield of the
Somme. That wasted area was as effective a barrier as a chain of Alps
to military pressure, and the Germans were thus left free to withdraw
from their salient without much risk of disaster. They did not
contemplate any serious stand, and until the Allies were ready to
strike at the flanks of their position the Germans could afford to
retreat at a pace which was not seriously hustled by our advance. They
showed as much promptitude, foresight, and skill in retirement as they
had done in their advance; they suffered few casualties and had no
appreciable loss in guns or prisoners.

The details of the movement were therefore of little moment, and owed
the attention they attracted to the habit of measuring progress in war
by miles marked on a map. It was the end of January before the
preliminary operation of clearing the Beaumont-Hamel spur was
completed, and the apparently substantial advance began with the fall
of Grandcourt on 7 February. A more ambitious attack on Miraumont from
the south of the Ancre was somewhat disconcerted on the 17th by a
German bombardment of our troops as they assembled, although the night
was dark and misty; for even in France the Germans found spies to work
for them, and a number of executions for treachery failed to prevent
knowledge of our plans from occasionally reaching the enemy. A week
later the German retreat extended, and Warlencourt, Pys, Miraumont,
and Serre were evacuated. Again the Germans stopped for a time to
breathe, and it was not till 10 March that Irles, a bare mile from
Miraumont, was abandoned. By that time the Germans had only rearguards
and patrols left either north or south of the Somme, and when on the
17th a general Allied advance was ordered it encountered little
resistance. The area of the German withdrawal had spread over a front
of a hundred miles from Arras in the north to Soissons in the south.
On that day British troops occupied Bapaume, while the French, whose
line we had taken over as far as the river Avre, proceeded to liberate
scores of villages between it and the Aisne. On that day, too, by one
of the apparent illogicalities of French politics, M. Briand's
Cabinet, which had held office for the unusual period of eighteen
months, resigned.

The German tide rolled sullenly and slowly back for another fortnight.
Péronne, Nesle, and Chaulnes fell on the 18th, Chauny and Ham on the
19th, and on the 20th French cavalry were within five miles of St.
Quentin. By the end of March the British line ran from a mile in front
of Arras to the Havrincourt wood, some seven miles from Cambrai, and
thence southwards to Savy, less than two miles from St. Quentin.
Thence the French line ran to Moy on the Sambre canal, behind La Fère,
which the Germans had flooded, and through the lower forest of St.
Gobain to the plateau north-east of Soissons. The German resistance
had gradually stiffened, and there was a good deal of local fighting
in the first week of April while the Allies were testing the strength
of the positions behind which the Germans had taken shelter. We called
them the Hindenburg lines, and believed that the Germans had so named
them to give them a nominal invincibility which they did not possess
in fact. In Germany they were known as the Siegfried lines, a name
which properly only applied to the sector between Cambrai and La Fère
which was also protected by the St. Quentin canal. That was the front
of the new German position; its flanks rested on the Vimy Ridge to the
north, and on the St. Gobain forest and the Chemin des Dames to the
south. It was a better and shorter line than that which the battles of
1914 had left to the combatants without much choice on either side,
and the Germans were right enough in claiming that the Hindenburg
lines were selected by themselves. Their retreat thereto was not,
however, a matter of choice except in so far as they preferred it to
the disaster which would otherwise have overtaken them in their more
exposed positions. As a retreat the movement could hardly have been
more successfully carried out; but the military distinction was marred
by moral disgrace. For destruction was pushed to the venomous length
of maiming for years the orchards of the peasantry in the abandoned
territory. The crime may have been no more than a characteristic
expression of militarist malevolence and stupidity; but it may also
have been calculated to bar the path to peace by agreement and to
force on the German people the choice, as a Junker expressed it later,
between victory and hell.

The success of the German withdrawal discounted our spring offensive,
not because any attack was designed on the Somme, but because the
Hindenburg lines and the desert before them gave that part of the
German front a security which enabled the German higher command to
divert reserves from its defence to that of the threatened wings. Here
preparations had been begun by both the French and the British before
the German retreat, and it had barely reached its limit when on Easter
Monday, 9 April, Haig attacked along the Vimy Ridge and in front of
Arras. Since 21 March a steady bombardment had been destroying the
German wire defences and harassing their back areas, and in the first
days of April it rose to the pitch which portended an attack in force.
Since the battle of Loos in September 1915 our front had sagged a
little, and points like the Double Crassier had been recovered by the
Germans. So, too, the French capture of the Vimy heights, which had
been announced in May that year, proved something of a fairy tale, and
in April 1917 our line ran barely east of Souchez, Neuville, and the
Labyrinth. It was held by Allenby's Third Army, which joined Gough's
Fifth just south of Arras, and by Horne's First, which extended
Allenby's left from Lens northwards to La Bassee. The Germans had
three lines of defences for their advanced positions, and then behind
them the famous switch line which hinged upon the Siegfried line at
Quéant and ran northwards to Drocourt, whence quarries and slag-heaps
linked it on to Lens (see Maps, pp. 79, 302). This line had not been
finished at the beginning of April, and hopes were no doubt
entertained that complete success in the battle of Arras, reinforced
by Nivelle's contemplated offensive on the Chemin des Dames, would
break these incomplete defences and thus turn the whole of the
Hindenburg lines.

At dawn on Easter Monday the British guns broke out with a bombardment
which marked another stage in the growing intensity of artillery fire,
and obliterated the first and then the second German line of trenches
along a front of some twelve miles. To the north the Canadians under
Sir Julian Byng carried the crest of the Vimy Ridge, and by nine
o'clock had mastered it all except at a couple of points. Farther
south troops that were mainly Scottish captured Le Folie farm, Blangy,
and Tilloy-lez-Mofflaines, while a fortress known as the Harp, and
more formidable than any on the Somme, was seized by a number of
Tanks. The greatest advance of the day was made due east of Arras,
where the second and third German lines were taken and Feuchy, Athies,
and Fampoux were captured. On the morrow the Canadians completed their
hold on the Vimy Ridge, and Farbus was taken just below it. On the
11th the important position of Monchy, which outflanked the end of the
Siegfried line, was carried after a fierce struggle; and on the 12th
and the following days the salient we had created was widened north
and south of Monchy. The capture of Wancourt and Heninel broke off
another fragment of the Siegfried line, while to the north our advance
spread up to the gates of Lens; the villages of Bailleul, Willerval,
Vimy, Givenchy-en-Gohelle, Angres, and Lievin, with the Double
Crassier and several of the suburbs of Lens, fell into our hands. The
Germans appeared to have nothing left but the unfinished
Drocourt-Quéant switch line between them and a real disaster.

The battle of Arras was the most successful the British had fought on
the Western front since the Germans had stabilized their defences. Our
bombardment was heavier than the enemy's, and was far more effective
against his wire entanglements and trenches than it had ever been
before; and the new method of locating hostile batteries by tests of
sound enabled our gunners to put many of them out of action. Nor
throughout the war was there a finer achievement than the Canadian
capture of the Vimy Ridge or the British five-mile advance in a few
hours to Fampoux. The German losses in men and guns also exceeded any
that the British had yet inflicted in a similar period; in the first
three days of the battle some 12,000 prisoners and 150 guns were
taken. The battle did not succeed in converting the war from one of
positions into one of movement; but if the Vimy position could be so
completely demolished in two or three days, there seemed little
prospect of permanence for any German stronghold in France, and a few
repetitions of the battle of Arras bade fair to make an end of the
Hindenburg lines and of the German occupation of French territory.
April along the Western front in 1917 wore a fair promise of spring.

Nor was it without its hopes in other spheres. Maude's conquest of
Baghdad produced other fruits in the East, including a welcome change
in the situation in Persia. The fall of Kut in the April before had
enabled the Turks to turn against the Russians and drive Baratov's
adventurous force back from Khanikin into the mountains and even east
of Hamadan; but Maude's advance cut the Turks off from their base at
Baghdad and threatened their line of retreat to Mosul. The Turks were
in a trap: Baratov resumed his advance from the north-east, while
Maude pushed up from the south-west: Khanikin was the trap-door, and
Halil, the Turkish commander, made skilful efforts to keep it open. A
strong screen of rearguards held up the Russians at the Piatak pass,
while other troops reinforced from Mosul barred Maude's advance at
Deli Abbas and on the Jebel Hamrin range. By the end of March the bulk
of Halil's forces were through, and Maude had to content himself with
linking up with the Russians at Kizil Robat and driving the Turks from
the Diala after their troops in Persia had escaped. Their junction
with those from Mosul enabled Halil to resume the offensive, but his
counter-attack was repulsed on 11-12 April, and Maude proceeded to
extend his defences far to the north and west of Baghdad. Feluja on
the Euphrates had already been occupied in March, and the Turks driven
up the river to Ramadie; and on 23 April Maude completed his advance
up the Tigris by the capture of Samara, where the section of the
railway running north from Baghdad came to an end. Hundreds of miles
separated it from the other railhead at Nisibin, and with his front
pushed out on the rivers to eighty miles from Baghdad, and with the
Russians in touch with his right and holding the route into Persia,
Maude might well rest for the summer content with the security of his
conquests. He had done single-handed what had been planned for a joint
Anglo-Russian campaign, with Russia taking the lion's share (see Map,
p. 177*).

In the spring of that year it looked, indeed, as though the British
Empire alone was making any headway against the enemy Powers. Even on
the cosmopolitan Salonika front offensive action was left to British
troops, and at no time during the war did any but troops of the
British Empire partake in the defence of its dominions and
protectorates. These were all safe enough by the middle of April 1917,
and those that were within reach of the enemy were being used as bases
for attack upon his forces. Maude, with his army based upon India had
now blocked the southern route into Persia, and Sir Archibald Murray
was advancing into Palestine. The capture of Rafa on the frontier was
followed on 28 February by that of Khan Yunus, five miles within the
Turkish border, and the Turks under their German general Kressenstein
withdrew to Gaza. There, on 26 March, they were attacked by Sir
Charles Dobell, of Cameroon fame, with three infantry and two mounted
divisions, including a number of Anzacs. The design was to surround
and capture the Turkish forces in Gaza, and the only chance of success
lay in the suddenness of the blow and its surprise. For Dobell's base
was distant, his men had to drink water brought from Egypt, and in
spite of the railway he had not at the front stores, equipment, or
troops for a lengthy struggle, while the Turks could bring up superior
reinforcements. A sea fog robbed him of two hours' precious time; and
although the Wady Ghuzze and other defences of Gaza were taken and a
force of Anzacs actually got behind Gaza and were fighting in its
northern outskirts at sunset, night fell with the task unfinished and
the British divisions out of touch on their various fronts. A
retirement was accordingly ordered, and on the morrow Kressenstein
counter-attacked. He was driven back with considerable losses, and
although Dobell had failed to take Gaza he had reached the Wady Ghuzze
and secured the means of bringing his railhead right up to the front
of battle. With a few weeks' respite for reinforcement and
reorganization, April might yet see the British well on the way to
Jerusalem; for Arras was not intended to stand alone, and in every
sphere of war the Allies had planned a simultaneous offensive (*see
Map, p. 352*).

But if hope was bright in the East, it was pallid compared with the
certainty of ultimate triumph which blazed from the West across the
Atlantic; for on the 5th of that April of promise the great Republic,
with a man-power, wealth, and potential force far exceeding those of
any other of Germany's foes, entered the war against her and made her
defeat unavoidable save by the suicide of her European antagonists. It
was not a sudden decision, for a people with such varied spiritual
homes as the American, spread over so vast a territory, and looking
some eastward across the Atlantic and others westward across the
Pacific, but all far removed from European politics and cherishing an
inherited aloofness from the Old World and a rooted antipathy to
imperialisms of every sort, could not easily see with one eye or
achieve unanimity in favour of a vast adventure to break with their
past and unite their fortunes with those of the Old World they had
left behind. We were accustomed to fighting in Europe against
overweening power; the United States had taken their stand on a
splendid isolation. Their first president had warned them against
entangling alliances, and their fifth had erected into the Monroe
Doctrine the principle of abstention from European quarrels. For a
century that principle had been the pole-star of American foreign
policy; no other people had such a wrench to make from their moorings
before they could enter the war, and no other people can understand
what it cost the Americans to cut themselves adrift from their haven
of democratic pacifism in order to fight for the freedom of another
world.

But Fate was too strong for schismatic tradition, and the two worlds
had merged into one. The shrinking of space and expansion of mind was
abolishing East and West, and the two hemispheres had become one
exchange and mart of commodities and ideas. They could not continue to
revolve on diverse political axes, and neither was safe without the
other's concurrence. To the German cry of weltmacht must sooner or
later respond the American cry of weltrecht; for the war was a civil
war of mankind, and upon its issue would hang the future of human
government. Intervention was inevitable, not so much because the
Kaiser had said he would stand no nonsense from America as because, if
America was to stand no nonsense from him after victory, she would
have to turn the New World into an armed camp like the Old and run the
same race to ruin. The old peace and isolation were in any case gone,
and the choice was between war for the time, with the prospect of
permanent peace on the one hand, and peace for the time, with the
permanent prospect of war on the other. There was no other way, and
Germany forced the American people to realize their dilemma.

President Wilson had seen it earlier than the majority of his
fellow-countrymen; but for a statesman a vision of the truth is an
insufficient ground for acting upon it. He is bound, indeed, not to
act upon it until he can carry with him the State he governs;
otherwise he ceases to be a statesman and sinks or rises into the
missionary. The zealot is ever ready to break his weapon upon the
obstacle he wishes to remove, but the statesman who destroys national
unity in his zeal for war does not help to win it; and American
intervention was both useless and impossible until the President could
act with his people behind him. Nor, as official head of the State,
could he play the irresponsible part of an advocate; if he believed
war to be inevitable in his country's interests, it was for him to
convince the people not by argument, but by his conduct of American
affairs. Idealism entered more largely into his policy than that of
most statesmen, but it was bound to American mentality and national
interests; for ideals which do not affect national interests do not
appeal to the majority in any nation, and the lawlessness which
trampled on Belgian neutrality made less impression across the
Atlantic than that which destroyed American lives and property.

A subsidiary cause of delay in American intervention was the
absorption of the United States in the presidential contest of 1916,
but President Wilson's re-election in November gave him a freer hand
than was possessed by any other democratic statesman. No American
president is ever elected for a third term of office, and Mr. Wilson
had no need to keep his eye on his prospects for 1920. He must,
indeed, secure the assent of Congress before war could be declared,
but in both Houses his party had secured a majority in November. The
decisive step was not, however, taken by President Wilson, but by the
German Government, and America was as much forced into war in 1917 as
we were in 1914; and in both cases it was their view of military
necessity which drove the Germans into political suicide. They could
not, they thought in 1914, cope with Russia until they had first
beaten France, and they could not beat France in time unless they
trampled a way through Belgium. So in the early days of 1917, not
foreseeing the fortune which the Russian revolution was to bring them,
they saw no prospect of victory save through the ruin of England by
means of their submarines. The Eastern and Western fronts were too
strong for a successful offensive against either, the military
situation was growing desperate, and their offers of peace had been
scorned; the war went on in their despite, and their real offensive
for 1917 was the submarine campaign. It was adopted because there was
no opening on land and no hope of success in a naval battle; and its
adoption justified those who held that the remedy was worse than the
disease and that unrestricted submarine warfare would bring the United
States into the war before it drove Great Britain out.

As late as 22 January, President Wilson, while depicting the sort of
peace which would commend itself to the American people, disavowed any
intention of helping to secure it by force of arms. But on the 31st
Germany revoked her promise given on 4 May 1916 that vessels other
than warships would not be sunk without warning, and announced her
resolve forthwith to wage submarine war without any restriction. Later
on Herr Bethmann-Hollweg stated that the promise had only been given
because Germany's preparations were incomplete, and was revoked as
soon as they were ready. The President's answer was prompt: on 3
February the German ambassador was given his passports and Mr. Gerard
was recalled from Berlin. But the invitation to other neutrals to
follow the President's lead was declined on this side of the Atlantic.
Switzerland, without any seaboard, was not concerned with submarine
warfare, and other neutrals were too much under the influence of
German blandishments or terror to risk war in defence of their rights;
they preferred to abandon their sailings to British ports.

At first the President contemplated no more than an armed neutrality,
and proposed to equip all American mercantile vessels for
self-defence. But the sinking of American ships and loss of American
lives began to rouse popular anger; sailings stopped at the ports, the
railways became congested with goods seeking outlet, and the remotest
inland districts felt the effects of the German campaign. In March,
too, the Russian revolution removed a stumbling-block to co-operation
with the Entente, for American public opinion had always been
sensitive to the iniquity of the old regime in Russia. At length the
President summoned a special session of Congress, and on 2 April
recommended a declaration of war. It was adopted in the Senate on the
4th by 82 votes to 6, and by the House of Representatives on the 5th
by 373 to 50. Of the ultimate issue of the war there could now be no
doubt. Time would be needed for the United States to mobilize its
resources and train its armies, and the extent to which they might be
required would depend upon the course of events in Europe. But the
Americans were not a people to turn back having put their hand to the
plough, and with their forces fully deployed they would alone be more
than a match for the German Empire. Victory might be delayed, but its
advent was assured, and the first fortnight of April saw the hopes of
the Allies rise higher than since the war began.


                              CHAPTER XV

                            HOPE DEFERRED

Among the events which gave so brilliant a promise to the spring of
1917, not the least was the revolution in Russia. From the first,
indeed, there was anxiety about the effect which so great a change in
the midst of war would have upon the military efficiency of our ally.
But that had suffered under the old regime, and the failure to capture
Lemberg in the summer of 1916, distracted as the Central Empires were
by the Somme and Italian campaigns, followed by the more discreditable
failure to protect Rumania in the autumn, raised serious doubts of the
competence of the imperial bureaucracy. Its honesty also fell under
grave suspicion. Sazonov, the Foreign Minister, had been dismissed in
August, and Stuermer became Prime Minister. A fierce indictment of his
conduct by Miliukov in the Duma led to his retirement in November, and
an honest Conservative, Trepov, succeeded. But Stuermer retained his
power at Court as Imperial Chamberlain, and a renegade from the
Liberal party, Protopopov, was introduced into the Ministry and
exercised therein a growing and sinister influence. Winter saw the
Russian Government turning its back on its Liberal professions,
proroguing the Duma, prohibiting the meetings of town councils and
Zemstvos, provoking a revolution in order to suppress it and
re-establish the old despotism on its ruins, and apparently casting
wistful glances back at its old alliance with the German champions of
autocracy. The Tsar himself was a firm friend of the Entente, but the
same could not be said of the Tsaritsa nor of the reactionary and
disreputable influences to which she extended her patronage. If
therefore there were risks to the Entente cause in a Russian
revolution, there were also perils in its postponement; and it might
well be thought that a Liberal Russia would be bound more closely and
logically to the Western Powers than autocracy ever could be. A
revolution would at least clarify the issue between the combatants and
give a more solid basis of political principle to the Entente.

The overture was a strange and squalid tragedy. Noxious weeds grew in
the shadow of the Oriental despotism of the Russian Court, and for
years the Government had been at the mercy of a religious impostor and
libertine called Rasputin. The trouble, remarked a Russian General,
was not that Rasputin was a wizard, but that the Court laboured under
the superstitions of a Russian peasant; and Rasputin, who had some
mesmeric power, used it to gratify his avarice, immorality, and taste
for intrigue at the expense of Russian politics and society. At last,
on 29 December, he was doomed by a conclave of Grand Dukes, Princes,
and politicians who informed the police of what had been done. The
deed was enthusiastically celebrated next evening by the audience at
the Imperial Theatre singing the national anthem; but the body was
buried at Tsarkoe Selo in a silver coffin, while the Metropolitan said
mass, the Tsar and Protopopov acted as pall-bearers, and the Tsaritsa
as one of the chief mourners. The last days of the old regime in
France, with their Cagliostro and the Diamond Necklace, produced
nothing so redolent of corruption or so suggestive of impending
dissolution.

Rasputin was a symptom, not a cause, and the dark forces in Russia
were not eradicated by his removal. Rather they were roused to further
action, and on 8 January Trepov gave place to Prince Golitzin, a mere
agent of obstruction, while Protopopov proceeded with his measures to
provoke disorder. The Duma was prorogued and machine guns made in
England were diverted from the front to dominate the capital. The
Russian revolution was, in fact, as much forced upon the Russian
people as war was forced upon ourselves and America. Le peuple, wrote
Sully three centuries ago, ne se soulève jamais par envie d'attaquer,
mais par impatience de souffrir; and in Russia even hunger and
Protopopov barely provoked the people to action. The revolution
occurred not so much because they rose, as because the bureaucracy
fell, and it was not so much a change from one government to another
as a general cessation of all government through comprehensive
inaction. The Petrograd mob did not storm a Bastille like that of
Paris in 1789; it merely paraded the streets and declined to disperse
or work, and the act of revolution was simply the refusal of the
soldiers to fire. It was not the new wine of liberty, but the opium of
lethargy that possessed the popular mind, and relaxation loosened all
the fibres of the Russian State. Action came later with the Bolshevik
reconstruction, but for the time dissolution was the order of the
day--a dissolution that was due less to the activity of destroyers
than to the decay of the body politic; and the over-government of
Russia by bureaucracy and police precipitated a violent reaction
towards no government at all.

The Russian revolution was not therefore planned, and its origin and
progress can hardly be seen in acts. The Rasputin affair was a
vendetta of society which revealed its moral disintegration, but more
than two months passed before the Government collapsed. The first
disorder took the form of the looting of bakers' shops on 8 March by
disappointed food-queues, but a more ominous and comprehensive symptom
was the abstention from work. Characteristically it was not an
organized strike; the idle throng seemed to have no definite objects,
and the question was not whether it would achieve them, but whether
the soldiers would obey orders and fire upon the mob. On the 9th the
chief newspapers ceased to appear; on the 10th the trams stopped
running; on the 11th a company of the Pavlovsk regiment mutinied when
told to fire, and the President of the Duma, Rodzianko, telegraphed to
the Tsar that anarchy reigned in the capital, the Government was
paralysed, and the transport, food, and fuel supplies were utterly
disorganized. Golitzin thereupon again prorogued the Duma; but, like
the French National Assembly in 1789, it refused to disperse, and
declared itself the sole repository of constitutional authority. On
the 12th Household troops improved upon the example of the Pavlovsk
regiment, and shot their more unpopular officers when ordered to fire
on the people. Other regiments sent to suppress the mutiny joined it
and seized the arsenal. Then the fortress of SS. Peter and Paul
surrendered, and the police were hunted down. The Duma now appointed
an executive committee of its members to act as a provisional
government, while, outside, an unauthorized committee of soldiers and
workmen was created, for the original Duma had been purged by imperial
rescript and represented chiefly the upper and middle classes. On the
13th news came that Moscow had accepted the revolution, and it was
clear that the Army would offer no resistance, although the Tsar had
appointed Ivanov commander-in-chief in order to suppress the
insurrection. Ruszky and Brussilov signified their adhesion to the
popular cause, and Ivanov failed to reach the capital. The Tsar
followed him, but was stopped at Pskov on the 14th. There on the
15th--the modern Ides of March--the modern Russian Tsar or Caesar was
constrained to abdicate.

On that day the Duma Coalition Ministry was announced; the Premier was
Prince Lvov, Miliukov took charge of Foreign Affairs, Gutchkov of War
and the Marine, and Kerensky, a Socialist, of Justice. Ministers were
in favour of a regency, but the Soviet--a Russian word which
originally meant no more than Council--of Soldiers' and Workmen's
Delegates demanded a republic. Kerensky, however, persuaded it to
support the Provisional Government by an enormous majority and the
revolution appeared to have produced a government. But even in orderly
countries enormous majorities secured in moments of emotion are apt to
be evanescent, and the Provisional Government had an uneasy lease of
life for just two months. The Duma had not made the revolution, and
the middle classes for which it stood were weak in numbers and
prestige. The vast mass of the Russian people consisted of peasants
who were illiterate and unorganized, and cared for little but the
land. The urban proletariat, not having been educated by the
Government, had partially educated itself in the abstract socialism of
Karl Marx, Lavrov, and Tolstoy. The Extremists followed Marx and were
called Social Democrats; but they had themselves split into two
sections, the Bolsheviks or Maximalists and the Mensheviks or
Minimalists; the former wanted a dictatorship of the proletariat, a
complete inversion of the Tsardom consisting in the substitution of
the tyranny of the bottom for the tyranny of the top, while the
Mensheviks were willing to recognize the claims of other classes than
the proletariat. More moderate, though still socialists, were the
followers of Lavrov, who called themselves Social Revolutionaries and
found a leader in Kerensky. The middle classes and intelligentsia
formed the bulk of the Cadet party led by Miliukov and were
predominant in the Duma and the Provisional Government. In the Soviet
power gradually passed farther and farther to the left, from Social
Revolutionaries to Mensheviks and from Mensheviks to Bolsheviks under
the leadership of Lenin, whose return from exile in Switzerland was
facilitated for its own purposes by the German Government.

All parties in the Soviet were, however, agreed in their anxiety for
peace, the destruction of imperialism and bureaucracy, and the
reconstruction of Russia on a socialistic basis; and they concurred
with the peasants in their demand for the extirpation of landlordism.
The emancipation of the serfs by Alexander II in 1861 had done little
more than substitute economic for legal slavery; for the emancipated
peasants were only given as proprietors the refuse of the land they
had tilled as serfs, and for it they had to pay tribute calculated
upon the value of their labour when applied to the richer soil of
their lords. Freedom therefore meant unavoidable penury, but the
demand of the peasants was not so much to evade their dues to the
State as to secure the richer land which would enable them to meet
their obligations. It was here that they sought their indemnities and
their annexations, not in the acquisition of foreign territory
hundreds of miles beyond their ken. Of Belgium and Serbia they knew
nothing, and all they knew of the war was that it meant ghastly
losses, fighting with pitchforks against poison gas and machine guns
for them, and for their masters the fruits of victory. What domestic
progress Russia had made in the past had been the outcome of her
defeats; success in war had always been followed by reaction.
Constantinople--Tsargrad as it was called by the Russians--had no
charms for the proletariat. They wanted peace, some of them because
national wars divided the forces of international Socialism and
postponed the war of classes, but most in order that they might
consolidate their revolution and garner its ripe and refreshing fruit.
They did not, however, desire a separate peace with the enemy, and
Austria's offer of 15 April was declined, because a separate peace
would be disadvantageous to them. What they wanted was a general peace
which would give each nation what it possessed before and each
proletariat a good deal more; and the design took form in the Congress
of Stockholm in June.

Meanwhile discipline disappeared in Russia, and even in her armies the
Soviet insisted that there should be no death-penalty, and that
military orders, except on the field of battle, should proceed from a
democratic committee. They knew that Russian autocracy had rested on
bayonets and only fell with the failure of that support: whosoever
controlled the Army would be master of Russia, and with a correct
instinct the Bolsheviks set to work to convert the soldiers and
seamen. It was easy work preaching peace, plenty, and indolence to the
peasants at the front; and the relaxation which reduced the production
of Russian industries by 40 per cent diminished still more the
efficiency of the Russian Army. The Provisional Government struggled
in vain against the disintegration, but its efforts were frustrated by
the Congress of Soviets which began to sit in April, fell more and
more under Lenin's influence, and resisted on principle all measures
to retain or re-establish authority. On 13 May, Gutchkov, the Minister
for War, resigned, and Miliukov followed. On the 16th the Provisional
Government was succeeded by another Coalition more socialist in its
complexion. Lvov remained its nominal head, but Tchernov, a social
revolutionary, and two Mensheviks became Ministers, and Kerensky took
Gutchkov's place at the Ministry of War. He did his best by his
fervour and eloquence to reanimate the army, for he believed that only
the success of Russian arms could guarantee the orderly progress of
the revolution. But Alexeiev retired in June, the Congress of Soviets
resolved that the Duma should be disbanded, and the view was
sedulously propagated that it was wrong to fight fellow Socialists in
the German Army and that the approaching Stockholm Conference would
compel the bourgeois and imperialist governments to make peace without
any further bloodshed.

