WORLD'S WAR EVENTS
RECORDED BY STATESMEN — COMMANDERS HISTORIANS AND BY MEN WHO FOUGHT OR SAW THE GREAT CAMPAIGNS
COMPILED AND EDITED BY
FRANCIS J. REYNOLDS
FORMER REFERENCE LIBRARIAN — LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
ALLEN L. CHURCHILL
ASSOCIATE EDITOR "THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR" ASSOCIATE EDITOR "THE NEW INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA"
PF COLLIER & SON COMPANY NEW YORK
BY P.F. COLLIER & SON COMPANY
WORLD'S WAR EVENTS
BEGINNING WITH THE DEPARTURE OF THE FIRST AMERICAN DESTROYERS FOR SERVICE ABROAD IN APRIL, 1917, AND CLOSING WITH THE TREATIES OF PEACE IN 1919
I. A DESTROYER IN ACTIVE SERVICE 7 An American Officer
II. EAST AFRICA 32 Jan Christiaan Smuts
III. GREECE'S ATONEMENT 54 Lewis R. Freeman
IV. THE ITALIANS AT BAY 69 G. Ward Price
V. BOTTLING UP ZEEBRUGGE AND OSTEND 101 Official Narrative
VI. WITH THE AMERICAN SUBMARINES 119 Henry B. Beston
VII. WOUNDED HEROES OF FRANCE 138 Abbe Felix Klein
VIII. THE BATTLE OF PICARDY 153 J.B.W. Gardiner
IX. BULGARIA QUITS 170 Lothrop Stoddard
X. THE FIGHTING CZECHO-SLOVAKS 183 Maynard Owen Williams
XI. SIX DAYS ON THE AMERICAN FIRING LINE 200 Corporal H.J. Burbach
XII. AN AMERICAN BATTLEFIELD 210 Raoul Blanchard
XIII. NIGHT RAIDS FROM THE AIR 229 Mary Helen Fee
XIV. THE AMERICAN ARMY IN EUROPE 242 General John J. Pershing
XV. THE AMERICAN NAVY IN EUROPE 271 Admiral H.T. Mayo
XVI. ARMISTICE TERMS SIGNED BY GERMANY 297
XVII. COVENANT OF THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS 306
XVIII. TREATY OF PEACE WITH GERMANY 318
XIX. TREATY OF PEACE WITH AUSTRIA 365
A DESTROYER IN ACTIVE SERVICE
BY AN AMERICAN OFFICER
[Sidenote: War accepted with equanimity.]
[Sidenote: Life on a destroyer is simple.]
Well, I must confess that, even after war has been declared, the skies haven't fallen and oysters taste just the same. I never would have dreamed that so big a step would be accepted with so much equanimity. It is due to two causes, I think. First, because we have trembled on the verge so long and sort of dabbled our toes in the water, that our minds have grown gradually accustomed to what under other circumstances would be a violent shock. Second, because the individual units of the Navy are so well prepared that there is little to do. We made a few minor changes in the routine and slipped the war-heads on to the torpedoes, and presto, we were ready for war. One beauty of a destroyer is that, life on board being reduced to its simplest terms anyhow, there is little to change. We may be ordered to "strip," that is, go to our Navy yard and land all combustibles, paints, oils, surplus woodwork, etc.; but we have not done so yet.
We were holding drill yesterday when the signal was made from the flagship, "War is declared." I translated it to my crew, who received the news with much gayety but hardly a trace of excitement.
[Sidenote: Anxiety to get into the big game.]
There is absolutely no news. We are standing by for what may betide, with not the faintest idea of what it may be. Of course, we are drilling all the time, and perfecting our readiness for action in every way, but there is a total absence of that excitement and sense of something impending that one usually associates with the beginning of war. Indeed, I think that the only real anxiety is lest we may not get into the big game at all. I do not think any of us are bloodthirsty or desirous of either glory or advancement, but we have the wish to justify our existence. With me it takes this form—by being in the service I have sacrificed my chance to make good as husband, father, citizen, son, in fact, in every human relationship, in order to be, as I trust, one of the Nation's high-grade fighting instruments. Now, if fate never uses me for the purpose to which I have been fashioned, then much time, labor, and material have been wasted, and I had better have been made into a good clerk, farmer, or business man.
[Sidenote: The desire to be put to the test.]
I do so want to be put to the test and not found wanting. Of course, I know that the higher courage is to do your duty from day to day no matter in how small a line, but all of us conceal a sneaking desire to attempt the higher hurdles and sail over grandly.
You need not be proud of me, for there is no intrinsic virtue in being in the Navy when war is declared; but I hope fate will give me the chance to make you proud.
[Sidenote: A chance to command.]
[Sidenote: Bringing a ship to dock.]
I have been having lots of fun in command myself, and good experience. I have taken her out on patrol up to Norfolk twice, where the channel is as thin and crooked as a corkscrew, then into dry dock. Later, escorted a submarine down, then docked the ship alongside of a collier, and have established, to my own satisfaction at least, that I know how to handle a ship. All this may not convey much, but you remember how you felt when you first handled your father's car. Well, the car weighs about two tons and the W—— a thousand, and she goes nearly as fast. You have to bring your own mass up against another dock or oilship as gently as dropping an egg in an egg-cup, and you can imagine what the battleship skipper is up against, with 30,000 tons to handle. Only he generally has tugs to help him, whereas we do it all by ourselves.
[Sidenote: Justifying one's existence as an officer.]
This war is far harder on you than on me. The drill, the work of preparing for grim reality, all of it is what I am trained for. The very thought of getting into the game gives me a sense of calmness and contentment I have never before known. I suppose it is because subconsciously I feel that I am justifying my existence now more than ever before. And that feeling brings anybody peace.
Back in harness again and thankful for the press of work that keeps me from thinking about you all at home.
[Sidenote: Orders to sail.]
Well, we are going across all right, exactly where and for how long I do not know. Our present orders are to sail to-morrow night, but there seems to be wild uncertainty about whether we will go out then. In the meantime, we are frantically taking on mountains of stores, ammunition, provisions, etc., trying to fill our vacancies with new men from the Reserve Ship, and hurrying everything up at high pressure.
Well, I am glad it has come. It is what I wanted and what I think you wanted for me. It is useless to discuss all the possibilities of where we are going and what we are going to do. From the look of things, I think we are going to help the British. I hope so. Of course, we are a mere drop in the bucket.
[Sidenote: Happier always for having taken the chance.]
As I start off now, my only real big regret is that through circumstances so much of my responsibility has been taken by others—you, my brother, and your father. I don't know that I am really to blame. At least, I am very sure that never in all my life did I intentionally try to shift any load of mine onto another. But in any case, it makes me all the more glad that I am where I am, going where I am to go—to have my chance, in other words. I once said in jest that all naval officers ought really to get killed, to justify their existence. I don't exactly advocate that extreme. But I shall all my life be happier for having at least taken my chance. It will increase my self-respect, which in turn increases my usefulness in life. So can you get my point of view, and be glad with me?
[Sidenote: The best things of life.]
Now I am to a great extent a fatalist, though I hope it really is something higher than that. Call it what you will, I have always believed that if we go ahead and do our duty, counting not the cost, then the outcome will be in the hands of a power way beyond our own. But if it be fated that I don't come back, let no one ever say, "Poor R——." I have had all the best things of life given me in full measure—the happiest childhood and boyhood, health, the love of family and friends, the profession I love, marriage to the girl I wanted, and my son. If I go now, it will be as one who quits the game while the blue chips are all in his own pile.
GENERAL POST OFFICE, LONDON
[Sidenote: Rescuing a sailor.]
On the trip over, we were steaming behind the R——, when all at once she steered out and backed, amid much running around on board. At first we thought she saw a submarine and stood by our guns. Then we saw she had a man overboard. We immediately dropped our lifeboat, and I went in charge for the fun of it. Beat the R——'s boat to him. He had no life-preserver, but the wool-lined jacket he wore kept him high out of water, and he was floating around as comfortably as you please, barring the fact that his fall had knocked him unconscious. So we not only took him back to his ship, but picked up the R——'s boat-hook, which the clumsy lubbers had dropped—and kept it as a reward for our trouble.
[Sidenote: Very little known about the U-boat situation.]
We are being somewhat overhauled, refitted, etc., in the British dock-yard here. Navy yards are much the same the world over, I guess. I will say, however, that they have dealt with us quickly and efficiently, with the minimum of red tape and correspondence. We have become in fact an integral part of the British Navy. Admiral Sims is in general supervision of us, but we are directly in command of the British Admiral commanding the station. Of the U-boat situation, I may say little. There is nothing about which so much is imagined, rumored and reported, and so little known for certain. Five times, when coming through the danger zone, we manned all guns, thinking we saw something. Once in my watch I put the helm hard over to dodge a torpedo—which proved to be a porpoise! And I'll do the same thing again, too. We are in this war up to the neck, there is no doubt about that—and thank Heaven for it!
