New York Times Current History; The European War, Vol 2, No. 3, June, 1915 - April-September, 1915
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Our coast defenses are inadequate, our fortifications insufficiently manned and without adequate organized reserves.

Our navy is neither adequate nor prepared for war. This, our first line of defense, is inadequately manned, short of ammunition, and has no organized reserve of trained men. Our submarine flotilla exists chiefly upon paper. Fast scout cruisers, battle cruisers, aeroplanes, mine layers, supply ships, and transports are lacking. Target practice has been neglected or altogether omitted.

In view of this condition of affairs, and since there is no assurance that the United States will not again become involved in war, "and since a peaceful policy even when supported by treaties, is not a sufficient guarantee against war, of which the subjugation of Belgium and the present coercion of China by a foreign power are noteworthy examples; and the United States cannot safely intrust the maintenance of its institutions and nationality to the mere negations of peace, and since we are not adequately prepared to maintain our national policies, and since the present defenseless condition of the nation is due to the failure of Congress not only to follow the carefully considered plans of our naval and military advisers, but also to provide any reasonable measure for gradually putting such plans into practice, it is manifest that until a workable plan for a world alliance has been evolved and agreed to by the principal nations, with proper guarantee of good faith, the United States must undertake adequate military preparations for its defense."

In the meantime the National Security League feels impelled to call public attention to our deplorable condition of unpreparedness. At the same time the league issues an appeal for public support in behalf of the following program for better national defense:

1. Legislation correcting present wasteful methods of military appropriations and disbursement.

2. Adoption of a definite military policy.

3. A stronger, better balanced navy.

4. An effective mobile army.

5. Larger and better equipped National Guard.

6. The creation of an organized reserve for each branch of our military service.

All those interested in the work of the league are invited to send their names and contributions to the National Security League, 31 Pine Street, New York City.

[The letter is addressed to "present and former members of the Cabinet, to members of Congress, to Governors of our States and Territories, to Mayors of all American cities, to Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, to merchants' associations, to colleges and universities, to university clubs and alumni associations, to all patriotic organizations, to all women's clubs, and to all American citizens."

"Until a satisfactory plan of disarmament has been worked out and agreed upon by the nations of the world," says a statement, "the United States must be adequately prepared to defend itself against invasion. A military equipment sufficient for this purpose can be had without recourse to militarism. The league was formed as a preparation not for war, but against war."]


[From THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 12, 1915.]

The Navy League of the United States, of which General Horace Porter is President and which includes in its membership Herbert L. Satterlee, George von L. Meyer, Beekman Winthrop, J. Pierpont Morgan, Governor Emmet O'Neal of Alabama, Senator James D. Phelan of California, Cardinal Gibbons, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, Edward T. Stotesbury, Benjamin Ide Wheeler, Joseph H. Choate, George B. Cortelyou, C. Oliver Iselin, Seth Low, Myron T. Herrick, Alton B. Parker, and scores of other men prominent in the public and business life of the country, through its Executive Committee adopted a resolution yesterday calling upon President Wilson to call Congress in extra session to authorize a bond issue of $500,000,000, which sum, it is stated, is "needed to provide this country with adequate means of naval defense."

The resolution, which was adopted at a session at which members of the Executive Committee consulted by long-distance telephone, some of them being in Washington and others in New York at the Union League Club, read:

"In view of the crisis in our foreign relations, we, as representatives of the Navy League of the United States, express our emphatic belief that Congress should be immediately assembled and that measures should be taken at once to strengthen our national defense. Our most pacific country should, because of its supreme love of peace, possess preponderant naval strength and adequate military strength. A large bond issue of, if necessary, $500,000,000 should be authorized at once. These bonds would be rapidly absorbed by the American people for such a purpose. Equipped with a mighty fleet, American life and American rights would be scrupulously respected by all belligerents. In such case there would be no thought of our entering into war.


"ROBERT M. THOMPSON, Chairman Executive Committee;





The Drowned Sailor


[From "Sing Songs of the War."]

Last night I saw my true love stand All shadowy by my bed. He had my locket in his hand; I knew that he was dead.

"Sweetheart, why stand you there so fast, Why stand you there so grave?" "I think," said he, "this hour's the last That you and I can have.

"You gave me this from your fair breast, It's never left me yet; And now it dares not seek the nest Because it is so wet.

"The cold gray sea has covered it, Deep in the sand it lies; While over me the long weeds flit And veil my staring eyes.

"And there are German sailors laid Beside me in the deep; We have no need of gun nor blade, United in our sleep."

"Dear heart, dear heart, come to my bed, My arms are warm and sweet!" "Alack for you, my love," he said, "My limbs would wet the sheet.

"Cold is the bed that I lie on And deep beneath the swell; No voice is left to make my moan And bid my love farewell."

Now I am widow that was wife— Would God that they could prove What law should rule, without the strife That's robbed me of my love!

War With Poisonous Gases

The Gap at Ypres Made by German Chlorine Vapor Bombs

Reports by the Official "Eyewitness"


Dr. J.S. Haldane, F.R.S.

Dr. John Scott Haldane, F.R.S., who has conducted the investigation for the British War Office, is a brother of Lord Haldane. He is a graduate in medicine of Edinburgh University and an M.A. of Oxford and an LL.D. of Birmingham. For many years he has been engaged in scientific investigation, and has contributed largely to the elucidation of the causes of death in colliery and mine explosions He is the author of a work on the physiology of respiration and air analysis.

Professor Baker, F.R.S., who is carrying out chemical investigations into the nature of the gases, is Professor of Chemistry in the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London. He was a Scholar in Natural Science at Balliol. He has conducted important experiments into the nature of gases.

Sir Wilmot Herringham, M.D. Oxon., is a physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital and Vice Chancellor of the London University.

Lieutenant McNee, M.B., M. Ch. Glasgow, a Carnegie Research Fellow, is assistant to the Professor of Pathology in Glasgow University and has conducted many investigations of an important character in pathology and chemical pathology.

General Headquarters, British Expeditionary Force, April 27, 1915.

To Earl Kitchener, Secretary of State for War.

My Lord: I have the honor to report that, as requested by you yesterday morning, I proceeded to France to investigate the nature and effects of the asphyxiating gas employed in the recent fighting by the German troops. After reporting myself at General Headquarters I proceeded to Bailleul with Sir Wilmot Herringham, Consulting Physician to the British Force, and examined with him several men from Canadian battalions who were at the No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from the effects of the gas.

These men were lying struggling for breath and blue in the face. On examining the blood with the spectroscope and by other means, I ascertained that the blueness was not due to the presence of any abnormal pigment. There was nothing to account for the blueness (cyanosis) and struggle for air but the one fact that they were suffering from acute bronchitis, such as is caused by inhalation of an irritant gas. Their statements were that when in the trenches they had been overwhelmed by an irritant gas produced in front of the German trenches and carried toward them by a gentle breeze.

One of them died shortly after our arrival. A post-mortem examination was conducted in our presence by Lieutenant McNee, a pathologist by profession, of Glasgow University. The examination showed that death was due to acute bronchitis and its secondary effects. There was no doubt that the bronchitis and accompanying slow asphyxiation were due to the irritant gas.

Lieutenant McNee had also examined yesterday the body of a Canadian Sergeant who had died in the clearing station from the effects of the gas. In this case, also, very acute bronchitis and oedema of the lungs caused death by asphyxiation.

A deposition by Captain Bertram, Eighth Canadian Battalion, was carefully taken down by Lieutenant McNee. Captain Bertram was then in the clearing station, suffering from the effects of the gas and from a wound. From a support trench, about 600 yards from the German lines, he had observed the gas. He saw, first of all, a white smoke arising from the German trenches to a height of about three feet. Then in front of the white smoke appeared a greenish cloud, which drifted along the ground to our trenches, not rising more than about seven feet from the ground when it reached our first trenches. Men in these trenches were obliged to leave, and a number of them were killed by the effects of the gas. We made a counter-attack about fifteen minutes after the gas came over, and saw twenty-four men lying dead from the effects of the gas on a small stretch of road leading from the advanced trenches to the supports. He was himself much affected by the gas still present, and felt as if he could not breathe.

The symptoms and the other facts so far ascertained point to the use by the German troops of chlorine or bromine for purposes of asphyxiation.

There are also facts pointing to the use in German shells of other irritant substances, though in some cases at least these agents are not of the same brutally barbarous character as the gas used in the attack on the Canadians. The effects are not those of any of the ordinary products of combustion of explosives. On this point the symptoms described left not the slightest doubt in my mind.

Professor H.B. Baker, F.R.S., who accompanied me, is making further inquiries from the chemical side.

I am, my Lord, your obedient servant,


The following announcement was issued by the British War Office on April 29, 1915:

Thanks to the magnificent response already made to the appeal in the press for respirators for the troops, the War Office is in a position to announce that no further respirators need be made.


The following descriptive account was communicated by the British Official Eyewitness present with General Headquarters, supplementing his continuous narrative of the movements of the British force and the French armies in immediate touch with it:

April 27, 1915.

Since the last summary there has been a sudden development in the situation on our front, and very heavy fighting has taken place to the north and northeast of Ypres, which can be said to have assumed the importance of a second battle for that town. With the aid of a method of warfare up to now never employed by nations sufficiently civilized to consider themselves bound by international agreements solemnly ratified by themselves, and favored by the atmospheric conditions, the Germans have put into effect an attack which they had evidently contemplated and prepared for some time.