Still Kerensky achieved some success with his impassioned appeals, and
Brussilov, who had become commander-in-chief, reported that the army
was recovering its moral. The Government determined to gamble on the
chance of a successful offensive. It had, indeed, no other means of
checking the growth of disorder, and an attack on the front was not
entirely hopeless. Both the Germans and Austrians had depleted their
Eastern forces to provide against dangers elsewhere, and there were
still sound elements like the Cossacks in the Russian Army. It was
skimmed for the purpose of all the cream of its regiments, and the
scene of action was laid where Brussilov's advance had pressed
farthest forward in 1916. Lemberg was to be outflanked on the south by
a movement from a line reaching from Zborow across the Dniester to the
foothills of the Carpathians. Three armies were employed, Erdelli's
Eleventh to the north, then Tcheremisov's Seventh reaching to the
Dniester, and south of it Kornilov's Eighth. Kerensky orated in khaki,
and Gutchkov served as an officer in the field. The artillery
preparation began on 29 June, and on 1 July the troops advanced from
their trenches. For a time they carried all before them, and
revolutionary Russia bade fair to repeat the success of Brussilov's
offensive in 1916. Tcheremisov's Seventh Army took Koniuchy on the 1st
and Potutory on the 2nd, and captured 18,000 prisoners. Erdelli's
Eleventh was more successful in attracting the bulk of the enemy
reserves than in making progress; but the diversion gave Kornilov's
Eighth a chance of which it made brilliant use. It attacked on the 8th
and took half a dozen villages south of the Dniester, driving the
Austrians back across its tributaries, the Lukwa and the Lomnica. On
the 10th Halicz fell before a combined advance of Tcheremisov north
and Kornilov south of the Dniester, and on the morrow Kalusz was
captured well on the way to Lemberg's vital connexions at Stryj. Then
the weather broke and the strength of the Russian armies turned into
water. There were no reserves with the spirit of those who fell in
this rapid advance, and Erdelli had failed to inspire the Eleventh
Army with Kornilov's dash. On the 16th Lenin brought off his Bolshevik
insurrection at Petrograd, but more fatal was the infection which
spread through Erdelli's troops. It was on them that the weight of the
German counter-attack fell on the 19th, and they simply wilted before
it. There was no great force in the German blow, which was merely
designed to relieve the pressure of Kornilov's advance; but Russian
troops refused to fight, and ran away trampling underfoot and killing
officers who strove to stem the rout. By the 20th German patrols were
in Tarnopol, which the Russians had held since August 1914, and in a
fortnight they were across the Russian frontier as far south as the
borders of Bukovina (see Map, p. 146). The Seventh and Eighth Armies
had to conform to this retreat, but they offered some stubborn
resistance and were brought off in good order. Czernowitz fell on 3
August, and the only solid obstacle to the enemy advance in the East
was the little Rumanian Army which had looked to this summer for its
revenge on the invader and the recovery of its capital and Wallachia.

The Rumanian Army had during the winter been refitted and equipped
with a considerable store of munitions, and its offensive was planned
to follow closely on the heels of the Russian in Galicia, But the
Russians were out of Tarnopol before, in the last week of July,
Averescu began his advance from south of the Oitoz Pass towards Kezdi
Vasarhely; and the Russian Fourth Army under Scherbachev, which was to
co-operate on Averescu's right, was deeply infected with revolutionary
disorder. Nevertheless Averescu broke the enemy front, took 2000
prisoners on the first day, and on 28 July was ten miles ahead of his
original line. Then Mackensen counter-attacked farther south at
Focsani, while Scherbachev's regiments began to desert and the
Russians in the Bukovina were being steadily driven back. On 6 and 7
August Mackensen forced the Russo-Rumanian line back from the Putna to
the Susitza, taking over 3000 prisoners in three days and also pushing
on towards Okna and Marasesti. In three days more the number of
prisoners increased to 7000, the key to the defence of the Moldavian
mountains was threatened at Adjudul, and the Court prepared to leave
Jassy and take refuge in Russian territory. On the 14th Rumanian
troops replaced the Russians in front of Okna in the Trotus valley and
counterattacked with vigour. But the decisive battle was fought
farther south, where Mackensen, advancing from Focsani, was seeking to
cross the Sereth in the direction of Marasesti and Tecuciu. It was the
most heroic of Rumania's struggles. Deprived of all but a fragment of
her territory and her manhood, and abandoned by the only ally within
reach, she had to face perhaps the ablest of German generals and over
a dozen fresh divisions thrown into the battle; and almost hourly
during the three days' fighting a fresh detachment of Russians
deserted. Yet Rumania triumphed at the battle of Marasesti, and by the
19th the crisis had passed. The attack then shifted to Okna, where the
Second Rumanian Army emulated the achievements of the First at
Marasesti. Sporadic fighting went on into September, but Rumania had
defended herself and saved South Russia for the time. On the 18th the
Germans even withdrew from Husiatyn, an Austrian town on the Galician
frontier: they had already abandoned the south for a safer adventure
against the unaided Russians at Riga (see Map, p. 229).

                       The Baltic Campaigns

This northern campaign resembled autumn manoeuvres, and was mainly
intended to test the value of the new tactics which Germany proposed
to use next spring against a more serious foe. It was more realistic
to experiment upon Russians than among themselves, and Von Hutier was
selected to make the demonstration. The advance began in the last days
of August, and on 1 September Von Hutier forced the passage of the
Dvina at Uexküll, eighteen miles above Riga, which the Russians
abandoned on the following day. Friedrichstadt fell next, and the
Russians retired from Jacobstadt on the 21st. The Germans were now
across the Dvina on a front of seventy miles, and pushed on towards
Wenden, meeting with occasional resistance. But their next experiment
was at the expense of the Russian Navy, which was even more
demoralized than the Army, and had murdered its officers wholesale. On
12 October the Germans landed a force on the island of Oesel, and
within a week had overrun that and the other islands at the mouth of
the Gulf of Riga. On the 21st they crossed to the mainland,
disembarking a force at Verder opposite Moen Island. There was little
to hinder a march on Petrograd, had there been any sufficient
inducement. But Petrograd in the hands of the Bolsheviks was worth
more to the Germans than in their own; for a German occupation of the
capital would have sterilized its miasmic influence over the rest of
Russia, and the Germans had only advanced so far in order to get into
touch with Finland and establish pro-German governments among the
little nationalities of the Baltic littoral. They had, moreover, to
economize their shrinking manpower, and their reserves were being
called off from all the Eastern fronts to more urgent tasks elsewhere,
leaving Russia to stew in its own disintegration.

Disaster had done nothing to check the distraction of Russian domestic
politics. The Cadets had most of them resigned in July owing to the
Government's complaisance towards the Ukrainian demand for
independence; and Kerensky succeeded Lvov as Premier on the 22nd,
while Kornilov took Brussilov's place as commander-in-chief on 1
August. But while Kerensky shed his right wing, he gained no support
from the left. The Bolsheviks would not forgive him his offensive in
July, nor the success with which he had suppressed the Leninite
rising; and a great conference at Moscow on 25 August representing
every shade of Russian disorganization produced some agreement on
formulas but none on action. Early in September Kerensky came to the
conclusion that a dictatorship was the only cure, and gave Kornilov
the impression that the latter should fill the part. Another Bolshevik
insurrection was brewing in Petrograd, and on the 7th Kornilov
prepared to crush it, sending Krymov forward to Gatchina within twenty
miles of the capital. Kerensky now took fright at the bugbear of a
military restoration, denounced Kornilov as a traitor, and threw
himself on the support of the Soviets. The cry that the revolution was
in danger ruined Kornilov's chances; his surrender was arranged by
Alexeiev's mediation, while Krymov committed suicide.

Such were Russian politics during the week in which the Germans
overran the Dvina. A republic was proclaimed on the 15th, and the
government entrusted to a council of five with Kerensky at its head.
It lived no longer than its numerous predecessors in the revolution.
Kerensky was rash enough to renew his breach with the Bolsheviks who
had helped him to ruin Kornilov, and in November they rent the man of
words. Trotzky organized the blow. There was little that was Russian
about this Jew, whose real name was Leo Braunstein, although he was
born in Odessa; but he possessed some practical capacity. Having
secured election as president of the Petrograd Soviet, he had created
a military revolutionary committee and a body of Red Guards, and on 5
November summoned the Petrograd garrison to place itself under its
direction. Kerensky sought to defend his Government, but most of his
forces went over to the Bolsheviks, and on the 7th he fled from the
city. He attempted to return at the head of some dubious troops, but
they were scattered by the Red Guards at Tsarskoe Selo on the 13th and
Kerensky disappeared. What there was left of government in Russia
passed into the hands of a self-constituted council of People's
Commissioners with Lenin as its president and Trotzky its Foreign
Minister; and on the 21st the council found a commander-in-chief in
one Ensign Krilenko. His business was to offer an armistice to the
Germans as a preliminary to suing for peace.

Russia had gone out of the war much faster than America came in. Early
in May a flotilla of destroyers joined the British Fleet, and on 26
June the first division landed in France. But it needed six months'
training, and a year would pass before the weight of American
reinforcements would make much material difference to the Western
front. That year was bound to try the Western Allies to the utmost,
and the interval between the disappearance of Russia and the arrival
of the United States as an effective combatant, gave the Germans the
chance of reversing the decision which they felt had gone against them
before the end of 1916. They regarded the Russian revolution as a
miracle wrought in their favour; but it was only by degrees that they
realized the extent of their apparent good fortune and proceeded both
to use and to abuse it. From the first, however, the revolution
changed for the worse the situation on every front, and enemy troops,
released from fear of Russia, began to appear in the West, on the
Isonzo, in Mesopotamia, in Palestine, and in the Balkans. The middle
of treacherous April saw the tide checked that had been flowing so
strongly since the year began.

The disappointment was not, however, entirely due to the gradual
elimination of Russia, for that misfortune did not fall with much
weight on the Western front until many months had passed, and
depression there had its causes nearer home. Commenting on the British
success at the battle of Arras, an Italian journal optimistically
asked its readers what would be the plight of the Central Empires when
real military Powers got to work, since so much had been achieved by
the semi-civilians of the British Empire. Hopes also ran high in
France. Nivelle, the new commander-in-chief, had conceived an
ambitious plan of crushing the Germans on a front of fifty miles
between the plateau north-east of Soissons and the river Suippe in
Champagne; and this offensive, coupled with the British pressure in
front of Arras, was to clear the Germans out of the greater part of
occupied France. Nivelle proposed to repeat on a vastly extended scale
his triumphs of the previous autumn at Verdun, and he made no secret
to his Government of his confidence that Laon would fall as a result
of the first day's fighting. Neither Haig nor Pétain had much faith in
the possibility of the plan, but Nivelle had persuaded Ribot's
Ministry, which had succeeded Briand's in March, and French
expectations were raised to a giddy height. There were three main
objectives: to clear the Chemin des Dames, to master the Moronvillers
massif and other heights north and east of Reims, and to thrust
between these two great bastions along the road to Laon. Each was an
objective greater than that achieved in the battle of Arras, and all
were attempted at once (*see Map, p. 67*).

The artillery preparation began on 6 April and the infantry attack on
Monday the 16th, a week after that on the Vimy Ridge. The battle was
not easy to follow, because the French were very reserved about their
reverses, and the maps gave an erroneous impression of the line from
which the attack started and that on which it ended. The French were
commonly thought to be holding both banks of the Aisne all the way
from Soissons to Berry-au-Bac, whereas in reality they had never
recovered from their retreat in January 1915 to the south bank between
Missy and Chavotine. Nor, except at Troyon, were they near the Chemin
des Dames; and not only had the river to be crossed, but the
formidable slopes, which the Germans had beeen meticulously fortifying
for two and a half years, to be surmounted. The results of the first
day's onslaught fell lamentably short of the extravagant
anticipations. The banks of the Aisne were cleared, some progress was
made up the slopes, and from Troyon, where the original line was
nearly on the ridge, an advance was made along it. But on the whole
the Germans maintained their grip on the Chemin des Dames. Nor was
fortune much kinder in the gap between it and the heights east of
Reims. The French Tanks, here first employed, were disappointing, and
Loivre was the only gain. The 17th was spent in beating off
counter-attacks west of Reims, while the French offensive spread east
to Moronvillers. Here the same tale had to be told; gallantry carried
various points of importance, but a month's fighting failed to give
the French complete control of their first day's objectives. West of
Reims on the 18th and following days Nanteuil, Vailly, Laffaux, Aizy,
Jouy, Ostel, and Bray were captured by Mangin, but they were all below
the Chemin des Dames, and April came to an end with the road to Laon
as impassable as ever. Fresh attempts were made in May; Craonne was
taken on the 4th, and the California plateau to the north of it and
Chevreux in the plain to the east were seized on the 6th and held
against counter-attacks, while east of Reims Auberive had fallen, and
by the 20th the whole summit of the Moronvillers massif was said to
have been secured.

The impression that the Chemin des Dames had been conquered was not
removed until it really was gained by Pétain five months later; but
there was contrast enough between the promises and the achievement to
produce the deepest depression in France. On 28 April Pétain was
appointed chief of staff and on 15 May commander-in-chief in
succession to Nivelle, while Foch became chief of staff. Little was
wisely revealed abroad of French despondency or the effect of the
disappointment on the moral of the army. But French journals began to
clamour for unity of command of all the forces in France under a
French generalissimo, pour épargner du sang Français, as one of them
expressed it; and prudence constrained the higher command to revert to
those limited objectives which Nivelle had abandoned. Joffre was sent
to the United States to place the situation before the
sister-republic; and but for American intervention France would have
been nearer a peace of compromise in May 1917 than at any previous
date in the war. The second battle of the Aisne gave rise to that
miasma of défaitisme, associated with the names of Bolo and Caillaux,
which enfeebled the spirit and effort of France until they were
revived by Clémenceau's vigorous stimulants.

Haig was also laid under an obligation to relieve the pressure and
gloom by prolonging his Arras offensive and seeking to extract more
from his victory than it would yield; and the second phase of that
battle was fought under a shadow and under constraint. But if it
resulted in serious losses, it brought some additions to our gains of
ground. On 23 April Gavrelle and Guémappe were captured after
desperate fighting; and on the 28th an advance was made at Arleux and
Oppy. On 3 May the Canadians took Fresnoy, and the Australians
trenches at Bullecourt, but the Germans kept up a series of stubborn
counter-attacks, especially at Fresnoy, Roeulx, and Bullecourt, and
Fresnoy was lost on the 8th. On the 14th we completed our capture of
Roeulx, and on the 17th that of Bullecourt. The fighting died down,
towards the end of May, and the scene was shifted farther north in
June to the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge. During the month of the battle
of Arras we had taken over 20,000 prisoners, and the French claimed
more on the Aisne. We had also bitten into the Hindenburg "line." But
that line had not been broken, mainly because it was not a line,
having instead of none a breadth of several miles; and, apart from the
important Vimy Ridge, the German position had not been greatly shaken.
The warfare was one of attrition, and the true test was that of
wastage, which can only be used when the losses on both sides are
exactly known. There was evidence that the Germans were feeling the
strain, but so was the Entente, and the influx of troops from the
Eastern front, which began in April and was felt in the Arras battle,
would more than compensate for the excess (if any) in German losses.
It was also clear by this time that the Germans had gained another
great advantage. They might lose the war, but they would lose it in
France, and the Fatherland would not suffer the destruction and
desolation which it had inflicted on all its foes except the British
Empire and the United States. The Germans were wisely bent on fighting
to a finish where Hindenburg had fixed his lines; they were beaten
there, but snatched immunity from ruin for German soil out of their
defeat. Nivelle's failure in April 1917 combined with the Russian
collapse to preclude an Entente repetition of the German invasion of
August 1914; and Lord Curzon's mental vision of Gurkhas encamping in
Berlin was destined to remain a dream.

The breakdown of Russia and of the French campaign paralysed other
offensives than those on the Western front, and a sympathetic inertia
spread to the Balkans. At the end of February Sarrail had told his
commanders that he intended attacking all along the line at Salonika
in the first week of April as his contribution to the comprehensive
Allied advance. But local operations in March, which succeeded in
linking up the Italians east of Avlona with Sarrail's left, did not
lead up to the expected climax. The offensive was postponed until 24
April, and then it was only British troops that were sent into serious
action. The desired economy of French blood was effected by a French
commander-in-chief at the cost of general failure. A frontal attack by
General Milne's forces was ordered on the central position at Doiran;
considerable losses were incurred, and gains were secured that made no
essential difference to the situation. West of the Vardar and in front
of Monastir no advance was attempted; but on 8 May Milne was told to
repeat his effort, which had similar results to those of his first;
and Sarrail was presently superseded by Franchet d'Esperey.

Nevertheless the Russian revolution had one beneficial effect upon the
Balkan situation. It removed one of the two influences which had
protected Constantine and enabled him to counterwork Entente policy
and strategy in the Near East. The other was neutralized by connivance
in Italy's proclamation of a protectorate over Albania on 3 June; and
with this compensation she was induced to remove her ban on Venizelos
and to risk that greater Greece, which with a free hand that statesman
bade fair to achieve. France was whole-hearted in supporting him. The
chief islands had one by one rallied to his cause in the spring, and
by the end of May he had 60,000 troops at his disposal. On 11 June M.
Jonnart arrived at Athens as plenipotentiary for the Entente to insist
on Constantine's abdication. Troops were moved down into Thessaly; the
Isthmus of Corinth was seized, and warships anchored off the Piraeus.
Constantine had no choice, and under compulsion nominated his second
son Alexander as his successor. On the 13th he left Athens for Lugano,
and on the 21st Venizelos arrived from Salonika and formed a
government. The German agents were expelled, and the Greek people were
reconciled to the violence of the proceedings by the substantial
consolation of the raising of the blockade. Less happy was the effect
of the Russian revolution in Asia Minor. All idea of an advance from
Trebizond and Erzingian came to an end, and the projected campaign
which was to have given the Russians Mosul while Maude advanced to
Baghdad was abandoned. On 30 April the Turks announced that the enemy
had evacuated Mush. In May they left the Dialah, and in July retreated
from Khanikin into Persia, leaving the British right wing in the air.
Gradually they abandoned Persia to the principle of self-determination
and to the Turks, and Armenia to fresh experiments in massacre. Even
on the Salonika front Sarrail suffered from the retiring habits of his
Russian troops, and at Gaza Murray felt the force of Turkish divisions
released from Russian fronts. There were at least six divisions to
oppose him when he renewed his attack after three weeks' interval on
17th April. His communications had been greatly improved and the
railway brought up to Deir-el-Belah, but so too had the Turkish
defences, and there was little to say for a frontal attack by inferior
forces without the chance of surprise. The political demand for an
Egyptian contribution to the combined Allied offensive seems, however,
to have been inexorable, and Sir Charles Dobell was committed to an
enterprise not unlike our attacks in Gallipoli. Some initial success
was won on the 17th, and the ground gained was prepared on the 18th
for a final effort on the following day. Samson Ridge near the coast
was taken, but Ali Muntar defied all our efforts, and counter-attacks
deprived us of much of the ground that was won. Seven thousand men had
been lost, and Turkish reinforcements were still arriving. Gaza could
not be taken by frontal attack without greatly superior forces; and
the British had to look for success to another general and a different
strategy, and to postpone from Easter to Christmas their Christian
celebrations in Jerusalem. The brightness of dawn in the East was
clouded, and the flowers of hope that bloomed in the spring drooped in
the Syrian summer and in the furnace of war in the West.


                             CHAPTER XVI

                         THE BALANCE OF POWER

THE breakdown of the strategical offensive of the Entente in the
spring of 1917 was almost complete. Russia had gone her own way to
military insignificance, France had failed in her far-reaching design
of crushing the German front on the Aisne, Haig's victory at the
battle of Arras secured merely a tactical advantage, the offensive
from Salonika never started, and that from Egypt was held up at the
gates of Palestine. In the absence of a combined General Staff for the
Entente, it required months of individual thought and interchange of
views to elaborate any alternative scheme and to readjust national
forces for its execution; and the campaigning season would assuredly
close before effect could be given to a fresh plan of campaign. The
new Governments in England and France showed no greater foresight than
the old, and had made no further progress towards a single strategical
mind. Indeed, for the rest of 1917 divergence seemed to grow, and
there was no such combined operation as the Somme campaign of 1916.
Activity travelled away from the point of liaison, and each ally
concentrated its attention more and more on its own particular front.
Italy as usual had eyes only for Trieste and Albania, France turned
from the Somme and the Oise to the Aisne and Verdun, and England's
effort came north towards the Belgian coast. This divergence resulted
from the changed view of the military situation imposed upon the
Entente by Nivelle's failure. He had believed that the time had come
for ambitious objectives; Haig had demurred and clung to the idea of
operations limited in their scope like that of the Somme; and Pétain
accepted that view when he succeeded Nivelle. There might, of course,
have been limited offensives on the upper Somme and the Oise where the
two armies joined; but it was here that the Siegfried line most firmly
barred the way, and when towards the end of the year a new tactic had
been evolved to surmount that barrier, it was applied prematurely and
without French co-operation. The unity of the Entente did not extend
to community of ideas or simultaneous experiment; and novelties which
might have been overwhelming if tried in unison all along the line
only achieved a partial success when adopted by one of the Allies on a
limited front.

Given, however, the impossibility of another combined strategical plan
for 1917, there were urgent motives and sound reasons for the
extension of Haig's offensive northwards from Arras to the coast. If
it were successful beyond expectation, it would achieve all that
Nivelle had hoped to do by a frontal attack, and would compel a
general German retreat by turning the enemy's flank as Joffre had
tried to turn it in October 1914. But short of such extravagant
anticipations it might materially help to win the war by defeating the
real German offensive for 1917. That was not a campaign on land at
all, but on sea by means of the submarine, and the chief basis of
operations was the Belgian coast. Submarines emerged from other lairs,
but the German command of the Belgian coast shortened their distance
from their objectives by hundreds of miles and correspondingly
lengthened their range of operations. Bruges was their headquarters;
situated inland, but connected by canal with Zeebrugge and Ostend, it
afforded a base immune from any attack save those of aircraft, and
Bruges was the real objective of our Flanders campaign. Incidentally,
too, the Belgian coast provided harbours whence light German surface
craft made occasional raids on British coasts, commerce, and
communications, and also for those aeroplane attacks which became a
serious nuisance as the year wore on. Apart from these considerations
the German hold on Flanders was the bastion of their whole position
west of the Meuse; and, but for the natural feelings of Paris, a more
strenuous attempt might well have been made earlier in the war to
deprive the enemy of its advantages. Obviously in the summer of 1917,
if the two Allies were to be left to their own devices, there was none
which suited us better than the Flanders campaign, and the official
American commentator opined that it held out more fruitful prospects
than the battle of the Somme. The drawback was that campaigning in
Flanders depended upon the weather: a rainy season turned its flats
into seas of mud, and the third quarter of 1917 was one of the wettest
on record.

A preliminary obstacle to be overcome was the Messines-Wytschaete
Ridge which dominated Ypres and the whole of the line from which an
offensive in Flanders could start. Preparations to deal with it had
been in progress since early in the year, and heavy guns had also been
mounted on our positions near Nieuport. The plan indeed had been in
Haig's mind since November 1916, and even earlier than that Sir
Herbert Plumer had been training the Second Army for its task; it had
had no serious fighting since the second battle of Ypres in April
1916, the battle of the Somme having been fought by the Fourth and
Fifth, and that of Arras by the First and Third. The victory, however,
was to be largely a triumph of engineering science. For nearly a year
and a half tunnelling had been in progress under the ridge, and at
dawn on 7 June nineteen huge mines were exploded beneath the enemy's
lines in the greatest artificial eruption that had ever shattered the
earth's crust. Ten days' surface bombardment had already obliterated
much of the German defences, and it says something for the German
moral that any resistance was offered at all when our troops advanced
over the ruins of the soil. Messines was cleared by New Zealanders by
7 a.m., Wytschaete fell by noon before Ulstermen and Irish
Nationalists fighting side by side, and Welshmen captured Oosttaverne
a few hours later. The battle could not have have been better staged
to exhibit the co-operation of the British Empire and of mechanical
science and human valour. A few days later Australians pushed on to
Gapaard and La Potterie in the direction of Warneton, and the Germans
withdrew from all their positions in the salient. The danger to Ypres
which had threatened for over two years and a half and had cost so
much in British blood, had at last been exorcised, and from being an
almost forlorn hope of defence the Ypres salient became the base of a
promising advance (see Map, p. 288).

Yet the operation hardly equalled in positive achievement its
spectacular advertisement. Months, if not years, of meticulous
preparation in a sector that had not been seriously disturbed by
fighting since 1915 had produced an advance of from two to three miles
on a front of less than ten. It was a tactical victory of the most
limited character; and the strategical value of the ridge was greatly
exaggerated. It had never enabled the Germans to master the Ypres
salient, and as the autumn showed, its conquest made no serious gap in
the strength of the German defences. Neither on the Belgian coast nor
on the Lys which protected Lille did the German line budge one inch in
three months' strenuous fighting; and the salient created by that
campaign between the coast and the Lys melted like wax in the furnace
of the German offensive ten months later. Plumer's success might,
however, have led to better things but for the untoward circumstances
which hampered the Flanders campaign from the start. One of these was
its initial delay; seven weeks elapsed before the conquest of the
ridge was followed up, and the causes are still obscure. Probably they
were political. Belgium, notwithstanding her passion for liberation,
cannot have desired the rest of her soil to be restored in the
condition of the Wytschaete ridge--a horror of desolation unfit for
man or even for nature's growths; and there seemed little prospect of
driving the Germans out except by a succession of ruinous tactical
victories. Germany, moreover, was playing up to the Stockholm
Conference and suggesting restoration without the accompaniment of
ruin; and it was clear that if the Entente was to liberate Belgium, it
must be done by other methods and at a lesser cost than the total
destruction of her soil.

Preparations for other than limited tactical gains were made during
June and July. The Third Army under Byng, who had succeeded Allenby,
was put in charge of the whole British line from Arras southwards, and
Rawlinson's Fourth and Gough's Fifth Armies were brought up to the
coast and Ypres respectively, while a French army under Anthoine was
located between Gough's and the Belgians on the Yser. The Germans were
alarmed by Rawlinson's appearance on the coast, and anticipated a
possible attack in that sector by delivering a defensive blow on 10
July against the bridgehead we held north-east of the Yser between
Nieuport and the coast. We were apparently not prepared: two
battalions were wiped out, part of the bridgehead was lost, and
Rawlinson's Fourth Army remained a more or less passive spectator of
the subsequent campaign. Its own chance of making a thrust had gone,
and it waited in vain for the thrust elsewhere to turn the gate the
Germans had barred between the Yser floods and the sea.

