In the meantime operations in the Dardanelles are being pressed, but are not reported with sufficient definiteness to give an idea as to the probable result.
By Major E. Moraht.
Major E. Moraht, the military expert of the Berliner Tageblatt, discussed the operations on the eastern war front as follows in the Tageblatt of April 30:
Austria-Hungary, through its latest decision to create a supplementary Landsturm service law, has given notice that it desires under any circumstances to be able to wage the war for a longer time, if conditions should compel it to do so. Thus are contradicted all the reports spread by ill-informed correspondents of foreign newspapers, who sought to create the impression that Austria-Hungary was tired and had not the energy to face the situation such as it is. Furthermore, the acceptance of the supplementary Landsturm service gave testimony, in the Hungarian Parliament, of the unanimity in which the Hungarian Nation unites as soon as it is a question of furthering the armed preparedness of the army.
The Landsturm law heretofore had two defects—it included in its scope only the once-trained men liable to Landsturm service up to the age of 42 years, and restricted the use of certain Landsturm troops to certain areas. Hereafter it will be possible to use the men capable of bearing arms up to the fiftieth year, though, to be sure, only in case the younger classes have in general already been exhausted. It will also be possible to draw Hungarian formations and Austrian Landsturm troops in such a manner that the area available will offer no more difficulties. Even though the new law will presumably hold good only during the present war, the impression created by the decision of the Austro-Hungarian Government on the enemy and on neutrals cannot be a slight one. We in Germany can only congratulate the peoples of our ally, so willing to make sacrifices, upon this resolve, and no one among us will be able to deny recognition thereof, the less because we ourselves, according to human calculations will not have to adopt such an extension of Landsturm service.
Our northeastern army has again been heard of. After a considerable time the situation has again changed, and that, too, in our favor. The battles northeast and east of Suwalki have again revived and have given into our hands the Russian trenches along a front of twenty kilometers. Between Kovno and Grodno, both situated on the Niemen, we must note in our battle line the towns of Mariampol, Kalwarya, and the territory east of Suwalki. This front has opposed to it the two Russian fortresses mentioned and between them the bridgeheads at Olita and Sereje. Owing to the brevity of the latest report, it cannot be told whether our attack found an end in the Russian positions. It may be that the attack went further and won territory at least twenty kilometers wide toward the Niemen. Moreover, we have learned that the Russians still held on north of Prasznysz, where on April 27 they lost prisoners and machine guns.
No answer is given by the sparse reports from the eastern army to the question of the entire foreign press: "Where has Hindenburg been keeping himself?" Wishes and speculations may thus busy themselves as much as they like with the answering of that question. In the Russian version of the war situation there is reference to advance guard skirmishes in the territory of Memel, a brief interruption of the quiet southeast of Augustowa and before Ossowicz. The Russians are clearly worried by the possibility of an undertaking of the navy against the Russian Baltic coast.
The territory of the fighting in the Carpathians still claims the chief interest—especially because everywhere where the general position and the weather conditions and topographical conditions permitted the Austro-Hungarian-German offensive has begun. As has been emphasized on previous occasions, the eagerness for undertaking actions on the part of our allies had never subsided at any point, in spite of the strenuous rigors of a stationary warfare. As early as April 14 an advance enlivened the territory northwest of the Uzsok Pass. The position on the heights of Tucholka has been won. The heights west and east of the Laborez valley are in the hands of the Austro-German allies, and each day furnishes new proofs of the forward pressure. Of especial importance is the capture of Russian points of support southeast of Koziouwa, east of the Orawa valley. The advance takes its course against the Galician town of Stryi. The progress which the Austro-German southern army made has so far been moving in the same direction, and one can understand why the Russians instituted the fiercest counter-attacks in order to force the allied troops to halt in this territory. The counter-attacks, however, ended with a collapse of the Russians, and the resultant pursuit was so vigorous that twenty-six more trenches were wrested from the foe. Daily our front is being advanced in a northeasterly direction, and there is little prospect for the Russians of being able to oppose successful resistance to our pressure. For it is not a matter of the success of a single fighting group that has been shoving forward like a wedge from the great line of attack, but of a strategic offensive led as a unit, and everywhere winning territory, the time for which seems to have arrived.