Before the battle began our line in this quarter ran from the cross-roads at Broodseinde, east of Zonnebeke on the Ypres-Moorslede Road to the cross-roads half a mile north of St. Julien, on the Ypres-Poelcapelle Road, roughly following the crest of what is known as the Grafenstafel Ridge. The French prolonged the line west of the Ypres-Poelcapelle Road, whence their trenches ran around the north of Langemarck to Steenstraate on the Yperlee Canal. The area covered by the initial attack is that between the canal and the Ypres-Poelcapelle Road, though it was afterward extended to the west of the canal and to the east of the road.

An effort on the part of the Germans in this direction was not unexpected, since movements of troops and transport behind their front line had been detected for some days. Its peculiar and novel nature, however, was a surprise which was largely responsible for the measure of success achieved. Taking advantage of the fact that at this season of the year the wind not infrequently blows from the north, they secretly brought up apparatus for emitting asphyxiating vapor or gas, and distributed it along the section of their front line opposite that of our allies, west of Langemarck, which faced almost due north. Their plan was to make a sudden onslaught southwestward, which, if successful, might enable them to gain the crossings on the canal south of Bixschoote and place them well behind the British left in a position to threaten Ypres.

The attack was originally fixed for Tuesday, the 20th, but since all chances of success depended on the action of the asphyxiating vapor it was postponed, the weather being unfavorable. On Thursday, the 22d, the wind blew steadily from the north, and that afternoon, all being ready, the Germans put their plan into execution. Since then events have moved so rapidly and the situation has moved so frequently that it is difficult to give a consecutive and clear story of what happened, but the following account represents as nearly as can be the general course of events. The details of the gas apparatus employed by them are given separately, as also those of the asphyxiating grenades, bombs, and shells of which they have been throwing hundreds.

At some time between 4 and 5 P.M. the Germans started operations by releasing gases with the result that a cloud of poisonous vapor rolled swiftly before the wind from their trenches toward those of the French west of Langemarck, held by a portion of the French Colonial Division. Allowing sufficient time for the fumes to take full effect on the troops facing them, the Germans charged forward over the practically unresisting enemy in their immediate front, and, penetrating through the gap thus created, pressed on silently and swiftly to the south and west. By their sudden irruption they were able to overrun and surprise a large proportion of the French troops billeted behind the front line in this area and to bring some of the French guns as well as our own under a hot rifle fire at close range.

The first intimation that all was not well to the north was conveyed to our troops holding the left of the British line between 5 and 6 P.M. by the withdrawal of some of the French Colonials and the sight of the wall of vapor following them. Our flank being thus exposed the troops were ordered to retire on St. Julien, with their left parallel to but to the west of the highroad. The splendid resistance of these troops, who saved the situation, has already been mentioned by the Commander in Chief.

Meanwhile, apparently waiting till their infantry had penetrated well behind the Allies' line, the Germans had opened a hot artillery fire upon the various tactical points to the north of Ypres, the bombardment being carried out with ordinary high-explosive shell and shrapnel of various calibres and also with projectiles containing asphyxiating gas. About this period our men in reserve near Ypres, seeing the shells bursting, had gathered in groups, discussing the situation and questioning some scattered bodies of Turcos who had appeared; suddenly a staff officer rode up shouting "Stand to your arms," and in a few minutes the troops had fallen in and were marching northward to the scene of the fight.

Nothing more impressive can be imagined than the sight of our men falling in quietly in perfect order on their alarm posts amid the scene of wild confusion caused by the panic-stricken refugees who swarmed along the roads.

In the meantime, to the north and northeast of the town, a confused fight was taking place, which gave proof not only of great gallantry and steadiness on the part of the troops referred to above, but of remarkable presence of mind on the part of their leaders. Behind the wall of vapor, which had swept across fields, through woods, and over hedgerows, came the German firing line, the men's mouths and noses, it is stated, protected by pads soaked in a solution of bicarbonate of soda. Closely following them again came the supports. These troops, hurrying forward with their formation somewhat broken up by the obstacles encountered in their path, looked like a huge mob bearing down upon the town. A battery of 4.7-inch guns a little beyond the left of our line was surprised and overwhelmed by them in a moment. Further to the rear and in a more easterly direction were several field batteries, and before they could come into action the Germans were within a few hundred yards. Not a gun, however, was lost.

One battery, taken in flank, swung around, fired on the enemy at point-blank range, and checked the rush. Another opened fire with the guns pointing in almost opposite directions, the enemy being on three sides of them. It was under the very heavy cannonade opened about this time by the Germans, and threatened by the advance of vastly superior numbers, that our infantry on our left steadily, and without any sign of confusion, slowly retired to St. Julien, fighting every step.

Help was not long in arriving, for some of our reserves near Ypres had stood to arms as soon as they were aware of the fact that the French line had been forced, and the officers on their own initiative, without waiting for orders, led them forward to meet the advancing enemy, who, by this time, were barely two miles from the town. These battalions attacked the Germans with the bayonet, and then ensued a melee, in which our men more than held their own, both sides losing very heavily.

One German battalion seems to have been especially severely handled, the Colonel being captured among several other prisoners. Other reinforcements were thrown in as they came up, and, when night fell, the fighting continued by moonlight, our troops driving back the enemy by repeated bayonet charges, in the course of which our heavy guns were recaptured.

By then the situation was somewhat restored in the area immediately north of Ypres. Further to the west, however, the enemy had forced their way over the canal, occupying Steenstraate and the crossing at Het Sast, about three-quarters of a mile south of the former place, and had established themselves at various points on the west bank. All night long the shelling continued, and about 1:30 A.M. two heavy attacks were made on our line in the neighborhood of Broodseinde, east of Zonnebeke. These were both repulsed. The bombardment of Ypres itself and its neighborhood had by now redoubled in intensity and a part of the town was in flames.

In the early morning of Friday, the 23d, we delivered a strong counter-attack northward in co-operation with the French. Our advance progressed for some little distance, reaching the edge of the wood about half a mile west of St. Julien and penetrating it. Here our men got into the Germans with the bayonet, and the latter suffered heavily. The losses were also severe on our side, for the advance had to be carried out across the open. But in spite of this nothing could exceed the dash with which it was conducted. One man—and his case is typical of the spirit shown by the troops—who had had his rifle smashed by a bullet, continued to fight with an intrenching tool. Even many of the wounded made their way out of the fight with some article of German equipment as a memento.

About 11 A.M., not being able to progress further, our troops dug themselves in, the line then running from St. Julien practically due west for about a mile, whence it curved southwestward before turning north to the canal near Boesinghe. Broadly speaking, on the section of the front then occupied by us the result of the operations had been to remove to some extent the wedge which the Germans had driven into the allied line, and the immediate danger was over. During the afternoon our counter-attack made further progress south of Pilkem, thus straightening the line still more. Along the canal the fighting raged fiercely, our allies making some progress here and there. During the night, however, the Germans captured Lizerne, a village on the main road from Ypres to Steenstraate.

When the morning of the 24th came the situation remained much the same, but the enemy, who had thrown several bridges across the canal, continued to gain ground to the west. On our front the Germans, under cover of their gas, made a further attack between 3 and 4 A.M. to the east of St. Julien and forced back a portion of our line. Nothing else in particular occurred until about mid-day, when large bodies of the enemy were seen advancing down the Ypres-Poelcapelle road toward St. Julien. Soon after a very strong attack developed against that village and the section of the line east of it. Under the pressure of these fresh masses our troops were compelled to fall back, contesting every inch of ground and making repeated counter-attacks; but until late at night a gallant handful, some 200 to 300 strong, held out in St. Julien. During the night the line was re-established north of the hamlet of Fortuin, about 700 yards further to the rear. All this time the fighting along the canal continued, the enemy forcing their way across near Boesinghe, and holding Het Sast, Steenstraate, and Lizerne strongly. The French counter-attacked in the afternoon, captured fifty prisoners, and made some further progress toward Pilkem. The Germans, however, were still holding the west bank firmly, although the Belgian artillery had broken the bridge behind them at Steenstraate.

On the morning of Sunday, the fourth day of the battle, we made a strong counter-attack on St. Julien, which gained some ground but was checked in front of the village. To the west of it we reached a point a few hundred yards south of the wood which had been the objective on the 23d and which we had had to relinquish subsequently. In the afternoon the Germans made repeated assaults in great strength on our line near Broodseinde. These were backed up by a tremendous artillery bombardment and the throwing of asphyxiating bombs; but all were beaten off with great slaughter to the enemy, and forty-five prisoners fell into our hands. When night came the situation remained unchanged.

This determined offensive on the part of the enemy, although it has menaced Ypres itself, has not so far the appearance of a great effort to break through the line and capture the Channel ports, such as that made in October. Its initial success was gained by the surprise rendered possible by the use of a device which Germany pledged herself not to employ. The only result upon our troops has been to fill them with an even greater determination to punish the enemy and to make him pay tenfold for every act of "frightfulness" he has perpetrated.

Along the rest of the British front nothing of special importance has occurred.


The comments of the German newspapers on the advance of the imperial army north of Ypres readily admitted and justified the use of asphyxiating gases. The leading Prussian military organ, the Kreuz Zeitung, said:

The moral success of our victory is quite upon a level with its strategic value. It has again been proved that in the west also we are at any time in a position to take the offensive, and that, notwithstanding their most violent efforts, it is impossible for the English and the French to throw back or to break through our battle line.