Kiss our son for me and make up your mind that you would rather have his father over here on the job than sitting in a swivel-chair at home doing nothing.
I never seem to get time to write a real letter. All hands, including your husband, are so dead tired when off watch that there is nothing to do but flop down on your bunk—or on the deck sometimes—and sleep. The captain and I take watch on the bridge day and night, and outside of this I do my own navigating and other duties, so time does not go a-begging with me. However, we are still unsunk, for which we should be properly grateful.
[Sidenote: War has become matter-of-fact.]
I have seen a little of Ireland and like New York State better than ever. It is difficult to realize how matter-of-fact the war has become with every one over here. You meet some mild mannered gentleman and talk about the weather, and then find later that he is a survivor from some desperate episode that makes your blood tingle. I would that we were over on the North Sea side, where Providence might lay us alongside a German destroyer some gray dawn. This submarine-chasing business is much like the proverbial skinning of a skunk—useful, but not especially pleasant or glorious.
[Sidenote: Glad to be in the big game.]
When I said good-bye to you at home, I don't think that either of us realized that I was coming over here to stay. Perhaps it was just as well. Human nature is such that we subconsciously refuse to accept an idea, even when we know it to be a true one, because it is totally new—beyond our experience. Pursuant to which, I could not believe that my fondest hopes were to be realized, and that not only I, but the whole of America, would really get into the big game. Oh, it is big all right, and it grows on you the more you get into it.
Now, I realize that it is asking too much of you or of any woman to view with perfect complacency having a husband suddenly injected into war. But just consider—suppose I was a prosperous dentist or produce merchant on shore, instead of in the Navy. By now you and I would be undergoing all the agonies of indecision as to whether I should enlist or no; it would darken our lives for weeks or months, and in the end I should go anyhow, letting my means of livelihood and yours go hang, and be away just as long and stand as good a chance of being blown up as I do now. So I am very thankful that things have worked out as they have for us.
[Sidenote: Little one is permitted to tell.]
There is very little to tell that I am allowed to tell you. The technique of submarine-chasing and dodging would be dry reading to a landsman. It is a very curious duty in that it would be positively monotonous, were it not for the possibility of being hurled into eternity the next minute. I am in very good health and wholly free from nervous tension.
P.S. When despondent, pull some Nathan Hale "stuff," and regret that you have but one husband to give to your country.
[Sidenote: Sleep, warmth and fresh food become ideals.]
Once more I get the chance to write. We are in port for three days, and that three days looks as big as a month's leave would have a month ago. Everything in life is comparative, I guess. When we live a comfortable, civilized, highly complex life, our longings and desires are many and far-reaching. Now and here such things as sleep, warmth, and fresh food become almost the limit of one's imagination. Just like the sailor of the old Navy, whose idea of perfect contentment was "Two watches below and beans for dinner."
[Sidenote: Nothing causes excitement.]
You get awfully blase on this duty—things which should excite you don't at all. For instance, out of the air come messages like the following: "Am being chased and delayed by submarine." "Torpedoed and sinking fast." And you merely look at the chart and decide whether to go to the rescue full speed, or let some boat nearer to the scene look after it. Or, if the alarm is given on your own ship, you grab mechanically for life-jacket, binoculars, pistol, and wool coat, and jump to your station, not knowing whether it is really a periscope or a stick floating along out of water.
Well, we got mail when we came into port this time, your letter of May 28 being the last one. I don't mind the frequent pot-shots the U-boats take at us, but doggone their hides if they sink any of our mail! We won't forgive them that.
[Sidenote: No joy-of-battle to be found.]
My health is excellent, better than my temper, in fact. I am beginning to think that we are not getting our money's worth in this war. I want to have my blood stirred and do something heroic—a la moving-pictures. Instead of which it much resembles a campaign against cholera-germs or anything else which is deadly but difficult to get any joy-of-battle out of.
Do tell me everything you are doing, for it is up to you to make conversation, since there is so little of affairs at this end that I can talk about. It is a shame, for you always claimed that I never spoke unless you said something first; and now I am doing the same thing under cover of the letter.
[Sidenote: Life so gray that shock of danger is beneficial.]
The other day, half-way out on the Atlantic, we sighted a periscope, and some one at the gun sent a shell skimming over the C——, who was in the way, and then the periscope turned out to be a ventilator sticking up over some wreckage. However, the incident was welcome. You have no conception of how gray life can get to be on this job, and the shock of danger, real or imaginary, is really beneficial, I think. All hands seem to be more cheerful under its influence.
I was so glad to get your letters. A man who has a brave woman behind him will do his duty far better and, incidentally, stand more chance of coming back, than one who feels a drag instead of a push.
I am glad son had his first fight. You were perfectly right to make him go on. Mother used to tell how, when brother was a wee boy, he came home almost weeping, and said, "Mother, a boy hit me." Instead of comforting him, she said, "Did you hit him back?" It almost killed her, he was so utterly dumbfounded and hurt; but next time he hit back and licked.
[Sidenote: The life wears nerves and temper.]
I am well but get rather jumpy at times. Strangely enough, it is always over more or less trivial matters. Every time we have a submarine scare, I feel markedly better for a while—it seems to reestablish my sense of proportion.
It is a mighty nerve- and temper-wearing life—at sea nearly all the time and with the boat rolling and bucking like a broncho, you can't exercise. You can hardly do any work, but only hold on tight and wipe the salt spray from your eyes. Sometimes I have started to shave and found the salt so thick on my face that soap would not lather.
[Sidenote: Time is passed navigating, standing watch, sleeping.]
Things are the same as before with us. Time passes quickly, with navigating, standing watch and sleeping when you get a chance. One day or two passes all too quickly. I wish there were more to do in the shape of relaxation when we do get ashore. The people here are cordial enough, according to their lights, but those that we meet are practically all Army and Navy people, who have no abode here themselves and are almost as much strangers as we are; and there is no resident population of that caste that would ordinarily open its doors to foreign naval officers.
[Sidenote: Little for diversion in Ireland.]
Ireland is a poor country comparatively. A town of 50,000 here shows less in the way of facilities for diversion than the average town of 10,000 in the States.
[Sidenote: Mental privations hurt more than physical ones.]
Don't worry about my privations—"which mostly there ain't none." Such as they are, they are necessary and unavoidable; and, above all, we are fitted for them. You can't well sympathize with a man who is doing the thing he has longed for and trained for all his life. Besides, physical privations are nothing; it is the mental ones that hurt. A soldier in the trenches, with little to eat and nothing but a hole to sleep in, can feel happy all the same—particularly if life has something in prospect for him if he lives. But a man out of work at home, sleeping in the park and panhandling for food, is much more to be pitied, though his immediate hardships may be no greater.
The weather over here is very passable at present, but they say it is simply hell off the coast in winter. However, somebody said the war will be over in November. I hope the Kaiser and Hindenburg know it, too!
[Sidenote: Anxious to be in action.]
I haven't done anything heroic, which irks me. We would like to get in on the ground floor, while all hands are in a receptive mood, and before the Plattsburgers and other such death-defying supermen make it too common.
[Sidenote: A cheerful letter from home.]
Your two letters of July 7 and 8 came this afternoon, but I got the latter first and expected from what you said in contrition that there was hot stuff—gas-attack followed by bayonet-work—in the former; therefore I was all the more ashamed to find you had dealt so leniently and squarely with me. Why didn't you come back with a long invoice of troubles of your own, as 99 per cent of women would? Evidently you are the one-per-cent woman. I bitterly regretted my whines after having written them, for their very untruth. Alas, how many people think the world is drab-colored and life a failure, and so have done or said something they regret all their lives, when a vegetable pill or a brisk walk would have changed their vision completely! Why is it that people sometimes deliberately hurt those they have loved most in the world? I suppose it is because we are all really children at heart and want some one else to cry too. The other day Smith shamefacedly abstracted from the mail-box a letter to his wife, and tore it up, and I know—oh, I know!
At a husbands' meeting on the ship the other day, we all agreed that the heavy hand was the only way to deal with women; but it seemed on investigation that no one had actually tried it the reason being apparently a well-grounded fear that our wives wouldn't like it.
[Sidenote: Danger, but little action or variety.]