This reverse did not tend to expedite the campaign, and when it was
finally launched on 31 July the weather interposed a third and fatal
impediment. The first attack was successful enough. The French under
Anthoine took Het Saas, Steenstrat, and Bixschoote; on their right
Gough's Fifth seized Pilckem, St. Julien, Frezenberg, Verlorenhoek,
Westhoek, and Hooge, the banks of the Steenbeck and the woods on the
Menin road; and below that blood-stained highway Plumer's Second took
Klein Zillebeke, Hollebeke, and Basse Ville on the Lys. It was,
however, Von Arnim's plan to hold his front lines lightly and rely
upon counter-attacks, and before the end of the day we had lost St.
Julien, the north-east bank of the Steenbeck, and Westhoek. The key of
the German position on the Menin road also remained in Von Arnim's
hands, and no means had been found of dealing with his new and
effective "pill-boxes." These were concrete huts with walls three feet
thick, so sunk in the ground that their existence, or at least their
importance, had escaped observation. They were too solid for Tanks to
charge or for field guns to batter, and too small for accurate
shelling by heavy artillery. Yet, crammed with machine guns and
skilfully écheloned in the fighting zone, they presented a fatal bar
to the rapid advance on which the success of our plan of campaign
depended. Even so, it was not Von Arnim's skill and resource that
finally ruined our prospects. Before night fell on the 31st the rain
descended in torrents. For four days it continued, and even when it
ceased it was followed by darkness worthier of November than of
August. The field of battle was turned into a maze of lakes and bogs
with endless shell-holes filled and hidden by the muddy water. The
bombardment had broken the banks and dammed the streams, and rivers,
instead of flowing, overflowed. Tanks became useless, and for men and
animals there was as much risk of being drowned as shot.

The Germans were not immune from the weather; their counter-attacks
were impeded, and their low-lying pillboxes were often traps for death
by drowning. But enforced stagnation inevitably helps the defence,
especially when time is the essence of success for the attack. Troops
were pouring back from the Russian front; winter was coming to
postpone until the spring any hopes of a drier soil, and the land lay
low in Belgium all the way beyond the puny ridge of Passchendaele. It
would have been wiser to accept the facts of the situation; but
bull-dog tenacity has its defects, and that national totem is more
remarkable for its persistence than for its discernment. On 3 August
we regained St. Julien, on the 10th Westhoek, and on the 16th resumed
the general movement. It made little appreciable progress on the right
or in the centre, but on the left the French advanced from the Yser
canal towards the Martjevaart, and our men took Wijdendrift and
Langemarck. For the rest of the month it rained, and it was not till
20 September that the conditions were considered good enough for an
attempt on the limited objectives to which our ambition was now
reduced. It achieved better success than on 16 August, and the advance
made along both sides of the Menin road was through difficult woods;
but it nowhere exceeded a mile, the fighting was fearfully costly, and
Veldhoek and Zevencote were the only two hamlets gained. On the 26th
Haig struck again with similar results: Zonnebeke was captured, the
woods cleared up to the outskirts of Reutel, and another advance made
on the Menin road.

Fierce German counter-attacks were repulsed during the next few days,
and on 4 October our offensive was resumed. Once more the weather
played us false, but without the usual effect, and substantial
progress was made all along the front. Part of Poelcapelle was taken,
Grafenstafel fell into our hands, at Broodeseinde the Australians got
a footing on the Passchendaele ridge, Reutel was captured, and
Polderhoek château, the hinge of the German position, was stormed
--only to be lost and retaken more than once before it was finally
left in German possession. The next attack was designed to broaden our
salient to the north between the Yser and the Houthulst Forest. It was
fixed for 9 October, and rain fell as usual on the 7th and 8th. But
once more it failed to stop our advance. The French and the British
left between them captured St. Janshoek, Mangelaare, Veldhoek,
Koekuit, and the remains ol Poelcapelle, and the Canadians made a
further advance on the Passchendaele ridge by way of Nieuemolen and
Keerselaarhoek. Another attack on 12 October was countermanded because
of the rain, but the painful progress was resumed on 22-26 October. On
the 27th the Belgians and French pushed on as far as the Blankaart
Lake and the Houthulst Forest, taking Luyghem, Merckem, Kippe, and
Aschoop, and on the 30th the Canadians forced their way into the
outskirts of Passchendaele. Its capture was completed on 6 November
and supplemented in the following days by an advance a few hundred
yards along the road towards Staden.

                     The Battles In Flanders

At last the agony came to an end. The campaign was a monument of
endurance on the part of the troops engaged, and of obstinacy on the
part of their commanders. The misrepresentation of the results
achieved in the published communiqués provoked remonstrances from
officers in the field, and apparent indifference to the losses
involved roused the anger of the Australians--and other
troops--against their generals. Among his own men Sir Hubert Gough
lost more repute in the Flanders campaign than he did in his later
retreat from St. Quentin. It was the costliest of all British
advances, and cut the sorriest figure in respect of its strategical
results. We had advanced somewhat less than five miles in over three
months, and had gained a ridge about fifty feet higher than our
original line at Ypres. The strategical gains were negligible, and as
an incident in the war of attrition, the campaign cost us far more
than it did the Germans. They could hardly have desired a better
prelude to their coming offensive on the West than this wastage of
first-class British troops. Aided by the weather, Von Arnim had
succeeded in his design of yielding the minimum of ground for the
maximum of British losses, and the Flanders campaign was to us what
Verdun had been to the Germans.

There was a more satisfactory proportion of gains to losses in the
more limited operations which characterized Pétain's substitution for
Nivelle as French commander-in-chief. After Nivelle's comprehensive
disappointment on the Chemin des Dames and Moronvillers heights in
April, Pétain restricted the field of his attacks and took ample time
to prepare them. It was not until August that the first was launched,
and for a sphere of action Pétain reverted once more to Verdun. The
victories of October and December 1916 were commonly represented as
having recovered all that the Germans had won in the spring of that
year; in fact they were confined to the right bank of the Meuse. No
attempt had been made to wrest from the enemy his gains to the left of
the river; and his line ran in August 1917 precisely where it had run
twelve months before, a German gain at the Col de Pommerieux on 28
June having been recovered by the French on 17 July. Pétain was,
however, a past-master in the art of limited offensives; his aims were
less ambitious than those which Nivelle or even Haig had set before
themselves, but he achieved them with scientific precision and without
the devastating losses which had attended the larger and less
successful projects. The terrain he selected was less affected by the
vagaries of the weather, and either he was better served by his
meteorological experts or was singularly favoured by fortune. His main
object was not the tactical gains he secured, but the restoration of
the confidence of French soldiers in their offensive capacity which
had been severely shaken in April. During June and July they had been
mainly engaged in repelling German attacks on the Chemin des Dames,
though Gouraud, who succeeded Anthoine in the Champagne command,
secured some valuable local gains on the Moronvillers heights.

The attack at Verdun was entrusted to Guillaumat, and his bombardment
began on 17 August. The Germans anticipated an offensive on the left
bank of the Meuse, but not the extension which Guillaumat had planned
on the right bank as well. The weather was as fair at Verdun as it was
foul in Flanders, and while Haig's men floundered in seas of mud, the
worst against which Pétain's had to contend was clouds of dust. Their
artillery had destroyed the German defences on Mort Homme, and when
the infantry advanced on the 20th they carried it, the Avocourt wood,
the Bois de Cumières, and the Bois des Corbeaux, in a few hours with
little loss. Simultaneously on the right bank of the river they
captured Talou Hill, Champneuville, Mormont farm, and part of the Bois
des Fosses. On the following day the Cote de l'Oie and Regnéville fell
on the left bank, and Samogneux on the right. On the 24th the French
took Camard wood and Hill 304 and advanced to the south bank of the
Forges brook, which remained their line until the American attack in
October 1918, while further progress was made east of the Meuse on the
25th until the outskirts of Beaumont were reached. A fortnight later
another slight advance was made between Beaumont and Ornes, and on
both banks of the Meuse the line was at length restored to almost its
position before the great German offensive of 21 February 1916. But
Brabant-sur-Meuse, Haumont, Beaumont, and Ornes remained in German
hands, and no attempt had been made to recover the line the French had
then held on the road to Étain (see Map, p. 194). Verdun might now
have been thought quite secure but for the fact that equal success on
the Chemin des Dames in October did not save it from the Germans seven
months later.

This second of Pétain's limited offensives was carried out by Maistre
and led to a more extended German retirement. But the attack was only
on a four miles' front eastward from Laffaux in the angle made by the
German retreat in the spring between the Forest of St. Gobain and the
Chemin des Dames (see Map, p. 67). It was preceded by a week's intense
bombardment which, as at Verdun, destroyed the German defences; and
although it was made in fog and rain the high ground did not suffer
like Flanders from the effects, and the French attack was immediately
and completely successful. Allemant, Vaudesson, Malmaison, and
Chavignon, with 8000 prisoners, were taken on 23 October, and by the
27th the French had captured Pinon, Pargny, and Filain, and pressed
through the Pinon forest to the banks of the Ailette and the Oise and
Aisne canal. This advance turned the line which the Germans still held
on the Chemin des Dames, and they found it untenable. On 2 November
they withdrew down the slopes to the north bank of the Ailette, and
the French occupied without resistance Courteçon, Cerny, Allies, and
Chevreux, which they had vainly with thousands of casualties
endeavoured to seize in April and May. The Chemin des Dames was now
really won, and the contrast was pointed between the two methods and
their success. Pétain's more limited offensive secured the greater
strategical gains. But the French rather forgot the ease with which
they finally won the Chemin des Dames in the losses their earlier
efforts had cost them, and were to lose it once more because they
thought it impregnable.

In spite of experience the Entente was slow in learning not to
underestimate the military resourcefulness of the Germans, and
Pétain's victories, coupled with the failure of the Germans to react,
provoked a jubilation which was not justified. To the German Higher
Command the loss of a few square miles at Verdun and the Chemin des
Dames was a mere matter of detail compared with the ambitious strategy
it now had in mind. Situated as the Germans were between two fronts,
they were quicker to grasp the significance of events in the East than
were Western Powers; and the collapse of Russia had already inspired
Ludendorff with the idea and hopes of a final and victorious offensive
on the West in the spring of 1918. It must come soon, or the advent of
American armies would make it too late. Even the French and British
forces were serious enough, and an obvious preliminary would be to
weaken the enemy line in France by a diversion. The Germans knew
enough about Italy to be confident that a staggering blow would not be
difficult to deal, and that if it were dealt it would compel France
and Great Britain to go to the rescue of their distressful ally. Italy
had all along been inviting some such blow by her concentration on
Trieste, a divergent quest after booty which led away from the enemy's
vital parts; for the Adriatic was already closed to the Central
Empires by the French and British fleets, and the fall of Trieste,
however gratifying it might be to Irredentists--though Trieste had
never belonged to Italy or Italian rulers--would have no appreciable
effect upon the issue of the war. That quest, moreover, left the
Italian flank, upon which its front entirely depended, exposed at
Caporetto. It was not, indeed, probable that the Italians would have
advanced very far had they set their faces towards Vienna; but if
their front had faced in that direction, they would not have provoked
the disastrous collapse of their whole campaign in the last week of
October 1917. Hitherto Russia had prevented the Central Empires from
seizing the opportunity which Italy offered; but the triumph of
Bolshevism removed that protection and also supplied the Germans with
political means for advancing their military ends. Not a few Italian
troops had succumbed to propaganda, and when the crisis came they
imitated Russian examples in a way which provoked Cadorna--in a
censored message--to speak of their "naked treason."

The valour which other Italian troops had shown during the summer and
their success on the Bainsizza plateau had not prepared Italy or her
Allies for so great a reversal of fortune in the autumn. The attempt
after the fall of Gorizia in August 1916 to force a way to Trieste had
been checked by the formidable bastion of Mount Hermada, and in May
1917 Cadorna turned to the other great obstacle to his eastward
advance, the Selva di Ternova with its peaks M. San Gabriele and M.
San Daniele, which dominated the valley of the Vippacco and the
railway to Trieste running along it. But these peaks could not be
taken by a frontal attack, and an effort was made to outflank them
from the north by seizing the Bainsizza plateau and the Chiapovano
valley behind it. A week from 14 May was spent in the preliminary
operation of extending the Italian hold over the east bank of the
Isonzo above and below Plava, and in seizing the westerly edge of the
Bainsizza plateau with its two peaks, M. Kuk and M. Vodice. This
advance over difficult country required great endurance and valour,
but it fell short of anticipations, and on the 23rd Cadorna struck
another blow in the direction of the Hermada. Hudi Log, Jamiano,
Flondar, and San Giovanni were captured, and for a moment a footing
was gained in Kostanjevica and on the lower slopes of Hermada; but an
Austrian counter-attack on 5 June recovered Flondar and drove the
Italians off the Hermada.

It was clear that Italy unaided could not achieve even the limited
objective of Trieste on which she had set her heart, and in July
Cadorna appealed for help to Great Britain and France. The former sent
and the latter promised some batteries of artillery, but no infantry
could be spared in view of our commitment to the Flanders campaign and
of French caution after the failure on the Chemin des Dames; and in
August Cadorna resumed his attack alone. It was dictated by political
rather than military motives; for there was discontent in Italy which
the most rigorous censorship could not conceal, and the reference in
the Pope's peace note of August to "useless slaughter" evoked serious
echoes in a public mind which found inadequate compensation for the
meagre and costly results of the Italian campaign in its splendid
advertisement by the Italian Government. Italy needed a victory, and
Cadorna achieved enough to keep up the illusion of triumphant
progress. The bombardment began on 18 August and the infantry attack
on the 19th over an extended front of thirty miles from Lom to the
north of the Bainsizza plateau to the Hermada and the shores of the
Adriatic. Most of the Bainsizza plateau was overrun, Monte Santo at
its southern extremity was captured, and the Italians recovered a
footing on the Hermada. A terrific and bloody battle was waged early
in September for the key-position at M. San Gabriele, but heavy
Austrian reinforcements from Russia prevented the Italians from
mastering the crest. On the 5th they were again driven back from the
Hermada and San Giovanni, while away in the north they failed to take
the heights of Lom. This held up their further advance across the
Bainsizza plateau, and its eastern half, containing peaks a thousand
feet higher than any the Italians had conquered, remained in Austrian
hands. No real progress had been made, the partial occupation of the
Bainsizza plateau proved useless, the losses had been tremendous, and
at the end of September Cadorna reported that his main operations were
at an end. Eleven of the sixteen British batteries were recalled, the
French were countermanded, and the ball was left at Ludendorff's feet.

He had begun his preparations in August when Otto von Buelow was
transferred from the West to the Italian front and given an army
composed of six German and seven Austrian divisions. The control of
the campaign was taken over by the German Higher Command, and the
troops had been trained in the new tactics which were tried by Von
Hutier at Riga in the first week in September and were to be used to
more serious purpose at Caporetto in October and on the Western front
in 1918. Time was of the essence of Ludendorff's strategy; he could
not afford, with the American peril in prospect, to prolong the war by
fighting in trenches and merely defending the Hindenburg lines. Nor
could he even afford that deliberate method of progress favoured by
Haig and Pétain, which consisted in rapid advances on limited fronts
to limited objectives, or in snail-like movements over wider areas.
The strategy which by intense bombardment drove the enemy back a mile
or two at the cost of so devastating the ground as to make one's own
advance impossible for weeks, could not achieve a decision within the
time at Ludendorff's disposal. Some means must be found of reviving
the war of movement and repeating in a more decisive form the German
march of August 1914. The bombardment of devastation must therefore be
sacrificed in the interests of the pursuing troops, and its place be
taken by gas shells; and the enemy line must be broken by the
superiority of picked battalions and greater concentration of machine
guns and other portable weapons. The line once broken, the advantage
must be followed up by a series of fresh divisions passing through and
beyond the others like successive waves, maintaining the continuity of
the flowing tide. The Eastern front was used as a training ground for
these new tactics, which served Ludendorff better than any advance
into Russia could have done; and they came as a complete surprise at
Caporetto.

That was not, indeed, particularly good terrain for the experiment,
and in order to hoodwink the Italians more effectively Von Buelow did
not select for his attack any sector indicated by the principal
Austrian lines of communication. But these defects of Alpine country
were counterbalanced by the weak moral of the troops opposed to him.
One symptom of Italian instability had been outbreaks during the
summer at Turin in which soldiers had fraternized with the rioters,
and the mutinous regiments were sent as a penance to that sector of
the front which Von Buelow was well-informed enough to select for his
offensive. But the nervousness was general: Italians had never yet met
German troops in battle, save perhaps in small encounters with
diminutive units in Macedonia, and some consternation was created
when, about the middle of October, it was ascertained that there were
German divisions on the Italian front; and presently popular
imagination magnified Von Buelow's thirteen divisions into the
combined weight of the Central Empires, with Mackensen at its head as
a bogey-man. That was at least a more acceptable explanation than the
real one of the disaster which overtook the Italian Army. But it is
impossible to gauge with any exactness the extent or effect of German
intrigue and Bolshevist propaganda upon the Italian situation.
Bolshevist envoys had been received with open arms at Turin, and
Orlando, then Minister of the Interior, had refrained on principle
from hampering their activities. More singular was the coincidence of
Von Buelow's offensive with a Parliamentary crisis which precipitated
the fall of the Boselli Ministry.

The German attack began on 24 October amid rain and snow, which never
deterred the Germans, and on this occasion even assisted them by
increasing the element of surprise. The infected front of the Second
Army between Zaga and Auzza broke with such celerity that by dawn of
the 25th Von Buelow's men had crossed the Isonzo, scaled Mount
Matajur, 5000 feet high, and were pouring across the Italian frontier;
and the gains of twenty-nine months were lost in as many hours.
Elsewhere Italian troops fought with splendid determination, and the
garrison of M. Nero held out for days and died to a man, while their
comrades at Caporetto greeted the enemy with white flags, and reserves
withheld their assistance. Gallantry to the left and right availed
nothing against poltroonery in the centre: the Bainsizza plateau was
lost, and the Third Army on the Carso was in dire peril of being cut
off from its retreat. Nothing but retreat, and perhaps not even that,
was open to the other armies, with the Second in the centre fleeing
like a rabble and Von Buelow threatening the left and right in the
rear. On the 27th Cividale, on the 28th Gorizia, and on the 29th
Udine, twelve miles within the Italian frontier, fell, and Von Buelow
had taken 100,000 prisoners and 700 guns. The Third Army escaped by
the skin of its teeth, the excellence of its discipline, and the
sacrifice of its rearguards and 500 guns at the crossing of the
Tagliamento at Latisana on 1 November. Then the rain came down, and no
believer in Jupiter Pluvius as a German god could maintain that that
river had been turned into a roaring torrent in the interests of the
German pursuit.

The Tagliamento could, however, be easily turned from the north, and
the Italian retreat continued across the Livenza and the Piave where
Cadorna stood on 10 November. The Adige farther south was considered
by many to be Italy's real strategic frontier, but the abandonment of
the Piave would surrender Venice to the enemy, and Venice was Italy's
one naval base in the northern Adriatic. It must be retained, or the
Italian Fleet would have to withdraw to Brindisi and leave the
Adriatic and Italy's eastern coast open to incursion from Pola. But if
the Piave was to be held, the German threat to turn it by a descent
from the Alps down either side of the Brenta valley must be defeated;
and it was here that the Caporetto campaign was fought to a standstill
in November and December. Fortunately Ludendorff had not been prepared
for the magnitude of his own success, and Von Buelow's thirteen
divisions had not been cast for the part of destroying the Italian
armies. Their object had been twofold, firstly to compel France and
Great Britain to weaken their front by sending aid to Italy, and
secondly, to secure plunder in the shape of guns, munitions, and
corn-growing territory. The Kaiser boasted that his armies had been
set up for some time by this Italian success, and Italy's two Allies
had no choice but to send divisions to her assistance, the French
under Fayolle and the British under Plumer. With that the Germans were
content, and although the Austrians continued their efforts to force
the Piave and turn its flank down the Brenta valley, Von Buelow's six
German divisions took little part in the fighting and were soon with
their general sent back to the Western front.

No light task remained for the shattered Italian armies, for the
Austrians had been greatly reinvigorated by their success, and
continual reinforcements were arriving from the Russian front. Italy
had never been a match unaided for her hereditary foes, and the
prospect of British and French assistance was needed to stem the
torrent of invasion descending from the mountains. The Italians fought
well, and politically the nation pulled itself together; but one by
one the Austrians captured in November the heights between the Piave
and the Brenta which protected the Venetian plain, and it was not
until 4 December that the French and British were able to relieve the
pressure by taking up their respective quarters on the two cardinal
positions of M. Grappa and the Montello. Even so the Austrian advance
continued, while a bridgehead was secured across the Piave at Zenson.
After a four days' battle on 11-15 December the Austrians reached the
limits of their invasion at M. Asolone and M. Tomba on the east, and
M. Melago on the west, of the Brenta valley; and before the end of the
year the Italians were recovering slopes on M. Asolone and the French
those of M. Tomba, while the bridgehead at Zenson was destroyed.
Fighting went on well into 1918 without much material change in the
situation until Austria was called upon to take her part in the final
enemy onslaught in June. Nevertheless the Central Empires had achieved
the most brilliant of their strategical triumphs. At slight cost to
themselves they had bitten deep into Italian territory, taken a
quarter of a million prisoners, 1800 guns, and vast quantities of
munitions and stores, and had imposed a greatly increased strain upon
the Allies who alone stood between them and victory on that Western
front which Ludendorff had selected for the final test of war.


                             CHAPTER XVII

                    THE EVE OF THE FINAL STRUGGLE

Two gleams of light, one of them quickly dimmed and the other distant,
relieved the gloom of the last winter of the war. As the Flanders
offensive subsided in the mud, Haig was preparing another blow by a
different hand in a drier land; and he, too, was working to find an
escape from trench-warfare on lines not unlike those of Ludendorff.
Both were dissatisfied with the obstacles which intense bombardment,
used for initial success, placed in the way of its prosecution; but by
one of the ironies of the war, while Ludendorff now relied on the
superiority of his human material, Haig looked for success to the
greater ingenuity of mechanical contrivance expressed in Tanks. They
were under a cloud in Flanders because they could not advance upon mud
and water; but on higher ground their improved efficiency and numbers
might be used to some effect. The plan adopted contemplated a narrow
front but an ambitious objective. It was to break the Hindenburg lines
at their nodal point in front of Cambrai. If successful it would
disorganize the whole German scheme of defence in the West, and would
in any case tend to divert the Germans from their Italian campaign.
The objective was not Cambrai itself, but to break through the
Hindenburg lines as far as Bourlon and beyond, and then to take them
in reverse from Bourlon westwards and northwards to the Sensée and the
Scarpe. In other words, it appeared to be an experiment in tactics
which might with good fortune develop into a strategical means of
achieving from the south of Douai and Lille what the Flanders campaign
had failed to secure to the north of them. The German line was thin,
and, had it been made of the stuff of the Italian line at Caporetto,
Haig might have repeated Ludendorff's unexpected success. There was a
third and more sinister explanation of the battle of Cambrai, that it
was a practical attempt to answer the gibes in which the Prime
Minister had indulged at the tactics of the British Army.

The task was entrusted to the Third Army which had seen little
fighting since the battle of Arras died down in the spring, and had
been under Sir Julian Byng since Allenby's transference to Egypt. The
attack began on 20 November; there was no preliminary bombardment to
cut up the ground over which the Tanks, infantry, and cavalry were to
advance, and a single gun gave the signal for the start amid a
favouring fog and behind a supplementary barrage of smoke which hid
the advance from the German guns. The Tanks broke through the wire
entanglements and destroyed the nests of machine guns, while the
infantry marched forward in their track. By nightfall they had made at
points greater progress than on any previous day in the war.
Havrincourt, Graincourt, and Anneux--four and a half miles from the
morning's front--fell on the left; Ribecourt, Marcoing, Neuf wood,
Noyelles, and Masnières in the centre; and La Vacquerie, Bonavis, and
Lateau wood on the right. The flies in the ointment of success were a
check in front of Flesquières and a serious lack of foresight on the
Scheldt canal, where the single bridge was broken at Masnières and the
cavalry were held up on a front of several miles. But for the former,
Byng might have mastered the vital Bourlon position, and but for the
latter have crossed the canal in force, broken the last of the German
lines, and taken Rumilly, Crèvecoeur, and possibly Cambrai. For the
Germans had been completely surprised and needed two days to bring up
any adequate reinforcements. The advance continued at a slower pace on
the 21st. Flesquières was taken and then Cantaing and
Fontaine-Notre-Dame; but the bid for Bourlon developed into a costly,
stubborn, and indecisive struggle for five days while the Germans were
being steadily reinforced.

On the right Byng pushed out to Banteux, but the end of our advance on
the 29th left us with a rectangular block of territory loosely
attached to our original front. The German lines had been breached,
but once more it was shown that lines of concrete and wire
fortifications do not roll up like lines of mere human material
without an amount of pressure which our forces did not permit of
applying. The new Government had been at least as deaf as the old to
Haig's demands for men, though the use that had been made of reserves
in Flanders justified some caution and economy in the supply; and for
the success of his major operation Haig had to rely on troops which
were too few and had been imperfectly trained. Meanwhile Von Marwitz,
the German commander, admitting the British victory, announced his
intention of wiping it out, and gathered sixteen fresh divisions to
effect his purpose on the 30th. There was ample warning all along the
front, but we had not grasped the significance of Von Hutier's tactics
at Riga or Von Buelow's at Caporetto, nor had our commanders dreamt
that the Germans without our Tanks could follow the example we had
just set ourselves and attack without a warning bombardment. Their
method was as unexpected as our own, and where it was applied against
our right it was almost as successful. From Bonavis south to
Vendhuille all our gains were lost, and within an hour and a half the
Germans had pierced the line we had held since April and captured
Gonnelieu, Villers-Guislain, and Gouzeaucourt. Gouzeaucourt was
retaken later in the day, and at Bourlon, where the new tactics were
not employed, the gallantry of our troops retained the position. More
ground was also recovered next day on our right, and the German
counterattack seemed to have been exhausted. But it had left us with
an untenable front, and on 4-7 December Haig withdrew from Bourlon and
Marcoing to the Flesquières ridge. Out of sixty square miles and
fourteen villages captured we retained but sixteen and three
respectively, while the Germans had secured seven square miles and two
villages held by us before the battle began. The fact that our gains
included a seven-mile stretch of the Siegfried line made no
appreciable difference to the future course of the war; and we even
failed to learn the lesson of our failure. The innate British
conservatism, which was counteracted in politics by a democratic
suffrage, retained its unchecked supremacy in the British Army; and
the German tactics which had robbed us of our gains at Cambrai came no
less as a surprise to rob us four months later of things that were
much more serious.

                 The Battles Of Arras And Cambrai

The light of Byng's success soon died away and left the gloom to be
illumined by a far-off flicker in the East. Even here the effects of
the Russian collapse dogged or rather prevented our steps and barred
our advance from Baghdad; and without Russian co-operation Maude had
to think rather of safeguarding his conquests against Falkenhayn's
projects from Aleppo than of striking farther from his narrow base
into the almost limitless enemy country. On 29 September he pushed
forward his defences on the Euphrates by seizing Ramadie and
encircling and compelling the surrender of the entire Turkish force.
In October he occupied the positions abandoned by the Russians up to
the Persian frontier, and early in November drove the Turks out of
Tekrit towards Mosul. After destroying the Turkish base we retired;
there was now no enemy either on the Tigris or the Euphrates within a
hundred miles of Baghdad, and Maude's work had been rounded off. He
died suddenly of cholera on the 18th, leaving a reputation second to
none in the British Army. His successor, Sir William Marshall, carried
on his work by forcing the Turks east of the Tigris back into the
Jebel Hamrin mountains in December and then in March 1918, driving
them up the Euphrates out of Hit and Khan Baghdadie to within 250
miles of Aleppo. In May he turned to the Tigris, retook Tekrit,
expelled the Turks from Jebel Hamrin, Kifri, and Kirkuk, and forced
them back across the Lesser Zab to within 90 miles of Mosul. But by
that time the public had little attention to spare for Mesopotamia,
the Turks had recovered the whole of the Russian conquests in Asia
Minor, and had occupied the Caucasus right across to the Caspian Sea.
Marshall's efforts had to be diverted north-east to bar the enemy's
way through Persia towards India; and the advance on Aleppo was left
to the army of Egypt (see Maps, pp. 177, 352).