In another article the Kreuz Zeitung said:

When the French report says that we used a large number of asphyxiating bombs, our enemies may infer from this that they always are making a mistake when by their behavior they cause us to have recourse to new technical weapons.

Dealing with the same subject in a leading article, the Frankfurter Zeitung declared:

It is quite possible that our bombs and shells made it impossible for the enemy to remain in his trenches and artillery positions, and it is even probable that missiles which emit poisonous gases have actually been used by us, since the German leaders have made it plain that, as an answer to the treacherous missiles which have been used by the English and the French for many weeks past, we, too, shall employ gas bombs or whatever they are called. The German leaders pointed out that considerably more effective materials were to be expected from German chemistry, and they were right.

But, however destructive these bombs and shells may have been, do the English and the other people think that it makes a serious difference whether hundreds of guns and howitzers throw hundreds of thousands of shells on a single tiny spot in order to destroy and break to atoms everything living there, and to make the German trenches into a terrible hell as was the case at Neuve Chapelle, or whether we throw a few shells which spread death in the air? These shells are not more deadly than the poison of English explosives, but they take effect over a wider area, produce a rapid end, and spare the torn bodies the tortures and pains of death.

The Frankfurter Zeitung then compared the results achieved as follows:

The shells of Neuve Chapelle cost the Germans a trench and a village, but on the edge of the ruin the German ring remained firm and strong. How was it at Ypres? The enemy was thrown back on a front of more than five and a half miles. Along this whole front we gained two miles. These figures would signify little in comparison with the distance to the sea, but our next goal is Ypres, and on the north we are now only a few kilometers from this stronghold.

The Cologne Gazette referred to Sir John French's reports as follows:

It is delightful to read the complaints about the use of shells containing asphyxiating gases. This sounds particularly well out of the mouth of the Commander in Chief of a nation which for centuries past has trodden every provision of international law under foot.

The Canadians at Ypres

[From the Canadian Record Officer.]

The full narrative of the part played by the Canadians at Ypres is given in a communication from the Record Officer now serving with the Canadian Division at the front and published in the British press on May 1, 1915. The division was commanded by a distinguished English General, but these "amateur soldiers of Canada," as the narrator describes them, were officered largely by lawyers, college professors, and business men who before the war were neither disciplined nor trained. Many striking deeds of heroism and self-sacrifice were performed in the course of their brilliant charge and dogged resistance, which, in the words of Sir John French, "saved the situation" in the face of overwhelming odds.

On April 22 the Canadian Division held a line of, roughly, 5,000 yards, extending in a northwesterly direction from the Ypres-Roulers Railway to the Ypres-Poelcapelle road, and connecting at its terminus with the French troops. The division consisted of three infantry brigades in addition to the artillery brigades. Of the infantry brigades the First was in reserve, the Second was on the right, and the Third established contact with the Allies at the point indicated above.

The day was a peaceful one, warm and sunny, and except that the previous day had witnessed a further bombardment of the stricken town of Ypres, everything seemed quiet in front of the Canadian line. At 5 o'clock in the afternoon a plan, carefully prepared, was put into execution against our French allies on the left. Asphyxiating gas of great intensity was projected into their trenches, probably by means of force pumps and pipes laid out under the parapets. The fumes, aided by a favorable wind, floated backward, poisoning and disabling over an extended area those who fell under their effect.

The result was that the French were compelled to give ground for a considerable distance. The glory which the French Army has won in this war would make it impertinent to labor the compelling nature of the poisonous discharges under which the trenches were lost. The French did, as every one knew they would do, all that stout soldiers could do, and the Canadian Division, officers and men, look forward to many occasions in the future in which they will stand side by side with the brave armies of France.

The immediate consequences of this enforced withdrawal were, of course, extremely grave. The Third Brigade of the Canadian Division was without any left, or, in other words, its left was in the air. Rough diagrams may make the position clear.

It became imperatively necessary greatly to extend the Canadian lines to the left rear. It was not, of course, practicable to move the First Brigade from reserve at a moment's notice, and the line, extending from 5,000 to 9,000 yards, was naturally not the line that had been held by the Allies at 5 o'clock, and a gap still existed on its left. The new line, of which our recent point of contact with the French formed the apex, ran quite roughly as follows:

As shown above, it became necessary for Brig. Gen. Turner, commanding the Third Brigade, to throw back his left flank southward to protect his rear. In the course of the confusion which followed upon the readjustments of position, the enemy, who had advanced rapidly after his initial successes, took four British 4.7 guns in a small wood to the west of the village of St. Julien, two miles in the rear of the original French trenches.

The story of the second battle of Ypres is the story of how the Canadian Division, enormously outnumbered—for they had in front of them at least four divisions supported by immensely heavy artillery—with a gap still existing, though reduced, in their lines, and with dispositions made hurriedly under the stimulus of critical danger, fought through the day and through the night, and then through another day and night; fought under their officers until, as happened to so many, those perished gloriously, and then fought from the impulsion of sheer valor because they came from fighting stock.

The enemy, of course, was aware—whether fully or not may perhaps be doubted—of the advantage his breach in the line had given him, and immediately began to push a formidable series of attacks upon the whole of the newly-formed Canadian salient. If it is possible to distinguish when the attack was everywhere so fierce, it developed with particular intensity at this moment upon the apex of the newly formed line, running in the direction of St. Julien.

It has already been stated that four British guns were taken in a wood comparatively early in the evening of the 22d. In the course of that night, and under the heaviest machine-gun fire, this wood was assaulted by the Canadian Scottish, Sixteenth Battalion of the Third Brigade, and the Tenth Battalion of the Second Brigade, which was intercepted for this purpose on its way to a reserve trench. The battalions were respectively commanded by Lieut. Col. Leckie and Lieut. Col. Boyle, and after a most fierce struggle in the light of a misty moon they took the position at the point of the bayonet. At midnight the Second Battalion, under Colonel Watson, and the Toronto Regiment, Queen's Own, Third Battalion, under Lieut. Col. Rennie, both of the First Brigade, brought up much-needed reinforcement, and though not actually engaged in the assault were in reserve.

All through the following days and nights these battalions shared the fortunes and misfortunes of the Third Brigade. An officer who took part in the attack describes how the men about him fell under the fire of the machine guns, which, in his phrase, played upon them "like a watering pot." He added quite simply, "I wrote my own life off." But the line never wavered. When one man fell another took his place, and with a final shout the survivors of the two battalions flung themselves into the wood. The German garrison was completely demoralized, and the impetuous advance of the Canadians did not cease until they reached the far side of the wood and intrenched themselves there in the position so dearly gained. They had, however, the disappointment of finding that the guns had been blown up by the enemy, and later on in the same night a most formidable concentration of artillery fire, sweeping the wood as a tropical storm sweeps the leaves from a forest, made it impossible for them to hold the position for which they had sacrificed so much.

The fighting continued without intermission all through the night, and, to those who observed the indications that the attack was being pushed with ever-growing strength, it hardly seemed possible that the Canadians, fighting in positions so difficult to defend and so little the subject of deliberate choice, could maintain their resistance for any long period. At 6 A.M. on Friday it became apparent that the left was becoming more and more involved, and a powerful German attempt to outflank it developed rapidly. The consequences, if it had been broken or outflanked, need not be insisted upon. They were not merely local.

It was therefore decided, formidable as the attempt undoubtedly was, to try and give relief by a counter-attack upon the first line of German trenches, now far, far advanced from those originally occupied by the French. This was carried out by the Ontario First and Fourth Battalions of the First Brigade, under Brig. Gen. Mercer, acting in combination with a British brigade.

It is safe to say that the youngest private in the rank, as he set his teeth for the advance, knew the task in front of him, and the youngest subaltern knew all that rested upon its success. It did not seem that any human being could live in the shower of shot and shell which began to play upon the advancing troops. They suffered terrible casualties. For a short time every other man seemed to fall, but the attack was pressed ever closer and closer.

The Fourth Canadian Battalion at one moment came under a particularly withering fire. For a moment—not more—it wavered. Its most gallant commanding officer, Lieut. Col. Burchill, carrying, after an old fashion, a light cane, coolly and cheerfully rallied his men and, at the very moment when his example had infected them, fell dead at the head of his battalion. With a hoarse cry of anger they sprang forward, (for, indeed, they loved him,) as if to avenge his death. The astonishing attack which followed—pushed home in the face of direct frontal fire made in broad daylight by battalions whose names should live for ever in the memories of soldiers—was carried to the first line of German trenches. After a hand-to-hand struggle the last German who resisted was bayoneted, and the trench was won.

The measure of this success may be taken when it is pointed out that this trench represented in the German advance the apex in the breach which the enemy had made in the original line of the Allies, and that it was two and a half miles south of that line. This charge, made by men who looked death indifferently in the face, (for no man who took part in it could think that he was likely to live,) saved, and that was much, the Canadian left. But it did more. Up to the point where the assailants conquered, or died, it secured and maintained during the most critical moment of all the integrity of the allied line. For the trench was not only taken, it was held thereafter against all comers, and in the teeth of every conceivable projectile, until the night of Sunday, the 25th, when all that remained of the war-broken but victorious battalions was relieved by fresh troops.