It is an important fact that the eastern group of the Austro-Hungarian army will clearly not be shattered. At Zaleszcyki a stand is being maintained, and at Boyan on the Pruth the Austrian mortars have driven the Russians out of their next-to-the-last positions before the Bessarabian frontier.
The speech of the Hungarian Minister of Defense of the Realm, Baron Hazai, who a few days ago discussed the military situation of the recent past in exhaustive fashion, is very interesting in many respects. It doubtless aimed to set in the right light the bravery of the Austro-Hungarian Army, for there have been persons who took little or no note of the achievements of that army. The Minister selected examples from the warfare of the eighteenth century, the time of the lukewarm campaigns, and the warfare of the nineteenth century, the era of logical and energetical battles. From this period of mobile wars, that were carried on under the principle of energy, he came to the preparations for the present war and estimated the number of soldiers which the belligerent parties had drawn to the colors at between 25,000,000 and 26,000,000 men. More than half of these are to be regarded as warriors, while the rest are doing service as reserves for the army or in the lines of support and communication outside the fighting zone. The highest number of fighters on a single theatre of the war included from six to seven million fighters on both sides. The long trench warfare, the Minister rightly pointed out, demands greater energy than was ever demanded at any time of the troops, and a loss of from 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. of the fighting force today no longer keeps back the leaders from executing far-going decisions. Today the fronts clash, not in one-day or several day battles, but for weeks and months at a time, so that many of the fighters even now have already taken part in 100 battles. These instructive and appreciative words from an authoritative station throw a bright light upon the strength of the nations which are sacrificing their forces in a sense of duty to their fatherland. But the lesson which the homeland should draw from such unprecedented self-sacrifice consists of this—always to stand as a firm protective wall behind the army, never to deny it recognition and encouraging approval, and to dissipate its cares for the present and for the future.
The Campaign in the Carpathians
Russian Victory Succeeded by Reverses and Defeat.
THE VICTORY IN APRIL.
[By the Correspondent of The London Times.]
Petrograd, April 18.
A dispatch from the Headquarters Staff of the Commander in Chief says:
At the beginning of March, (Old Style,) in the principal chain of the Carpathians, we only held the region of the Dukla Pass, where our lines formed an exterior angle. All the other passes—Lupkow and further east—were in the hands of the enemy.
In view of this situation, our armies were assigned the further task of developing, before the season of bad roads due to melting snows began, our positions in the Carpathians which dominated the outlets into the Hungarian plain. About the period indicated great Austrian forces, which had been concentrated for the purpose of relieving Przemysl, were in position between the Lupkow and Uzsok Passes.
It was for this sector that our grand attack was planned. Our troops had to carry out a frontal attack under very difficult conditions of terrain. To facilitate their attack, therefore, an auxiliary attack was decided upon on a front in the direction of Bartfeld as far as the Lupkow. This secondary attack was opened on March 19 and was completely developed.
On the 23rd and 28th of March our troops had already begun their principal attack in the direction of Baligrod, enveloping the enemy positions from the west of the Lupkow Pass and on the east near the source of the San.
The enemy opposed the most desperate resistance to the offensive of our troops. They had brought up every available man on the front from the direction of Bartfeld as far as the Uzsok Pass, including even German troops and numerous cavalrymen fighting on foot. His effectives on this front exceeded 300 battalions. Moreover, our troops had to overcome great natural difficulties at every step.
Nevertheless, from April 5—that is, eighteen days after the beginning of our offensive—the valor of our troops enabled us to accomplish the task that had been set, and we captured the principal chain of the Carpathians on the front Reghetoff-Volosate, 110 versts (about 70 miles) long. The fighting latterly was in the nature of actions in detail with the object of consolidating the successes we had won.