This war hasn't had as much action, variety, and stimulation for us as I would like. Danger there always is, but being little in evidence, you have to prod your nerves to realize it rather than soothe them down. Lately, however, things have changed in a manner which, though involving no more danger, furnishes a somewhat greater mental stimulation, and thence is better for everybody. I regret to say that I am gaining in weight. It was my hope to come back thin and gaunt and interesting-looking. Instead of which, you will likely be mad as a hornet to find me so sleek, while you at home have done all the thinning down. Truth to tell, if you compare our relative peace and war status, you are much more at war than I am.
[Sidenote: The highest form of courage.]
If you find son timid in some things, just remember that I was, too. Lots of things he will change about automatically. At his age I had small love for fire-crackers or explosives of any kind, but in two or three years, and without any prompting, I became really expert in guns and gunpowder. Try to get him to realize that the very highest form of courage is to be afraid to do a thing—and do it!
[Sidenote: U-boat score against destroyers is zero.]
Once in a while some one of us gets a torpedo fired at him, and only luck or quick seamanship saves him from destruction. Some day the torpedo will hit, and then the Navy Department will "regret to report." But the laws of probability and chance cannot lie, and as the total U-boat score against our destroyers so far is zero, you can figure for yourself that they will have to improve somewhat before the Kaiser can hand out many iron crosses at our expense.
[Sidenote: Picking up survivors.]
We had a new experience the other day when we picked up two boatloads of survivors from the ——, torpedoed without warning. I will say they were pretty glad to see us when we bore down on them. As we neared, they began to paddle frantically, as though fearful we should be snatched away from them at the last moment. The crew were mostly Arabs and Lascars, and the first mate, a typical comic-magazine Irishman, delivered himself of the following: "Sure, toward the last, some o' thim haythen gits down on their knees and starts calling on Allah; but I sez, sez I, 'Git up afore I swat ye wid the axe-handle, ye benighted haythen; sure if this boat gits saved 't will be the Holy Virgin does it or none at all, at all! Git up,' sez I."
[Sidenote: The deep sea breeds a certain fineness of character.]
The officers were taken care of in the ward-room—rough unlettered old sailormen, who possessed a certain fineness of character which I believe the deep sea tends to breed in those who follow it long enough. I have known some old Tartars greatly hated by those under them, but to whom a woman or child would take naturally.
What you say about my possibly being taken prisoner both amuses and touches me. The former because it seems so highly unlikely a contingency. Submarines do not take prisoners if they can help it, and least of all from a man-of-war. But I have often thought of just what I should do in such a case, and I have decided that it would be far better to die than to submit to certain things. In which case, I should use my utmost ingenuity to take along one or two adversaries with me.
[Sidenote: The case for universal conscription.]
So the boys at home don't all take kindly to being conscripted, eh? Well, I wish for a lot of reasons that the conscription might be as complete and far-reaching as it is in, for instance, France. I think for one thing that universal conscription is the final test of democracy. Again, I think it would do every individual in the nation good to find out that there was something a little bit bigger than he—something that neither money, nor politics, nor obscurity, nor the Labor Union, nor any one else could help him to wriggle out of. It would go far towards disillusioning those many who seem to feel that they do not have to take too seriously a government because they have helped to create it.
[Sidenote: Not a question of courage but of mental process.]
While I have precious little sympathy for slackers of any variety, one must not judge them too harshly because their minds do not happen to work the same as ours. In nine cases out of ten it is not a question of courage, but one of mental process. Some people come of a caste to whom war or the idea of fighting for their country is second nature. They take it for granted, like death and taxes. If they ever permitted themselves seriously to question the rightness of it; to submit patriotism and courage to an acid analysis, they might suddenly turn arrant cowards. How much harder is it, then, for people who have never even faced the idea of it before to be suddenly placed up against the actual fact!
I have been having a little extra fun on my own hook recently. The poor captain has had to have an operation, and will be on his back for some weeks.
[Sidenote: Double duty on the bridge.]
Do I like going to war all on my own? Oh no, just like a cat hates cream. It is a wee bit strenuous, as I have to do double duty; and one night I was on the bridge steadily from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. But the funny part is that I didn't feel especially all in afterward, and one good sleep fixed me up completely.
[Sidenote: A submarine escapes.]
I had a big disappointment on my first run out. I nearly bagged a submarine for you. We got her on the surface as nice as anything, but it was very rough, and she was far away, and before I could plunk her, she got under. If she had only—but, as the saying goes, if the dog hadn't stopped to scratch himself, he would have got the rabbit (not, however, that we stopped to scratch ourselves).
[Sidenote: Responsibility for lives and ship.]
I am still in command of the ship and love it, but there is a difference between being second in command and being It. It makes you introspective to realize that a hundred lives and a $700,000 ship are absolutely dependent upon you, without anybody but the Almighty to ask for advice if you get into difficulty.
It is not so much the submarines, which are largely a matter of luck, but the navigating. Say I am heading back for port after several days out, the weather is thick as pea-soup, and I have not seen land or had an observation for days. I know where I am—at least I think I do—but what if I have miscalculated, or am carried off my course by the strong and treacherous tides on this coast, and am heading right into the breakers somewhere, or perchance a mine-field! Then the fog lifts a little, and I see the cliffs or mountains that I recognize, and bring her in with a slam-bang, much bravado, and a sigh of relief.
Don't you remember the days when you thought son was dying if he cried—or if he didn't? Well, that's it!
[Sidenote: Recreations ashore.]
Don't get the idea that I have no recreations. We walk and play golf, go to the movies on occasion, and there is always a jolly gang of mixed services to play with.
Life here doesn't vary much. The captain is up and taking a few days' leave, though I doubt if he will take command for two or three weeks yet. But I am having a lovely time running her.
[Sidenote: A veteran New Zealander for dinner.]
The other night we had a very interesting chap for dinner—a New Zealander he was, who has served in Egypt, Gallipoli, the trenches in France, and is now in the Royal Naval Reserve. The tales he told were of wonderful interest. He was modest and seemed to have been a decent sort, but you could sense the brutalizing effect of war on him. Some of the things he told were such jokes on the Germans that we laughed right heartily.
[Sidenote: The beast in man is near the surface.]
The beast in man lies so close to the surface. We think we are human and law-abiding of our own volition, whereas, as a matter of fact, nine-tenths of it is from pure habit. It doesn't occur to us to be anything else. But let all standards and customs be scrapped, let us see the things done freely that never even entered our minds before, and a lot of us are liable to develop ape and tiger proclivities. We nearly all put unconscious limits to our humanity. The most chivalrous and kindly Westerner or Southerner would admit that massacring Chinamen, Mexicans, or Negroes is not such a great crime; and the most devoted mother or father is prone to regard as unspanked brats children who to a third party appear quite as well as the critic's own.
I am still in command and loving every minute of it. With any other captain than ours it would be a come-down to resume my place as a subordinate. But in his case I think that all mourn a little when he is away.
[Sidenote: New knowledge of navigation and ship handling.]
Oh, it's great stuff, this being in command and handling the ship alone. Particularly I enjoy swooping down on some giant freighter, like a hawk on a turkey, running close alongside, where a wrong touch to helm or engine may spell destruction, and then demanding through a megaphone why she does or does not do so and so. I have learned more navigation and ship-handling since being over here than in all my previous seagoing experience. In the old ante-bellum days one hesitated to get too close to another ship, even in daytime, far more so at night, even with the required navigation lights on. Now, without so much light as a glowworm could give, we run around, never quite certain when the darkness ahead may turn into a ship close enough to throw a brick at.
However, I am back in the ranks again now, as the captain has come back and resumed command.
[Sidenote: Job of an executive officer is thankless.]
You must not be resentful because of things you have gone through, unappreciated by those perhaps for whom you have undergone them. It is one of the laws of life, and a hard law too, but it comes to everybody, either in a few big things or a multitude of little ones. Do the people who keep the world turning around ever get due recognition? I was thinking in much the same resentful vein myself to-day, in my own small way, how thankless the job of an executive officer is; how you never reach any big end, or even feel that you have made progress, but just keep on the job, watching and inspecting and fussing to keep the whole personnel-materiel machine running smoothly, and knowing that your recognition is purely negative, in that, if all goes well, you don't get called down. And then I calm down and realize that it is all in the game, and that it is the best tribute so to handle your job in life that nothing has to be said. If your car runs perfectly, you neither feel nor hear it, and give it little credit on that account. But let it strip a gear or something go!!
[Sidenote: Roller-skating for amusement ashore.]
I hate to tell you what I was doing this afternoon. You will think I am not at war at all when I tell you that I have been roller-skating. I was a bit rusty at first, but warmed up to it. It is about the only exercise we can get on shore, for it rains all the time. Each shower puts an added crimp in my temper, as I have been trying to get a new coat of camouflage paint on the ship. I think, if some of the old paint-and-polish captains and admirals could see her now, they would die of apoplexy.