It is necessary now to return to the fortunes of the Third Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Turner, which, as we have seen, at 5 o'clock on Thursday was holding the Canadian left, and after the first attack assumed the defense of the new Canadian salient, at the same time sparing all the men it could to form an extemporized line between the wood and St. Julien. This brigade also was at the first moment of the German offensive, made the object of an attack by the discharge of poisonous gas. The discharge was followed by two enemy assaults. Although the fumes were extremely poisonous, they were not, perhaps having regard to the wind, so disabling as on the French lines, (which ran almost east to west,) and the brigade, though affected by the fumes, stoutly beat back the two German assaults.

Encouraged by this success, it rose to the supreme effort required by the assault on the wood, which has already been described. At 4 o'clock on the morning of Friday, the 23d, a fresh emission of gas was made both upon the Second Brigade, which held the line running northeast, and upon the Third Brigade, which, as has been fully explained, had continued the line up to the pivotal point, as defined above, and had then spread down in a southeasterly direction. It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that two privates of the Forty-eighth Highlanders who found their way into the trenches commanded by Colonel Lipsett, Ninetieth Winnipeg Rifles, Eighth Battalion, perished in the fumes, and it was noticed that their faces became blue immediately after dissolution.

The Royal Highlanders of Montreal, Thirteenth Battalion, and the Forty-eighth Highlanders, Fifteenth Battalion, were more especially affected by the discharge. The Royal Highlanders, though considerably shaken, remained immovable upon their ground. The Forty-eighth Highlanders, which, no doubt, received a more poisonous discharge, was for the moment dismayed, and, indeed, their trench, according to the testimony of very hardened soldiers, became intolerable. The battalion retired from the trench, but for a very short distance, and for an equally short time. In a few moments they were again their own men. They advanced upon and occupied the trenches which they had momentarily abandoned.

In the course of the same night the Third Brigade, which had already displayed a resource, a gallantry, and a tenacity for which no eulogy could be excessive, was exposed (and with it the whole allied case) to a peril still more formidable.

It has been explained, and, indeed, the fundamental situation made the peril clear, that several German divisions were attempting to crush or drive back this devoted brigade, and in any event to use their enormous numerical superiority to sweep around and overwhelm its left wing. At some point in the line which cannot be precisely determined the last attempt partially succeeded, and in the course of this critical struggle German troops in considerable though not in overwhelming numbers swung past the unsupported left of the brigade, and, slipping in between the wood and St. Julien, added to the torturing anxieties of the long-drawn struggle by the appearance, and indeed for the moment the reality, of isolation from the brigade base.

In the exertions made by the Third Brigade during this supreme crisis it is almost impossible to single out one battalion without injustice to others, but though the efforts of the Royal Highlanders of Montreal, Thirteenth Battalion, were only equal to those of the other battalions who did such heroic service, it so happened by chance that the fate of some of its officers attracted special attention.

Major Norsworth, already almost disabled by a bullet wound, was bayoneted and killed while he was rallying his men with easy cheerfulness. The case of Captain McCuaig, of the same battalion, was not less glorious, although his death can claim no witness. This most gallant officer was seriously wounded, in a hurriedly constructed trench, at a moment when it would have been possible to remove him to safety. He absolutely refused to move and continued in the discharge of his duty.

But the situation grew constantly worse, and peremptory orders were received for an immediate withdrawal. Those who were compelled to obey them were most insistent to carry with them, at whatever risk to their own mobility and safety, an officer to whom they were devotedly attached. But he, knowing, it may be, better than they, the exertions which still lay in front of them, and unwilling to inflict upon them the disabilities of a maimed man, very resolutely refused, and asked of them one thing only, that there should be given to him, as he lay alone in the trench, two loaded Colt revolvers to add to his own, which lay in his right hand as he made his last request. And so, with three revolvers ready to his hand for use, a very brave officer waited to sell his life, wounded and racked with pain, in an abandoned trench.

On Friday afternoon the left of the Canadian line was strengthened by important reinforcements of British troops amounting to seven battalions. From this time forward the Canadians also continued to receive further assistance on the left from a series of French counter-attacks pushed in a northeasterly direction from the canal bank.

But the artillery fire of the enemy continually grew in intensity, and it became more and more evident that the Canadian salient could no longer be maintained against the overwhelming superiority of numbers by which it was assailed. Slowly, stubbornly, and contesting every yard, the defenders gave ground until the salient gradually receded from the apex, near the point where it had originally aligned with the French, and fell back upon St. Julien.

Soon it became evident that even St. Julien, exposed to fire from right and left, was no longer tenable in the face of overwhelming numerical superiority. The Third Brigade was therefore ordered to retreat further south, selling every yard of ground as dearly as it had done since 5 o'clock on Thursday. But it was found impossible, without hazarding far larger forces, to disentangle the detachment of the Royal Highlanders of Montreal, Thirteenth Battalion, and of the Royal Montreal Regiment, Fourteenth Battalion. The brigade was ordered, and not a moment too soon, to move back. It left these units with hearts as heavy as those with which his comrades had said farewell to Captain McCuaig. The German tide rolled, indeed, over the deserted village, but for several hours after the enemy had become master of the village the sullen and persistent rifle fire which survived showed that they were not yet master of the Canadian rearguard. If they died, they died worthily of Canada.

The enforced retirement of the Third Brigade (and to have stayed longer would have been madness) reproduced for the Second Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Curry, in a singularly exact fashion, the position of the Third Brigade itself at the moment of the withdrawal of the French. The Second Brigade, it must be remembered, had retained the whole line of trenches, roughly 2,500 yards, which it was holding at 5 o'clock on Thursday afternoon, supported by the incomparable exertions of the Third Brigade, and by the highly hazardous deployment in which necessity had involved that brigade. The Second Brigade had maintained its lines.

It now devolved upon General Curry, commanding this brigade, to reproduce the tactical maneuvres with which, earlier in the fight, the Third Brigade had adapted itself to the flank movement of overwhelming numerical superiority. He flung his left flank around south, and his record is, that in the very crisis of this immense struggle he held his line of trenches from Thursday at 5 o'clock till Sunday afternoon. And on Sunday afternoon he had not abandoned his trenches. There were none left. They had been obliterated by artillery. He withdrew his undefeated troops from the fragments of his field fortifications, and the hearts of his men were as completely unbroken as the parapets of his trenches were completely broken. In such a brigade it is invidious to single out any battalion for special praise, but it is, perhaps, necessary to the story to point out that Lieut. Col. Lipsett, commanding the Ninetieth Winnipeg Rifles, Eighth Battalion of the Second Brigade, held the extreme left of the brigade position at the most critical moment.

The battalion was expelled from the trenches early on Friday morning by an emission of poisonous gas, but, recovering in three-quarters of an hour, it counter-attacked, retook the trenches it had abandoned, and bayoneted the enemy. And after the Third Brigade had been forced to retire Lieut. Col. Lipsett held his position, though his left was in the air, until two British regiments filled up the gap on Saturday night.

The individual fortunes of these two brigades have brought us to the events of Sunday afternoon, but it is necessary, to make the story complete, to recur for a moment to the events of the morning. After a very formidable attack the enemy succeeded in capturing the village of St. Julien, which has so often been referred to in describing the fortunes of the Canadian left. This success opened up a new and formidable line of advance, but by this time further reinforcements had arrived. Here, again, it became evident that the tactical necessities of the situation dictated an offensive movement as the surest method of arresting further progress.

General Alderson, who was in command of the reinforcements, accordingly directed that an advance should be made by a British brigade which had been brought up in support. The attack was thrust through the Canadian left and centre, and as the troops making it swept on, many of them going to certain death, they paused an instant, and, with deep-throated cheers for Canada, gave the first indication to the division of the warm admiration which their exertions had excited in the British Army.

The advance was indeed costly, but it could not be gainsaid. The story is one of which the brigade may be proud, but it does not belong to the special account of the fortunes of the Canadian contingent. It is sufficient for our purpose to notice that the attack succeeded in its object, and the German advance along the line, momentarily threatened, was arrested.

We had reached, in describing the events of the afternoon, the points at which the trenches of the Second Brigade had been completely destroyed. This brigade, the Third Brigade, and the considerable reinforcements which this time filled the gap between the two brigades, were gradually driven fighting every yard upon a line running, roughly, from Fortuin, south of St. Julien, in a northeasterly direction toward Passchendaele. Here the two brigades were relieved by two British brigades, after exertions as glorious, as fruitful, and, alas! as costly as soldiers have ever been called upon to make.

Monday morning broke bright and clear and found the Canadians behind the firing line. This day, too, was to bring its anxieties. The attack was still pressed, and it became necessary to ask Brig. Gen. Curry whether he could once more call upon his shrunken brigade. "The men are tired," this indomitable soldier replied, "but they are ready and glad to go again to the trenches." And so once more, a hero leading heroes, the General marched back the men of the Second Brigade, reduced to a quarter of its original strength, to the very apex of the line as it existed at that moment.

This position he held all day Monday; on Tuesday he was still occupying the reserve trenches, and on Wednesday was relieved and retired to billets in the rear.

Such, in the most general outline, is the story of a great and glorious feat of arms. A story told so soon after the event, while rendering bare justice to units whose doings fell under the eyes of particular observers, must do less than justice to others who played their part—and all did—as gloriously as those whose special activities it is possible, even at this stage, to describe. But the friends of men who fought in other battalions may be content in the knowledge that they, too, shall learn, when time allows the complete correlation of diaries, the exact part which each unit played in these unforgettable days. It is rather accident than special distinction which had made it possible to select individual battalions for mention.