To sum up: On the whole Carpathian front, between March 19 and April 12, the enemy, having suffered enormous losses, left in our hands, in prisoners only, at least 70,000 men, including about 900 officers. Further, we captured more than thirty guns and 200 machine guns.
On April 16 the actions in the Carpathians were concentrated in the direction of Rostoki. The enemy, notwithstanding the enormous losses he had suffered, delivered, in the course of that day, no fewer than sixteen attacks in great strength. These attacks, all of which were absolutely barren of result, were made against the heights which we had occupied further to the east of Telepovce.
Our troops, during the night of the 16th-17th, after a desperate fight, stormed and captured a height to the southeast of the village of Polen, where we took many prisoners. Three enemy counter-attacks on this height were repulsed.
In other sectors all along our front there is no change.
THE GRAND DUKE'S STRATEGY.
Petrograd, April 19.
Today's record of the brilliant feats of the Russian Army in the Carpathians during the past month, contained in the survey of the Grand Duke, presents only one aspect—the discomfiture of the Austro-German forces. The Neue Freie Presse gives some indication of the other aspect.
In a recent issue it stated that "the fortnight's battle around the Lupkow and Uzsok Passes has been one of the most obstinate in history. The Russians succeeded in forcing the Austrians out of their positions. The difficulties of the Austro-Hungarian Army are complicated by the weather and the lack of ammunition and food." The question naturally suggests itself, why did these difficulties not equally disturb the Russian operations? On our side the difficulties of transport were, if anything, greater. The enemy was backed by numerous railways, with supplies close at hand, and was fighting on his native soil, and these advantages undoubtedly compensated for the greater difficulties of commissariat for the larger numbers of Austro-Germans. But from the avowal of the Neue Freie Presse it is suggested here that the Austrians were disorganized. The causes of this disorganization are attributed by military observers to the mixing up of German with Austrian units, rendering the task of command and supply very difficult.
The Grand Duke is fully prepared to take the field as soon as the allied commanders decide that the time for a general action has come. Never has the spirit of the Russian Army been firmer.
The critics this morning comment on the official communique detailing a gigantic task brilliantly fulfilled by the Carpathian army during March. Our position in the region of the Dukla Pass early last month exposed us to pressure from two sides, and might have involved the necessity of evacuating the main range. Our army thus required to extend its positions commanding the outlets to the Hungarian plain, before the Spring thaws, in face of a large hostile concentration between Lupkow and Uzsok. The chief attack was directed against the latter section, and an auxiliary attack against the Bartfeld-Lupkow section. The auxiliary attack began on March 19 against the Austro-German left flank and reached its full development four days later. Mistaking the auxiliary for the principal attack, the enemy began an advance from the Bukowina, hoping to divert us from Uzsok, but, instead, the larger portion of our army assailed the enemy's flanks while a smaller body advanced against Rostoki, surmounting the immense difficulties of mountain warfare in Springtime.
By means of the envelopment of both his flanks the enemy was, by April 5, dislodged from the main range on the entire seventy-mile front from Regetow to Wolosate. Convinced that we were directing our chief efforts against his flanks, the enemy now strove to break our resistance in the Rostoki direction, but, after sixteen futile attacks, he was obliged to cede the commanding height of Telepovce, our occupation of which will probably compel him to evacuate his positions at Polen and Smolnik and withdraw to the valley of the Cziroka, a tributary of the Laborez.
DEFEAT IN EARLY MAY.
[By The Associated Press.]
VIENNA, May 13, (via Amsterdam to London, May 14.)—An official statement issued here tonight after recalling that in November and December at Lodz and Limanowa the Austro-Germans compelled the Russians to draw back on a front to the extent of 400 kilometers, (about 249 miles,) thereby stopping the Russian advance into Germany, continues:
From January to the middle of April the Russians vainly exerted themselves to break through to Hungary, but they completely failed with heavy losses. Thereupon the time had come to crush the enemy in a common attack with a full force of the combined troops of both empires.