[Sidenote: No chance for wives to come over.]
I fear there is no chance for you to come over. Admiral Sims disapproves—not of you personally—one cannot find a place to live here, and there would be too many hardships. How would it be for you when we had said good-bye, and you saw the ship start out into a howling gale or go out right after several ships had been sunk outside? With you at home among friends, I can keep my mind on my job, which I couldn't if you were alone over here.
Let me say right now that the destroyer torpedoed was not ours. It was hard on you all to have the news published that one had been and a man killed, and not say what boat, as that leaves every one in suspense. I suppose the relatives of the man were notified, but that doesn't help other people who were anxious.
[Sidenote: A destroyer is torpedoed but does not sink.]
I don't suppose I can tell you which boat either, if the authorities won't. You do not know any one on board of her, however. They saw it coming, jammed on full speed, and nearly cleared it. It took them just at the stern and blew off about 30 feet as neatly as son would bite the end off a banana. The submarine heard the explosion, of course, from below, and came to the surface to see the "damned Yankee" sink, only to find the rudderless, sternless boat steaming full speed in a circle with her one remaining propeller, and to be greeted by a salvo of four-inch shells that made her duck promptly. The man killed saw the torpedo coming and ran aft to throw overboard some high explosives stowed there—but he didn't quite make it.
[Sidenote: Damaged destroyers somehow get back to port.]
Our destroyers are really wonderful boats—you can shoot off one end of them, ram them, cut them in two, and still they float and get to port somehow.
Some time ago, on a pitch-dark night, one of them was rammed by a British boat and nearly cut in two. Was there a panic? Not at all. As she settled in the water, they got out their boats and life-rafts, the officers and a few selected men stayed on board, and the rest pulled off in the darkness singing, "Are we downhearted? No!" and "Hail, hail, the gang's all here." She floated, though with her deck awash; the boats were recalled, and they brought her in. She is fixed up and back in the game again now.
[Sidenote: British destroyers fight raiders.]
[Sidenote: The Admiral strict as a Prussian.]
Where did you hear that about two destroyers being sunk off the coast of Ireland on September 3? False alarm. Of course, you have read in the papers about the convoy destroyed in the North Sea by German raiders. The two British destroyers with the convoy stood up to them and fought as a bulldog would fight a tiger—and with the same result. Somebody was arguing with the Admiral, our boss, to the effect that it would have been better for them to have saved themselves, trailed the raiders, and sent radio, so that the British cruisers could have intercepted and destroyed them. Said the Admiral, "Yes, it would have been better, but I would court-martial and shoot the man that did it." He's a wonder to serve under, as grim and strict as a Prussian, but very just, and runs things in a way that secures all our admiration—though we may fuss a bit when, expecting two or three comfortable days in port, we get chased out on short notice into a raving gale outside.
A BRITISH DOCK YARD, NOVEMBER 4.
[Sidenote: A friend on hospital duty.]
There are lots of our army people here. Some of them are just passing through, while others are stationed at near-by training camps or hospitals. I was wandering around the big hotel here, when I saw a familiar face in army uniform, and who should it be but M——. Much joy! He is near here, on temporary duty at a British hospital. I had him over to the ship for lunch, and hope to see him again. I certainly respect that boy. He has no military ambitions, and wishes the war were over, so he could get back to his wife and children; but he answered the call while others were hiding behind volleys of language, and he is here to see it through. I am afraid he is homesick and lonely, for it is harder for a boy who does not know the English than for us hardened mercenaries, who are accustomed to hobnob with everybody from Cubans to Cossacks.
[Sidenote: The American uniform and the British.]
I will be glad when American Army and Navy uniforms are designed by a tailor who really knows something about it. Alas, our people are distinctly inferior to the British in the cut of their jib. I think it is the high standing collar that queers us. It is only at its best when one stands at Attention—head up, chest out, arms at side—being distinctly a parade uniform. The British, with their rolling collar, and coat tight where it may be, and loose where it needs to be, are, you might say, less military and better dressed.
Tell the Enfant that I am very proud when he gets gold honor-marks on his school-papers, and I think that it probably means about the same as a star on a midshipman's collar. (That ought to get him.)
I must close and get a bit of sleep. It seems as if, when it is all over, all the heaven I will want, is to be with you and son again, perfectly quiet.
AT SEA, NOVEMBER 16.
[Sidenote: True democracy is in a way inefficient.]
I think a true democracy is necessarily inefficient in a way. The only really efficient government in the world is the one which we intend to pull down, or else go down ourselves, trying to!
Can't you imagine, in the dim Valhalla beyond, how the archer of Pharaoh, the swordsman from the plains before Troy, and the Roman legionary will greet the hurrying souls of the aviator, the bomb-thrower, and the bayonet-man with, "Brother, what were you?"
I'd hate to have to explain to their uncomprehending ears what a conscientious objector is!
[Sidenote: Assuming command.]
Well, to-day is one of the big days of my life, for I assumed command of this little packet. I put on my sword and fixings and reported to Captain Paine, who was most benevolent. Several of us went on shore to celebrate with a little dinner. Some of the boys just over joined in, and we became involved with some Highland officers of a fighting regiment famous throughout Europe for the last three hundred years. One's first ship, like the first baby is an event that cannot be duplicated.
[Sidenote: A jammed rudder leaves the destroyer unmanageable.]
I needed your letter, being about twenty years older than I was a week ago. No, no harm done. Just had my first experience of what it means under certain circumstances to be in command. Went out with certain others on a certain job. All went well, though we had a poor grade of oil in our bunkers and were burning more than we should ordinarily. Then, through certain chances, we had to go farther than expected. Still, I figured to get back with a moderate margin, when the gale struck us. You may have read of Biscay storms; well, believe me, they are not over-rated. I have seen just as bad, perhaps, but not from the deck of a destroyer. And while I am frantically calculating whether I shall have enough fuel to make port or not, there is a wild yell from the bridge that the rudder is jammed at hard-a-starboard and can't be moved. She, of course, at once fell off into the trough of the sea, and the big green combers swept clear over her at every roll, raising merry hob. All the boats were smashed to kindling-wood; chests, and everything on deck not riveted down, went over the side. In that sea you could no more manoeuvre by your engines alone than you could dam Niagara with a handful of sand. A man alongside of me aft, where we were working on the steering-gear, was swept overboard, but, having a line around his waist, was hauled back like a hooked fish.
All I could do was to steam in a big circle, and at one point would be running before it, and could work for an instant or two with the seas running up to our waists. When they get over your head, you probably won't be there any longer. At that time I didn't really expect to stay afloat, but was too busy with the matters in hand to care. Well, we finally got it fixed, though we could only use about 15 degrees of rudder instead of full.
[Sidenote: Lack of fuel causes worry.]
All this time we were drifting merrily to leeward at a rate that I hated even to guess at, with the certainty, unless matters mended, of eventually piling up on the Spanish coast, then not far away, though I hadn't had sight of sun or stars in days, and didn't know within fifty miles where I was. Well, when I finally headed up into it, I could just about hold her, without making any headway to speak of. You cannot drive a destroyer dead into a heavy sea at full speed without bursting her in two. Still, the situation would have been nothing to worry about much if I had had sufficient fuel. Now, you on shore may fancy that a ship just keeps on steaming till she gets there, whether it takes a month or more; but such is far from the case. Every mile you go consumes just so much fuel, and, if your margin of safety is too small, you are liable to be out of luck. And my calculations showed me that while I was using up oil enough to be making —— knots, in the teeth of the gale we were only making —— knots, and that at that rate I never would make port.
[Sidenote: Three courses are possible.]
[Sidenote: The destroyer makes France.]
[Sidenote: Steel the aristocrat among metals.]
There were three courses open to me: to let her drift, consuming my oil, in the hope that it would blow over; to run into a Spanish port; or to run for France, my destination, and, if I fell short of it, to yell for help by radio, and trust to luck that they could send out and pick me up. The first course was too risky. I would be making untold miles to leeward all the time, would probably roll the masts and funnels out of her, and maybe burst down anyhow, too far off for help. The second choice was the safest. I could reach Ferrol or Vigo all right, but they would probably try to intern me; and while I had heard that King Alfonso was a regular guy and a good scout to run around with, the ensuing diplomatic complications would make me about as popular in Allied circles as the proverbial skunk at a bridge-party. So I took the final alternative, and jammed her into the teeth of it for all I thought she could stand without imitating an opera hat or an accordion. And, glory be, she made it, the blessed little old cross between a porpoise and a safety-razor blade! Whether the gale really moderated, or I got more nerve, I don't know; but anyhow I gave her more and more, half a knot at a time, until we were actually making appreciable headway against it. I never thought any ship could stand the bludgeoning she got. It seemed as if every rivet must shear, every frame and stanchion crush, under the impact of the Juggernaut seas that hurtled into her. As a thoroughbred horse starts and trembles under the touch of the whip, so she reared and trembled, only to bury herself again in the roaring Niagara of water. Oh, you thoroughbred high-tensile steel! blue-blooded aristocrat among metals; Bethlehem or Midvale may claim you—you are none the less worthy of the Milan casque, the Damascus blade, your forefathers! Verily, I believe you hold on by sheer nerve, when by all physical laws should buckle or bend to the shock!