It would not be right to close even this account without a word of tribute to the auxiliary services. The signalers were always cool and resourceful. The telegraph and telephone wires being constantly cut, many belonging to this service rendered up their lives in the discharge of their duty, carrying out repairs with the most complete calmness in exposed positions. The dispatch carriers, as usual, behaved with the greatest bravery. Theirs is a lonely life, and very often a lonely death. One cycle messenger lay upon the ground, badly wounded. He stopped a passing officer and delivered his message, together with some verbal instructions. These were coherently given, but he swooned almost before the words were out of his mouth.

The artillery never flagged in the sleepless struggle in which so much depended upon its exertions. Not a Canadian gun was lost in the long battle of retreat. And the nature of the position renders such a record very remarkable. One battery of four guns found itself in such a situation that it was compelled to turn two of its guns directly about and fire upon the enemy in positions almost diametrically opposite.

It is not possible in this account to attempt a description of the services rendered by the Canadian Engineers or the Medical Corps. Their members rivaled in coolness, endurance, and valor the Canadian infantry, whose comrades they were, and it is hoped in separate communications to do justice to both these brilliant services.

No attempt has been made in this description to explain the recent operations except in so far as they spring from, or are connected with, the fortunes of the Canadian Division. It is certain that the exertions of the troops who reinforced and later relieved the Canadians were not less glorious, but the long, drawn-out struggle is a lesson to the whole empire. "Arise, O Israel!" The empire is engaged in a struggle, without quarter and without compromise, against an enemy still superbly organized, still immensely powerful, still confident that its strength is the mate of its necessities. To arms, then, and still to arms! In Great Britain, in Canada, in Australia there is need, and there is need now, of a community organized alike in military and industrial co-operation.

That our countrymen in Canada, even while their hearts are still bleeding, will answer every call which is made upon them, we well know.

The graveyard of Canada in Flanders is large; it is very large. Those who lie there have left their mortal remains on alien soil. To Canada they have bequeathed their memories and their glory.

On Fame's eternal camping ground Their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards with solemn round The bivouac of the dead.

Vapor Warfare Resumed


The British Press Bureau authorized the publication of the following report, dated May 3, by Field Marshal Sir John French on the employment by the Germans of poisonous gases as weapons of warfare:

The gases employed have been ejected from pipes laid into the trenches, and also produced by the explosion of shells specially manufactured for the purpose. The German troops who attacked under cover of these gases were provided with specially designed respirators which were issued in sealed patent covers.

This all points to long and methodical preparation on a large scale. A week before the Germans first used this method they announced in their official communique that we were making use of asphyxiating gases. At the time there appeared to be no reason for this astounding falsehood, but now, of course, it is obvious that it was part of the scheme. It is a further proof of the deliberate nature of the introduction by the Germans of a new and illegal weapon, and shows that they recognized its illegality, and were anxious to forestall neutral and possibly domestic criticism.

Since the enemy has made use of this method of covering his advance with a cloud of poisoned air, he has repeated it both in offense and defense whenever the wind has been favorable. The effect of this poison is not merely disabling or even painlessly fatal as suggested in the German press. Those of its victims who do not succumb on the field and who can be brought into hospital suffer acutely, and in a large proportion of cases die a painful and lingering death. Those who survive are in little better case, as the injury to their lungs appears to be of a permanent character, and reduces them to a condition which points to their being invalids for life.

These facts must be well known to the German scientists who devised this new weapon and to the military authorities who have sanctioned its use. I am of opinion that the enemy has definitely decided to use these gases as a normal procedure, and that protests will be useless.


The following descriptive account, communicated by the British Eyewitness present with General Headquarters, continues and supplements the narrative published on April 29 of the movements of the British force and the French armies in immediate touch with it:

April 30, 1915.

As will have been gathered from the last summary, assaults accompanied with gas were not made on every position of the front held by the British to the north of Ypres at the same time. At one point it was not until the early morning of Saturday, April 24, that the Germans brought this method into operation against a section of our line not far from our left flank.

Late on Thursday afternoon the men here saw portions of the French retiring some distance to the west, and observed the cloud of vapor rolling along the ground southward behind them. Our position was then shelled with high explosives until 8 P.M. On Friday also it was bombarded for some hours, the Germans firing poison shells for one hour. Their infantry, who were intrenched about 120 yards away, evidently expected some result from their use of the latter, for they put their heads above the parapets, as if to see what the effect had been on our men, and at intervals opened rapid rifle fire. The wind, however, was strong and dissipated the fumes quickly, our troops did not suffer seriously from their noxious effect, and the enemy did not attempt any advance.

On Saturday morning, just about dawn, an airship appeared in the sky to the east of our line at this point, and dropped four red stars, which floated downward slowly for some distance before they died out. When our men, whose eyes had not unnaturally been fixed on this display of pyrotechnics, again turned to their front it was to find the German trenches rendered invisible by a wall of greenish-yellow vapor, similar to that observed on the Thursday afternoon, which was bearing down on them on the breeze. Through this the Germans started shooting. During Saturday they employed stupefying gas on several occasions in this quarter, but did not press on very quickly. One reason for this, given by a German prisoner, is that many of the enemy's infantry were so affected by the fumes that they could not advance.

To continue the narrative from the night of Sunday, April 25. At 12:30 A.M., in face of repeated attacks, our infantry fell back from a part of the Grafenstafel Ridge, northwest of Zonnebeke, and the line then ran for some distance along the south bank of the little Haanebeek stream. The situation along the Yperlee Canal remained practically unchanged.

When the morning of the 26th dawned the Germans, who had been seen massing in St. Julien, and to the east of the village on the previous evening, made several assaults, which grew more and more fierce as the hours passed, but reinforcements were sent up and the position was secured. Further east, however, our line was pierced near Broodseinde, and a small body of the enemy established themselves in a portion of our trenches. In the afternoon a strong, combined counter-attack was delivered by the French and British along the whole front from Steenstraate to the east of St. Julien, accompanied by a violent bombardment. This moment, so far as can be judged at present, marked the turning point of the battle, for, although it effected no great change in the situation, it caused a definite check to the enemy's offensive, relieved the pressure, and gained a certain amount of ground.

During this counter-attack the guns concentrated by both sides on this comparatively narrow front poured in a great volume of fire. From the right came the roar of the British batteries, from the left the rolling thunder of the soixante-quinze, and every now and then above the turmoil rose a dull boom as a huge howitzer shell burst in the vicinity of Ypres. On the right our infantry stormed the German trenches close to St. Julien, and in the evening gained the southern outskirts of the village. In the centre they captured the trenches a little to the south of the Bois des Cuisinirs, west of St. Julien, and still further west more trenches were taken. This represented an advance of some 600 or 700 yards, but the gain in ground could not at all points be maintained. Opposite St. Julien we fell back from the village to a position just south of the place, and in front of the Bois des Cuisinirs and on the left of the line a similar retirement took place, the enemy making extensive use of his gas cylinders and of machine guns placed in farms at or other points of vantage. None the less, the situation at nightfall was more satisfactory than it had been. We were holding our own well all along the line and had made progress at some points. On the right the enemy's attacks on the front of the Grafenstafel Ridge had all been repulsed.

In the meantime the French had achieved some success, having retaken Lizerne and also the trenches round Het Sast, captured some 250 prisoners, and made progress all along the west bank of the canal. Heavy as our losses were during the day, there is little doubt that the enemy suffered terribly. Both sides were attacking at different points, the fighting was conducted very largely in the open, and the close formations of the Germans on several occasions presented excellent targets to our artillery, which did not fail to seize its opportunities.

Nothing in particular occurred during the night.

The morning of the 27th found our troops occupying the following positions: North of Zonnebeke the right of the line still held the eastern end of the Grafenstafel Ridge, but from here it bent southwestward behind the Haanebeek stream, which it followed to a point about half a mile east of St. Julien. Thence it curved back again to the Vamheule Farm, on the Ypres-Poelcappelle road, running from here in a slight southerly curve to a point a little west of the Ypres-Langemarck road, where it joined the French. In the last mentioned quarter of the field it followed generally the line of a low ridge running from west to east. On the French front the Germans had been cleared from the west bank of the canal, except at one point, Steenstraate, where they continued to hold the bridgehead.

About 1 P.M. a counter-attack was made by us all along the line between the canal and the Ypres-Poelcappelle road, and for about an hour we continued to make progress. Then the right and centre were checked. A little later the left was also held up, and the situation remained very much as it had been on the previous day. The Germans were doubtless much encouraged by their initial success, and their previous boldness in attack was now matched by the stubborn manner in which they clung on to their positions. In the evening the French stormed some trenches east of the canal, but were again checked by the enemy's gas cylinders.

The night passed quietly, and was spent by us in reorganizing and consolidating our positions. The enemy did not interfere. This is not surprising, in view of the fact that by Tuesday evening they had been fighting for over five days. Their state of exhaustion is confirmed by the statements of the prisoners captured by the French, who also reported that the German losses had been very heavy.

On Wednesday, the 28th, there was a complete lull on this sector of our line, and the shelling was less severe. Some fighting, however, occurred along the canal, the French taking over 100 prisoners.

Nothing of any importance has occurred on other parts of the front. On the 27th, at the Railway Triangle opposite Guinchy, the south side of the embankment held by the Germans was blown up by our miners. On the 28th a hostile aeroplane was forced to descend by our anti-aircraft guns. On coming down in rear of the German lines, it was at once fired upon and destroyed by our field artillery. Another hostile machine was brought down by rifle fire near Zonnebeke.