A victory at Tarnow and Gorlice freed West Galicia from the enemy and caused the Russian fronts on the Nida and in the Carpathians to give way. In a ten days' battle the victorious troops beat the Russian Third and Eighth Armies to annihilation, and quickly covered the ground from the Dunajec and Beskids to the San River—130 kilometers (nearly 81 miles) of territory.
From May 2 to 12 the prisoners taken numbered 143,500, while 100 guns and 350 machine guns were captured, besides the booty already mentioned. We suppressed small detachments of the enemy scattered in the woods in the Carpathians.
Near Odvzechowa the entire staff of the Russian Forty-eighth Division of Infantry including General Korniloff, surrendered. The best indication of the confusion of the Russian Army is the fact that our Ninth Corps captured in the last few days Russians of fifty-one various regiments. The quantity of captured Russian war material is piled up and has not yet been enumerated.
North of the Vistula the Austro-Hungarian troops are advancing across Stopnica. The German troops have captured Kielce.
East of Uzsok Pass the German and Hungarian troops took several Russian positions on the heights and advanced to the south of Turka, capturing 4,000 prisoners. An attack is proceeding here and in the direction of Skole.
In Southeast Galicia strong hostile troops are attacking across Horodenka.
BERLIN, (via London,) May 13.—The German War Office announced today that in the recent fighting in Galicia and Russian Poland 143,500 Russians had been captured. It also stated that 69 cannon and 255 machine guns had been taken from the Russians, and that the victorious Austrian and German forces, continuing their advance eastward in Galicia, were approaching the fortress of Przemysl. The statement follows:
The army under General von Mackensen in the course of its pursuit of the Russians reached yesterday the neighborhood of Subiecko, on the lower Wisloka, and Kolbuezowa, northeast of Debica. Under the pressure of this advance the Russians also retreated from their positions north of the Vistula. In this section the troops under General von Woyrech, closely following the enemy, penetrated as far as the region northwest of Kielce.
In the Carpathians Austro-Hungarian and German troops under General von Linsingen conquered the hills east of the upper Stryi and took 3,650 men prisoners, as well as capturing six machine guns.
At the present moment, while the armies under General von Mackensen are approaching the Przemysl fortress and the lower San, it is possible to form an approximate idea of the booty taken. In the battles of Tarnow and Gorlice, and in the battles during the pursuit of these armies, we have so far taken 103,500 Russian prisoners, 69 cannon, and 255 machine guns. In these figures the booty taken by the allied troops fighting in the Carpathians and north of the Vistula is not included. This amounts to a further 40,000 prisoners.
Mr. Rockefeller and Serbia
[Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.]
LONDON, Thursday, May 13.—A Paris dispatch to the Exchange Telegraph Company, quoting the Cri de Paris, says:
"John D. Rockefeller has just sent 35,000,000 francs ($5,000,000) to Prince Alexis of Serbia, President of the Serbian Red Cross Society.
"Prince Alexis married last year an American woman, Mrs. Hugo Pratt, whose father loaned years ago L2,000 to Rockefeller when the oil king started in business."
Italy in the War
Her Move Against Austro-Hungary
Last Phase of Italian Neutrality and Causes of the Struggle
DECLARATION OF WAR.
[By The Associated Press.]
VIENNA, May 23, (via Amsterdam and London, May 24.)—The Duke of Avarna, Italian Ambassador to Austria, presented this afternoon to Baron von Burian, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, the following declaration of war:
Vienna, May 23, 1915.
Conformably with the order of his Majesty the King, his august sovereign, the undersigned Ambassador of Italy has the honor to deliver to his Excellency, the Foreign Minister of Austria-Hungary, the following communication:
"Declaration has been made, as from the fourth of this month, to the Imperial and Royal Government of the grave motives for which Italy, confident in her good right, proclaimed annulled and henceforth without effect her treaty of alliance with Austria-Hungary, which was violated by the Imperial and Royal Government, and resumed her liberty of action in this respect.