[Sidenote: Torpedo detonators spilt on deck.]
And so we kept on. Don't you know, how in the stories it is always in a terrific gale that the caged lion or gorilla or python breaks loose and terrorizes the ship? We don't sport a menagerie on the ——, but I did pick up the contents of the dry gun-cotton case, which had broken and spilt the torpedo detonators around on deck contiguous to the hot radiator! And, of course, the decks below were knee-deep in books, clothes, dishes, etc., complicated in some compartments by a foot or two of oil and water.
[Sidenote: Soundings and landmarks.]
Well, the next day we made a little more, and the seas were only gigantic, not titanic. The oil was holding out better, too, as we struck a better grade in some of our tanks, and I saw that we had a fighting chance of making it. By night I felt almost confident we could, and I really slept some. Next day I expected to make land, but, of course, had little idea how far I might really be from my reckoning. Nevertheless, we sighted —— Light about where I expected to, and laid a course from there into the harbor. It was a rather thick, foggy day, and pretty soon I noted a cunning little rock or two, dead ahead, where they didn't by any means belong. So I rather hurriedly arrested further progress, took soundings, and bearings of different landmarks, and found that we were some twenty-five miles from our reckoning—so far, in fact, as to have picked up the next light-house instead of the one we thought.
After this 'twas plain sailing, though I had never been into that port before. Made it about noon, took possession of a convenient mooring-buoy inside the breakwater—which buoy I found out later was sacred to the French flag-ship or somebody like that—called on our Admiral there, and was among friends. Yes, by heck, I let 'em buy me a drink at the club—I needed it! Had oil enough left for just about an hour more!
Copyright, Atlantic Monthly, April, 1918.
* * * * *
While the great campaigns were being waged on the western fronts, there was being carried on in a more remote part of the world a series of operations which involved as hard fighting and as many difficulties as were encountered in any other field of action. The campaigns in East Africa which resulted in driving the Germans from their former colonies are described in the following narrative.
JAN CHRISTIAAN SMUTS
[Sidenote: Learned South Africa in The Boer War.]
In the strenuous days of the Boer War I learned to know my South Africa from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean as one learns a country only under the searching test of war. I came to know the unfrequented paths, the trackless parts of the bush, the wastes where people do not often go. I believe it is generally admitted that I covered more country than any other commander in the field on either side—and my movement was not always in the direction of the enemy!
[Sidenote: Obtaining water on the Kalahari Desert.]
When the present war broke out, I proceeded once more on my extensive travels, and I became something of an expert in the waterless, sandy wastes of the southern half of German Southwest Africa. As for the Kalahari Desert, over which the movement of men and transport was supposed to be quite impossible, we did not rest until we had sunk bore-holes for water for hundreds of miles, and until we had moved a large force of thousands of mounted men across an area in which it was thought no human being could ever move. One of the reasons of our success in that campaign was that, moving through the Kalahari Desert, we struck the enemy country at its very heart. The travels of Livingstone, of Selous, who was a comrade of mine in this war, and of other illustrious men in those vast solitudes of southern Africa were as joy-rides to what we had to undergo in conducting a big campaign against the enemy, and still more against nature.
[Sidenote: A campaign in East Africa.]
[Sidenote: Careful study of topography necessary.]
[Sidenote: Books of travelers all wrong.]
When that campaign was over, and I thought my traveling days were past, the call came to East Africa, and 1916 was spent in traveling over the vast tropical expanses of that fascinating country. I need scarcely say that a military commander has often very special opportunities of learning geography. He has to study the country with the eyes not of the scientist or the traveler or the hunter, but of the soldier responsible for the lives and the movements and supplies of large masses of men. It is one thing to follow the track of the elephant or to stalk the lion or antelope or to collect butterflies or other gorgeous things; it is quite a different and, from the point of view of learning geography, certainly a far more enlightening, task to lead a large army over those virgin solitudes, where your problem involves the careful study not only of topographical features, but of all the numerous natural conditions which affect your progress. To provide for the needs of a small safari may be a light or delightful task; but the difficulties and requirements of a large force, moving forward against an alert, ubiquitous foe, compel you to probe into everything: the nature of the country, with its mountains and rivers, forests and deserts, for scores of miles around; its animal and human diseases; its capacity for supplies and transport; its climate and soil and rainfall. And one of your first discoveries is that the books of the travelers are mostly wrong. What to them was perhaps a paradise of plant or animal life is to you, moving with your vast impedimenta, a veritable purgatory. You soon come to agree with Scripture that all men are liars, and from this rule you do not even except the missionaries who write with their heads in the clouds; nor do you except the writers of intelligence books compiled in Whitehall from the hunting tales of the travelers or the fairy-tales of the missionaries, and marked "very secret." But these secrets are like most secrets of the African continent, very disconcerting to the simple, trustful soul.
[Sidenote: The silence of the forest is broken by the tramp of armed men.]
[Sidenote: Horses virtually unknown.]
These campaigning experiences were unique. Probably never before in the history of the world had such things been seen: the stillness, the brooding silence of the vast primeval forest where no, or few, white men have ever been before, and the only path is the track of the elephant; the silence of the forest, stretching for hundreds of miles in all directions, broken by the tramp of tens of thousands of armed men, followed by the guns and heavy transport of a modern army, with its hundreds of motor-lorries, its miles of wagons, its vast concourse of black porters; while overhead the aeroplane, or, as the natives call it, the "bird," more dreaded and more feared than even the crocodile in the river, passes on swiftly with its bombs for the foe retreating ahead. And what an effect this movement, continued for many months over many thousands of miles, produced on the minds of the native population, looking on in speechless awe and amazement at the mystery of the white man's doings! I have often stopped to wonder at the natives' state of mind. It must have been not unlike what is told of one of my simple countrymen, on whose farm an aviator descended with an aeroplane, never seen or heard of before, and who calmly walked forward to shake hands with the heavenly visitant, whom he believed none other than the Lord! And since horses, because of the fly, are virtually unknown in most parts of the country, the natives were dumfounded by our mounted men, strange centaur-like animals that they called "Kabure," after my mounted Boer forces, of whom at first they were mortally afraid. Even bodies of well-trained armed native soldiers have been seen to throw away their rifles and run for dear life into the bush at the first sight of mounted men.
[Sidenote: Parallel mountain ranges rise in tiers.]
[Sidenote: The second belt or veldt.]
[Sidenote: Changes in rainfall.]
The whole east of the African continent from the cape in the south up to Abyssinia in the north, and, I believe, farther, is marked by one persistent feature, the existence of several more or less parallel mountain-ranges rising in tiers from the coast. At the top of the last and highest mountain-range lies the great elevated inland plateau, stretching like a broad back along the continent. The first line of hills or low mountains runs at a distance of from ten to fifty miles from the coast of the Indian Ocean, and all the country between it and the sea forms a low coastal belt, which seldom rises more than a few hundred feet above sea-level, with a distinct coastal climate and vegetation. Between these coastal hills and the next range lies the second belt, called in South Africa the low veldt, again with a climate and rainfall and vegetation of its own. Next and last, at a distance of from a hundred to one hundred and fifty miles from the Indian Ocean, runs a mountain system, often rising to great altitudes, on which rests the great elevated inland plateau from four thousand to six thousand feet above the level of the sea. This plateau continues for hundreds of miles westward, and then begins to slope toward the Atlantic Ocean in the far distance. Sometimes, as in Central Africa, the slope to the west is very sudden, and another range of mountains forms the western buttress of the great central plateau. All the great rivers of Africa, with the exception of the Niger, rise on this plateau or on its mountain-flanks, which have a very high rainfall. The bush, or great forest, which is almost impenetrable in the coastal belt, becomes somewhat more open in patches in the middle belt, while on the plateau open, park-like country alternates with treeless, grassy plains, and the forest is confined to the deep valleys or the mountain-slopes. The rainfall, which is fair on the coast, becomes very light in the middle belt, which in consequence tends to have an arid character; on the plateau it is high or very high. Because of these marked differences the economic character of the three regions varies considerably. Semi-tropical products, such as maize, coffee, cotton, and millet, can be raised on an almost unlimited scale on the plateau; while rice, rubber, sisal, and copra are raised in the two lower belts.