Splendid work has been done during the past few days by our airmen, who have kept all the area behind the hostile lines under close observation. On the 26th they bombed the stations of Staden, Thielt, Courtrai, Roubaix, and other places, and located an armored train near Langemarck, which was subsequently shelled and forced to retire. There have been several successful conflicts in the air, on one occasion a pilot in a single seater chasing a German machine to Roulers, and forcing it to land.

The raid on Courtrai unfortunately cost the nation a very gallant life, but it will live as one of the most heroic episodes of the war. The airman started on the enterprise alone in a biplane. On arrival at Courtrai he glided down to a height of 300 feet and dropped a large bomb on the railway junction. While he did this he was the target of hundreds of rifles, of machine guns, and of anti-aircraft armament, and was severely wounded in the thigh. Though he might have saved his life by at once coming down in the enemy's lines, he decided to save his machine at all costs, and made for the British lines. Descending to a height of only 100 feet in order to increase his speed, he continued to fly and was again wounded, this time mortally. He still flew on, however, and without coming down at the nearest of our aerodromes went all the way back to his own base, where he executed a perfect landing and made his report. He died in hospital not long afterward.[A]

[Footnote A: The obituary columns of The Times of April 30 contained the following notice under "Died of Wounds":

RHODES-MOORHOUSE.—On Tuesday, the 27th April, of wounds received while dropping bombs on Courtrai the day before, WILLIAM BARNARD RHODES RHODES-MOORHOUSE, Second Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps, aged 27, dear elder son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Moorhouse of Parnham House, Dorset, and most loved husband of Linda Rhodes-Moorhouse.]

The outstanding feature of the action of the past week has been the steadiness of our troops on the extreme left; but of the deeds of individual gallantry and devotion which have been performed it would be impossible to narrate one-hundredth part. At one place in this quarter a machine gun was stationed in the angle of a trench when the German rush took place. One man after another of the detachment was shot, but the gun still continued in action, though five bodies lay around it. When the sixth man took the place of his fallen comrades, of whom one was his brother, the Germans were still pressing on. He waited until they were only a few yards away, and then poured a stream of bullets on to the advancing ranks, which broke and fell back, leaving rows of dead. He was then wounded himself.

Under the hot fire to which our batteries were subjected in the early part of the engagement telephone wires were repeatedly cut. The wire connecting one battery with its observing officer was severed on nine separate occasions, and on each occasion repaired by a Sergeant, who did the work out in the open under a perfect hail of shells.

On May 5 the following account of the British Official Eyewitness, continuing the report of April 30, was published:

About 5 P.M. a dense cloud of suffocating vapors was launched from their trenches along the whole front held by the French right and by our left from the Ypres-Langemarck road to a considerable distance east of St. Julien. The fumes did not carry much beyond our front trenches. But these were to a great extent rendered untenable, and a retirement from them was ordered.

No sooner had this started than the enemy opened a violent bombardment with asphyxiating shells and shrapnel on our trenches and on our infantry as they were withdrawing. Meanwhile our guns had not been idle. From a distance, perhaps owing to some peculiarity of the light, the gas on this occasion looked like a great reddish cloud, and the moment it was seen our batteries poured a concentrated fire on the German trenches.

Curious situations then arose between us and the enemy. The poison belt, the upper part shredding into thick wreaths of vapor as it was shaken by the wind, and the lower and denser part sinking into all inequalities of the ground, rolled slowly down the trenches. Shells would rend it for a moment, but it only settled down again as thickly as before.

Nevertheless, the German infantry faced it, and they faced a hail of shrapnel as well. In some cases where the gas had not reached our lines our troops held firm and shot through the cloud at the advancing Germans. In other cases the men holding the front line managed to move to the flank, where they were more or less beyond the affected area. Here they waited until the enemy came on and then bayoneted them when they reached our trenches.

On the extreme left our supports waited until the wall of vapor reached our trenches, when they charged through it and met the advancing Germans with the bayonet as they swarmed over the parapets.

South of St. Julien the denseness of the vapor compelled us to evacuate trenches, but reinforcements arrived who charged the enemy before they could establish themselves in position. In every case the assaults failed completely. Large numbers were mown down by our artillery. Men were seen falling and others scattering and running back to their own lines. Many who reached the gas cloud could not make their way through it, and in all probability a great number of the wounded perished from the fumes.

It is to that extent, from a military standpoint, a sign of weakness. Another sign of weakness is the adoption of illegal methods of fighting, such as spreading poisonous gas. It is a confession by the Germans that they have lost their former great superiority in artillery and are, in any cost, seeking another technical advantage over their enemy as a substitute.

Nevertheless, this spirit, this determination on the part of our enemies to stick at nothing must not be underestimated. Though it may not pay the Germans in the long run, it renders it all the more obvious that they are a foe that can be overcome only by the force of overwhelming numbers of men and guns.

Further to the east a similar attack was made about 7 P.M. which seems to have been attended with even less success, and the assaulting infantry was at once beaten back by our artillery fire.

It was not long before all our trenches were reoccupied and the whole line re-established in its original position. The attack on the French met with the same result.

The Eyewitness then relates incidents showing the steadiness of the Indian troops, who, he says, "advanced under a murderous fire, their war cry swelling louder and louder above the din."

Prisoners captured in the recent fighting, the narrative continues, stated that one German corps lost 80 per cent. of its men in the first week; that the losses from our artillery fire, even during days when no attacks were taking place, had been very heavy and that many of their own men had suffered from the effects of the gas.

The writer concludes as follows:

In regard to the recent fighting on our left, the German offensive, effected in the first instance by surprise, resulted in a considerable gain of ground for the enemy. Between all the earlier German efforts, the only difference was that on this latest occasion the attempt was carried out with the aid of poisonous gases.

There is no reason why we should not expect similar tactics in the future. They do not mean that the Allies have lost the initiative in the Western theatre, nor that they are likely to lose it. They do mean, however, and the fact has been repeatedly pointed out, that the enemy's defensive is an active one, that his confidence is still unshaken and that he still is able to strike in some strength where he sees the chance or where mere local advantage can be secured.

The true idea of the meaning of the operations of the Allies can be gained only by bearing in mind that it is their primary object to bring about the exhaustion of the enemy's resources in men.

In the form now assumed by this struggle—a war of attrition—the Germans are bound ultimately to lose, and it is the consciousness of this fact that inspires their present policy. This is to achieve as early as possible some success of sufficient magnitude to influence the neutrals, to discourage the Allies, to make them weary of the struggle and to induce the belief among the people ignorant of war that nothing has been gained by the past efforts of the Allies because the Germans have not yet been driven back. It is being undertaken with a political rather than a strategical object.

The official British Eyewitness, under date of May 11, 1915, gives an account of the German attempts on the previous Saturday and Sunday to break the British lines around Ypres, and of the beginning of the Anglo-French offensive north of Arras. He said:

The calm that prevailed Thursday and Friday proved to be only the lull before the storm. Early Saturday morning it became apparent that the Germans were preparing an attack in strength against our line running east and northeast from Ypres, for they were concentrating under cover of a violent artillery fire, and at about 10 o'clock the battle began in earnest.

At that hour the Germans attacked our line from the Ypres-Poelcappelle road to within a short distance of the Menin highroad, it being evidently their intention while engaging us closely on the whole of this sector to break our front in the vicinity of the Ypres-Roulers Railway, to the north and to the south of which their strongest and most determined assaults were delivered.

Under this pressure our front was penetrated at some points around Frezenberg, and at 4:30 o'clock in the afternoon we made a counter-attack between the Zonnebeke road and the railway in order to recover the lost ground. Our offensive was conducted most gallantly, but was checked before long by the fire of machine guns.

Meanwhile, the enemy launched another attack through the woods south of the Menin road, and at the same time threatened our left to the north of Ypres with fresh masses. Most desperate fighting ensued, the German infantry coming on again and again and gradually forcing our troops back, though only for a short distance, in spite of repeated counter-attacks.

During the night the fighting continued to rage with ever-increasing fury. It is impossible to say at exactly what hour our line was broken at different points, but it is certain that at one time the enemy's infantry poured through along the Poelcappelle road, and even got as far as Wieltje at 9 P.M.

There was also a considerable gap in our front about Frezenberg, where hostile detachments had penetrated. At both points counter-attacks were organized without delay. To the east of the salient the Germans first were driven back to Frezenberg, but there they made a firm stand, and under pressure of fresh reinforcements we fell back again toward Verlorenhoek.

Northeast of the salient a counter-attack carried out by us about 1 A.M. was more successful. Our troops swept the enemy out of Wieltje at the bayonet's point, leaving the village strewn with German dead and, pushing on, regained most of the ground to the north of that point. And so the fight surged to and fro throughout the night. All around the scene of the conflict the sky was lit up by the flashes of the guns and the light of blazing villages and farms, while against this background of smoke and flame, looking out in the murky light over the crumbling ruins of the old town, rose the battered wreck of the cathedral town and the spires of Cloth Hall.

When Sunday dawned there came a short respite, and the firing for a time died down. The comparative lull enabled us to reorganize and consolidate our position on the new line we had taken up and to obtain some rest after the fatigue and strain of the night. It did not last long, however, and in the afternoon the climax of the battle was reached, for, under the cover of intense artillery fire, the Germans launched no less than five separate assaults against the east of the salient.