"The Government of the King, firmly resolved to provide by all means at its disposal for safeguarding Italian rights and interests, cannot fail in its duty to take against every existing and future menace measures which events impose upon it for the fulfillment of national aspirations.
"His Majesty the King declares that he considers himself from tomorrow in a state of war with Austria-Hungary."
The undersigned has the honor to make known at the same time to his Excellency the Foreign Minister, that passports will be placed this very day at the disposal of the Imperial and Royal Ambassador at Rome, and he will be obliged to his Excellency if he will kindly have his passports handed to him.
FRANCIS JOSEPH'S DEFIANCE.
[By The Associated Press.]
LONDON, May 24, 5:45 A.M.—A Reuter dispatch from Amsterdam says the Vienna Zeitung publishes the following autograph letter from Emperor Francis Joseph to Count Karl Stuergkh:
Dear Count Stuergkh: I request you to make public the attached manifesto to my troops:
"VIENNA, May 23.—Francis Joseph to his troops:
"The King of Italy has declared war on me. Perfidy whose like history does not know was committed by the Kingdom of Italy against both allies. After an alliance of more than thirty years' duration, during which it was able to increase its territorial possessions and develop itself to an unthought of flourishing condition, Italy abandoned us in our hour of danger and went over with flying colors into the camp of our enemies.
"We did not menace Italy; did not curtail her authority; did not attack her honor or interests. We always responded loyally to the duties of our alliance and afforded her our protection when she took the field. We have done more. When Italy directed covetous glances across our frontier we, in order to maintain peace and our alliance relation, were resolved on great and painful sacrifices which particularly grieved our paternal heart. But the covetousness of Italy, which believed the moment should be used, was not to be appeased, so fate must be accommodated.
"My armies have victoriously withstood mighty armies in the north in ten months of this gigantic conflict in most loyal comradeship of arms with our illustrious ally. A new and treacherous enemy in the south is to you no new enemy. Great memories of Novara, Mortaro, and Lissa, which constituted the pride of my youth; the spirit of Radetzky, Archduke Albrecht, and Tegetthoff, which continues to live in my land and sea forces, guarantee that in the south also we shall successfully defend the frontiers of the monarchy.
"I salute my battle-tried troops, who are inured to victory. I rely on them and their leaders. I rely on my people for whose unexampled spirit of sacrifice my most paternal thanks are due. I pray the Almighty to bless our colors and take under His gracious protection our just cause."
ITALY'S CABINET EMPOWERED.
[By The Associated Press.]
Rome, May 20.—Amid tremendous enthusiasm the Chamber of Deputies late today adopted, by a vote of 407 to 74, the bill conferring upon the Government full power to make war.
The bill is composed of a single article and reads as follows:
The Government is authorized in case of war and during the duration of war to make decisions with due authority of law, in every respect required, for the defense of the State, the guarantee of public order, and urgent economic national necessities. The provisions contained in Articles 243 to 251 of the Military Code continue in force. The Government is authorized also to have recourse until Dec. 31, 1915, to monthly provisional appropriations for balancing the budget. This law shall come into force the day it is passed.
All members of the Cabinet maintain absolute silence regarding what step will follow the action of the Chamber. Former Ministers and other men prominent in public affairs declare, however, that the action of Parliament virtually was a declaration of war.
When the Chamber reassembled this afternoon after its long recess there were present 482 Deputies out of 500, the absentees remaining away on account of illness. The Deputies especially applauded were those who wore military uniforms and who had asked permission for leave from their military duties to be present at the sitting.
All the tribunes were filled to overflowing. No representatives of Germany, Austria, or Turkey were to be seen in the diplomatic tribune. The first envoy to arrive was Thomas Nelson Page, the American Ambassador, who was accompanied by his staff. M. Barrere, Sir J. Bennell Rodd, and Michel de Giers, the French, British, and Russian Ambassadors, respectively, appeared a few minutes later and all were greeted with applause, which was shared by the Belgian, Greek, and Rumanian Ministers. George B. McClellan, former Mayor of New York, occupied a seat in the President's tribune.