[Sidenote: The chain of large lakes.]
[Sidenote: Extinct and active volcanoes.]
All along the mountains which mark the western edge of the high plateau one will notice a chain of lakes, from Nyasa in the south through Tanganyika and Kivu to Lake Albert in the north. In prehistoric time some convulsion of nature broke the African continent all along its spine, and formed this system of lakes. Another break occurs on the high plateau, from Portuguese East Africa in the south to British East Africa in the north, along the Great Rift Valley, with its magnificent escarpments and weird scenery, prolonged through Lake Rudolf to the Red Sea and on to the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley. Great volcanoes, now mostly extinct, though some to the north of Kivu are still active, are a still later feature of the country.
[Sidenote: Lakes and mountains a frontier for defense.]
I have referred to these lakes and to the great mountain-chain along the lakes because they formed the western boundary of German East Africa, and from the point of view of defense made a magnificent frontier so strong that the Belgian forces moving from the Congo found it impossible to invade the enemy territory from the west, and had to be moved in large part northeast before they could strike south. Once there, with their usual dash they did their work remarkably well.
[Sidenote: Seaplanes attack German vessels in the lakes.]
As soon as this northern column had reached Kigali, the capital of the lofty Ruanda Province, the German forces fell back from the neighborhood of Lake Kivu, and the remainder of the Belgian army was able to advance from the west across the mountain barrier. Simultaneously, and in cooerdination with their advance, strong British columns were moving southward to the west of Victoria Nyanza. As soon as we had reached the southern shores of the lake, a new concerted forward movement by the British and Belgian columns was begun both from Victoria Nyanza and from Tanganyika, where in the meantime the German armed vessels on the lake had been bombed and destroyed by seaplanes, and Ujiji on the eastern shore had been occupied. This movement did not stop until Tabora, with the central railway, was occupied early in September, 1916.
[Sidenote: General Northey's advance across the mountain.]
At the same time a great movement was made in the south by General Northey, who advanced from the line between Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa across the mountains flanking the great plateau on the west. This is a very mountainous region; but he got over the mountains, and moving north, took Bismarckburg, Neu Langenburg, and afterward Iringa, where our main forces joined hands with his. These advances, all carried out with great skill and energy against very great physical difficulties, were subsidiary to the principal attack, which was being executed from the north-east, in the neighborhood of Kilimanjaro.
[Sidenote: The River Rovuma a strategic line.]
[Sidenote: Pursuit of enemy across Rovuma is difficult.]
The southern boundary between German East Africa and Portuguese East Africa was formed by the River Rovuma, which, coming from the high plateau and the mountains to the east of Nyasa, is one of the large African rivers. Except in its highest reaches near Lake Nyasa it is not fordable, and makes an admirable strategic line. However, as Portugal came into the war after most of the German colony had already been occupied by us, this river acquired strategic importance only toward the end of the campaign, and then in a sense adverse to us, as General Van Deventer has found to his cost. After the remnants of the German native forces had been driven across the Rovuma at the beginning of December, 1917, our forces found the swift pursuit across the river a difficult task. We are, however, now operating against the roving bands into which the enemy force has split, and if ever they try to break back to their occupied colony, they will find the line of the Rovuma a very serious barrier.
[Sidenote: The search for the German raider Koenigsberg.]
[Sidenote: The Koenigsberg's guns accompany the enemy on land.]
The eastern boundary of the colony is the coast-line of the Indian Ocean for almost five hundred miles, with some very beautiful harbors, and it was dominated by our navy from the day that war was declared. The Royal Navy has played a very active part in our African campaigns, and one of the most fascinating episodes of the war was the search for the Koenigsberg, lost after she had destroyed the Pegasus and done much damage in the Indian Ocean. She was discovered in a most secluded branch of the Rufiji River, and ultimately destroyed by seaplanes and monitors in her impenetrable lair. Yet, though destroyed, she made her voice heard over all that vast country, for her ten big naval guns, each pulled by teams of four hundred stalwart natives, accompanied the enemy armies in all directions, and, with other naval guns and howitzers smuggled into the country, made the enemy in many a fight stronger in heavy artillery than we were.
[Sidenote: Extensive enemy fortifications at the mountain gap.]
[Sidenote: The rainy season worse than imagined.]
From a strategic point of view, the northern frontier was the most difficult of all. It passed north of Kilimanjaro, to the west of which is a desert belt. East of this desert belt and Kilimanjaro the enemy colony was protected by an almost impassable mountain system, with a very narrow, swampy, dangerous gap between the Usambara and Pare Mountains, and another gap of about four or five miles between the Pare Mountains and Kilimanjaro. It was impossible to move an army through the first gap; the second gap at the foot of Kilimanjaro was the place where the enemy had located himself early in the war on British territory, and with patience and skill had dug himself in, with very extensive fortifications, surrounded by dense forests and impassable swamps. Here he lay waiting for eighteen months, threatening British East Africa. From here he was driven in March, 1916, and by the end of that month our forces had conquered the whole Kilimanjaro-Meru areas. It was at this stage, and after our initial success, that the rainy season set in; and that is another great feature of German East Africa. I had read much about it, and I had heard more; but the reality far surpassed the worst I had read or heard. For weeks the rain came down ceaselessly, pitilessly, sometimes three inches in twenty-four hours, until all the hollows became rivers, all the low-lying valleys became lakes, the bridges disappeared, and all roads dissolved in mud. All communications came to an end, and even Moses himself in the desert had not such a commissariat situation as faced me.
[Sidenote: The enemy's line of retreat.]
When in the latter part of May the rains subsided, the advance against the enemy was once more resumed. In order to create the maximum difficulties for our advance, the enemy chose as his line of retreat the great block of mountains which I have referred to as forming the eastern buttress of the great central plateau. For the next three and a half months our forward movement continued with only one short pause until by the middle of September we had reached the great valleys of the Rufiji and the Great Rwaha in the far south, and across the Rwaha we could link up with General Northey at Iringa in the southwest.
[Sidenote: Difficulties of transport and supply in advance.]
[Sidenote: Poisonous insects and tropical diseases.]
[Sidenote: The campaign a story of human endurance.]
It is impossible for those unacquainted with German East Africa to realize the physical, transport, and supply difficulties of an advance over this magnificent, but mountainous, country, with a great rainfall and wide, unbridged rivers in the regions of the mountains, and insufficient surface water on the plains for the needs of an army; with magnificent primeval forest everywhere, pathless, trackless, except for the spoor of the elephant or the narrow footpaths of the natives. The malaria mosquito is everywhere except on the higher plateaus; everywhere the belts are infested with the deadly tsetse fly, which makes an end of all animal transport; and almost everywhere the ground is rich black or red cotton soil, which any transport converts into mud in the rain or dust in the drought. Everywhere the fierce heat of equatorial Africa, accompanied by a wild luxuriance of parasitic life, breed tropical diseases in the unacclimatized whites. These conditions make life for the white man in that country sufficiently trying. If in addition he has to perform hard work and make long marches on short rations, the trial becomes very severe; if, above all, huge masses of men and material have to be moved over hundreds of miles in a great military expedition against a mobile and alert foe, then the strain becomes almost unendurable. And the chapter of accidents in this region of the unknown! Unseasonable rains cut off expeditions for weeks from their supply bases. Animals died by the thousand—after passing through an unknown fly-belt. Mechanical transport got bogged in the marshes, held up by bridges washed away, or mountain passes obstructed by sudden floods. And the gallant boys, marching far ahead under the pitiless African sun, with the fever raging in their blood, pressed ever on after the retreating enemy, often on reduced rations, and without any of the small comforts which in this climate are real necessities. In the story of human endurance this campaign deserves a very special place, and the heroes who went through it uncomplainingly, doggedly, are entitled to all recognition and reverence. Their commander-in-chief will remain eternally proud of them.
When in January, 1917, I relinquished the command to my successor, General Hoskins, we were across the Rufiji River in the southeast, and in the great valley formed by the principal tributaries, the Ulanga and Ruhuje rivers in the west; but the rainy season which set in shortly afterward stopped all advance until the following June.
[Sidenote: Enemy's forces evacuate German East Africa.]
Five months later our advance was resumed, and by the beginning of December, 1917, the last remnants of the enemy's forces had evacuated German East Africa across the Rovuma, while our forces were operating against the enemy bands far south in Portuguese territory, as I have already stated.