To the north and northeast their attacks were not at first pressed so hard as on the south of the Menin road, where the fighting was especially fierce. In the latter direction masses of infantry were hurled on with absolute desperation and were beaten off with corresponding slaughter.

At one point, north of the town, 500 of the enemy advanced from the wood, and it is affirmed by those present that not a single man of them escaped.

On the eastern face, at 6:30 P.M., an endeavor was made to storm the grounds of the Chateau Hooge, a little north of the Menin road, but the force attempting it broke and fell back under the hail of shrapnel poured upon them by our guns. It was on this side, where they had to face the concentrated fire of guns, Maxims and rifles again and again in their efforts to break their way through, that the Germans incurred their heaviest losses, and the ground was literally heaped with dead.

They evidently, for the time being at least, were unable to renew their efforts, and as night came on the fury of their offensive gradually slackened, the hours of darkness passing in quietness.

During the day our troops saw some of the enemy busily employed in stripping the British dead in our abandoned trenches, east of the Hooge Chateau, and several Germans afterward were noticed dressed in khaki.

So far as the Ypres region is concerned, this for us was a most successful day. Our line, which on the northeast of the salient had, after the previous day's fighting, been reconstituted a short distance behind the original front, remained intact. Our losses were comparatively slight, and, owing to the targets presented by the enemy, the action resolved itself on our part into pure killing.

The reason for this very determined effort to crush our left on the part of the Germans is not far to seek. It is probable that for some days previously they had been in possession of information which led them to suppose that we intended to apply pressure on the right of our line, and that their great attack upon Ypres on the 7th, 8th, and 9th was undertaken with a view to diverting us from our purpose.

In this the Germans were true to their principles, for they rightly hold that the best manner of meeting an expected hostile offensive is to forestall it by attacking in some other quarter. In this instance their leaders acted with the utmost determination and energy and their soldiers fought with the greatest courage.

The failure of their effort was due to the splendid endurance of our troops, who held the line around the salient under a fire which again and again blotted out whole lengths of the defenses and killed the defenders by scores. Time after time along those parts of the front selected for assault were parapets destroyed, and time after time did the thinning band of survivors build them up again and await the next onset as steadily as before.

Here, in May, in defense of the same historic town, have our incomparable infantry repeated the great deeds their comrades performed half a year ago and beaten back most desperate onslaughts of hostile hordes backed by terrific artillery support.

The services rendered by our troops in this quarter cannot at present be estimated, for their full significance will only be realized in the light of future events. But so far their devotion has indirectly contributed in no small measure to the striking success already achieved by our allies.

Further south, in the meantime, on Sunday another struggle had been in progress on that portion of the front covered by the right of our line and the left of the French, for when the firing around Ypres was temporarily subsiding during the early hours of the morning another and even more tremendous cannonade was suddenly started by the artillery of the Allies some twenty miles to the south.

The morning was calm, bright, and clear, and opposite our right, as the sun rose, the scene in front of our line was the most peaceful imaginable. Away to the right were Guinchy, with its brickfields and the ruins of Givenchy. To the north of them lay low ground, where, hidden by trees and hedgerows, ran the opposing lines that were about to become the scene of the conflict, and beyond, in the distance, rose the long ridge of Aubers, the villages crowning it standing out clear cut against the sky.

At 5 o'clock the bombardment began, slowly at first and then growing in volume until the whole air quivered with the rush of the larger shells and the earth shook with the concussion of guns. In a few minutes the whole distant landscape disappeared in smoke and dust, which hung for a while in the still air and then drifted slowly across the line of battle.

Shortly before 6 o'clock our infantry advanced along our front between the Bois Grenier and Festubert. On the left, north of Fromelles, we stormed the German first line trenches. Hand-to-hand fighting went on for some time with bayonet, rifle, and hand grenade, but we continued to hold on to this position throughout the day and caused the enemy very heavy loss, for not only were many Germans killed in the bombardment, but their repeated efforts to drive us from the captured positions proved most costly.

On the right, to the north of Festubert, our advance met with considerable opposition and was not pressed.

Meanwhile, the French, after a prolonged bombardment, had taken the German positions north of Arras on a front of nearly five miles, and had pushed forward from two to three miles, capturing 2,000 prisoners and six guns. This remarkable success was gained by our allies in the course of a few hours.

As may be supposed from the nature of the fighting which has been in progress, our losses have been heavy. On other parts of the front our action was confined to that of the artillery, but this proved most effective later, all the communications of the enemy being subjected to so heavy and accurate a fire that in some quarters all movement by daylight within range of our lines was rendered impracticable. At one place opposite our centre a convoy of ammunition was hit by a shell, which knocked out six motor lorries and caused two to blow up. Opposite our centre we fired two mines, which did considerable damage to the enemy's defenses.

During the day also our aeroplanes attacked several points of importance. One of our airmen, who was sent to bomb the canal bridge near Don, was wounded on his way there, but continued and fulfilled his mission. Near Wytschaete, one of our aviators pursued a German aeroplane and fired a whole belt from his machine gun at it. The Taube suddenly swerved, righted itself for a second, and then descended from a height of several thousand feet straight to the ground.

On the other hand, a British machine unfortunately was brought down over Lille by the enemy's anti-aircraft guns, but it is hoped that the aviator escaped.

In regard to the German allegation, that the British used gas in their attacks on Hill 60, the Eyewitness says:

No asphyxiating gases have been employed by us at any time, nor have they yet been brought into play by us.

To Certain German Professors of Chemics

[From Punch, May 5, 1915.]

When you observed how brightly other tutors Inspired the yearning heart of Youth; How from their lips, like Pilsen's foaming pewters, It sucked the fount of German Truth; There, in your Kaiserlich laboratory, "We, too," you said, "will find a task to do, And so contribute something to the glory Of God and William Two.

"Bring forth the stink-pots. Such a foul aroma By arts divine shall be evoked As will to leeward cause a state of coma And leave the enemy blind and choked; By gifts of culture we will work such ravages With our superbly patriotic smells As would confound with shame those half-baked savages, The poisoners of wells."

Good! You have more than matched the rival pastors That tute a credulous Fatherland; And we admit that you are proved our masters When there is dirty work in hand; But in your lore I notice one hiatus: Your Kaiser's scutcheon with its hideous blot— You've no corrosive in your apparatus Can out that damned spot!


Seven Days of War East and West

Fighting of the Second Week in May on French and Russian Fronts.

[By a Military Expert of THE NEW YORK TIMES.]

The sinking of the Lusitania has, for the week ended May 15, so completely absorbed the attention of the press and the interest of the public that the military operations themselves have not received the notice that otherwise would have been awarded them. The sinking of this ship, with the delicate diplomatic situation between Germany and the United States which the act brought about, is not a military or naval operation as such, and comments on it have no place in this column. At the same time there is an indirect effect of the drowning of hundreds of British citizens which will have a very direct bearing on Britain's military strength and policy.

The British public is notably hard to stir, are slow to act, and almost always underrate their adversary. In almost every war, from 1775 down to and including the South African war, England, with a self-assurance that could only be based on ignorance of true conditions, has started with only a small force, and it has been only when this force has been defeated and used up that the realization of the true needs of the situation has dawned. Then, and then only, has recruiting been possible at a pace commensurate with the necessity.

In the Boer war, for example, every one in England, official and civilian, believed that 30,000 men would be more than enough to defeat the South African burghers. Yet ten times 30,000 British soldiers were operating in the Transvaal and Orange Free State before the war ended.

In the present conflict Lord Kitchener himself admits that there are many times the number of British soldiers in France than was thought would be necessary when war was declared. And even up to May 6 the British public was not thoroughly aroused. Many of the peasants in the back counties hardly believed the war was a reality. Recruiting was slow, there was but little enthusiasm, and Lord Haldane's thinly veiled hint that a draft might soon become necessary was almost unnoticed.

But the sinking of the Lusitania has brought the war home to England as nothing else has or could have done, and all England is aflame with a bitterness against Germany which is already increasing the flow of recruits and cannot but add to the fighting efficiency of the men now at the front. The effect will be far-reaching throughout the British Empire, and will do much to solve the problem which faced the organizers of Great Britain's forces of how to get sufficient volunteers to swell the volume of the French expeditionary force and to replace the casualties.

To turn to the direct military operations in the various theatres of war, no week since last Fall has witnessed more important activities or offensive movements conducted on such a scale. On both western and eastern fronts truly momentous actions involving great numbers of men have been under way, and though not yet concluded, have advanced so far as to give a reasonable basis for estimating the results.


On the western front the principal scenes of action have been the front from Nieuport to Arras, the Champagne district, and the southern side of the German wedge from its apex at St. Mihiel to Pont-a-Mousson. On the northern part of the Allies' line from Ypres to Nieuport the Germans have been the aggressors. They have selected as the principal points of attack the Belgian line back of the Yser just south of Nieuport and the point of juncture of the British with the Belgian lines.

Both attacks have the same general object—the bending back of the line between these two points with a vision, for the future, of Dunkirk and Calais. The attack along the Yser has not been pushed to any extent, and what advantage there is rests with the Belgians. In fact, the Belgians have advanced somewhat and have been able to throw a bridge across the Yser near St. George, just east of Nieuport, on the Nieuport-Bruges road.