Allenby succeeded to its command in June 1917, and had the summer in
which to prepare his plans. Frontal attacks on Gaza had failed with
too serious losses in March and April for their repetition to be
risked, especially in view of the care which had since been taken to
add to the Turkish forces and to the strength of their defences; and
Allenby discovered the key of the Turkish position at Beersheba,
nearly thirty miles south-east of Gaza. It was captured on 31 October
with the efficient help of the Imperial Camel Corps, and on 2 November
the enemy was distracted by a second blow on our extreme left which
resulted in the taking of Sheikh Hasan and the outflanking of Gaza
between it and the sea. The whole line between Beersheba and Gaza had,
however, been elaborately fortified, and it required a week's
strenuous fighting to reduce it. Then on 6-7 November our left
advanced once more upon Gaza only to find it practically undefended;
and by nightfall on the 7th Allenby had pushed ten miles along the
coast beyond Gaza. The advance was now rapid in this direction. On the
9th we occupied Ascalon; on the 14th the Turks were driven from the
junction where the branch line to Jerusalem joins the main line
running down the coastal plain, and the Holy City was cut off from
rail-communication with the Turkish base; and on the 16th Jaffa was
captured. Allenby then swung round towards the east to threaten
Jerusalem from the north, while his right wing pushed up beyond Hebron
along the hills of Judæa. He wished to avoid battle near the city, and
the Turks made a determined stand to the north-west of it on the Nebi
Samwil ridge. By 9 December their resistance was overcome, and
Jerusalem was threatened from the north-west by our left and from the
south-east by our right. It surrendered on that day, and Allenby made
a quiet official entrance on the 11th. He had succeeded where Richard
Coeur-de-Lion had failed; Jerusalem, which for 730 years had been in
Mohammedan hands, under first the Saracens and then the Turks, passed
under Christian control; and there seemed better ground in the
twentieth than in the sixteenth century for the Elizabethan's exalted
question to his compatriots, "Are we not set upon Mount Zion to give
light to all the world?"

The light was somewhat slow to penetrate elsewhere. Even in Palestine
it took Allenby months to substantiate his position. By the end of
December he had pushed across the El Auja north of Jaffa and taken
Ramah, Beitunia, and Bireh, nine miles north of Jerusalem; but Jericho
did not fall until 21 February, and little impression was made during
the spring upon Mount Ephraim, where the Turks barred the road to
Shechem, or on their positions east of the Jordan, although the Turks
were increasingly harassed by Arab raids upon the railway leading to
Maan and the Hedjaz. Es Salt was captured on 1 May, but succumbed to
counter-attacks in which some British guns were captured. The heat of
summer put an end to active operations, while the Turkish recovery at
the expense of Russia and the German victories in Europe counselled
caution, and helped to postpone till the autumn the full fruition of
Allenby's strategy. He and Maude had nevertheless made our Eastern
campaign the brightest pages in the sombre history of the war in 1917,
and the fall of Baghdad and Jerusalem contributed not a little to the
collapse of Turkey, which hastened that of the Central Empires. They
were not divergent operations because they converged towards the
centre, and weakness at the extremities affected the heart of the
Turkish Empire. Germany would not have succumbed when she did but for
the fate which had overtaken her allies elsewhere than on the Western
front. But it was a far cry from these contributory operations to that
policy of concentrating on "the vital junction of Muslimieh" which
commended itself to excitable critics, and would have left our Western
front at the mercy of the most formidable onslaught it ever had to
face.

We needed all the comfort we could extract from our Eastern campaigns;
for, with a gigantic German offensive threatening the West in 1918, we
could be none too sure that we had dealt satisfactorily with the only
serious offensive the Germans had undertaken against us in 1917. That
had been their unlimited submarine warfare, which had reached its
greatest fury in April, when 25 per cent of the vessels leaving
British ports failed to return, but continued through, out the year to
sap our strength like an open ulcer. The general public knew little of
the truth, and was not competent to measure the value of such facts as
were placed before it. The Germans' claim to have sunk 9 1/2 million
tons in the first year of unrestricted warfare was regarded as
preposterous, but Sir Eric Geddes himself assessed the British loss at
6 millions.[Footnote: The total British loss in the war was 7,731,212
tons. France came next with 900,000 tons. ] Mr. Lloyd George revealed
the fact that we had sunk five German submarines on 17 November, but
not the fact that our total bag for December barely exceeded that
figure; and on the 13th the First Lord of the Admiralty corrected the
optimism of the Premier's figure by declaring that the Germans were
building submarines faster than they lost them, while we were losing
shipping faster than we built it. He was somewhat more cheerful in his
estimate of the situation on 1 February 1918, but on 5 March had to
deplore a falling-off in our construction, partly at any rate due to
the depletion of man-power in that industry. Some consolation was
found in the fact that the proportion of our losses to our total
shipping did not greatly exceed that in the last ten years of the
Napoleonic wars; but the comparison was illusory, because we were far
more dependent upon oversea supplies in 1917 than in 1812, though so
far as food was concerned the dependence was greatly relieved in 1918
by the efforts of the Board of Agriculture. A source of greater pride,
if not of satisfaction, was the fact that our domestic shortage was
due less to the sinking of our ships by German submarines, than to
their diversion to the service of our Allies. Not only had the British
Navy to defend all the coasts of the Entente by bottling up the German
High Seas Fleet, but our mercantile marine had to provide for most of
the Allies' transport and provisioning; whereas in the Napoleonic wars
we had for long no allies to maintain and could concentrate upon our
own requirements. The unparalleled strain of the war was due to the
unparalleled extent to which the British Empire placed its resources
at the disposal of less fortunate countries; and fortunately for
Powers, which later on complained of American interference, the United
States seemed bent in 1918 on bettering our example.

Other incidents of naval warfare than the German submarine campaign
added to the public discomposure. On 17 October two German cruisers
sank two British destroyers and nine convoyed Norwegian merchant ships
between the Shetlands and the Norwegian coast; on 12 December
somewhere in the North Sea four German destroyers sank five neutral
vessels, four British armed trawlers, and also one of the two British
destroyers accompanying them, the other being disabled, while two
British trawlers and two neutral vessels were also sunk off the Tyne;
and on the 23rd, three British destroyers were mined or torpedoed off
the Dutch coast. On the 26th it was announced that Sir Rosslyn Wemyss
had succeeded Jellicoe as First Sea Lord, and other changes were made
at the Admiralty. But the unpleasant incidents continued. On 14
January 1918 Yarmouth was, after a long immunity from such attacks,
once more bombarded by enemy destroyers; on 15 February a British
trawler and seven drifters were sunk by similar means in the Straits
of Dover; and on the 24th the safe return was announced of the German
raider Wolf after a cruise in which she had sunk eleven vessels in the
Indian and Pacific Oceans. The extension of submarine warfare to the
sinking of hospital ships was more shocking as an exhibition of
barbarity than alarming as a proof of naval efficiency, and may even
have been designed as a desperate measure to commit Germany beyond
recall to the alternative of victory or irredeemable ruin. As an
outrage against international morality it was only exceeded by the
torpedoing on 6 June of a Dutch vessel on which British delegates were
to have gone to The Hague to discuss with Germans the mutual
amelioration of the lot of prisoners of war.

Side by side with this brutality at sea there developed a similar
offensive in the air. The Zeppelin menace had been almost exorcised in
the autumn of 1916 by the effectiveness of explosive bullets fired
from aeroplanes which ignited the gas-bags. But on 28 November a
solitary aeroplane dropped six bombs on London in full daylight, and
thus gave ample warning of what might follow. No adequate steps were,
however, taken to meet the danger until in the spring and summer of
1917 it was brought home in a more emphatic form. On 25 May German
aeroplanes which had been diverted from their London objective by
atmospheric conditions, caused 250 casualties and nearly inflicted
serious military damage at Folkestone; and on 13 June the Germans
effected their most successful raid by appearing over London shortly
before noon and killing 157 and wounding 432 men, women, and children.
The object was avowed in the German press by one of the leaders of the
expedition to be the demoralization of the civilian population. Its
success was due to the lack of counter-preparations; and when the
experiment was repeated on 7 July four of the raiders were brought
down and the casualties were reduced to 59 killed and 193 injured.
After August the daylight aeroplane raids were discontinued, but only
to be resumed in moonlight, and on 4 September 11 persons were killed
and 62 injured in a London raid at night. These became almost nightly
affairs at the end of the month; and while no single aeroplane raid at
night caused anything like the loss of life inflicted on 13 June or 7
July, they were sufficiently distracting, though it pleased the
patriotic press to pretend that only immigrant aliens, East-End Jews,
or at least the poorest of native Britons, sought safety in flight
from the risks they involved.

The raids were repeated at irregular intervals, owing to atmospheric
conditions, throughout the winter until Whitsunday 19 May, when 44
were killed and 179 injured. Generally they occurred when the moon was
nearly full, but on 6 December there was one when it was in its last
quarter and on 18 December another when it was only four days old, and
on 7 March 20 were killed and 55 injured in a raid on a moonless
night. On 19 October these aeroplane raids were varied by a raid on a
moonless night by Zeppelins which shut off their engines and drifted
across London with a north-west wind, dropping only three bombs but
killing 27 and injuring 53 persons. Six of the raiders failed to get
home, and this was the last of the Zeppelin so far as London was
concerned, though Zeppelin raids were made as late as 12 and 13 March
on the north-east coast. Reprisals were adopted as a policy by the
British Government in the autumn of 1917, and great store was set upon
them in some quarters. But in spite of the vigour with which they were
carried out along the Rhine, there is no reason to suppose that our
aeroplane raids achieved any greater military effect than that which
we had always denied to German raids on England. They certainly did
not succeed in curing the Germans of their raiding propensities. That
was effected by our improvements in defence, notably in our
antiaircraft bullets and "aprons" suspended from balloons; and after
Whitsunday, 1918, the Germans concentrated on the French, although
they had shown fewer qualms about reprisals. Nor did our supremacy in
the air produce the effects which many anticipated on the field of
battle. Italian superiority with that arm was of little use at
Caporetto, and our superiority did not materially further our advance
in Flanders in the autumn of 1917 or retard the German offensive at
St. Quentin in the spring of 1918. Aircraft were indispensable as eyes
for an army, and to a lesser extent for a navy; but as an independent
force they were as limited in their effectiveness as is artillery or
cavalry without the fundamental infantry.

The obvious stalemate which marked the situation during the first half
of the fourth year of the war imposed upon the belligerents a
reconsideration of the political and military means of bringing it to
an end. Dissatisfaction was naturally more apparent in Germany during
the spring and summer and in Entente countries during the autumn of
1917; and in July the Reichstag passed its famous resolution against
annexations and indemnities. Its idea of peace was that Germany should
forgo annexations, and the Entente its claims to indemnities; but the
chief anxiety of the Reichstag was to make capital for the cause of
constitutional reform out of the dissatisfaction with Germany's
military situation, and that was immediately improved by the collapse
of the last Russian offensive. Bethmann-Hollweg fell for failing to
control the Reichstag, but his successor Michaelis was a mere Prussian
bureaucrat who only accepted the Reichstag resolution "as he
understood it," and the fate of Russia soon made it clear that his
understanding of "no annexations and no indemnities" did not preclude
the "liberation" of large parts of Russia and their subjection to
German influence, nor the insistence upon "guarantees" which would
reduce Belgium and Serbia to a similar plight. The Vatican followed
the German lead with a peace note in August which revealed no clear
distinction between its and the German point of view; and in October,
amid subdued celebrations of the fourth centenary of Luther's
Ninety-Five Theses, Count Hertling succeeded Michaelis as Imperial
Chancellor and became the first Roman Catholic minister-president of
Prussia since the Reformation.

There was, indeed, a fundamental unity in this apparently discordant
combination between the Protestant and the Ultramontane; for the
Hohenzollern State and the Roman Catholic Church were both systems
organized on that principle of autocracy which was more and more
coming out as the underlying issue of the war, and it coincided with
the fitness of things that the answer to the Vatican note was returned
by the President of the United States. There was, in fact, no basis of
accommodation, and any desire for it in Germany disappeared with the
temporary improvement in her military prospects. When the failure of
our campaign in Flanders was coupled with the Italian disaster at
Caporetto and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the Reichstag
resolution was spurned, constitutional reform was smothered, and the
Junkers under Ludendorff's able leadership girded themselves for a
final quest of peace by victory with illimitable annexations and
indemnities. The Kaiser foreshadowed the coming offensive in the West
by proclaiming that the only way to peace was one hewn through the
ranks of those who would not make it.

In spite of this brave show, the Entente exhibited a truer confidence
by expressing its dissatisfaction not in the form of seeking a
compromise with the enemy, but in criticism of the conduct of the war.
There had, indeed, been some political hesitation at the time of the
Stockholm Conference in the summer when the Russian revolutionists
invited socialists of all countries to consider a peace without
annexations or indemnities. Even Mr. Lloyd George was subsequently
said by his Labour colleague in the Cabinet to have contemplated
British participation; and there were legitimate grounds for anxiety
lest the officially countenanced if not inspired presence of German
socialists at Stockholm might not give them a political advantage over
unrepresented Entente countries. But the danger passed away as gleams
of returning prosperity in the autumn revealed once more the true
mentality of the German Government and exposed the insincerity of its
pacific professions; and precipitate pacifism only revealed itself in
Great Britain in a cautiously worded but dangerously doubting letter
by Lord Lansdowne, published in the "Daily Telegraph" on 29 November.
Once more President Wilson expressed, in his message of 4 December,
the real mind of Germany's most sober and serious enemies. He branded
German autocracy as "a thing without conscience or honour or capacity
for covenanted peace," and declared that peace could only come "when
the German people have spokesmen whose word we can believe, and when
those spokesmen are ready in the name of their people to accept the
common judgment of the nations as to what shall henceforth be the
bases of law and of covenant for the life of the world." Our
conception of those bases was elaborated in a memorandum adopted by
the Labour party later in the month which was substantially accepted
by Mr. Lloyd George, after consultation with Mr. Asquith, Viscount
Grey, and representatives of the Dominions, on 5 January 1918; and
then three days later President Wilson defined the famous Fourteen
Points which ultimately became the basis of the peace.

There was more heartburning over the conduct of the war. In France, M.
Ribot's Government fell in September and was reconstituted under M.
Painlevé. It succumbed in November to the effects of Caporetto, and
France, like Italy, had to find a new Prime Minister. Her choice fell
upon M. Clémenceau, a vigorous veteran of seventy-six. His supreme
quality was an audacity from which friends as well as foes
occasionally suffered, and his great service was the war he waged upon
the half-hearted and the double-minded of his compatriots. England
escaped a change of Ministry, but not without misgivings or the
sacrifice of subordinates on account of a situation for which
Ministers were equally if not more to blame. There were sweeping
changes at the Admiralty, and the mutterings of a Press campaign
against Sir William Robertson and Sir Douglas Haig, for which the
Prime Minister had given some ground, if not the signal, by his
reference to the tactics of the Stone Age. The ultimate cause of his
embarrassment lay in the extravagant anticipations he had encouraged
of the results to follow from his own accession to power. He had
attributed the responsibility for earlier failures to end the war to
his predecessors, and on his own line of argument he was himself
responsible for the ill-success of 1917. In both cases the reasoning
was absurd, and individual Ministers counted for little in the titanic
conflict of forces. Mr. Lloyd George suffered from the Russian
revolution, but he had a windfall in American intervention; the
"Victory Loan" of January would not have saved the Entente from grave
financial difficulties had it not been for American assistance; and
the war seemed at least as far from an end after a year of the new
administration as it seemed when Mr. Lloyd George came in on a promise
of speedy success.

Nor was his preparation for the coming crisis marked by greater
foresight than the measures of his predecessors. That it was coming in
the spring was sufficiently obvious in the autumn; intelligent
outsiders predicted in November that there would be a great German
offensive in the West, and even drew attention to the unmistakable
design of the Germans to weaken our front in France by the Italian
diversion. Yet no serious steps were taken to strengthen that front in
time. The Prime Minister announced in December that the Russian
collapse and Italian defeat imposed fresh obligations on Great
Britain, but his legislative proposals for increasing our man-power
were postponed till the following session and were quite inadequate in
their scope. Meanwhile the British front which was doomed to attack
was being weakened by being extended from St. Quentin to Barisis in
order to shorten and therefore strengthen the French front which was
not the German objective. Steps were, indeed, taken to establish an
Allied military council at Versailles; but the unity was more apparent
than real, and the council had no authority over the individual
governments or their staffs, and each continued to feel responsible
and anxious mainly, if not exclusively, for its own particular front.
Matters did not improve in the early months of 1918. In January Sir
Henry Wilson, our military representative at Versailles, reported his
opinion that the impending German offensive would be launched against
the British front between St. Quentin and Cambrai. He failed to
persuade his French colleagues, and if he convinced his own
Government, it failed to act upon his advice. Possibly it felt bound
to abide by the collective view, if any was expressed, by the
Versailles Council; in that case the collective Council proved less
sagacious than the British representative, and on 16 February it was
announced that Sir William Robertson had resigned.

Meanwhile, American preparations were being delayed by an exceptional
winter and by the inherent and enormous difficulty of converting a
vast community inured to peace to the organized purposes of war. In
spite of invidious comparisons by super-patriots between British sloth
and Transatlantic promptitude, America took four times as many months
as the British had taken weeks to put a hundred thousand men into the
firing-line; and the Germans were transferring divisions very much
faster from the Eastern to the Western front. The Bolsheviks had
relieved them of all anxiety on that score. Immediately after their
coup d'etat on 7 November they had issued an invitation to all
belligerents to negotiate for peace. The Germans naturally accepted,
and on 29 November Count Hertling announced in the Reichstag their
readiness to treat. On 3 December Krilenko obtained the surrender at
Mohilev of the Russian General Staff, and Dukhonin, his predecessor,
was barbarously murdered, though Kornilov escaped. On the 5th an
armistice was signed to last till the 17th, and on the 15th a truce
for another month. Cossack rebellions under Kaledin and Kornilov broke
out on the Don and under Dutoff in the Urals; and Scherbachev
collected a mixed anti-Bolshevik force on the borders of the Ukraine.
But peace negotiations began between the Germans and Bolsheviks at
Brest-Litovsk on the 22nd. The plausible German Foreign Secretary, Von
Kühlmann, presided, and Austria was represented by Count Czernin. On
the 25th, which was Christmas Day for the Germans but not by the
unreformed Russian calendar, Von Kühlmann announced Germany's adhesion
to the Russian programme of no annexations and no indemnities on
condition that the Entente accepted the same principle; and an
adjournment was made until 4 January to wait for its reply.

Before it was received Germany declared that Poland, Lithuania,
Courland, and parts of Esthonia and Livonia--i.e. the conquered
provinces of Russia--had already expressed their "self-determination"
in favour of separation from Russia and protection by Germany; and on
2 January Trotzky indignantly denounced these "hypocritical peace
proposals." On the 10th, however, he consented to reopen the
discussions at Brest without reference to the Entente, and to
recognize the independent status of the Ukraine. He was not yet
prepared to accept the German terms, and after the forcible
suppression of the Constituent Assembly, which had been elected in the
autumn and endeavoured to meet at Petrograd on 18 January, he accused
the Germans of demanding "a most monstrous annexation." He was still
relying on the result of Bolshevik propaganda in Germany, and the
strikes which broke out at the end of the month and the prohibition of
the Vorwärts showed that it was not without effect. But their
suppression by the Government deprived him of his only weapon, and on
10 February he announced that, while the Bolsheviks refused to sign an
unjust peace, the state of war was ended between Germany and Russia.
This chaotic suggestion did not commend itself to the Germans, and
they took prompt measures to bring Trotzky to a less ambiguous frame
of mind. On the 18th they occupied Dvinsk and Lutsk, and before the
end of the month they were in Hapsal, Dorpat, Reval, Pskov, and Minsk,
and within striking distance of Petrograd (see Map, p. 274). On the
24th the Bolsheviks intimated their willingness to accept the new
German terms, far more severe than their original proposals, which
included the abandonment of the whole of the Baltic Provinces, Poland,
Lithuania, and the Ukraine, and the surrender of Armenia and the
Caucasus to the Turks. Peace was signed on these conditions on 2
March, and confirmed by a majority of more than two to one at a
congress of Soviets at Moscow on the 14th.

Shameful as this surrender was, the Bolsheviks found some compensation
in the domestic triumphs of their party and their creed. Cossack
resistance succumbed to their arms and propaganda. Alexeiev, who had
succeeded Kaledin in the command of the Cossack forces, was defeated
on 13 February; Kaledin committed suicide; and Bolshevik authority
spread to the Black Sea, the Caucasus, and all across Siberia. Germany
hastened to make a German peace with Finland and the Ukraine, which
attempted to sow as many seeds of discord as was possible; but the
bourgeois parties with whom they treated had but a slender hold on the
countries they professed to represent, and Finland and the Ukraine
were soon involved in civil wars in which their Governments were only
able to make headway against the Bolshevik Red Guards by the help of
German troops. The anarchy suited the Germans except in so far as it
detained German forces from the West and impeded those supplies they
sought from the Ukraine and farther afield; and by the middle of March
they were in Odessa and pushing their outposts and their intrigues
towards the Caucasus, the Caspian, and Central Asia. The most pitiable
situation was that of Rumania, threatened as she was by the Bolsheviks
on account of her monarchy and social order, and by the Central
Empires on account of her alliance with the Entente. Completely cut
off from those allies, she was compelled in March to sign the
humiliating Treaty of Bukarest, which surrendered the Dobrudja, the
Carpathian passes, and her supplies of corn and oil to the enemy,
while leaving Mackensen in control of her capital and the greater part
of the kingdom.

There have been few disasters in modern history comparable with the
fall of Russia, and none which shows more vividly that the strength of
a State depends not upon the vastness of its territory, the size of
its armies, or the skill of its diplomacy, but upon the moral, the
education, and contentment of its people. Of all the causes of German
success in the war and of suffering to the world at large and little
nations in particular, none was more potent than the blindness of
Russian governments which had refused in the past to set their house
in order, and by reform in time to prepare their people for the storm.
Russia herself suffered most, but all her allies felt in different
degrees the effects of her collapse, and in the spring of 1918 it was
to put the general cause of civilization to its severest test upon the
Western front. The perilous situation in which the Entente stood in
March was due to other reasons than the conduct of the British War
Cabinet, but there was a grim irony in its somewhat novel publication
of an official advertisement and report of its preparations for
victory on the eve of the greatest defeat encountered by British arms
during the war.


                            CHAPTER XVIII

                      THE LAST GERMAN OFFENSIVE

More than two years before the war concluded a junior officer from the
front remarked that he could not say when, but knew where, it would
end, and that was not far from our existing lines in France and
Flanders. As time wore on and the limitations of strategy under modern
conditions grew clearer, the war assumed more and more the aspect of a
single battle varying in its intensity from season to season and place
to place, but constant in its continuity and in its absorption of the
principal forces of the main belligerents. The unity of control
culminating in unity of command which marked the closing stages of the
war was therefore not so much a brilliant improvisation on the part of
any general or statesman as the inevitable result of the history of
the war; and the misfortunes of the Entente did more than its
foresight to bring that consummation to pass. In the main it was due
to the gradual weakening and then the collapse of Russia, which first
involved the ruin of Serbia and Rumania and the wrecking of our Balkan
plans, and finally dissolved the Eastern front. There could have been
no unity of command had Russia remained our predominant military
partner; and even in the West it never comprised the Italian Army,
which retained its independence of action or inaction until the end of
the war. But in 1918 the Italian front sank into a subordination
almost as marked as the Russian, and the war that counted grew to a
climax where it had started between the Alps and the Belgian coast.
There were concentrated the French and British armies which Germany
must beat before she could win peace; and there came in the American
hosts which turned the scale against her.

With or without unity of command, the two million American troops
which ultimately crossed the Atlantic would have given us the victory;
and the view that the war was won by unity of command is as
superficial as the view that the battle of St. Quentin was lost by the
lack of it. That battle was lost because the Versailles Council,
acting on the advice of its French rather than its British members,
misjudged the direction of the coming German offensive and misplaced
the reserves at its disposal. Unless, which may be the case, Foch was
at variance with his French colleagues on this point, his appointment
as generalissimo at any earlier stage would not have affected the
results of these mistakes. Unity of command might, indeed, have led to
an even more extensive weakening of the threatened British front in
order to make absolutely secure that French front which the French
were convinced was the German objective, and a demand was made for a
further British extension beyond Barisis, but was successfully
resisted at the Versailles Council before the unity of command had
been established. That does not absolve the British Cabinet from its
complicity in the blunder. It was equally responsible to the British
people for British lives whether it was acting on its own initiative
or on the mistaken advice of an ally; and there were also sins of
omission of its own. Not only had it been advised by Sir Henry Wilson
that the German offensive would come on the British front, but it had
been warned that if it came where it was anticipated, that front, thin
as it was, could not be expected to hold unless reinforcements, for
which repeated requests were made, were dispatched. Remonstrances fell
on deaf ears, although there were nearly 300,000 troops available in
England. Mr. Lloyd George afterwards called them first-class troops,
and congratulated himself and the country on the fact that they were
transported to France within a fortnight after the damage had been
done. For this, the most culpable Cabinet failure in the war, others
besides the Cabinet were to blame; and it must be ascribed ultimately
to the national sins of intellectual sloth and ignorance. Those
hundreds of thousands of troops, shown to be superfluous in England by
their subsequent dispatch to France, were kept at home because persons
in authority believed they were needed to do the work of the British
Navy and defend our shores against a German invasion. Throughout the
war loquacious generals, who were not employed at the front, harped at
home on that alarm, supremely ignorant of and indifferent to the
unbroken experience of the world and the teaching of naval history,
that military invasion across an uncommanded sea is an utter
impossibility. But there was no one to teach the War Cabinet this
elementary truth, and least of all could it be taught by the eminent
lawyer and the able railway director whom Mr. Lloyd George
successively appointed to the Admiralty to represent the ripest naval
wisdom of mankind. It remained for the nation to pay the cost.

The great attack was launched at dawn on Thursday, 21 March, precisely
against that sector of the British front indicated by Sir Henry Wilson
two months before; and Gough's Fifth Army, which held it lightly with
fourteen divisions against forty, was doomed to defeat by the failure
of both the British and the French Governments to provide adequate
reserves which existed in abundance both in England and in the rear of
the French line, and by the fact that Haig was more anxious about his
shallow front in Flanders and Pétain about his in Champagne than
either was about the Somme. Generally speaking, the British front grew
thinner from north to south until between the Somme and the Oise Gough
had less than a bayonet a yard; and Ludendorff knew it. He also made
skilful use of the advantage which the possession of the interior
lines gave him in the St. Quentin-St. Gobain salient. He could mass
his troops in that angle without revealing which side he meant to
attack, and thus neutralize that observation which superiority in
aircraft gave his antagonists. It was not so much that he brought up
his forces at night and concealed them in woods, which are leafless in
March, as that the bodily eye of the airmen failed to discern his
intentions. He had other incidental advantages: that laborious
spade-work which characterized the German Army was not a
distinguishing feature of either the British or the French; and both
the trenches we took over south of St. Quentin and our own to the
north of it left a good deal to be desired in their defensive
strength, while the great bridgehead under construction to protect the
Somme south of Péronne had not been completed. The Allied advance had
been slow, but since 1916 a confident conviction possessed the Allied
armies that they would only move in a forward direction. Ludendorff
was also able to withdraw his six divisions and many Austrian
batteries from the Italian front, assured that no Italian offensive
need be feared; and his tactics came as a surprise in spite of the
practical warnings given at Caporetto and Cambrai. They were based not
so much upon superiority of numbers as upon superiority of the
selected troops to the average of the forces opposed; and success
depended less upon the weight than upon the sharpness of the weapon
used for the blow. Hindenburg liked a hammer; Ludendorff chose an axe
with which to cleave the enemy front. When it was cleft, inferior
metal might be used to widen the gap between the French and British
armies and drive the latter to the coast while the former was being
crushed.