[Sidenote: Development of tropical Africa retarded by diseases.]
In economic value this region ranks very high among the tropical countries of the African continent, and probably no part of all Africa has a climate or soil more suitable for the production on an immense scale of copra, cocoanuts, coffee, sugar, sisal, rubber, cotton, and other tropical products, or of such semi-tropical products as maize and millet. In common with the rest of tropical Africa, its full development is still retarded by the undefeated animal and human diseases, especially malaria. But the time is not far distant when science will have overcome these drawbacks, and when Central and East Africa will have become one of the most productive and valuable parts of the tropics. But until science solves the problems of tropical disease, East and Central Africa must not be looked upon as an area for white colonization. Perhaps they will never be a white man's country in any real sense. In those huge territories the white man's task will probably be largely confined to that of administrator, teacher, expert, manager, or overseer of the large negro populations, whose progressive civilization will be more suitably promoted in connection with the industrial development of the land.
[Sidenote: The Germans discouraged white settlement.]
[Sidenote: Natives compelled to work for planters.]
[Sidenote: German system more profitable one.]
It is clear from their practice in East Africa that the Germans had decided to develop the country not as an ordinary colony, but as a tropical possession for the cultivation of tropical raw materials. They systematically discouraged white settlement; the white colonists, with their small farms, gradually building up a European system on a small scale, who are a marked feature of British colonies, were conspicuously absent. Instead, tracts of country were granted to companies, syndicates, or men with large capital, on conditions that plantations of tropical products would be cultivated. The planters were supplied with native labor under a government system which compelled the natives to work for the planters for a certain very small wage during part of every year; and as labor was very plentiful, with seven and a half millions of natives, the future for the capitalist syndicates seemed rosy enough. No wonder that under this corvee system East Africa and the Kamerun were rapidly developing into very valuable tropical assets, from which in time the German Empire would have derived much of the tropical raw material for its industries. The Germans realized better than most people that the value of tropical Africa lay not in any openings for white colonization, such as are being developed next door to their colonies in British East Africa, but in the plantation system, where white capital and black labor collaborate to establish an entirely different order of things. Harsh as the German system undoubtedly is, I am not prepared to deny that it is perhaps the more scientific one, and that in the long run it is the more profitable form of exploiting the tremendous natural resources of the tropics.
With regard to tropical Africa, so vast in area, so great in resources, the first desideratum for its development is the opening up of communication. The lakes, the Nile, and the Congo form the principal natural links in any chains of communication with the seaboard; and the question is, how far railways have come in or will come in to complete these chains.
[Sidenote: Railways built in the Congo territory and connective.]
Two railways built during the war in the Congo territory have largely extended the communications from east to west, and from the center to the south. These two railways have opened up many routes in Central and East Africa, and it is now possible to travel from the Indian Ocean at Dar-es-Salaam by the German Central Railway to Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika; by steamer across the lake to Albertville; thence by train to Kabalo; by steamer on to Kongolo; train to Kindu, and on by steamer and rail down the Congo to the Atlantic Ocean.
[Sidenote: Railways in South Africa.]
Now, as to the communications in the south, one can travel from Cape Town by rail to Bukama, and thence by steamer and rail either to Boma on the Atlantic coast, or by rail and steamer to Dar-es-Salaam on the Indian Ocean. Besides these through lines, there is the Uganda Railway from Mombasa on the Indian Ocean to the Victoria Nyanza, and there are in contemplation two other railways from the east coast to Nyasa, one from Kilwa, and one from Porto Amelia, in Portuguese East Africa. A railway is also under construction from Lobito Bay on the Atlantic to the Katanga copper areas, already reached from the south and east by the railways from Cape Town and Beira.
[Sidenote: Communications to the northward.]
The question remains as to communications northward to the Mediterranean. One can travel to-day from Alexandria by rail and river to Khartoum, and thence by steamer up the Nile to Rejaf, near the Uganda border. From Rejaf to Nimule, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles, the Nile is impracticable for river transport, and therefore over that distance a railway will have to be built. But from Nimule the river is again navigable up to Lake Albert. The problem is to connect Lake Albert with the Central and South African systems.
[Sidenote: Possible Belgian and British routes.]
[Sidenote: Tropical Africa a great problem in world politics.]
Three routes are possible, one wholly Belgian, one partly British and partly Belgian, and one wholly British. That is on the assumption that German East Africa remains British after this war. The Belgian project is to construct the railway from the Congo bend at Stanleyville over the gold-fields at Kilo to Mahagi on Lake Albert. The British project would be to construct a line from the south of Elizabethville to Bismarckburg, at the south of Lake Tanganyika, to proceed thence by steamer to Ujiji, thence by the existing railway to Tabora, to construct a line from Tabora to Mwanza on Lake Victoria Nyanza, and a line from Entebbe on that lake to Butiabwa, on Lake Albert. The third or mixed Belgian-British line would proceed by way of Butiabwa, Entebbe, Mwanza, Tabora, and Ujiji, on Lake Tanganyika, but from there would make use of the existing line to Kabalo on the Congo. It is probable that by one or other of these three routes through communication from South Africa to the Mediterranean may be established within the next ten years. With this vital industrial aspect of tropical Africa there is wrapped up the equally important political aspect, and these two problems are certain to make of tropical Africa one of the great problems of future world politics.
[Sidenote: Germans have no colonists to spare.]
Now, the Germans are not in search of colonies after the English model, and those that they have in East and West Africa had no white population to speak of before the war. Quite apart from the fact that tropical Africa would be no suitable territory for white settlement, they have no colonists to spare, since for the sake of their industrial and military future in Germany they desire the largest concentration of population possible in the fatherland. As Baron von Rechenberg, formerly governor of German East Africa, has expressed it:
"Just as we lack suitable land for settling, so we lack suitable German settlers.... For a number of years immigration into Germany has been much greater than emigration from Germany.... Even in times of peace German agriculture had not a surplus, but a shortage, of labor, and it cannot possibly accord with our interests to increase the shortage by encouraging emigration.... Regrettable though it is, there can be no question at the conclusion of peace of acquiring territory for settlement. There is no appropriate country, and there are no farmers to settle on it."
[Sidenote: Germany desires not colonies but strategic positions.]
[Sidenote: Central Africa needed to supply raw materials.]
[Sidenote: Germany could use natives in war.]
German colonial aims are really not colonial, but are entirely dominated by far-reaching conceptions of world politics. Not colonies, but military power and strategic positions for exercising world power in future, are her real aims. Her ultimate objective in Africa is the establishment of a great Central African Empire, comprising not only her colonies before the war, but also all the English, French, Belgian, and Portuguese possessions south of the Sahara and Lake Chad and north of the Zambezi River in South Africa. Toward this objective she was steadily marching even before the war broke out, and she claims the return of her lost African colonies at the end of the war as a starting-point from which to resume the interrupted march. Or, rather, as appears from Count Hertling's recent pronouncement, she claims a reallocation of the world's colonies, so that she may have a share commensurate with her world position. This Central African block, the maps of which are now in course of preparation and printing at the Colonial Office in Berlin, is intended in the first place to supply the economic requirements and raw materials of German industry; in the second and far more important place, to become the recruiting-ground for vast native armies, the great value of which has been demonstrated in the tropical campaigns of this war, and especially in East Africa; while the natural harbors on the Atlantic and Indian oceans will supply the naval and submarine bases from which both ocean routes will be dominated, and British and American sea-power will be brought to naught. The native armies will be useful in the next great war, to which the German General Staff is already devoting serious attention, as appears from the book of General von Freytag, the deputy chief of the German General Staff, recently published here under the title "Deductions of the World War."
[Sidenote: A great army on the flank of Asia.]
The untrained levies of the Union of South Africa would go down before these German-trained hordes of Africans, who would also be able to deal with North Africa and Egypt without the deflection of any white troops from Germany; and they would in addition mean a great army planted on the flank of Asia whose force could be felt throughout the middle East as far as Persia, and who knows how much farther?
[Sidenote: African natives a part of Germany's plan of conquest.]
This is the grandiose scheme. It is no mere fanciful picture, but based on the writings of great German publicists, professors, and high colonial authorities, and chapter and verse could be quoted in full detail for every feature of the scheme. The civilization of the African natives and the economic development of the dark continent must be subordinate to the most far-reaching schemes of German world power and world conquest; the world must be brought into subjection to German militarism. As in former centuries again the African native must play his part in the new slavery. Dr. Solf, the present German Colonial Secretary, in the "Colonial Calendar" for 1917, made the following pronouncement as to the organic connection of German colonial aims with her other aims of world power:
[Sidenote: Directions of German aims.]