Around Ypres the fighting has been more than usually fierce and desperate. Blow after blow has been struck, first by one side, then by the other. Both German and British have admittedly suffered enormous losses, but the positions of their respective lines are almost unchanged from those occupied a week ago. The German gains of last week in the vicinity of Steenstraate produced in the British lines around Ypres a sharp salient, and it is against the sides of this salient that the Germans have been hurling their forces.

The town of Ypres is now in complete ruins, and, although it would normally be of importance because of the fact that it is the point of crossing of a number of roads, this importance is destroyed by the fact that it is entirely dominated by the German artillery. As long as this state of affairs exists the town has practically no strategic value. All that the Germans can accomplish if they take Ypres will have been a flattening out of the British salient.

Germany cannot be content with occasional bending of the Allies' line. The process is too slow and too costly. Germany has almost, if not quite, reached her maximum strength, and the losses she now suffers will be difficult to replace. Viewing the situation entirely from the German standpoint, success can only mean breaking through and attacking the two exposed flanks at the point pierced. This would force a retreat as in the case of the Russian lines along the Dunajec, which will be taken up later on. No other form of action can be decisive, though it might permit a little more of Belgian or French territory to change hands. This would, of course, in case the war were declared a draw, give Germany an additional advantage in the discussion of terms of peace, especially if the rule of uti posseditis were applied as a basis from which to begin negotiations. But this contingency is too remote for present consideration.

As to the probability of German success around Ypres, it seems to grow less as time passes. After the first rush was over and the British lines had time to re-form Germany has accomplished nothing. Moreover, it is certain that in back of the short twenty-five miles of line held by the British troops there is a reserve of almost a half million men. No other portion of the battle line in either theatre has such great latent strength ready to be thrown in when the critical moment comes. Just why it has not been used so far is a mystery, the solution of which can be found only in the brain of Sir John French. But it is known to be in France and is there for a purpose.

From Loos to Arras the French have undertaken the most ambitious and the most successful offensive movement made in the west since Winter set in. The entire French line along this front of twenty-five miles, taking the Germans by surprise, has gone forward a distance varying from one-half to two and a half miles. The attack was launched at an extremely opportune moment. The Germans were, in the first place, extremely busy in the north at Ypres, and were making every effort to drive that attack home. The probabilities were, therefore, that the line in front of the Arras-Loos position was none too strong, and that such reserves as could be spared had been sent north. Then, again, it would tend to divert attention from the Ypres line, and so relieve somewhat the pressure on the British lines at that point.

The objective of the French attack seems to have been the town of Lens, which is the centre of the coal district of France. Loos, which is about three miles north of Lens, has been one of the centres of fighting. This indicates how close the French are to their objective. Lens is an important railroad centre, and is the point of junction of many roads which radiate in all directions. As yet the French advance is not sufficient to denote anything, but another step in the "nibbling" process by means of which the French have kept the Germans occupied for some months.

In the German angle, from Etain to St. Mihiel to Pont-a-Mousson, the French achieved what will probably prove to be the greatest local success of the past week. That is, the complete occupation of the Le Pretre woods. Sooner or later the continual French encroachments on the German area of occupation must cause the straightening out of this line and the retirement of the Germans to the supporting forts of Metz. The object of all the French moves against this angle has been the town of Thiancourt, on the German supply line from Metz. The capture of the last German line of trenches in the Pretre Forest brings the French within six miles of this town. When the French reach the northern edge of this forest, and they must be very close to it now, it will be a simple matter to drop shells into Thiancourt and seriously endanger every train that comes in.

On the rest of the western front there have been a number of isolated actions, notably in the Champagne district, in the Argonne Forest and north of Flirey, between St. Mihiel and Pont-a-Mousson. They have been of no particular advantage however, and seem to have had no definite purpose beyond making additions to the casualty lists.

Considering the results of the week's operations in the west, therefore, it is safe to say that the advantage lies with the Allies. That part of the line which has been thrown on the defensive has more than held its own, while the French offense has resulted in a considerable advance over a wide front. If we may draw any comparison at all from this, it must be that the German line is not nearly so impenetrable as the British, and that when the Allies think the attempt will justify the losses that will be inevitably sustained, the German line can be broken even though the rupture may be quickly healed.


In the eastern theatre interest still centres in the battles in Galicia. In Western Galicia, between the Dunajec and the San, the Russian forces are steadily giving way before the attacks of the Germanic allies. Their retreat, which, during the past week, has been rapid, has been well protected by heavy rear guard actions, which have temporarily delayed the pursuing Austrians at various points. At the same time, however, but little respite was given to the Russians.

German and Austrian reports as to the number of prisoners and amount of booty will bear scrutiny, and, taken into consideration with recent disturbances in Italy, may safely be discounted. The surrender of such large bodies of troops, even in the Russian Army, cannot be forced when the lines of retreat are open or when sufficient notice is given that such lines are dangerously menaced. It is only when troops are surrounded or when a large hostile force is thrust in between units, as happened some months ago with the Tenth Russian Army in the Masurian Lakes district, that such surrenders occur.

This does not apply, of course, to the wounded, and in the present case the Russians, through the enforced rapidity of their retreat, must necessarily in many instances have left their wounded on the field of battle to fall into the hands of the pursuing enemy. Certainly the Russian losses were heavy. Equally certain is it that the battle for the Carpathian passes is now history.

This is evident from a brief review of the Russian position on the Carpathian front, with particular reference to the necessary lines of communications and an outline of the present Russian position as accurately as it can at present be determined. It must be stated at this point, however, that this position is a matter of doubt, as reports from Vienna and from Petrograd are greatly at variance as to what has been accomplished.

It was noted last week that the Russian line formed a huge crescent, the longer arc of which (and this was the Carpathian front) extended from Bartfeld north, then east along the Carpathian crests, north of Uzsok to a point on the Stryi River. This line is over 100 miles long. It was dependent for supplies on five roads, three of which were fairly good dirt roads, the other two railroads; of the latter one runs through Uzsok, and is so far east that only a small section of the line was reached by it.

The main line, however, has been supplied from the remaining four, all of which turn off either from the one lateral railroad from Przemysl to Jaslo or from the dirt road between Jaslo and Sanok, and run south to the various passes. As this latter road simply loops the railroad between these two points, the entire Russian Carpathian line may be considered to have been supplied by the lateral railroad from Sanok to Jaslo. In proportion to the number of troops that had to be fed and supplied, these lines were only too few, and the marvel is that Russia was able to keep up the necessary flow of food and ammunition throughout her effort against the Carpathian passes. The possession of all of these roads was the sine qua non of Russian success. The loss of any one of them would affect so many miles of her line that the whole line would have felt the influence.

The Austrian troops are said to have reached the lower San, but no particular point is mentioned. Nothing is said about the upper San or the stretch of Galicia between the two. It may, therefore, be assumed that the Russian left is on the Vistula, near the confluence of the San, and that the general line runs from there south, probably through Rzeszow along the valley of the Wistok River, occupying the wooded hills east of that river, and bending eastward slightly toward the upper San. This means that all of the lines of communication that supplied the Carpathian front except the line through Uzsok Pass are now in Austrian hands.

Russia still clings tenaciously to Uzsok, however, doubtless having under consideration the possibility that Italy may enter the war, and that another advance against the Carpathians may then be made. In such a contingency the Russian losses in the various engagements around Uzsok would not have been in vain.

Russia has answered the Austrian drive from the west by a vigorous offense against the defenses of Bukowina Province. The Austrian forces east of the San River are divided—one part which has been extremely active against the Russians being on the east bank of the Stryi, and the other, which has been quiescently defensive, along the Bistritza, the latter line running almost due east and west. This latter force the Russians struck, using large bodies of Cossack cavalry in a flanking movement from the north. The Austrian retreat has been more precipitate, and the losses greater in proportion than in the Russian retreat from the Dunajec.

If in addition the Rumanians came across Transylvania and caught the Austrians in the rear the defeat would almost offset that of the Russians in the west. Rumania's advent into the war is, however, still a matter of doubt, and any conclusions predicated on that assumption are entirely speculative.

The two known facts in regard to the Galician situation are that in Western Galicia the Russian Dunajec line is retreating, uncovering and therefore involving in its retreat the troops in the Carpathians, and in Eastern Galicia the Russians seem to have the greater measure of success. Of the two, however, the operations in Western Galicia are of infinitely greater importance. Eventually the Russian retreat will probably reach the general line of the San River north of Jaroslau, where there will be an opportunity to re-form on a much shorter line, and after recuperation of men and supplies preparations for a new offense may be begun.

[Illustration: Operation on the Russian Front

This map records the action for the week ended May 15. In the extreme north, in the Russian Baltic Province of Courland, the Germans still held the port of Libau, (1,) and a fierce battle was in progress south of Shavli, (2,) where the Russians stopped the raid toward Mitau.

In South Poland and West Galicia the changes brought about by the great Austro-German drive of 1,500,000 men from Cracow are shown by the heavy dotted and solid lines. The dotted line shows the approximate position of the German battle front when the drive began and the solid line its approximate position according to latest advices from Berlin and Vienna, Jaroslau (3) being the latest important position reported captured.

In extreme Eastern Galicia the situation was reversed, the dotted line showing roughly the position of the Russian line when the counter-drive by the Czar's forces was launched and the solid line its position, so far as was ascertainable, on May 15.]

Their defeat, however, has been a severe blow, and has cost Russia a terrible price in men and in guns, the latter of which she could less afford to lose. On the other hand, they have inflicted terrible punishment on the victors, so that the victory partakes of a Pyrrhian character.

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