The German offensive was facilitated by the abnormally dry season,
which reduced the strength of the water-defences of the British right,
and a dense fog favoured the attack on our forward positions. The
Germans got their infantry across the Oise canal north of La Fère
without being noticed, and many of our outposts were surrounded before
it was known that the attack had begun, although a brief bombardment
by gas and other shells had drenched our line and areas miles behind
it all along the front (see Map, p. 338). The forward zone resisted
heroically, but by noon the Germans were through it west of La Fère
and were in our battle-zone north of St. Quentin at Ronssoy. Between
these two extremes of Gough's front they reached in the afternoon
Maissemy, north of St. Quentin, and the line Essigny-Benay south of
it. Farther north less progress had been made against Byng's Third
Army, but the Germans had reached St. Leger in their effort to thrust
a wedge between Arras and Cambrai, and many villages had been
captured. The prospect was gloomy for the morrow, since, although the
Germans had already used sixty-four divisions they were prepared to
throw in fresh ones each succeeding day, and it would be several days
before reinforcements could reach the Somme either from our reserves
in Flanders or the French reserves in Champagne.

The Germans made comparatively little headway on the 22nd against the
Third Army; but Gough's last reserves were thrown in without stopping
the German advance on our right, and the meagre French division which
Fayolle was able to send across the Oise could not dam the torrent. At
night the enemy had penetrated our third defensive position, and Gough
ordered a retreat to the unfinished bridgehead on the Somme. Byng's
right had to conform to this movement, which did not stop east of the
Somme; for on the 23rd the Germans had crossed the river south-east of
Ham, more than a dozen miles from their starting-point, and the
Péronne bridgehead had to be abandoned. Even on the west bank Gough's
right was thus endangered, and his left was threatened by a German
attempt to break a gap north of Péronne between his army and Byng's
Third. This effort on the Somme, where it runs due west from Péronne
to Amiens, now became the chief and most promising objective of the
German strategy. The link between our two armies was extremely
fragile, and misunderstandings arose between the two staffs.
Fortunately the worst disaster was averted by Byng's timely withdrawal
from Monchy, which disconcerted and postponed the German attack on
Arras.

On Sunday the 24th the task of the British was threefold--to stem
with French assistance the German advance on our right between the
Somme and the Oise, to hold the line of the river from Ham northwards
to Péronne, and to repel the German thrust between the Third and Fifth
Armies north of the river bend. They were partially successful in the
first two tasks, but north of the Somme the Germans got into Combles
and the Third Army had to make a big retreat, surrendering Bapaume and
nearly all the painful gains of the 1916 Somme campaign. The Germans
renewed the attack with great energy on the 25th, and the British were
unable to hold them up on their improvised lines. Before night they
were ordered to take their stand on the old Ancre defences. This
movement exposed the left flank of Gough's forces on the Somme; his
front had also been driven in by German attacks across the river,
while his right had been forced back beyond Guiscard, Noyon, and
Nesle. Fissures began to appear on the broken front; there was
something very like a gap between the French and British near Roye,
and another between Byng's Fourth and Fifth Corps across the Ancre,
besides that between his and Gough's armies. Byng was the first to
re-establish his line, partly because reinforcements from the north
reached him first. Early on the 26th the Germans had broken through
our old line between Beaumont-Hamel and Hébuterne and taken
Colincamps, where they had not been since 1914; but in the afternoon
they were driven out again, and the recovery was permanent. Here at
least the German advance had reached its limit, and there was some
significance in the fact that here on that afternoon the British
whippet Tanks first appeared in battle.

Gough was not so happy. He had begun to collect a miscellaneous force,
like that which stopped the final German thrust at Ypres on 31 October
1914, consisting of all sorts of combatant and non-combatant details,
to check the German rush on the Somme; but threats on his left, right,
and front compelled him to retreat to a line running south from Bray
and behind that held by the French before the battle of the Somme.
Still the Germans advanced towards Montdidier, seeking to break
through between Gough's right and the French, who had been driven off
south-west of Roye. But the worst of the danger was north on the
Somme, where Byng's orders were misunderstood and his extreme right,
instead of holding the line Albert-Bray to protect Gough's left, fell
back five miles to Sailly-le-Sec. The result was that on the 27th the
Germans were able to cross the Somme behind Gough's left at Chipilly
and compel his retreat to a line running from Bouzencourt S.E. to
Rosières. There Gough's centre stoutly maintained itself during the
day; but to the south the Germans drove the French out of Lassigny and
Montdidier and seemed in a fair way to break the liaison between the
Allies, while north of the Somme the Germans had got into Albert and
Aveluy wood.

Nevertheless the clouds were beginning to lighten. The violence of the
German attack was exhausting to the attackers; their communications
now lay across the devastated area, and rain soon came to clog their
movements. Their front of attack was, moreover, being steadily
narrowed from fifty to twenty miles. The French had forced the Germans
to leave the Oise after Noyon, and while their advance continued it
did so with a lengthening flank no longer protected by the river.
Unless Von Hutier to the south or Von Buelow to the north could break
these containing and solidifying barriers, the front of the German
attack would be reduced to a hopeless point before it got to Amiens.
The attempt was naturally made against Arras by Von Buelow's
comparatively unwearied army, and on the 28th he resumed his
frustrated attack of the 23rd. This time the Germans had no fog to
help them, and their troops assembling for the attack were decimated
by our artillery. Nowhere did they succeed in piercing the battle
zone, and a second attack in the afternoon fared no better. This was
the decisive failure of the German offensive, and north of the Somme
our front was now secure. South of it the Germans made some further
progress on that day. The Rosières salient had to be abandoned to the
Germans pushing south of it across the Somme, and a retreat made to
the angle of the Luce and Avre rivers. Fayolle also was driven back to
the Avre, but by counter-attacks north and south of Montdidier he
prevented the enemy from debouching from that city.

The situation continued grave and the fighting severe for the next few
days, but retreat and pursuit had merged into a battle on a line with
take as well as give. The French front was extended up to the Luce and
an extemporized Fourth Army replaced the weary remnants of the Fifth.
More important was the appointment of Foch as commander-in-chief on
the 25th after a conference at Doullens between Haig and Pétain, Lord
Milner and Clémenceau, though it cannot have had much effect upon the
operations which checked the German advance by the end of March. On 4
April Von Hutier made a final attempt to reach Amiens, and drove the
Allies out of the angle of the Luce and Avre and from the west bank of
the latter back to a line running west of Castel, Mailly-Raineval,
Sauvillers, Cantigny, and Mesnil St. Georges. But farther the Germans
could not advance either north or south of the Somme, though away to
the east the French had to evacuate the sharp salient between the Oise
from La Fère to Chauny and the St. Gobain forest, and to fall back
behind the Aillette. The first act in the great German offensive had
failed in its strategical object of breaking the Allied line, but it
had achieved incomparably more than any Allied offensive in the war;
and the only advances to compare with it were the German invasion of
France and Belgium in 1914 and of Russia in 1915. The Germans claimed
by 4 April 90,000 prisoners and 1300 guns, and the Fifth Army had been
practically destroyed. It was the most formidable offensive in the
history of the world, and four times as many divisions were launched
against the British in March 1918 as against the French at Verdun in
1916.

But it did not exhaust the German effort. There were other acts to
follow, and the second opened on 9 April, immediately after the
curtain had been rung down on the first. No second offensive could,
however, approach in magnitude the original plan. The Germans excelled
in forethought and in methodical preparation for which ample time was
needed. They had had it in the winter, and had staked their hopes upon
the success of their throw in March. Now they had to improvise, and
their second thoughts were second best. There were, indeed, signs of
indecision in Ludendorff's later moves. Possibly he regarded the
Flanders offensive in April and the attack on the Chemin des Dames in
May as diversions merely intended to draw reserves away from the
Amiens front and facilitate a resumption of his original design with
better chance of success. Certainly those offensives were begun with
limited forces, and probably succeeded beyond his expectations. But
the attack on the Amiens front was never seriously resumed in spite of
the success of Ludendorff's diversions; and the remainder of the
campaign, so far as German initiative was concerned, resolved itself
after April into an effort to repeat with more success against the
French Army offensives which had failed to dispose of the British.
There can hardly have been much hope in Ludendorff's mind of decisive
victory in a strategy which after April left the British front almost
immune from attack, while American reinforcements were pouring in at
the rate of hundreds of thousands a month. But the responsibility of
continuing the war under such conditions and deluding the German
people with false confidence was so serious that no admission is
likely to be forthcoming yet awhile of the real intentions and
thoughts of the German General Staff during the summer of 1918. The
truth no doubt is that Ludendorff had only a choice between a
confession of failure which was bound to ruin the Government and the
class he represented, and a desperate effort to make what he could out
of the military situation; and he preferred gambling, so long as he
had anything with which to play, to an immediate confession of
bankruptcy.

For a time he had the luck which lures the gambler on, and the scene
of his second act was skilfully chosen. Before 21 March Haig had kept
his line better manned north than south of Arras, and the reasons
which made him anxious for the defence of his northern sector
counselled Ludendorff to attack it when the defeat of the Fifth Army
had compelled the British commander to divert ten divisions from the
north and supply their place with the weary survivors of the battle of
St. Quentin. He had little room to spare between his front and the
sea, and a break-through, far less extensive than that which had been
effected in March, would give the Germans the coast of the Straits of
Dover, enable them to bombard the Kentish shore, hamper the port of
London, and perhaps reach it with long-range guns like those with
which they had occasionally bombarded Paris since 23 March. These
annoyances would have been serious; but the British public paid itself
a very bad compliment when it seemed to assume that the distant
bombardment of London would have an effect upon the war
disproportionate to that of Paris; and the notion that an impetus
which carried the Germans to Calais would transport them across the
Channel was merely another illustration of the comprehensive popular
ignorance of the meaning of sea-power. Nieuport or Dunkirk might have
taken the place of Bruges as a submarine base without greatly
enhancing the success of that campaign; and Haig chose rightly when,
having to weaken his northern front, he risked a sector north instead
of south of La Bassée and the Vimy Ridge. Defeat to the north of those
points, even though it cost us the coast as far as Calais, would not
entail retreat from the Artois hills between Arras and Gris Nez or
threaten our liaison with the French which had been Ludendorff's first
objective. The material comments on the value of his second thoughts
were that the Germans might have had the Channel ports for the asking
in 1914 but did not think them worth it, and that in April 1918
Ludendorff employed but nine divisions in his initial effort to break
through. Probably his real ambition was merely to shorten his line
and, in view of the possible resumption of his offensive in front of
Amiens, to provide against a British counter-attack on the sensitive
German position along the Belgian coast.

Anticipating some such attack, Haig had deemed it wise to relieve the
two Portuguese divisions which held part of the front between the Lys
and La Bassée of their arduous responsibility; but he could only
replace them by weary British divisions, and the change had only been
half effected when, on 9 April, Ludendorff s attack began after the
usual bombardment with gas and high-explosive on the 8th. The
Portuguese broke fairly soon, the British flanks on either side were
turned, and the whole centre had gone in a few hours. By night the
Germans had captured Fleurbaix, Laventie, Neuve Chapelle, Richebourg,
and Lacouture, and were on the Lys from Bac St. Maur almost as far as
Lestrem. But the key-position at Givenchy was splendidly held by the
55th Division, which set a permanent limit to the German success and
prevented it from obtaining anything like the dimensions of the March
offensive. It continued, however, to develop on the north. On the 10th
Bois Grenier fell, Armentières was evacuated, and the Germans poured
across the Lys, taking Estaires, Steenwerck, and Ploegstreet and
threatening the Messines ridge. That, too, followed on the 11th, while
farther south the Germans secured Neuf Berquin and Lestrem. On the
12th they got into Merris and Merville and advanced to the La Bassée
canal, threatening to cross it and outflank Béthune on the north-west.
Here, however, they were held up in front of Robecq, between the canal
and the forest of Nieppe, and turned to exploit their advantage
farther north. Their advance here was slower, but by the 16th they had
mastered Wytschaete, Wulverghem, Neuve Eglise, Bailleul, and Meteren,
and were facing the line of hills running from Mt. Kemmel to the Mt.
des Cats.

British and French reinforcements were now arriving in considerable
numbers, and Ludendorff would have been prudent to rest on his
laurels. He had made a pronounced bulge in our line, had diverted
forces from other sectors of the defence, and compelled us to evacuate
our dearly-purchased gains of the Flanders campaign in the preceding
autumn. On the other hand, he had lengthened instead of shortening his
own line, he had achieved no strategical object, and his troops were
left in a salient which invited attack. Unless he could win the
heights from Mt. Kemmel to Mt. des Cats, which commanded the country
to the coast, he would be in a worse situation for defence than he was
before. He was thus driven to prolong the effort, pour fresh divisions
into the battle, and convert a diversion into a major operation.
Doubtless popular visions of the Channel ports and the bombardment of
London reinforced the sounder military reasons for persistence. There
were three obvious lines of attack--on the Belgian front north of
Ypres, on the Kemmel range, now held partly by French troops, and on
Béthune. The first was defeated on the 17th by a brilliant Belgian
resistance, and the third was repulsed on the 18th before Hinges and
at Givenchy; but the second was longer delayed and more stubbornly
pushed.

The effort began with an intense bombardment on the 25th, and a few
hours later the Germans had captured the village and hill of Kemmel;
our forces were driven back to a line running in front of Dickebusch
lake, La Clytte, the Scherpenberg, and Locre. Mt. Kemmel had been
regarded as the key to the position, and it looked as though the range
would fall. But Kemmel was an isolated height, and the Germans were
beaten in the valleys which separated it from the Scherpenberg. Their
attacks reached a climax on the 29th, and after some partial success
were everywhere defeated. Local fighting continued spasmodically till
late in May, but it was clear that Ludendorff's second offensive had
come to an end like his first. Its extension had also ruined the
chance of successfully resuming the attack in front of Amiens. On 23
April the Germans attacked just south of the Somme and captured
Villers-Bretonneux, but it was promptly retaken on the following day;
and in the struggle along that line in May we advanced as well as
improved our position. The Germans had fought their last offensive
against the British front and had failed; and when after a four weeks'
pause they resumed their attacks, they were directed against the
French.

During the interval the British public had time to reflect upon the
disaster and its effects. They were brought home by a new military
service Bill extending the liability to all men under fifty-one and
bringing Ireland within its scope. Panic had as much to do with these
proposals as forethought. The raising of the military age was
calculated to weaken our industrial more than to strengthen our
military power; and the extension to Ireland handed that country over
to Sinn Fein and necessitated the diversion thither of large British
forces, which might otherwise have been sent to the front, without
producing a single Irish conscript. The proposal was, indeed, so
foolish that its authors made no attempt to carry it out. Wiser was
the speedy dispatch to France of 300,000 superfluous troops who had
been kept in England by nothing better than an ignorant fear of
invasion. But it was the amazing rapidity with which the United States
responded to Mr. Lloyd George's anxious appeals that saved the
Government from the effects of its own blunders and reduced its
military service Act to a measure for the infliction of gratuitous
hardship. In April nearly 120,000 American troops landed in Europe,
over 220,000 in May, and 275,000 in June. On 2 July President Wilson
announced that over a million had sailed; that number was doubled
before the summer ended, and in July General Smuts was anticipating
the possible presence in France of an American army as large as the
British and French combined.

The need for so colossal a force did not arise, but in April the
position of his Government as well as the military situation agitated
the Prime Minister and gave wildness to his words as well as to his
actions. Apart from the casualties, we had lost 1000 guns, 4000
machine guns, 200,000 rifles, 70,000 tons of ammunition, and 250
million rounds of small ammunition, and 200 tanks. Circumstances wore
a different complexion from the roseate hues of the early months of
1917, and Mr. Lloyd George could not escape the kind of blame he had
heaped upon his predecessors. He sought to evade it in his speech at
the reassembling of Parliament on the 9th by shifting the
responsibility for the disaster partly on to M. Clémenceau as the
principal author of the unfortunate extension of the British line, and
partly on to the commander of the Fifth Army. The latter at least
could not reply, and the unfairness of the attack provoked much
ill-feeling in the army and elsewhere; it found expression in a letter
from Major-General Maurice, lately Director of Military Operations,
which was published on 7 May and challenged the accuracy of
ministerial statements. His charges were so serious that the
Government at once proposed a judicial inquiry. Mr. Asquith committed
the tactical error of moving instead for a parliamentary committee.
The Government naturally treated his motion as a vote of censure, and
escaped all investigation on the ostensible plea that it preferred a
different method from that proposed by Mr. Asquith. The House of
Commons by 293 to 106 votes expressed its apparent satisfaction with
that "ex parte statement from the Prime Minister himself" which "The
Times"--then his strongest supporter in the Press--had the day before
said could not dispose of a charge which "unless and until it is
impartially investigated and disproved, will profoundly shake the
public confidence in every statement made from the Treasury Bench." It
was not, however, with the honour of ministers that the House was
mainly concerned. Members were in that mood, which occurs at times in
every nation's history, in which questions of morals seem irrelevant
or unimportant; and what they wanted was not the truth but a plausible
excuse for shirking inquiry and refusing to add a political to the
military crisis. Conscious of their own responsibility for the
Government, they were impatient of any discussion which might reveal
unpleasant facts to their constituents or military information to the
enemy.

It is difficult also not to trace a political motive, if not in the
attacks on Zeebrugge and Ostend, at least in the contrast between the
enormous publicity they received and the silence which shrouded the
more normal but not less important or heroic work of the British Navy.
The plans, indeed, had been prepared and sanctioned by Jellicoe before
he left office some months earlier; but many plans have long to wait
the ministerial word, and the naval operations of 23 April were as
timely for political as for military reasons. The military objective
was to block the submarine and destroyer exits from Zeebrugge and
Ostend, both of which were connected by canals with Bruges; and an
operation of that kind against the elaborately fortified Belgian coast
required favourable weather conditions as well as the highest courage.
The plan at Ostend was simply to sink ships in the waterway; at
Zeebrugge there were also to be diversions in the form of a landing on
the protecting mole and the blowing up of the viaduct which connected
it with the shore. Success was only possible if mist and smoke-clouds
added to the concealment of night, and those conditions depended upon
the wind. They seemed favourable on the night of 22-23 April, but a
quarter of an hour before the Vindictive reached the mole, a
south-west breeze dispersed the smoke-clouds and precipitated a
torrent of shell-fire from the German batteries. In spite of it the
landing party got on to the mole and systematically destroyed its
works, while a submarine loaded with explosives was run under the
viaduct and exploded. Meanwhile, the blocking ships were sunk at the
mouth of the canal, and the survivors of their crews were picked up
and got away in the Vindictive and her consorts. At Ostend the
blocking ships had to sink outside the centre of the waterway; but the
effort was repeated with better success by the Vindictive on the night
of 9-10 May. Even Count Reventlow described these affairs as "damned
plucky," but added that they were nothing more. The further attacks on
the Belgian coast which were commonly expected did not come, and the
operations had no appreciable effect upon the land campaign. But they
hampered the German submarine campaign to some extent; and if they
demonstrated once more that sea-power is limited to the sea, they also
showed that on the sea German power had become a negligible quantity.
That fact was, indeed, being proved in a more effective though less
heroic fashion, by the safe transport of hundreds of thousands of
American troops across the Atlantic; but possibly public opinion
needed the more spectacular demonstration, and it certainly showed
that the spirit of British seamen was unaffected by the tremors of
politicians.

Politicians appeared, indeed, to be more nervous after the crisis had
passed than they were before it arose, although their alarms did not
greatly affect the incurable sang-froid of the British public; and the
way in which the middle-aged shouldered the unnecessary burdens
imposed upon them by the improvidence of their Government, was as
exemplary as the eagerness with which youth had volunteered early in
the war. Their acceptance of the new obligations had its value in
stimulating America to dispatch her hundreds of thousands of troops
more fit for active service; and few, if any, of the elderly English
recruits saw any fighting. Ludendorff's plans had already gone astray
when he failed in March and April to break the liaison between the
French and British armies; and his subsequent operations were
ineffective attempts to prepare the ground for a final offensive which
he was never allowed to begin. It would have been doomed to miscarry
in any case, for his preliminaries exhausted the forces intended for
the final effort, and the battles in Flanders had enhanced the failure
of his original design. He took four weeks to prepare for a second
subsidiary operation, and hoped to achieve a better success against
the French than he had against the British. He had the advantage of
taking them unawares, and on the eve of his offensive a French journal
proclaimed that it would be another blow at the British front because
the Germans knew that the French line was impregnable. Popular opinion
in France had attributed German success at St. Quentin and in Flanders
to British incompetence or cowardice, and British troops had even been
hissed in the streets of Paris. The attack on the Chemin des Dames was
to modify this opinion, although some tactless Frenchmen announced
that reserves sent up to the British sector, which alone stood its
ground, were going "au secours des Anglais."

Ludendorff's object was to widen his front towards Paris, for the lure
of the capital had already diverted him from his original plan of
breaking the liaison between the French and British armies in front of
Amiens. That Paris was his objective in May, and not the diversion of
troops from the critical junction with a view to resuming that attack,
seems clear from the fact that his next blow in June was struck
between Montdidier and Noyon. The Chemin des Dames would have been
impregnable if properly held, but Ludendorff s information was not at
fault, and the possession of the interior lines gave him the same
advantage as in March of striking either right against the British or
left against the French. He struck early on 27 May and achieved the
most rapid advance of the war on the Western front. The line from
Soissons to Reims was held by only eight divisions, four French and
four British--one of these in reserve--and in a few hours the French
had lost all their gains since October 1914 and were back again behind
the Aisne. The British divisions, although they had been sent there to
recruit after their hard work in March and April, made a better fight,
and maintained themselves in their second positions all the day. But
the French retreat had uncovered the British left flank, and in the
evening they had to withdraw to the Aisne. By that time the French
were nearer the Vesle than the Aisne, and on the 28th they were driven
well south of the latter river. On the 29th the Germans broadened
their front by taking Soissons, and on the 30th the apex of the
salient they had made had reached the Marne between Château-Thierry
and Dormans. For three days they had advanced at the rate of ten miles
a day, capturing some 40,000 prisoners and 400 guns. From that date
the pace slackened. The Germans did not attempt to cross the Marne,
but endeavoured to widen their salient by pushing east behind Reims
and west across the Soissons-Château-Thierry road. They had little
success in the former direction, but in the latter they gradually
pressed back the French to an irregular line which ran from Fontenoy
on the Aisne southwards along the Savières river across the Ourcq, and
then turned eastwards down the Clignon and reached the Marne below
Château-Thierry. American troops, who had on the 27th marked their
advent into battle by capturing and holding Cantigny, a critical point
on the Montdidier front, now took up an equally crucial position
south-west of Château-Therry and drove the Germans back on 4-5 June,
while on the 6th British troops recaptured Bligny south-west of Reims.

The French themselves defeated on the 5th a German attempt to cross
the Oise at Lagache south of Noyon, which was intended to link up the
German offensive on the Aisne with their next attack farther west.
This was launched on the 9th between Montdidier and Noyon, and its
purpose was to push southwards and envelop the French defences and
forces in the forests of Compiègne and Villers-Cotterets which had
stopped the German westward advance on Paris between the Aisne and the
Marne. It was a dangerous threat, but this time Foch was prepared. The
attack was, indeed, a matter of common anticipation, and its adoption
suggested that Ludendorff was getting to the end of his expedients.
The Americans at Cantigny set a western, and the French success at
Lagache an eastern limit to its front; and thus confined it advanced
no more than six miles in four days. The French left stood firm and a
brilliant counter-attack by Mangin on the German right flank between
Rubescourt and St. Maur on the 11th determined its failure, although
Foch was compelled to evacuate the salient which the German advance
had created in the French line east of the Oise between Ribecourt and
Mt. de Choisy. Hoping that this attack had diverted French forces from
the defence of the forest of Villers-Cotterets, the Germans then
renewed their push along the Aisne, but were promptly checked; and no
better success attended their effort on the 18th to encircle Reims
still farther east.

For the moment German trust in success had to repose upon the
secondary efforts of her Austrian ally on the Piave, although no
German troops could now be spared to give much substance to the
expectation. That front had been quiescent since the winter, but a
good deal had been done to strengthen it, and the Italians were
doubtless well advised to stand behind their lines rather than risk an
offensive until Austria was practically hors de combat. Austria
herself had little stomach for the fight. Her domestic situation was
deplorable; parliamentary government had been suspended; and nearly
half the population of the Empire was in veiled or open revolt.
Hundreds of thousands of Czecho-Slovaks and Jugo-Slavs had joined the
enemy, and some were stiffening the Piave front. But German demands
were inexorable, and it was hoped that German tactics would supply the
place of German troops. There were two battles in the offensive which
began on 15 June, one in the mountains, the object of which was to
turn the whole Italian front on the Piave, and the other a frontal
attack across that river between the Montello, the pivot of the
mountain and river fronts, and the sea. The first was the more
promising, but achieved the less success. That front was partly held
by French and British troops, and the insignificant advance which the
Austrians made on the 15th was stopped on the following day. The
attack on the Piave was at first more fortunate; a good deal of the
Montello was taken, a serious impression was made on the Italian right
wing at San Donà di Piave, and fourteen new bridges and nearly 100,000
Austrian troops were thrown across the river. Fortune came to the
rescue of the Italians, and torrents of rain flooded the Piave and
broke ten of the Austrian bridges. On the 18th the counter-attack
began, and by a brilliant dash of soldiers and sailors the Austrian
left was turned on the 21st. On the 22nd a general retreat across the
river was ordered; it was skilfully carried out, and the Austrians
escaped with singularly slight losses considering their precarious
position. Their offensive had been an utter failure, but Diaz did not
think it prudent to follow up his success with an advance across the
river.

The Austrian misadventure was a meagre morsel with which to fill the
gap between the latest German offensives and the crowning mercy for
which the German public had been led to look; and as the precious
summer weeks flew by uneasiness must have filled any German minds that
were capable of discerning the realities of the situation. But the
wish is father to most men's thoughts, and unpleasant facts which were
not concealed by the censor were sedulously ignored or explained away.
"Foch's reserves" became a jesting synonym on German lips for
something which did not exist, and it was the daily exercise of
journalistic wisdom to show that American armies which could not swim
or fly would be prevented by German submarines from crossing the
Atlantic. Ludendorff was not so blind, and had he been a patriotic
statesman instead of a Junker general he would have sought to make
terms while he might do so with advantage. But it is the nemesis of
militarism that it never can make a peace which is tolerable to its
enemies, and Ludendorff had no choice but to persist with an offensive
which had become a desperate gamble. His efforts since the end of May
had profited him little; he had used up most of the divisions intended
for a final resumption of his attack on the Franco-British liaison;
and after more than a month's delay he could only launch his last bolt
against an eccentric and subsidiary objective. Foiled in front of
Amiens and Paris, he turned to Reims; but there was nothing in the
previous history of the war on the Western front to suggest that, even
were his last offensive as successful as his first, it would bring him
within measurable distance of the victory he needed. The Marne might
be crossed and the railway to Nancy and Verdun cut, as they had been
in 1914, but the further advance for which he could hope from his
attack on Reims would bring him no nearer to Paris, to breaking the
Entente connexion, or to damming that fatal flow of American
reinforcements which was providing Foch with as many reserves a month
as Germany could recruit in a year.