"The history of our colonies in this world war has shown what was hitherto wanting in the German colonial empire. It has shown that it was not a proper 'empire' at all, but merely a number of possessions without geographical and political connection, and without established communications.... How greatly would the power of resistance of our colonies have been increased if they had not been isolated!... These experiences show what direction our aims must take. We shall achieve the fulfillment of our desires if we remain conscious that the colonial-political aim is not something which stands alone by itself, but must be regarded in organic connection with all other aims which we are determined to attain by the world war."
Prof. Delbrueck, in a recent number of the "Preussische Jahrbuecher," thus sketches the new African Empire:
[Sidenote: Plan for a new African Empire.]
"If our victory is great enough, we can hope to unite under our hand the whole of Central Africa with our old colony South-west Africa; Senegambia, Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, Dahomey, well-populated Nigeria with the port of Lagos, Kamerun, the rich islands of San Thome and Principe with their splendid ports, the Katanga ore district, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Mozambique, and Delagoa Bay, Madagascar, German East Africa, Zanzibar, and Uganda; and in addition the great port of Ponta Delgado in the Azores—one of the most important and most frequented coaling stations—and Horta, one of the most important centers of the transatlantic cable system. At present the Azores belong to Portugal, which is at war with Germany. Portugal also owns the Cape Verde Islands, with the port of Porto Grande, one of the most frequented coaling stations in the Eastern Atlantic.
[Sidenote: The riches of the African territories.]
"All these territories together have over 100,000,000 inhabitants. United in a single ownership, and with their various characteristics supplementing one another, they offer simply immeasurable prospects. They are rich in natural treasures, rich in possibilities of settlement and trade, and rich in men who can work and also be used in war. To demand them is not unjust, and does not offend against the principle of equilibrium, since Germany would thus only be obtaining a colonial empire such as England and Russia, France and America, have long possessed."
Franz Kolbe, in the "Deutsche Politik," a year ago thus described the future role for raiders in the South Atlantic:
[Sidenote: Importance of German-West African Coast in combating Great Britain.]
"The whole coast of West Africa from the mouth of the Cross River to the mouth of the Orange River would be in German possession. When one only remembers what immense achievements were performed by the Emden in the Indian Ocean and by the Karlsruhe in the Atlantic, without any naval base, without any possibility of replenishing in port their supplies of munitions, food, etc., it will be realized what the fortification of half the West Coast of Africa would signify for Germany and for England! As soon as, in the new war, the Suez Canal is closed against England by the Turks, all traffic between England and India, Australia, and South Africa must go round the Cape of Good Hope. But then all the shipping must pass the coast of German Central Africa. It would be impossible for England any longer to concentrate her whole fleet in the North Sea and to menace Germany. She would be compelled to station a considerable fleet in South Africa for the protection of her trade, and that would mean a not inconsiderable weakening of her forces in European waters."
In the same review Emil Zimmermann explains the role of German East Africa in the future scheme of world power:
[Sidenote: German Africa would have balance of power in the East.]
"German Africa, which will find allies at once in Abyssinia and in Mohammedan freedom movements, will make the employment of black troops against our European frontiers impossible. German Africa alone will give us a balance of power in the East and in Africa. It will remove the Egyptian pressure on Asia Minor. German Africa will make us a world power by enabling us to exert decisive influence upon the world political decisions of our enemies and of other powers, and to exercise pressure on all shaping of policy in Africa, Asia Minor, and southern Europe."
And in another article in the "Preussische Jahrbuecher," he says: "Nearer Asia cannot continue to exist without this covering of its flank. That is the meaning of the German colonial question." In other words, Berlin-Bagdad is not safe without a great German Central or East African Empire.
[Sidenote: British ambitions are different.]
[Sidenote: German policies dangerous.]
The point of view of the British Empire is very different indeed. In the first place, it has never had any military ambitions apart from the measure of sea-power essential to its continued existence; in Africa it has never militarized the natives, has always opposed any such policy and has tended to study the natives' interests and regard their point of view with special favor, often to the no small disappointment of individual white settlers. Indeed, no impartial person can deny that, so far from exploiting the natives either for military or industrial purposes, British policy has on the whole, over a very long stretch of years, had a tender regard for native interests, and on the whole its results have been beneficial to the natives in their gradual civilization. In shaping this wise policy British statesmen have had a very long and wide African experience to guide them, and in consequence they have avoided the very dangerous and dubious policies which the German new-comers have set in motion. Among these not the least dangerous is to regard the native primarily as raw material to be manufactured into military power and world power.
[Sidenote: The British Empire asks peace and security.]
In the second place, the objects pursued by British policy on the African continent are inherently pacific and defensive. It desires no man's territory; it desires only to live in peace and develop the great African territories and populations intrusted to its care. And looking at the future from the broadest points of view, looking at the magnitude of its material African interests and the future welfare of the vast native populations, and its difficult task of civilizing the dark continent; looking further upon Africa as the half-way house to India and Australasia, the British Empire asks only for peace and security—international peace and security of its external communications. It cannot allow the return of conditions which mean the militarization of the natives and their employment for schemes of world power; it cannot allow naval and submarine bases to be organized on both sides of the African coast, to the endangerment of the sea communications of the empire and the peace of the world. And it must insist on the maintenance of conditions which will guarantee through land communications for its territories from one end of the continent to the other.
[Sidenote: Dependence on communications by sea and land.]
The British Empire is not like Germany, Russia, or the United States, a compact territorial entity; it is scattered over the globe, and entirely dependent on the maintenance of communications for its continued existence. In future these lines of communication should proceed not only by sea, but also by land. One of the most impressive lessons of this vast war is the vulnerability of sea-power and sea communications through the development of underwater transport, and the immense importance of railway communication. In fact, to be really effective the two should go hand in hand. Nor are we at the end of the chapter in discovering new means of transportation. It is not only conceivable, but probable, that aerial navigation may revolutionize the present transport situation.
[Sidenote: Prussian militarism cannot be tolerated.]
[Sidenote: The dominions desire a Monroe Doctrine for the South.]
As long as there is no real change of heart in Germany and no final and irrevocable break with militarism, the law of self-preservation should be considered paramount; no fresh extension of Prussian militarism to other continents and seas should be tolerated; and the conquered German colonies can be regarded only as guaranties for the security of the future peace of the world. This opinion will be shared, I feel sure, by the vast bulk of the young nations who form the Dominions of the British Empire. They have no military aims or ambitions; their tasks are solely the tasks of peace; their greatest interest and aim is peace. Voluntarily they joined in this war, and to their efforts is largely due the destruction of the German Colonial Empire, and the consequent prevention of the German military system being spread to the ends of the earth. They should not be asked to consent to the restoration to a militant Germany of fresh footholds for militarism in the Southern Hemisphere, and thus to endanger the future of their young and rising communities who are developing the waste places of the earth. They want a new Monroe Doctrine for the South as there has been a Monroe Doctrine for the West, to protect it against European militarism. Behind the sheltering wall of such a doctrine they promise to build up a great, new, peaceful world not only for themselves, but for the many millions of black folk intrusted to their care.
[Sidenote: Germany's stubborn defense of her African colonies.]
The enemy's stubborn defence of his last colony has not only been a great feat in itself, but is also a proof of the supreme importance attached by the German Government to this African colony both as an economic asset and as a strategic point of departure for the establishment of the future Central African Empire to which I have referred. At the conclusion of peace our statesmen will be bound to bear in mind these wider and obscurer issues, fraught with such consequences to the world and to the British Empire in particular. Perhaps I may be allowed to express the fervent hope that a land where so many of our heroes lost their lives or their health; where, under the most terrible and exacting conditions, human loyalty and human service were poured out lavishly in a great cause, may never be allowed to become a menace to the future peaceful development of the world. I am sure my gallant boys, dead or living, would wish for no other or greater reward.
* * * * *
Greece, as a result of the intrigues of the pro-German king and queen, was a thorn in the flesh to the Allies for the first years of the war. The deposition of King Constantine, and the resumption of power of Premier Venizelos, brought Greece back to the place where her people wished to be.
LEWIS R. FREEMAN
[Sidenote: A meeting with Venizelos.]
The Venizelists had been having a bad time of it from the first, but the blackest hours of all were those toward the end of last April, when Constantine was still strong in Athens, and before the Saloniki Allies had found it practicable or expedient to welcome them to a full brotherhood of arms. It was during this "dark before the dawn" period that I had my first meeting with M. Venizelos, a conventional half hour's interview in the suburban villa, midway along the curve of Saloniki Bay where the Provisional Government had established its headquarters.