The fateful attack began at 4 a.m. on 15 July after four hours of
artillery preparation. Its object was to encircle the Montagne de
Reims, the chief bastion of the line of communications between Paris
and the eastern front on the Meuse, and to extend the German hold on
the Marne from Dormans as far as Châlons. There were two converging
attacks, one on the twenty-six miles of front which Gouraud held east
of Reims between Prunay and Massiges, and the other on a twenty-two
mile line south-west of Reims between Vrigny and Fossoy on the Marne
above Château-Thierry. For each attack Ludendorff used fifteen
divisions, with others in reserve. On both fronts he found Foch
prepared to counter the tactics which had been so successful in the
earlier stages of the offensive. The first line was lightly held, and
the Germans were shaken by a skilfully arranged bombardment as they
crossed the zone between it and the real French defences. Upon these
in Champagne they made no impression whatever. Prunay, Prosnes,
Auberive, and Tahure were yielded at first, but recovered by
counter-attacks; the French lost no guns, and their casualties were
insignificant. Gouraud more than anyone else had frustrated
Ludendorff's last offensive. South-west of Reims the Germans were
rather more successful. They pushed across the Marne to a depth of
some three miles between Mezy and Dormans, and in three days advanced
up it past Châtillon towards Épernay as far as Rueil. Similar progress
was made eastwards on the line between the Marne and Vrigny. But the
gate-posts were firmly held at Fossoy with American assistance, and at
Vrigny with that of the British and Italian divisions which under
Berthelot did some of their best fighting in the war. By the evening
of the 17th the Entente forces were successfully counter-attacking all
along the line, and at dawn on the 18th Foch delivered the blow which
converted the German advance into a retreat, and began a triumphal
progress which did not stop until four months later the enemy sued for
peace.


                             CHAPTER XIX

                      THE VICTORY OF THE ENTENTE

There were a few people in England who had some inkling on 18 July
that it might prove a turning-point in history. Foch's simple piety
had led him into what was almost an indiscretion; he had asked for the
special prayers of the faithful, the request had spread to conventual
schools in England, and by the 16th it was guessed by those who knew
the fact that a special effort was in contemplation. But his great
counter-attack owed its importance to what had gone before and what
was to follow; and victory was due to more complex and comprehensive
causes than the valour of the troops engaged upon the Marne or even
the strategy of Foch. Greater efforts were made at other times on both
sides than during the last fortnight of July 1918, and the destruction
of the salient the Germans had made since 27 May was merely the last
ounce which turned the balance of power and the scales of victory.
There were many ounces in the total weight, and the pride of each
belligerent points to the different contributions which it made. To
the Americans their divisions at Château-Thierry seem the decisive
factor, to the French it was Foch's genius. The British point to the
fact that the greatest weight of German force was still in front of
Amiens and not on the Marne, and an Italian prince has declared that
it was Italy who won the war on 24 October; while Ludendorff has
maintained that American troops counted for little, and that the
crucial factor was the revolutionary propaganda which had begun to
undermine the moral of German troops as early as 1916. None of these
partial explanations contain more than an element of truth, and a more
comprehensive view is suggested by the likeness of Germany to the
"one-hoss shay" of Oliver Wendell Holmes' ballad, a vehicle so
skilfully compacted of durable materials that each part lasted exactly
as long as every other, and that the whole eventually crumbled into a
heap of dust in a single moment. German resources were vastly inferior
to those which were slowly mobilized against her, but she organized
them with such skill that they resisted the wear and tear of the war
for a period to which some observers could discern no end. The
strength of materials is, however, limited, and no organization can
make them last for ever. The German armies began to give on 18 July,
and the decay went on increasing because she had not the means with
which to make repairs. The wonder is not that the machine broke down,
but that it bore so great a strain for so prolonged a time. The
Germans could not command success because they defied the conscience
of mankind, but from the military point of view they certainly
deserved it.

In spite of Ludendorff's attempt, natural in a Junker, to debit
revolution with his failure, it was American reinforcements which
turned the scale. Few of them were as yet in the battle line, and
there was no great disparity between the opposing forces on the front.
But the mobilized strength of the Allies was growing to three times
that of their enemies. Foch had an inexhaustible reservoir which
enabled him to take risks which Ludendorff could not afford, and gave
him a freedom of action which no Entente general had yet possessed.
The extent of his command and his resources released him from the
bonds of limited offensives. He could crush the German salient on the
Marne without prejudicing the prospects of his plans at Amiens and
Arras, in Champagne or at Verdun; and fear imposed on Ludendorff the
dire alternative of weakening his powers of resistance to future
attacks elsewhere, or starving his immediate defence. His plans for
resuming the offensive at Amiens had already been ruined by the drain
of his attacks on the Aisne and on the Marne; and his defensive
prospects on the Amiens front were now to be jeopardized in the effort
to avoid disaster in the salient he had rashly made along the Marne.
For, except on the assumption that Foch was unable to attack on the
western flank of that salient between Soissons and Château-Thierry,
the German thrust deeper across the Marne was a wild adventure (see
Map, p. 362).

Foch, however, had made his plan and his preparations. Concealed by
the forests of Compiègne and Villers-Cotterets, he had assembled in
the angle between the Oise and Marne reserves of which the Germans
denied the existence. From the Aisne near Fontenoy southwards to the
Ourcq Mangin commanded an army containing the pick of French colonial
troops; and thence to the Marne Degoutte had another which included
five American divisions. Before them ran the German flank weakly
guarding the line of communications with the German front on the
Marne. Led by a vast fleet of French "mosquito" Tanks something like
the British "whippets," the French early on the 18th broke through the
German defences on a front of twenty-seven miles and advanced from two
to five miles towards the Soissons-Château-Thierry road. [Footnote:
An error made in the British réchauffée of the French official news
represented Mangin as having advanced eight miles on the 18th to the
Crise on a stretch of five miles east of Buzancy. It was a mistake of
nord-öuest for nord-est which was never corrected, and has got into
most of the summaries and histories of the war, although it makes the
subsequent French fighting in that area unintelligible. The history of
the German evacuation of the salient would have been very different
had the French got east of Buzancy on the 18th. As a matter of fact,
it took them eleven days to secure the territory credited to them by
this error on the 18th.] Mangin reached the Montagne de Paris within
two miles of Soissons, and Berzy-le-Sec on the banks of the Crise,
while south of the Ourcq Dégoutte got to Neuilly St. Front and the
Americans captured Courchamps, Torcy, and Belleau. Sixteen thousand
prisoners and fifty guns were captured, but there was nothing like a
German rout. They stubbornly defended their main line of
communications for days until the bulk of their forces could get away;
and they evacuated the salient slowly and in good order. There was, of
course, no further hope for them south of the Marne, and by the 20th
they had regained the northern bank without very serious loss; it was
not till the 22nd that the Allies crossed the river in pursuit. On the
21st the Germans had abandoned Château-Thierry and the Soissons road
as far as the Ourcq, but north of that river they held the road for a
week, and Buzancy was not captured till the 29th. By the 23rd
Berthelot was making progress on the other side of the salient, and
the German centre had to relinquish the forest of Fère and Oulchy on
the 25th. On the 31st the Americans drove in their centre at Seringes,
and on 2 August the French forced their way into Soissons. By the 3rd
the Germans had been driven across the Vesle and the salient had been
flattened out.

Even the best of the critics in the French press had little idea of
what was to follow. The Germans' latest offensive had been foiled, and
they had lost the more adventurous part of their gains in May; but
Foch's success was regarded as merely a promising detail, and men
discussed the locality of Rupprecht's counter-attack. But the signs of
the times did not point in that direction. On 4 July Americans and
Australians fighting side by side had captured Hamel below the Somme.
On the 19th the British had recaptured Meteren at the apex of the
German salient across the Lys, and Merris fell on the 30th. On the
23rd the French between Amiens and Montdidier had advanced two miles
on a four-mile front and captured Mailly-Raineval, Sauvillers, and
Aubvillers in the Avre valley; and on 4 August the Germans withdrew
from all their ground to the west of that river. Two days later they
attacked and recovered some of the ground they had recently lost near
Morlancourt. Both the withdrawal and the attack were signs of nervous
anticipation, but neither broke the force of the blow which Haig
struck on 8 August on a twenty-mile front from Morlancourt to La
Neuville on the Avre. The troops were mostly British under Rawlinson
with a French army under Débeney cooperating on his right. Their
success first opened the eyes of the public to the change in the
situation on the front, and on Ludendorff's own testimony deprived him
of his last vestige of hope. It was no weak flank that was attacked,
but the sector of the front that was most strongly held by German
armies. The drive was straight along the great road from Amiens to St.
Quentin on which the Germans had made their westward thrust in March;
and the first day saw them seven miles back at Framerville. To the
south they lost Moreuil, Mezières, Demuin, Cayeux, and Caix, and to
the north Morcourt, Cerisy, and Chipilly, while 7000 prisoners and 100
guns had been taken by 3 p.m. On the 9th those totals had risen to
24,000 prisoners and over 200 guns, while the British continued their
advance to Rosières and Lihons, and the French to Arvillers and
Beaufort. Nor was that all; for south of Débeney, Humbert interposed
with another attack between Montdidier and the Oise. By the 11th the
Germans had lost to the French most of their gains in the June
offensive, and to the British further ground between Albert and the
Somme.

On that day the German line ran in front of Bray, Chaulnes, Roye, and
Lassigny to Ribecourt on the Oise. They had brought up reinforcements
to make a stand on that shortened front, and they stubbornly contested
the French advance on the Lassigny massif. But its capture was
completed by the 15th, and the number of prisoners had risen to 33,000
and of captured guns to over 600. The Germans were also being pushed
out of their salient on the Lys, where Merville fell on the 19th; and
Mangin was forcing his way forward in the angle of the Aisne and the
Oise between Soissons and Noyon. But the next great blow was struck
north of the Somme by Byng between Albert and Arras. The Germans
sought to evade its force by a timely retreat across the Ancre, and
there was no such rapid advance as marked the first day of Rawlinson's
offensive south of the Somme. But it was less interrupted, and day by
day some progress was made. Byng's attack on the 21st was along a
ten-mile front north of the Ancre, and the first day gave him
Beaucourt, Achiet-le-Petit, Bucquoy, Courcelles, and Moyenneville. On
the 22nd he extended his attack from Albert to the Somme and advanced
two miles to a line between Albert and Bray. On the 23rd his left was
advanced another couple of miles to Boiry, Ervillers, Bihucourt, and
Irles, while on his right the Australians captured Bray. The German
centre at Thiepval was thus outflanked on both sides; it gave way on
the 24th, and Byng pushed on to the outskirts of Bapaume. Bapaume held
out for five days longer while Byng pushed his right forward along the
Somme towards Péronne, and extended his left attack northwards beyond
the Scarpe.

Byng's addition to the pressure the Germans had to bear from north of
the Scarpe to south of the Oise imposed upon them a retreat as
extensive as that of March and April 1917; but now they could not make
it at their leisure. On the 27th they had to abandon the line south of
the Somme on which they had stood since the 15th, when they recovered
stability after Rawlinson's offensive. Roye was relinquished that day
and Chaulnes and Nesle on the 28th. Noyon followed on the 29th, partly
in sympathy with the northern withdrawal and partly owing to Humbert's
pressure on the north-western bank of the Oise, but also because it
had been outflanked to the south by Mangin's advance between the Oise
and the Aisne. Beginning on the 17th with an attack on a ten-mile
front between Tracy-le-Val and Vingre he had steadily pushed on until
by the 23rd his left flank held the Oise as far as its junction with
the Ailette and his front faced the latter canalized river as far as
Guny. By the 29th he was across the Ailette and threatening to turn
the whole German position south of the Somme at Chauny. Bapaume fell
on the same day as Noyon, and it soon became clear that the Somme
would not protect the Germans any more than it had done the British in
March. For on the 31st the Australians stormed Mount St. Quentin the
bulwark of Péronne, and Péronne itself fell into their hands on 1
September. Simultaneously Byng's army pressed forward from Bapaume to
the Canal du Nord which runs north from Péronne.

But this after all was ground we had held for a year in 1917-18, and
the Hindenburg lines might serve the Germans as well in 1918-19. More
significant of the coming debacle was the success of Horne's First
Army, which now intervened and extended the line of Byng's attack.
Already Canadian and British troops, by the capture of Vis-en-Artois
on the 27th, Boiry on the 28th, and Haucourt on the 30th, had seized
ground which the Germans had held since 1914; and on 2 September in
one of the outstanding actions of the campaign Canadian and British
troops broke the Drocourt-Quéant line on a front of six miles between
Étaing and Cagnicourt. On that day the British army fired 943,857
shells. No single engagement caused greater depression in Germany, but
the impression was somewhat fallacious; for behind this sector of the
Hindenburg lines were waterways which were even worse obstacles to our
tanks, and although the Canadians pressed on to L'Écluse, Écourt, and
Rumancourt, they were hemmed in on their left by the Sensée and in
front by the Canal du Nord, which protected Douai to the north and
Cambrai to the east. The advance here was checked for some weeks, but
it went steadily on along other fronts. The salient on the Lys was
melting away: Bailleul fell on 30 August, Mount Kemmel on the 31st,
and Ploegstreet wood on 4 September. Lens was evacuated on the 3rd.
South-west of Cambrai the British were approaching their old lines,
and east of the Somme the Germans were retreating to St. Quentin. On
the 6th the French took Ham and Chauny, and on the 9th they were once
more across the Crozat canal. Mangin was pushing his way towards the
St. Gobain massif, and French and American troops were driving the
Germans back from the Vesle across the Aisne. It looked as though
winter might come with the line of battle much where it was before the
German offensive began in March.

But the latter half of September gave a novel aspect to affairs. A
great deal, no doubt, was due to Foch and the unity of command; but
that unity did not extend to the East nor account for the debacle of
Bulgaria and Turkey. It was, however, partly responsible for the
extension of our offensive in France beyond the limits of the year
before and for the timing of the American attack in the Woevre. In the
hour of his Allies' need President Wilson had consented to the
brigading of American with French and British troops, and to the
employment of American divisions as supports for French and British
generals. But with the American Army growing equal in size to the
French and the British and acquiring an independent skill in war,
there could be no hesitation about an American command on an equal
footing with the armies of Haig and Pétain; and to the Americans under
General Pershing had been allotted the right wing of the Allied front,
the British forming the left and the French the centre. Some critics
talked of Pershing's armies being used as the spear-head of an
invasion of Germany through Lorraine; but this would have been an
eccentric operation, and there were obvious reasons for restoring
Lorraine, if possible, to France undevastated by war. North rather
than east was the natural direction for an American advance, and in
either case an indispensable preliminary was to eliminate that strange
wedge at St. Mihiel which the Germans had held since September 1914.
The task would also be a useful apprenticeship for an independent
American command. The attack was made on both sides of the salient on
12 September, but the principal drive was from the south on a twelve
miles' front between Bouconville and Regnieville. Part of the
defending force was Austrian, but the whole salient collapsed under
the blow; 15,000 prisoners and 200 guns were captured, and a new front
was formed on a straight line from Fresnes to Pont-à-Mousson. The
strategic purpose was to free the American flank and communications in
view of a bigger offensive northwards, and on the 15th Austria and
Germany began their overtures for peace, to which President Wilson at
once returned an unsympathetic reply.

Anticipations as well as achievements counselled that diplomatic move,
and Austria in particular had reason to fear developments on other
fronts than the French. The Balkans had been quiescent during the
summer, although the Greeks had on 30 May given an earnest of a better
future by a victory at Skra di Legen, west of the Vardar, in which
they captured 1500 Bulgarian and German prisoners, and on 18 June the
fall of the pro-German Radoslavoff Ministry indicated that Ferdinand
wished to present a less Teutonic appearance to the world. Italy, too,
in pursuance of her assumed protectorate over Albania, thought in July
that the time had come to assert herself, and with the assistance of
some French troops began an advance towards Elbasan. The Austrians
were taken by surprise, Berat was captured, and the country overrun as
far as the Semeni and beyond the Devoli. The effort was not apparently
serious; in August the Austrians returned to the attack, recaptured
Berat, and drove the Italians back to their starting-point in a
retreat boldly described in an Italian official pronouncement as of no
military importance. It helped to discourage Italy from taking an
active part in the coming offensive against Bulgaria, but political
motives were the principal reason for quiescence. Italy had a
tenderness for Bulgaria arising out of her antipathy to Jugo-Slavs and
Greeks, and while proclaiming that Austria must be totally destroyed,
she exclaimed against the wickedness and folly of imposing on Bulgaria
a second Peace of Brest-Litovsk (see Map, p. 151).

The success of the Balkan campaign did not, however, suffer much from
the lack of Italian push. Franchet d'Esperey was commander-in-chief,
and he was ably seconded by the Serbian Marshal Mishitch. The Serbian
Army was the spear-head of the attack, and it had with it an equally
eager and effective force of Jugo-Slavs; with them cooperated the
French on the west of the Vardar, while east of it were the Greeks and
the British with the arduous and somewhat thankless task of facing the
impregnable Demir Kapu defile and Belashitza range. The offensive
began on 15 September, and the main attack was on the Dobropolie ridge
in the angle between the Tcherna and Vardar rivers. On the first day
the Bulgarian line was broken on a front of sixteen miles, an advance
was made of five, and 4000 prisoners and 30 guns were taken. On the
morrow the front widened to twenty-two miles, and the advance
increased to twelve; and within a week the Serbians had cleared the
angle between the rivers and crossed the Tcherna on their left and the
Vardar above Demir Kapu on their right. This cut the main Bulgarian
communications with Prilep on the west and Doiran on the east, and
compelled a general retreat along a hundred miles of front. On the
23rd the French occupied Prilep; on the 25th the Serbians captured
Veles and Ishtip and pressed on towards Uskub, while their cavalry
were at Kotchana almost on the Bulgarian frontier. The British, whose
first attacks had been checked, had actually crossed the border at
Kosturino on the road between Doiran and Strumnitza. Bulgaria had put
her whole trust in the strength of her front, and with it she
collapsed. An armistice was requested on the 25th, and Franchet
d'Esperey's terms were accepted on the 30th. It was the most dramatic
overthrow in the war, and within a fortnight the whole situation in
the Balkans was transformed. The Serbians were bitterly disappointed
at having to stay their avenging hands when almost at the gates of
Sofia; but the elimination of Bulgaria made the recovery of their
country a triumphal procession varied by the occasional defeat of
Austrian rearguards. On 12 October they and their allies occupied
Nish, and a week later they had reached the Danube. Nor was Serbia
alone concerned. Austria had relied upon the Bulgarian buckler, and
when it crumpled her entire hold not only on the Balkans but over her
own Jugo-Slav subjects in Bosnia, Dalmatia, and Carinthia was relaxed.
A general uprising of Jugo-Slavs in favour of union under the Serbian
crown more than doubled the size of that kingdom which Austria had
begun the war to crush.

Nor did this exhaust the effects of Bulgaria's capitulation. The terms
of the armistice included the Allied occupation of Bulgarian railways,
and this brought their military front up to the borders of Rumania on
the north and of Turkey on the south. Presently Marghiloman's
Ministry, which the Germans had imposed at Bukarest, fell, and Rumania
prepared to resume her part in the war. Bulgaria, too, was willing to
revive her quarrel with Turkey. The famous corridor had disappeared,
and Turkey was an isolated unit. It was no wonder that the
"Easterners" looked up again, and the Prime Minister's henchmen in the
press began to tell stories about his single-handed and far-sighted
championship of an Eastern campaign as the solution of the problem of
the war. But the collapse of the Balkan front was ultimately due to
the collapse of its German foundation. Berlin journalists talked of
the German troops which would soon bring back Bulgaria to her senses
and to the Teutonic fold. But they were mortgaged to the Western
front, and instead of a German expedition to assist her under
Mackensen, Turkey was faced with ruin at the hands of Allenby.

His blow had followed swiftly on that of Franchet d'Esperey, and four
days after the Balkan campaign had opened, British forces began the
battle which was to prove the most perfect operation of the war.
Preparations had been in progress during the summer, and little had
been done to modify the British line running a dozen or fifteen miles
north of Jericho, Jerusalem, and Jaffa to the sea. A Turkish
counter-attack on 13 July had even met with some initial success; but
the Turks had been unable to maintain their strength, the Germans
could not assist them, the Arabs were perpetually harassing them along
the Hedjaz railway, and what reserves they had were sent on a wild
goose chase for the recovery of Turkish dominion in Caucasia and
Persia and along the shores of the Caspian. The pursuit was rendered
attractive by Russian impotence and anarchy: Armenia was regained and
subjected to a final and more extensive massacre than ever; Northern
Persia was overrun, and even the long and adventurous arms which the
British Empire stretched out in August from Mesopotamia and India to
the southern and eastern shores of the Caspian failed to save Baku
from the combined efforts of Turkish troops and Bolshevik treachery on
14 September. But Allenby, the luckiest of British generals, brought
down these airy Turkish castles with a single blow. He had been
largely reinforced from India, which mobilized during the war nearly a
million men and bore the chief burden of the Palestine and
Mesopotamian campaigns; he had got a magnificent force of cavalry, and
with it the terrain and open fighting wherein to exhibit a model of
that traditional strategy from which the glory on European
battlefields had departed for ever.

On 19 September his infantry drove the Turks from a sixteen-mile line
between Rafat and the sea back a dozen miles to the railway junction
at Tul Keram, while his cavalry burst through to the right towards the
gap south-east of Mount Carmel and the plain of Esdraelon. It was a
rare ride: on the morrow they were forty miles north and north-east
at El Afuleh, Nazareth, and Beisan; and then wheeling south-east they
cut off the retreat of nearly the whole of the Turkish forces. On the
22nd Allenby reported that 25,000 prisoners and 200 guns had been
taken and counted, and that the Seventh and Eighth Turkish armies had
virtually ceased to exist. The Fourth was pursued across the Jordan,
and mostly mopped up between its pursuers and the Arabs to the east.
On the 25th we were round the Lake of Galilee, and the number of
prisoners had risen to 45,000 and of captured guns to nearly 300.
There was nothing left to stop our advance, which was joined by some
French battalions, while the Arabs kept pace on the other side of the
Jordan. On the 28th we effected a junction with them at Deraa, and
Damascus fell on the 30th. On 6 October cavalry, advancing between
Mts. Lebanon and Hermon, seized Zahleh and Rayak between Damascus and
Beyrut, which the French occupied on the 7th, while the British took
Sidon. On the 9th we were at Baalbek, on the 13th at Tripolis, and on
the 15th at Homs. On the 26th Aleppo fell, and on the 28th we reached
Muslimieh, that junction on the Baghdad railway on which longing eyes
had been cast as the nodal point in the conflict of German and other
ambitions in the East.

Allenby played the leading part in Turkey's destruction, partly
because Marshall's attention in Mesopotamia had been distracted
towards the Caspian. But in October he resumed his interrupted march
up the Tigris: on the 25th his troops captured Kirkuk and forced the
passage of the Lesser Zab; and on the 28th they took Kalat Shergat,
and after a six days' battle forced the Turkish army on the Tigris to
surrender. Turkey had taken a lot more beating than Bulgaria, but the
end was the same. On 30 October an armistice was signed, which
permitted the Allies to occupy the forts on the Dardanelles and
Bosporus and make free use of the Straits. Marshall entered Mosul, and
presently British ships commanded the Black Sea and British troops
were holding a line across Caucasia to the Caspian and connecting with
the chain of forces established between Krasnovodsk and India. An end
was thus put to Germany's dreams of a Teutonic-Turco-Turanian avenue
into the heart of Asia, but the search for an eastern front in Russia
against the Central Empires was elusive. For the Bolsheviks, in spite
of the murder of Count Mirbach the German ambassador at Moscow on 6
July, grew ever more friendly to the Prussians, and the Entente had to
go to Vladivostock for a basis of operations, and rely largely upon
the romantic achievements of the Czecho-Slovak prisoners who had
enlisted in the Russian armies and refused to lay down their arms at
the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. At first the Bolsheviks promised them a
passage via Siberia to the Western front, but then, like Pharaoh
hardened their hearts and refused to let the infant nation go.
Thereupon the Czecho-Slovaks set up for themselves, seized the
Siberian railway from the Bolsheviks, and after much hardship and
fighting established contact with the motley Entente forces advancing
from Vladivostock. With their assistance an anti-Bolshevik government,
of which Admiral Koltchak afterwards made himself master, was set up
in Siberia, while Entente forces, mostly British, were sent to
Archangel and the Murmansk coast to prevent the Germans establishing
their authority there as they had done in the Baltic provinces
"liberated" by the Peace of Brest-Litovsk.

                      The Conquest Of Syria

But this Eastern front, which as late as August was regarded in high
but civilian quarters as indispensable to the Allied success, failed
to pierce the protection which the Bolsheviks gave to Germany or to
penetrate farther west than the Urals; and Germany had after all to be
beaten by professional strategists on the Western front. There was
little fault to be found with their progress, and while Bulgaria,
Turkey, and Austria were collapsing in the East, the Germans were
being steadily driven towards disaster on a widening field of battle
in the West. Simultaneously with Pershing's destruction of the St.
Mihiel salient the British were thrusting the Germans back to the
Hindenburg lines between Cambrai and St. Quentin, and Mangin was
pushing forward towards the forest of St. Gobain. The Germans
attempted to stand at Épehy, but on 18-19 September they were driven
back with the loss of 11,750 prisoners and 100 guns; and from the 27th
to the 30th was fought the first phase of the battle for Cambrai and
St. Quentin, in which the British First, Third, and Fourth armies took
26,500 prisoners and 340 guns apart from the gains of the French. The
object was to complete the breach of the Hindenburg lines on the
strength of which public opinion in Germany was stayed; and it was a
critical operation. The lines themselves were reinforced by the Canal
du Nord protecting Cambrai and the Scheldt-St. Quentin canal between
Cambrai and St. Quentin.

The southern sector in front of the Fourth Army was the more strongly
fortified, and an intense bombardment began on the night of 26-27
September which continued till the 29th. This tended to divert
attention from the First and Third armies, which on the 27th forced
the Canal du Nord south of Moeuvres and then spread fanwise along the
eastern bank. By the end of the day they were more than half-way from
the Canal du Nord to Cambrai, and on the 28th the advance was
continued across the Scheldt canal at Marcoing and broadened from
Palluel on the north to Gouzeaucourt on the south. On the 29th the
Fourth Army began its attack on the canal to the north of St. Quentin.
It was well supported by several American divisions, and the great
episode of the day was the capture of Bellenglise by troops who
crossed the canal equipped with life-belts, mats, and rafts. East of
Bellenglise, Lehaucourt and Magny were also stormed, and north of it
Nauroy and Bellicourt. Meanwhile the Third Army captured Masnières and
penetrated into the western outskirts of Cambrai while the Canadians
threatened to outflank it on the north. On the 30th the Germans had to
withdraw their centre at Villers Guislain and Gonnelieu, while the
Fourth Army extended its gains southwards by the capture of Thorigny;
and, thus menaced, the Germans had to abandon St. Quentin to the
French on 1 October. On that day, too, New Zealanders and British
troops took Crèvecoeur and Rumilly south of Cambrai, and the Canadians
Blécourt to the north of it. The Hindenburg line, apart from its
tottering supports, had gone at the moment when Bulgaria was
capitulating; and on the same 30 September Count Hertling and all his
Secretaries of State resigned.

The British victory, while the critical movement on the Western front,
was but one of the four operations which Foch had concerted with Haig
in the middle of September. The other three were a Belgian attack at
Ypres, an American advance on the Meuse, and a French offensive in
close connexion with it in Champagne and the Argonne. The Belgian
attack was an agreeable surprise, and nothing did more to illumine the
change from 1917 than the contrast between its rapid success and the
painful crawl of Gough's campaign. The cause was that which also
accounted for the Germans' failure elsewhere; they had not the forces
to sustain their vast and crumbling front, and they attempted to hold
the line in Belgium with no more than five divisions. The attack began
on 28 September on a twenty-three mile front, and in one day 50 per
cent more ground was covered than had been gained in three months the
year before. The whole of Houthulst forest, which then had hardly been
touched, was taken at a stroke; and on the 29th Dixmude fell and the
Belgians were across the Roulers-Menin road. As a consequence of this
and of Haig's advance the Germans had to evacuate the rest of the Lys
salient and draw back their front towards Lille and Douai. Armentières
was recovered on 3 October, La Bassée and the Aubers ridge were
abandoned without a struggle, and the Germans surrendered the
remaining section of the Drocourt-Quéant line, withdrawing to the
Douai, Haute Deule, and Sensée canals which protected Lille and Douai.

The French and Americans had a sterner task in the Argonne and on the
Meuse, for here was the pivot of the Germans' whole position in the
conquered territory. A possible retirement to the Meuse had been
contemplated in 1917, and in September 1918 the Germans would have
been glad to surrender everything west of it in return for safety on
that line; hence their withdrawals and feeble resistance in Flanders.
But the Meuse from Verdun to Mezières was an indispensable flank for
any German front in Belgium; it had now become more to the Germans
than even that, for it was the only shield behind which their armies
could escape disaster and get back to Germany at all. Whatever else
might have to go, this flank must hold; if it gave, the Germans would
have to capitulate or suffer the wholesale destruction of their
forces. Hence the stubbornness of the defence the Americans
encountered; the terrain gave it every advantage with which art could
supplement nature; and a singular and serious breakdown of their
commissariat added to the difficulties under which American troops
fought with intrepid skill.

The attack was launched on 26 September. The American front ran for
seventeen miles from Forges on the Meuse, eight miles north of Verdun,
to the centre of the Argonne, whence the French extended it to
Auberive on the Suippe. Pershing's First Army advanced an average
depth of seven miles and captured Varennes, Montfaucon,--for long the
Crown Prince's headquarters,--Nantillois, and Dannevoux. Gouraud's
progress was less rapid but better sustained. His greatest advance was
only three miles, but it extended along a wider front and developed
during the following days, while the Americans were held up by
defective organization. Somme-Py and Manre were taken on the 28th,
while on Gouraud's left Berthelot began to move from Reims, and
farther west Mangin pursued the Germans across the Aisne. Progress
along the whole French front continued in October; Gouraud's right
pressed on to a level with, and then in advance of, the American left
towards Challerange and Grandpré; his centre advanced towards
Machault, and on his left Berthelot took Loivre, Brimont, and forced
the passages of the Suippe at Bertricourt and Bazancourt, and of the
Aisne at Berry-au-Bac. The Moronvillers massif was thus outflanked,
and by the middle of the month the Germans were evacuating the whole
of their ground south of the Aisne. This retreat, coupled with the
French advance east of St. Quentin, endangered the great apex of the
German front in the St. Gobain forest, and by the 10th its abandonment
was begun. On the 11th the Chemin des Dames was relinquished, on the
13th the French were in La Fère and Laon, and the Germans were
retreating to the line of the Serre.

Nevertheless, the advance of the right wing of the Allied front had
not quite come up to expectations. The prolonged maintenance of the
German bastion in the Argonne and on the Meuse enabled their centre to
withdraw more or less at its leisure and thus avoid the colossal Sedan
with which it was threatened; and, the French centre having been cast
for a part subsidiary to those of the two wings, the brunt of the
fighting fell upon the British, whose advance was not so fatal as
similar progress would have been on the other wing. They were greatly
assisted by American divisions serving with the Third and Fourth
armies, by the Belgians and French on their left, and by the French on
their right; but the check to the American advance enabled the
Germans--unfortunately for them, as it turned out--to transfer
reinforcements from the Meuse to Cambrai and Valenciennes.

Cambrai did not therefore fall until another series of actions had
been fought in the first nine days of October. The Scheldt canal to
the north of it had proved a formidable obstacle, and Haig determined
to press the attack from the south, where the Fourth Army had prepared
the way on 29 September by destroying the Hindenburg line at
Bellicourt and Bellenglise. On 3 October Rawlinson attacked again
between Le Catelet and Sequehart and captured those villages, Gouy,
Ramicourt, and the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line. On the 4th and 5th
further progress was made by the taking of Beaurevoir and Montbrehain,
while north of Le Catelet the Germans were driven from their positions
east of the canal, which were occupied by the Third Army. On the 8th
the final phase in the battle for Cambrai began. The chief fighting
was on the line secured on the 3rd. An American division captured
Brancourt and Prémont, and British divisions Serain, Villers-Outreaux,
and Malincourt north-east of Le Catelet. New Zealanders south of
Cambrai took Lesdain and Esnes, and three British divisions
Serainvillers, Forenville, and Niergnies, penetrating the southern
outskirts of Cambrai, while to the north of it Canadians captured
Ramillies, crossed the canal at Point d'Aire and entered the city on
that side. During the night the whole of it fell into our hands; the
Germans were driven back in disorder to within two miles of Le Cateau;
and Bohain was reached ten miles east of Bellicourt and a similar
distance south-west of Le Cateau. By the 10th the advance had been
carried to the line of the Selle river, on which the Germans made
another stand, while farther south the French pushing east of St.
Quentin, cleared the Oise-Sambre canal as far north as Bernot. On the
10th Le Cateau fell, and by the 13th the British had gained the west
bank of the Selle as far north as Haspres.

A great wedge had thus been thrust into the German line, leaving
pronounced salients to the north of it round Lille and Douai, and to
the south-east of it between the Oise and the Aisne. It was the policy
of the Entente to eschew the destruction which fighting in cities
involved, and it was particularly desirable to compel the Germans to
retreat from Lille and its industrial neighbourhood by threats of
encirclement rather than by frontal attack. To complete the process
begun on the south, the advance in the north was now resumed; and on
14 October Belgian forces with a French army under Dégoutte and the
British Second Army under Plumer attacked the whole front in Flanders
between Dixmude and the Lys at Comines. Their success was even more
striking than it had been on 28 September; the Belgians and French
carried Courtemarck, Roulers, and Iseghem, while the British pushed
along the north bank of the Lys until on the 16th they held it as far
as Harlebeke, farther east than Ostend and even than Bruges. On the
15th the Belgians captured Thourout and the British Menin, crossing
the Lys at various points and taking Comines on the 16th. The effect
of this advance was to precipitate a comprehensive German retreat both
north and south. The coveted Belgian coast had at last to be
abandoned: Ostend fell on the 17th, Zeebrugge and Bruges on the 19th,
and by the 21st the Germans were twenty miles from the sea, striving
to stand on the Lys canal in front of Ghent. To the south the
withdrawal was no less complete: both Lille and Douai were entered on
the 17th; Tourcoing and Roubaix soon followed; and by the 21st our
Second and Fifth armies had advanced to the Scheldt on a front of
twenty miles, forming nearly a straight line with the First, Third,
and Fourth on the Selle.

There the battle had been renewed on the 17th, as soon as our
advancing lines of communication had been sufficiently repaired to
bear the strain. The attack was made south of Le Cateau by the Fourth
Army, employing British and American troops in co-operation with
Débeney's French armies on our right. The country was difficult and
the fighting stiff, but by nightfall on the 19th the Germans had been
driven across the Oise and Sambre canal at all points south of
Catillon, and on the 20th the Third and part of the First armies took
up the struggle on the Selle north of Le Cateau. Here again it was
severe, especially at Neuvilly, Solesmes, and Haspres, but the whole
of the Selle positions on both banks were secured, while north-east of
its junction with the Scheldt the First Army had occupied Denain. On
the 23rd a combined attack was made by the Fourth and Third armies,
though progress was limited to the front north of the bend of the
Sambre at Ors. Between that point and a few miles south of
Valenciennes our troops advanced six miles up to the outskirts of the
forest of Mormal and Le Quesnoy in spite of the intervening streams
which had been swollen by rain, of the wooded country, and of the
stubborn resistance of the Germans. These battles of the Selle between
17-25 October yielded to British armies alone 21,000 prisoners and 450
guns, and on the 26th Ludendorff resigned. Meanwhile the French were
gradually squeezing the Germans out of their salient between the Oise
and the Aisne back upon the Serre. Chalandry and Grandlup, near that
river, were occupied on the 22nd, and east of the Aisne some progress
was made in the Argonne by the capture of Olizy and Termes on the
15th; but till nearly the end of October the Americans west of the
Meuse were held up by their commissariat difficulties, though east of
it they had captured Brabant and Consenvoye and pushed forward their
line to a level with that on the western bank.

It was only on the Meuse and on the Lys that the enemy front showed
the last vestiges of stability at the end of October. The surrender of
Bulgaria had been followed by that of Turkey, and Austria was on the
verge of collapse. Her hold on the Balkans had gone, her southern
provinces were rising in sympathy with the Serbian and Jugo-Slav
advance, in the north the Czecho-Slovaks were preparing to join, and
even Hungary was refusing to supply the starving capital with food.
Unless Italy struck quickly, Fiume and Trieste and the whole
north-eastern Adriatic coast would pass into the hands of the
insurgents. The moment had come to forestall the Jugo-Slavs and
deliver a blow which might overthrow the Hapsburg Empire before it
collapsed of itself. Since the repulse of the Austrian offensive on
the Piave in June, the Italian front had remained quiescent during the
critical months of the war, though picked Italian divisions had done
good fighting with the French at Reims, and the Italians in Albania
had pursued the Austrian forces after they had been beaten by the
Serbs and French and abandoned by the Bulgars. On the night of 23-24
October the Tenth Italian Army, consisting of two British and two
Italian divisions commanded by Lord Cavan, attacked the island of
Grave di Papadopoli in the Piave and completed its conquest on the
25th and 26th. Simultaneously Giardino's Italians with a French
division attacked in the region of Mt. Grappa, but retired to their
original position after taking a number of prisoners. On the 25th they
were more successful, capturing Mt. Pertica and repulsing Austrian
counter-attacks on the 26th. On the 27th the decisive movement began
with Cavan's crossing of the Piave, and on the same day the Austrian
Government requested Sweden to transmit to President Wilson an offer
which was equivalent to surrender. At the front the Austrians
continued to counter-attack very heavily at Mt. Pertica; but on the
Piave they completely collapsed, and the breach of their line on the
27th was followed by a disorderly flight. The booty was colossal, the
heterogeneous troops of the moribund Hapsburg Empire surrendered
wholesale, and on 3 November their dying government submitted to the
terms of an armistice imposed by General Diaz. On that day Italians
landed at Trieste, where insurgents had taken over the government on
31 October; but an Austrian Dreadnought at Pola which had hoisted the
Croat revolutionary flag was sunk by the daring act of two Italian
officers.

Germany now stood alone, and any defence she might otherwise have made
on her frontiers was hopelessly compromised by the position of her
armies on their far-flung line in France and Belgium. Nemesis for the
invasion of Belgium had at last overtaken the invader. The problem of
withdrawing in safety was rendered insoluble by the battles of the
first week in November and the consequent convergence of the Allies on
Germany's remaining lines of communication. The decisive blows were
delivered right and left by the American and British wings. Towards
the end of October the Americans had surmounted their difficulties of
transport and organization, and were breaking down the German
resistance, which had been weakened by the transfer of troops to the
British front, between Grandpré and the Meuse. On 1 November the
German line was broken and the Americans advanced three or four miles.
On the 2nd they doubled that distance and were in Buzancy; on the 3rd
they repeated their success, while the French on their left cleared
the Argonne and reached Le Chesne. German resistance also broke down
on the east bank of the Meuse, and the Americans made for Montmédy.
But their advance was most rapid on the west bank, where on the 7th
they leapt forward to Sedan. The Germans were thus deprived of their
great lateral line connecting the eastern and western sectors of their
front, and were driven back against the barrier of the Ardennes; and a
great French offensive into Lorraine was being prepared under Mangin.
This provision somewhat weakened the less essential advance of the
French in the centre between the Aisne and the Oise, but the progress
of the American wing left the Germans no option but retreat in the
centre, and three French armies under Débeney, Mangin, and Guillaumat
were rapidly converging upon Hirson. The remains of the Hunding
position were taken on 5 November, and Marle and Guise were captured
farther north-west. Vervins, Montcornet, and Réthel fell on the 6th.
Hirson and Mezières were reached and the Belgian frontier crossed on
the 9th. On the 10th the Italians entered Rocroi, and on the morning
of the 11th the Allies were converging on Namur.

This rapid pursuit of the German centre had been made possible by the
coup de grâce given to the German armies in the battle of the Sambre.
Haig regarded the capture of Valenciennes as an essential preliminary,
and on 1-2 November corps of the First and Third armies attacked a
six-mile front to the south of the town. The line of the Rhonelle was
forced and Valenciennes fell on the 2nd. The line of the Scheldt was
thus turned, and besides falling back in front towards the forest of
Mormal the Germans had to begin evacuating the Tournai bend of the
river. But the decisive blow was still to come. It was delivered on 4
November by the First, Third, and Fourth armies on a thirty-mile
front, between Valenciennes and Oisy on the Sambre, which was
continued by Débeney's army southwards to the neighbourhood of Guise.
In Haig's restrained language a great victory was won which definitely
broke the enemy's resistance. Nineteen thousand prisoners were taken
on the British front and 5000 on the French. On the first day
Landrecies and Le Quesnoy fell and half the forest of Mormal was
overrun; and the remaining operations consisted of a pursuit. On the
7th Bavai was captured, and Condé during the following night; on the
8th our troops were twelve miles east of Landrecies in Avesnes and on
the outskirts of Maubeuge, which fell on the 9th. On that day also
Tournai was occupied, and the Second Army crossing the Scheldt on a
wide fronting reached Renaix. On the 10th they were close to Ath and
to Grammont, and early on the 11th Canadians captured Mons.

                         Foch's Campaign

The British Army ended the war on the Western front where it had begun
to fight, and at 11 a.m. on that day the struggle ceased from end to
end of the fighting line in accordance with an armistice signed six
hours before. Its terms were severe, the immediate evacuation of all
the conquered territory and withdrawal behind the Rhine, leaving the
whole left bank and all the important bridgeheads open to Allied
occupation, and a neutral zone on the right bank; the repatriation of
all the transported inhabitants and Allied prisoners of war; the
quashing of the treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Bukarest, and the
withdrawal of all German troops from territories formerly belonging to
Russia, Rumania, and Turkey; the surrender of thousands of guns,
locomotives, aeroplanes, of all submarines fit for sea, and of the
better part of the German Navy. The Germans had no choice: their
armies were in flight along roads choked with transport towards an
ever narrowing exit, and they could only escape if given time, which
they could only obtain by surrender. They yielded to avoid a Sedan
which would have destroyed their armies as a fighting force. But they
gained one at least of the objects for which they had fought. The
Fatherland was saved from the abomination of desolation which the
Germans had spread far and wide in their enemies' homes; and except
for a corner in East Prussia and another in Alsace, German soil had
remained immune from invasion.

The surrender might have had the saving grace of common sense had it
not been delayed so long; but it required the imminence of military
destruction and an intimation from President Wilson that peace could
not be concluded with those who had made the war, to provoke that
revolution which competent observers had from the beginning declared
to be an inevitable result of a German defeat. It was precipitated by
an order to the German Fleet to go out and fight. That again had been
anticipated as a counsel of despair, but few foresaw that the order
would be disobeyed. The German genius for organization had tried the
strength of its human material beyond the limits of endurance. The
crews mutinied, and the spirit of revolt spread in the first week of
November to Kiel and other ports, and thence throughout the whole of
Germany. Every German throne, grand-ducal or royal, toppled into the
dust, and on the 9th the Kaiser abdicated, fleeing like the Crown
Prince to Holland, and leaving it to a government of Socialists to
sign the terms of surrender. With the imperial crown went that
imperial creation, the German Navy; and the crowning humiliation was
its peaceful transference to Scapa Flow on 21 November, to be scuttled
by its crews on 21 June 1919. Navies had gone in the past to the
bottom, beaten and wrecked like the Spanish Armada, or battered to
pieces and sunk as at Trafalgar; but never yet had Britain's sea-power
led home a captive fleet without a fight. The curtain rang down on a
fitting scene, a proof beyond all precedent of British command of the
sea, and a yet more solemn demonstration that the ultimate factor in
war consists in a people's spirit and not in its iron shards.


                              CHAPTER XX

                       THE FOUNDATIONS OF PEACE

Destruction is easier and more rapid than construction, and it needs a
wiser man and a longer labour to make peace than war. War begins with
the first blow, but peace is not made when the fighting stops; and
months were to pass in the troubled twilight between the two, with
millions of men under arms, with budgets more suggestive of war than
peace and men's thoughts more attuned to a contentious past than
prepared for a peaceful future. The first act of the British
Government was, indeed, to transfer hostilities from its foes abroad
to those at home, and to rout its domestic enemies at a general
election. The Parliament elected in 1910 had, after limiting its
existence to five years, extended it during the war to eight; and the
argument for an election and a fresh mandate for the Peace Conference
would have been irresistible had any Ally followed our example, had
the Government during the contest given any indication of the terms of
peace it contemplated, and had the British delegates not been hampered
rather than helped by the foolish concessions which ministers made to
popular clamour for the Kaiser's execution and for Germany's payment
of the total cost of the war. There could, indeed, be little
discussion on the platform, because on principles all parties were
substantially agreed, and details were matters for the Conference; and
the election was fought to defeat opposition, not to the Government's
policy, but to its personnel. In this the Coalition was triumphantly
successful: three-quarters of the new members had accepted its coupon,
and of the remainder the largest party consisted of seventy Sinn
Feiners who were in prison or at least pledged not to attend the
House. The Labour group returned some fifty strong, but Mr. Asquith's
followers were reduced to thirty. This result was, however, a triumph
of political strategy manipulating a very transient emotion, the
evanescence of which was shown in a series of bye-elections before the
Conference reached its critical points. It was well for British
influence in the councils of the Allies that it did not depend upon
the vagaries of popular votes, and it would have been well for the
repute of British statesmen if they had not had the occasion or the
temptation to indulge in the hectic misrepresentation and profligate
promises of which their electioneering speeches were full.

The weight which the various Allies exerted at the Conference depended
upon the services they had rendered to the common cause and the force
they had at their disposal. At the conclusion of the armistice the
British Empire, in addition to its overwhelming naval preponderance,
had over half a million men in arms more than any other belligerent.
Its total military forces, including Dominion and Indian troops and
garrisons abroad, amounted to 5,680,247 men; France had 5,075,000; the
United States, 3,707,000; Italy, 3,420,000; Germany about 4,500,000;
Austria, 2,230,000; while Bulgaria had had at the end of September
half a million, and Turkey at the end of October some 400,000. Great
Britain and France had also been fighting since the beginning of the
war, while Italy had joined in May 1915, and the United States in
April 1917. On the other hand, all the European Powers had reached, if
not passed, their meridian of strength, whereas the United States
could with a corresponding effort raise her forces to over ten
millions. Potentially she was the most powerful of the associated
nations, and only the existence of the British fleet brought any rival
up to anything like equality. Together the United States and the
British Empire were irresistible; and so long as they were agreed, any
concessions they might make to others would be due, not to fear, but
to their sense of justice, desire for peace, and consideration for the
susceptibilities of others. The responsibility for the issue of the
Conference rested therefore upon them to a very special degree; and in
spite of unspeakably foolish and ignorant chatter in reactionary
quarters, it was an inestimable advantage that the British Empire
could look to the United States and President Wilson to bear most of
the odium of insisting upon sound principles and telling unpalatable
truths. America was in the better position to play the part of the
candid friend, because she had no territorial ambitions to serve and
no axe to grind save that of peaceful competition in the arts of
industry and commerce; and if European allies occasionally grumbled at
American interference, the reply was obvious that they should have won
the war without waiting for or depending on American intervention.

In spite of a somewhat weak pretence to public diplomacy, the secret
history of the Conference is not likely to be known to this
generation; but its decisions were promptly published, and the
attitude of the various Powers to the principal problems with which
they had to deal was easily discerned. President Wilson had made a
personal survey of the ground by a visit to Europe, unprecedented in
the history of the Presidential office, in December, before the
Conference opened at Versailles on 18 January 1919. It was largely
owing to his presence and prestige that in the forefront of the
programme and performance of the Conference stood a plan for an
international organization for the future avoidance of war, settlement
of disputes, and regulation of labour conditions. The idea of a League
of Nations had made rapid progress as the war increased in extent,
intensity, and horror. At Christmas 1917 the British Government, at
the instigation of Lord Robert Cecil and General Smuts, had appointed
a committee to explore the subject, and it had reported in the
following summer in favour of a scheme in which the main stress was
laid upon the avoidance of war. The French Government had also
appointed a commission which likewise reported favourably in the
summer of 1918: the principal difference between the two was that the
French commission advocated the establishment of an organized standing
international army. President Wilson preferred to proceed by means of
more informal discussions with committees not appointed by his
government; and the American stress was laid rather on the
organization of an international council and tribunal. The fruitful
idea of a mandatory system was first publicly advocated by General
Smuts.

Lord Robert Cecil was charged with the principal share in
accommodating such divergences as existed between the various
governments on the matter, and remarkable progress was made, which
resulted in President Wilson's production before the Conference, on 14
February, of a Covenant embodying the scheme for a future League of
Nations. It was subjected to a good deal of criticism, and
party-spirit in America sought to make capital out of the proposed
abandonment of the self-sufficient isolation of the United States and
the subordination of the Monroe Doctrine to the interests of the world
and the common judgment of mankind. In Great Britain there were also
those who preferred the guarantee of a predominant British navy to the
security of any scrap of paper, and somewhat ignored the fact that the
war had been fought to establish the sanctity of international
obligations. In France, with her vivid recollection of painful
experience, there was similarly a tendency to make the most of our
military victory and to base the stability of peace upon the
establishment of military predominance and the possession of conquests
guaranteed by a permanent anti-German alliance. Italy was frankly out
for all she could get irrespective of the principles of nationality
and self-determination. A rigorous censorship, not merely of news from
other countries, but of serious and moderate Italian books on history
and politics, had combined with an ingenuous self-esteem to produce
the popular conviction that Italy had been the main factor in the
victory of the Entente, and that the Conference was therefore bound to
concede whatever rewards she might demand in return for her services.
She contended that her sentiment for Dalmatia was as sincere as that
of the French for Alsace-Lorraine, and ignored the difference made by
the fact that Dalmatia was peopled with Jugo-Slavs. Italy therefore
had little sympathy with the Fourteen Points which at President
Wilson's instigation had been accepted as the basis of the armistice
and the principles of peace. Finally, Japan had a special grievance in
the reluctance of the United States to accept the maxim of racial
equality and a special interest in the acquisition of Chinese
territory; and prejudice against her racial claim prejudiced the
Aliies' defence of Chinese territorial integrity.

These were some of the fundamental difficulties of the Conference
which could only be settled in part by self-restraint and compromise.
Much had to be left over to the patient labours of the future League
of Nations in an atmosphere less charged than the Conference with the
passion of war; and it gradually became evident that, instead of the
League of Nations depending upon the excellence of the peace it was to
guarantee, the permanence of the peace would depend upon the capacity
of the League of Nations to remedy its imperfections. The League
emerged as the cardinal factor in the situation which was to make the
vital difference between the work of the Conference of 1919 and that
of the Congresses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Reflection tended, moreover, to mitigate some of the objections to the
Covenant, though various of its details were modified in response to
criticism. Public opinion in the United States rallied to the argument
that America would be stultifying herself if, after entering the war
to win it and make the world safe for democracy, she refused to
participate in the only means of making the peace tolerable and
permanent; and it was recognized that the Monroe Doctrine was not so
much being superseded as expanded from America to cover all the world.
British reliance on sea-power was likewise somewhat impressed by the
determination of the United States, if the League of Nations failed,
to build a navy at least equal to our own, and by the recognition of
the fact that the maintenance of even a two-Power standard would
consequently involve us in a race for naval armaments more severe than
that before the war and pregnant with an even greater disaster to the
cause of civilization. French opinion, too, was gradually modified by
the realization that Great Britain and the United States could not be
expected to sanction a militarist settlement resembling in its spirit
and its motives the German terms of 1871, or to guarantee a peace of
which their people disapproved; and a halting trust in a League of
Nations was fortified by a more specific guarantee of protection by
Great Britain and the United States against an unprovoked attack by
Germany. Italy, the youngest of the Great Powers among the Allies, the
least mature in its political wisdom, and the most subject before the
war to the influence of German realpolitik, carried her obstruction to
the point of temporarily leaving the Conference in April; but her
delegates returned on finding that the rest of the Allies were
prepared to make peace without her participation.

Apart from these conflicts of point of view, the Conference had
infinite trouble to deal with territories which had been conquered and
peoples which had been liberated from autocratic yokes. The problem of
races and lands in Africa and in the former Turkish Empire which were
admittedly unfit for self-government had been simplified by the happy
thought of the mandatory system which again depended for its efficacy
upon the idea of a League of Nations. It had long been the claim of
the British Empire, that so far as it was an empire and not a league
of free States, it was a power held in trust and wielded not for the
benefit of the Government, but of the governed. It was now proposed to
formulate and expand this idea by treating these conquered lands not
as the freeholds of the conqueror, but as lands to be held of the
League of Nations by a mandate, for the execution of which the
mandatory would be responsible to the common judgment of the nations.
There was some objection to the proposal on the ground of national
pride and resentment at the idea of being held responsible; but a
juster appreciation led to the reflections that irresponsibility was a
Prussian ideal of government, that a better cause for national pride
arose from the general confidence in a nation's integrity implied in
the conferment of the mandate, and that only those whose deeds were
evil need fear the intrusion of international light upon their methods
of administration. To be able to do what one liked with one's own was
a baser ambition than to satisfy the conscience of mankind that one
was making the best use of the talents with which one had been
entrusted; and the general approbation with which the idea of mandates
was received testified better than other proceedings in the Conference
to the growth of a sense of common responsibility for the welfare of
mankind. In this way the administration of German colonies in Africa
was to be entrusted to Great Britain, France, and the Union of South
Africa; Pacific Islands to Japan, Australia, and New Zealand;
Mesopotamia and Palestine to Great Britain, Syria to France, and parts
of Asia Minor to Italy and Greece.

More difficult was the self- or other determination of those parts of
Europe which had escaped the iron hand of the three great Empires of
Germany, Austria, and Russia. Alsace-Lorraine would revert by common
consent to France, which was also given the Saar district for a term
of years, not as a conquest but as a means of recovering the vast
stores of coal and iron of which the Germans had robbed the French
during their occupation. Belgium claimed a small strip on her frontier
inhabited mainly by Belgian people; the self-determination which
Bismarck had promised the Danes in Schleswig in 1864 was at last
accorded them; and Heligoland was dismantled. The principal
difficulties lay on Germany's eastern frontier, where the racial
mixture between Germans and Poles was complicated by Poland's claim to
a port and access to the sea, and by the fact that the cession of
Dantzig and the Vistula to Poland would sever Germany from East
Prussia, which was German in population and had been under German rule
since 1524. Dantzig had been part of the Polish kingdom down to the
first partition of 1772, but like other towns in Poland it had for
centuries been inhabited and municipally governed mainly by Germans
and Jews. For Poland was a kingdom which prolonged feudal conditions
into the eighteenth century; it was a nation of serfs and landlords,
and its commerce and industry, and therefore its towns, had been left
for German and Jewish immigrants to develop. The corridor to the sea
with most of Posen was eventually given to Poland, while parts of East
Prussia and Upper Silesia were subjected to plebiscites which promised
a similar result; but, like other territorial arrangements in central
and eastern Europe, it was a settlement which could never prove
satisfactory until racial antagonisms were modified by good
government, and it became possible for different nationalities to live
together in a State in Europe with as little sense of injustice and
exploitation as immigrants in the United States of America.

As some offset to these losses of alien subjects, Germany hoped for an
increase of population by the accession of German Austria (including
the Tyrol) and the German fringes of Bohemia. The mountain ranges
which ringed in Bohemia to the east, north, and west had, however,
always been her boundaries, and were too natural a frontier to be
surrendered by the new State of Czecho-Slovakia, the future
independence of which had been recognized in 1918 as a testimony to
the services rendered to the Entente by the Czecho-Slovak troops in
Siberia and Russia; while conflicting views in German Austria,
combined with the reluctance of France to see Germany aggrandized,
postponed this reunion of German-speaking peoples, and left German
Austria the weakest of the central European States into which the
Hapsburg Empire dissolved. Hungary became entirely independent, but
was shorn of her Rumanian, Serb, and Croat appanages. Rumanian troops
held Transylvania, most of the Bukovina, and a slice of Hungary.
Croatia and Carniola, like Bosnia, Herzegovina, and the previously
independent Montenegro had already combined with Serbia to form a
great Jugo-Slav kingdom stretching from north of Laibach to the south
of Monastir, and from the Adriatic to the Danube. The Trentino,
Trieste, and Pola had been occupied by Italy, but the future of
Dalmatia, Fiume, and the islands in the Adriatic was the greatest bone
of contention at the Conference, and their disposal was almost
indefinitely postponed.

The gravest of all the problems which confronted the victorious Powers
arose in connexion with their former ally, Russia, whose condition
presented almost as many obstacles to peace as it had done to the
successful prosecution of war. There was, however, one countervailing
advantage of incalculable value. Had the imperialist Tsardom emerged
triumphant from the struggle, the reactionary forces at the Conference
would have been enormously strengthened; little would probably have
been heard of the independence of Poland; Constantinople would have
fallen into Russian hands; the Balkans and Asia Minor would have
become, in fact if not in name, Russian protectorates; and there would
have been found little scope for self-determination along the shores
of the Baltic or in Eastern Europe. The great war of liberation would
probably have resulted merely in the substitution of Russia for
Germany as a greater menace to the independence of little nations and
to the peace of the world. Nevertheless, the problems imposed upon the
Conference by warring factions in Russia proper, by discordant races
emancipated from Russian domination and pursuing their own conflicting
ambitions, and by the folly of the Allies themselves in ignoring the
principle impressed upon them since 1917, that it was legitimate to
assist Russians against the Germans but not against one another, were
harassing enough. The half-hearted, disingenuous, and misguided
military efforts made by the Allies in Russia introduced alien
irritants into the domestic situation and prolonged that painful
process of internal evolution which could alone produce a satisfactory
solution in a stable Russian government. If the responsible Allied
statesmen had studied the history of previous attempts to impose
particular governments on independent peoples by the force of arms,
they would have been even more reluctant to attempt a repetition of
the experiment in Russia. As it was, their efforts were hampered by
their own subjects and Allies. The United States stood aloof; French
soldiers and sailors refused to fight against Bolsheviks at Odessa;
Italy did nothing; and the burden of an unwise policy was left to
Great Britain, where not even the systematic manipulation of news from
Russia in the interests of intervention could induce public opinion to
condone more than perfunctory help to the cause of restoration.

The fairest guise this policy could assume was defence of the
principle of self-determination, and the assumption was maintained
that the Russian people were opposed to the Soviet government. There
would have been better ground for assisting Finns, Letts, Esthonians,
and Ukrainians against Bolshevik imperialism; but it was to Koltchak,
Denikin, and their north Russian friends, rather than to the little
peoples that help was sent, and a powerful motive in the
discrimination was the pledge of the Russian conservatives to resume
responsibility for Russia's debts to her Allies, particularly France,
which the Bolsheviks had repudiated. Whatever success might attend
this policy would not be due to its wisdom, and events were to show
that the British Government misjudged the Russian situation in 1919 as
much as European monarchies did that of the French Republic in 1793.
The crimes and follies committed by the Soviet and the Jacobin
governments were equally repulsive, but they did not make foreign
intervention in either case a sound or successful policy; and the
Allies would have been wiser to confine their military action to the
defence of the nascent States which had asserted their independence of
Russia and claimed the right of self-determination. The clearest case
was that of Finland, which had always since its acquisition by Russia
in the eighteenth century protested against its loss of independence.
In Esthonia and Latvia, which had passed under the Russian yoke during
the same period, the native movement was complicated by the class
ambitions of the German barons; and there was a confused triangular
struggle between German, Russian, and native influences, in which the
interests and the principles of the Conference obviously lay on the
side of the native party. The situation was more obscure in Lithuania.
It had been bound by a personal union of its sovereign with Poland
since 1370 and by a legislative union since 1569. There had been no
conquest on either side any more than there had been in the personal
and legislative unions of England and Scotland in 1603 and 1707; and
the problem was rather one for domestic arrangement than for decision
by the Conference. The Ukraine, on the other hand, had first been
conquered by Poland and then seized by Russia during the successive
partitions of Poland; and it required the constraint of a superior
authority to check the predatory claims of both those Powers to their
dubious inheritance.

The prospect of dealing successfully with the manifold problems which
confronted the Conference depended to a large extent upon the order in
which they were tackled. Manifestly they could not be handled
simultaneously, and the first thing to do was to lay down the
principles not only of the peace, but of its future adjustment and
modification by establishing a League of Nations. When that Covenant
had been provisionally accepted by the Conference in February, the
next step was to settle with Germany; for no provisions for general
peace or the security of new nations could be satisfactory until
Germany was bound by material and moral guarantees to accept and to
respect them. It was therefore both a logical and a practical
necessity which constrained the Conference, after enunciating the
principles of peace in the Covenant, to deal next with their
application to Germany.

The terms were eventually settled in April and presented to the German
delegation, which had been invited to Versailles for the purpose, on 7
May. The conditions were harsh, in parts vindictive, and in others
manifestly inconsistent with any natural interpretation of the
Fourteen Points which all the belligerents had accepted as the basis
of the armistice and consequent peace; and they were not such as any
Power could be expected to sign without an effort to get them amended
before peace was concluded or a mental reservation to procure their
modification as soon as might be thereafter. The German delegates,
with Count Brockdorff-Rantzau at their head, did their best to expose
the inconsistencies between the Allies' professions and their
performance, and to secure a reconsideration of the more distasteful
terms. An elaborate protest and counterproposals were delivered early
in June and promptly answered by the Allies. A few minor points were
conceded, but the terms as a whole were maintained, with an intimation
that unless they were accepted at once as they stood, the Allies would
draw the sword again. Count Brockdorff-Rantzau thereupon resigned, and
Scheidemann's government fell on 20 June. He was succeeded as Prime
Minister by Herr Bauer, and Herr Müller was sent to replace
Brockdorff-Rantzau at Versailles with a mandate to sign the dictated
peace. It was signed by Germany and by all her enemies, with the
exception of China, on 28 June, five years to a day since the murder
at Serajevo; and early in July it was ratified by a two to one vote of
the German Assembly at Weimar and by the German President Ebert.

The Treaty, which filled a volume of over four hundred pages, had no
precedent for its importance or its bulk. It was an epitome of the
affairs of the world, and its predecessors, the Treaties of Utrecht
and Paris, which ushered in peace early in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries, were miniature in comparison. The German terms
were an unsatisfactory and comparatively unimportant part of the
Treaty except in so far as they bound Germany to accept the principles
for which the Allies had fought the war and upon which they were
determined that the future government of the world should rest. They
were, indeed, not so much a pact of peace as a punishment of war; and
an idealistic scheme of government by consent started by imposing on
the weaker party conditions with which it could not but violently
disagree. Millions of Germans in Alsace-Lorraine, Bohemia, Poland, and
East Prussia were transferred to alien domination; millions of others
in German Austria were denied the right of self-determination in the
form of union with Germany; cities like Dantzig and Memel, which were
admittedly German, were severed from Germany on the grounds that
neighbouring districts were not, and that the economic interests of
foreign States required the severance; and where German lines of
communication crossed those of the Allies and their friends, the
German lines were cut in order to provide what was regarded as an
indispensable continuity for those of their rivals. These and like
provisions were due to Allied distrust of Germany and lack of
confidence in the efficacy of their own principles. For if the League
of Nations succeeded in establishing that freedom of intercourse at
which it professed to aim, there would be no need for this transfer of
control or for the enforcement of access to the sea at the expense of
the principle of self-determination; and these arbitrary arrangements
on Germany's eastern frontier were the counterpart of the special
alliance of Great Britain and the United States to afford France a
protection which the League of Nations did not immediately or
adequately provide. The judgment of posterity, which rarely coincides
with that of the parties to a dispute or to a treaty, is likely to
agree with the declaration of General Smuts, after signing the Treaty,
that real peace would not be found in it so much as in the machinery
it created for its own amendment, and in the spirit which would in
time tone down the passions and products of war.

But that hope would have been vain without the crushing of Prussian
militarism, and the best justification of the terms imposed upon
Germany is that they sealed the defeat of that spirit and annulled its
works in the past since the days of Frederick the Great. Here at least
the Allies worked with a will and without susceptibilities to
conciliate. The German army was reduced to an internal police force of
a hundred thousand men, and meticulous care was taken to prevent the
evasion of this exiguous limit. Her fleet was restricted to six
battleships, six light cruisers, twelve destroyers, and twelve
torpedo-boats; and she was denied submarines and air-forces
altogether. Conscription--despite the war-time plea of our own
conscriptionists that it had nothing to do with militarism--was
abolished as the head and front of Germany's offence; and her
armaments and munitions were limited to diminutive proportions. Much
of what Germany had won by the mailed fist--Alsace-Lorraine, Posen,
and West Prussia--was taken away, while the presumptive Belgian lands
of Eupen and Malmedy, the indubitably German Saar district, Danish
Schleswig, and disputed territories in Upper Silesia and East Prussia
were reserved for determination by plebiscites held under the auspices
of the League of Nations. But the purely German lands which had been
conquered by Prussia's sword, Holstein, Hanover, Westphalia, most of
Silesia, and half of Saxony, were left where the sword had brought
them, presumably on the ground that popular acquiescence had condoned
the barbarous arbitrament of war. Reparation was to supplement
restitution: ton for ton the shipping sunk by submarines was to be
made good out of existing German tonnage and future construction; and
two thousand million pounds were to be paid in two years as a first
instalment towards the repair of damage done by the German army in
Belgium, France, and elsewhere. German colonies were held forfeit on
the double but discrepant counts of the fortune of war and the failure
of Germany to govern them according to the standard professed by all
and practised by some of the Allies. The gain to their inhabitants
consisted to no small extent in the fact that they were to be
administered by mandatories whose responsibility was to be enforced by
an annual report to the League of Nations. Finally, Germany was
required to acquiesce in whatever conditions the victors might impose
on her defeated Allies, and to surrender for trial whomsoever of her
nationals the Conference might select to charge with crime in their
conduct of the war.

In earlier times a treaty of peace was commonly styled a treaty of
peace and amity, and the whilom belligerents swore eternal friendship
to date from the ratification. Here there was no pretence to amity,
and the terms of peace were penalties imposed upon a prisoner at the
bar. The justice in the peace was criminal justice, justice ad hoc
rather than impartial equity. Other nations than Germany had waged
wars of aggression; and if the breach of 1914 was a crime, the jury
which adjudged it so had criminal records of their own. Even the
British Empire and the United States had not attained their vast
proportions or acquired their subject populations by the force of
argument or in self-defence. There was no law against aggression in
1914; all nations were responsible more or less for its non-existence,
and all except Belgium had themselves as well as Germany to thank for
what they suffered in consequence. These, however, were precisely the
reasons for making a law which was lacking and a peace for which there
was no precedent. It was Germany who had taken advantage of the
weakness of international law and done most to prevent its growth; and
it was fitting that Germany should pay a corresponding penalty. There
is a wholesome prejudice against retrospective legislation, but the
benefit cannot be claimed by those who obstructed the legislation
because they wanted to pursue the conduct which it would have made
criminal. Occasions arise which imperatively require the creation of
precedents, and the time had surely come in 1919 to enforce the
principle that States must observe a moral code in their relations
with one another, and to assert the responsibility of governments to
that code by imposing penalties for its breach. For that the Allies
had contended throughout the war, and the repudiation of that issue by
the Germans was no ground for their immunity after their defeat.

Their claims were not, indeed, consistent. If there was no
international code to which they could be held responsible, there was
none to prevent the Allies from crying vae victis and using their
victory as the Germans had hoped to use theirs. Their delegates first
pleaded the absence of this code in order to absolve their former
rulers, and then urged its existence to escape from punishment
themselves. It was a specious plea that their revolution had acquitted
the German people of the crimes of the German Government; but even
more pregnant for the future welfare of mankind than insistence upon
the responsibility of governments to their people was insistence upon
the responsibility of peoples for their government. If the government
of Germany was a criminal government, the fault could only be charged
against the German people; and it is only when peoples realize that
they will have to pay for the sins of the rulers they choose or
tolerate that there can be any security in a democratic age for decent
conduct in the relations of governments to one another. For fifty
years the German people had been content to profit from the
aggressiveness of their government, releasing it from responsibility
to domestic opinion and denying its responsibility to any other
tribunal. That negligence on the part of the Germans to guarantee the
respectability of their State cost the world thirty million casualties
and thirty thousand million pounds; and the debt to humanity could not
be discharged by simply dismissing the agent who had incurred it.
Germany herself could not undo the harm she had done nor restore the
more precious losses she had caused. Repentance was something, and
good conduct would lighten the burden she had to bear and shorten the
term of her isolation. But judgment could not be evaded; and the
majority of the German people showed good sense in their acceptance of
the terms and in the rapidity with which the treaty was ratified.

From German affairs the Conference turned to those of Austria,
Bulgaria, and Turkey, the minor importance of which was indicated by
the departure from Versailles of the principal delegates who had
determined the Covenant of the League and the terms of the treaty with
Germany. President Wilson returned to America to secure the reluctant
consent of the Senate to the settlement he had made; Mr. Lloyd George
came back to England to the less arduous task of obtaining
parliamentary sanction for those parts of the treaty which required
it; and the further work of the Conference was left to the foreign
ministers and other experts rather than to Prime Ministers, though M.
Clémenceau remained to preside, and the Italian affairs in dispute
were vital enough to require the presence of a full Italian
delegation. These were concerned with the liquidation of the Hapsburg
Empire, but not with that fragment of it to which Austria had been
reduced by the recognition of Czecho-Slovakian independence, the
transference of Galicia to Poland, and the union of Croats and
Slovenes under the Serbian crown. Deprived of German support by the
German treaty, this little Austria was but a suppliant at the
Conference, and its efforts were mainly bent towards reducing its
share in the liabilities of the Empire of which it had once formed
part. Hapsburg Government was defunct, and it was difficult to
apportion its liabilities fairly among those who acquired its assets;
for some of them, like the Czechoslovaks and Jugo-Slavs, had
exonerated themselves from complicity for Hapsburg malfeasance by
rebelling against their government and fighting for the Entente. The
problem was complicated by a further revolution in Hungary where a
Soviet Government was established, and Bela Kun endeavoured to rule
after the manner of Lenin. The Russian Bolsheviks were, however,
unable to help their Hungarian pupils, in spite of the hesitancy shown
by the Allies in dealing with the situation; and early in August Bela
Kun's government fell before domestic reaction and the advance of the
Rumanian army, which occupied Buda-Pesth. At last Rumania had her
revenge, and it required energetic protests on the part of Versailles
to induce her to recognize its restraining authority, refrain from
reprisals, and regard the spoils of war as the common assets of the
Allies instead of her own particular booty. She had ample compensation
in the settlement through the redemption of Rumanes not only from the
Hapsburg-Magyar yoke but from that Russian yoke in Bessarabia which
had dulled her ardour for the anti-Hapsburg cause.

These diversions delayed until September the presentation by the
Allies of their final terms to the Austrian Republic. Its territories
were reduced to the limits of Austrian lands before the Hapsburg
Empire was created four hundred years ago by the Emperors Charles V
and Ferdinand I; parts even of their inheritance were lost, though the
ecclesiastical lands like Salzburg acquired during the Napoleonic
secularization were retained, and the future of Klagenfurt was
reserved for plebiscitary determination. Instead of an Empire Austria
became the fragment of a nation, divorced from the rest of the German
people by the fears of the Entente, required like Germany to forswear
conscription, denied all access to the sea, and left with regard to
the size of its territories and weakness of its frontiers in much the
same situation as the Serbia she had attacked in 1914. Protest was as
idle as delay, and the treaty which was presented on 2 September was
signed on the 10th.

Nine days later Bulgaria learnt her fate, and the draft treaty
presented to her delegates at Versailles on 19 September condemned her
to pay an indemnity of ninety millions, to reduce her army to 20,000,
and to lose the town and district of Strumnitza and the whole of her
Ægean coast. Strumnitza was given to Serbia, but the Ægean coast was
reserved for disposal with the rest of Thrace and the remains of the
Turkish empire. Bulgaria herself received a fraction of Turkish
territory on the river Maritza, and her frontiers with Rumania were
left unchanged. In the Balkans, as elsewhere, the Allies applied the
principle of self-determination only to conquered countries; none but
an Ally was allowed the privilege of retaining Irelands in subjection,
and in the Balkans at least the victory of the Entente increased the
populations under alien rule. Guarantees respecting the rights of
minorities were, indeed, imposed on the lesser States, but they would
have been more effective and less invidious, had the greater Powers
subjected themselves to the rule they made for others.

The Conference found it easier to dispose of its enemies' lands than
to compose the rivalries of its friends; and the blunders of Italy's
statesmen combined with the blindness of public opinion to reduce her
to a position of almost pathetic isolation. Signor Orlando's
abandonment of the Conference in April failed to shake the resistance
of the Allies to her extravagant expectations, and on 20 June, by a
remarkable vote of 229 to 80 in the Italian Chamber, his government
was driven from office. Not only in Italy but in Allied countries,
Italian communities abstained from celebrating the peace with Germany,
and grave indeed would have been the difficulties of the Conference if
the conclusion of that treaty had depended upon Italy's signature.
There was friction amounting to bloodshed between French and Italians
at Fiume, and an Albanian rising against the protectorate which Italy
had proclaimed. Her resolve to establish Italian domination along the
eastern coasts of the Adriatic evoked opposition from all the native
populations, who strongly appealed to the sympathies and principles of
the Allies; and her dependence upon them for the necessaries of
commerce and industry made defiance an impossible policy. Gradually
her new government under Signor Nitti sought to withdraw from an
untenable position; but D'Annunzio's raid on Fiume in September once
more inflamed popular passion, and Dalmatia, the islands in the
Adriatic, Albania, Epirus, and the Dodecanese were apples of discord
between Italy and the Balkan States which distracted the Allies
throughout the summer and autumn.

The settlement was also delayed by the enormous difficulty of
liquidating the Ottoman Empire and the reluctance of the United States
to accept the obligation of mandates in Europe or Asia. The curious
spectacle was afforded of the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon
race indulging in a rivalry of retirement and endeavouring to saddle
each other with fresh acquisitions of territory; and between them
Armenia was almost abandoned once more to the Turks and the Kurds.
France was less retiring in Syria, the inhabitants of which were
believed to prefer to French rule any one of three alternatives, Arab
independence, a mandate for the United States, or one for Great
Britain; and the anxiety of great Powers to leave countries where
their presence was wanted was only equalled by their determination to
stay where it was not. French soreness over the lack of appreciation
shown by the Syrian people was increased by an independent arrangement
between Great Britain and Persia which gave us as complete a control
over Persian administration as we possessed in Egypt during the
eighties; and it was somewhat pertinently asked why Persia should be
allowed to dispose of her government in this way, while Austria was
sternly forbidden to unite with Germany without the consent of the
League of Nations. The sovereignty of Persia had, however, been
recognized at Versailles, and the League could not entrust a mandate
for its government to any other State. It was therefore left for
Persia to secure assistance in its administration by private treaty
dictated by Lord Curzon and traditional views about India, Russia, and
the Persian Gulf. Our patronage of Koltchak's government prevented him
from making any protest.

Russia remained the sphinx of the situation, and the obscurity of her
future darkened the counsels of Versailles. Early in the war the
Entente had acquiesced in all the imperialist pretensions of the
Tsardom to Constantinople, the Dardanelles, and Asia Minor; and even
after the Revolution the web of the old diplomacy entangled the feet
of the Allies. Fear of Bolshevism threw them on to the side of
Restoration, and Restoration at the hands of Koltchak and Denikin
implied a revival of the Russian Empire at the expense of independent
fringes. The Ukraine, Lithuania, Esthonia, and Latvia, and even Poland
and Finland, looked askance at such a policy, and naturally could not
be brought into a crusade to carry it out. The straightforward line to
take would have been to recognize these emancipated States on the
principle of self-determination and limit our action to their defence.
Hatred and haste had, however, betrayed the Allies into armed
intervention in the domestic politics of Russia proper, and committed
them to supporting a cause which had doubtful chances of success and,
if successful, might produce greater embarrassment for them than
defeat. From success they were saved by Koltchak's failure. Having
mastered Siberia and made a brave show of descending on Bolshevist
Russia from the Urals in the spring, he was routed in July and August
and driven back to Omsk, while Bolshevist forces rose up in his rear.
His defeat ruined our plans in North Russia, and at last convinced the
Allies of their folly in seeking to impose a government on the Russian
people; and evacuation became the order of the day. In South Russia
Denikin, unassisted by foreign legions, met with more native support
and greater success. The Bolsheviks were driven from the shores of the
Black Sea, and the Ukraine recovered Kiev. Students of Russian history
drew interesting parallels with the Russian Time of Troubles in the
seventeenth century, but rather neglected the fact that they lasted
thirty years; and the foundations laid at Versailles had long to wait
before the temple of peace was erected upon them in Russia.

The Allies themselves were slow to ratify the terms they dictated to
others, and months passed after the German ratification before its
example of promptness was followed by the Entente. The British Empire
had to await the separate decisions of all its Dominions; and the
Senate of the United States was led, by the fact that a majority in it
was politically opposed to the President, to make an even greater use
than was customary of its constitutional powers of obstruction in
foreign policy. Italy ratified the treaty on 7 October; Great Britain,
her four Dominions having assented by 2 October, ratified on the 10th,
and France on the 12th. But the Adriatic and the Baltic, Russia and
the Balkans, Turkey and Syria, still defied a settlement and delayed
the peace; and the Powers at Versailles discovered that their apparent
omnipotence was impotent for many purposes. Not one of their peoples
was willing to go to war to enforce the decisions of the Conference,
and the submission of Germany removed the one possible exception to
this rule. Almost against its own will the Conference was compelled to
act on its own principles and find other methods than those of
military force to settle the problems with which it was faced; and
this situation provided ample scope for diplomatic recalcitrance and
delay. The advantage was that practice was thus acquired in the
exercise of such economic and other peine forte et dure as the League
of Nations would in future have to use to reduce its unruly members to
order. Proceedings at Versailles therefore took less and less the
character of a conclusion to the war and more and more that of an
endless introduction to a new era. The work of a temporary Conference
to settle terms of peace was merging into that of a permanent League
of Nations for maintaining it; and the world happily got into its
international habits while its individual governments and legislatures
were still debating whether they would fit. Just as before the war the
appearance of peace was deceptive, so the clouds of a storm that was
passed obscured the clearing sky, and filled the weather-prophets of
the platform and the press with a gloom which the people declined
instinctively to share. There were indeed symptoms that we, like our
forefathers a century ago, were destined to tread the downward path
from Waterloo to Peter-loo. The ties of nationality and the stimulus
of patriotism weakened; the home-fires which kept brightly burning in
the war threatened to end in smoke through dissensions over coal, and
men reverted to their ancient anarchy of class and craft. Mr. Lloyd
George's House of Commons, which owed its existence to past events and
to a passing mood, soon forfeited the confidence of a fickle public,
and the impotence to which it was reduced left the country prone to
the temptations and a prey to the turbulence of direct and
unrepresentative action. In the absence of effective opposition and
incentive in Parliament nothing constitutional appeared to move the
Government, and an evil example was set when a few hundred soldiers in
January demanded in Whitehall and obtained their prompt
demobilization. The Premier himself, who had been on Pisgah in
September 1914, descended to a lower level and a dusty arena in his
general election speeches; and animosities which had been concentrated
on the Huns were dissipated in domestic directions.

Distance alone will lend discernment to the view, and only time will
reveal the ascent of man during the five great years of war. There
will be much backsliding to measure and record, and the intense
agitation of war brought out the worst in the bad as well as the best
in the good. Much that came to the top was scum, while often the salt
of the earth went under. Treason blotted the pages illumined by
heroism, and profiteering tarnished peoples redeemed by the devotion
of their sons. Wastefulness and corruption ran riot even in government
circles, while hundreds of thousands of humble men and women
voluntarily stinted and starved themselves beyond the rigid
requirements of the law. Lip-service was paid to the principle of
equality in sacrifice, and some efforts were made to enforce it. But
they failed to remove the inexorable inequalities of human fate, and
the war which brought death and distress to millions, brought to
others ease and honours, wealth and fame. These are the common
property of wars; and if men did more evil in this than in any
preceding conflict, it was not because they were worse than their
forefathers, but because the war was more comprehensive and they had
ampler means of working ill. Even the cruelty with which it was waged
by the Germans created horror mainly because they sinned against the
higher standards of modern times, and because their cruelty found more
scientific and effective methods of expression.

All the nations which fought believed in the justice of their cause
and fought as a rule with a courage which belied the alleged
degeneracy of the human race. None of the Powers save Russia fell
short of their previous fame. France strove at Verdun with a fortitude
in adversity unequalled in her annals. German discipline and
determination would have evoked unstinted praise but for the cause in
which those qualities were displayed. Belgium exhibited a national
spirit new in her history, and Serbian heroism was a revelation which
earned for the southern Slavs the greatest relative gains in the war.
The people of the United States became a nation of crusaders moved by
motives at least as high as those which inspired the hearers of Peter
the Hermit, Urban II, or St. Bernard; and the British Empire eclipsed
its own and all other records. History tells of many a shining example
of ancient valour in individuals and in the elect; but here we had
heroism in the mass and courage in the common man. Human memory
recalls no parallel to that uprising of the spirit which led five
million Britons to fight as volunteers for the honour of their country
and the liberty of other lands; despite its shortcomings the
Conference of Versailles achieved higher ideals than those attained by
any preceding congress of peace; and if during the war for its common
weal the world paid, in flesh and in spirit, a price greater than that
ever paid before, it purchased a larger heritage of hope and laid a
surer foundation for its faith.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Short History of the Great War" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home