A few minutes before the session began the poet, Gabriele d'Annunzio, one of the strongest advocates of war, appeared in the rear of the public tribune, which was so crowded that it seemed impossible to squeeze in anybody else. But the moment the people saw him they lifted him shoulder high and passed him over their heads to the first row. The entire Chamber and all those occupying the other tribunes rose and applauded for five minutes, crying, "Viva d'Annunzio!" Later thousands sent him their cards, and in return received his autograph, bearing the date of this eventful day.
Signor Marcora, President of the Chamber, took his place at 3 o'clock. All the members of the House and everybody in the galleries stood up to acclaim the old follower of Garibaldi.
Premier Salandra, followed by all the members of the Cabinet, entered shortly afterward. It was a solemn moment. Then a delirium of cries broke out. "Viva Salandra!" roared the Deputies, and the cheering lasted for five minutes. Premier Salandra appeared to be much moved by the demonstration.
After the formalities of the opening Premier Salandra arose and said:
"Gentlemen: I have the honor to present to you a bill to meet the eventual expenditures of a national war"—an announcement that was greeted by further prolonged applause.
The Premier began an exposition of the situation of Italy before the opening of hostilities in Europe. He declared that Italy had submitted to every humiliation from Austria-Hungary for the love of peace. By her ultimatum to Serbia Austria had annulled the equilibrium of the Balkans and prejudiced Italian interests there.
Notwithstanding this evident violation of the treaty of the Triple Alliance, Italy endeavored during long months to avoid a conflict, but these efforts were bound to have a limit in time and dignity. "This is why the Government felt itself forced to present its denunciation of the Triple Alliance on May 4," said Premier Salandra, who had difficulty in quieting the wild cheering that ensued. When he had succeeded in so doing he continued, amid frequent enthusiastic interruptions:
Italy must be united at this moment, when her destinies are being decided. We have confidence in our august chief, who is preparing to lead the army toward a glorious future. Let us gather around this well-beloved sovereign.
Since Italy's resurrection as a State she has asserted herself in the world of nations as a factor of moderation, concord, and peace, and she can proudly proclaim that she has accomplished this mission with a firmness which has not wavered before even the most painful sacrifices.
In the last period, extending over thirty years, she maintained her system of alliances and friendships chiefly with the object of thus assuring the European equilibrium, and, at the same time, peace. In view of the nobility of this aim Italy not only subordinated her most sacred aspiration, but has also been forced to look on, with sorrow, at the methodical attempts to suppress specifically the Italian characteristics which nature and history imprinted on those regions.
The ultimatum which the Austro-Hungarian Empire addressed last July to Serbia annulled at one blow the effects of a long-sustained effort by violating the pact which bound us to that State, violated the pact, in form, for it omitted to conclude a preliminary agreement with us or even give us notification, and violated it also in substance, for it sought to disturb, to our detriment, the delicate system of territorial possessions and spheres of influence which had been set up in the Balkan Peninsula.
But, more than any particular point, it was the whole spirit of the treaty which was wronged, and even suppressed, for by unloosing in the world a most terrible war, in direct contravention of our interests and sentiments, the balance which the Triple Alliance should have helped to assure was destroyed and the problem of Italy's national integrity was virtually and irresistibly revived.
Nevertheless, for long months, the Government has patiently striven to find a compromise, with the object of restoring to the agreement the reason for being which it had lost. These negotiations were, however, limited not only by time, but by our national dignity. Beyond these limits the interests both of our honor and of our country would have been compromised.
Signor Salandra was interrupted time and time again by rounds of applause from all sides, and the climax was reached when he made a reference to the army and navy. Then the cries seemed interminable, and those on the floor of the House and in the galleries turned to the Military Tribune, from which the officers answered by waving their hands and handkerchiefs. At the end of the Premier's speech there were deafening "vivas" for the King, war, and Italy.
Only thirty-four Intransigent Socialists refused to join in the cheers, even in the cry "Viva Italia!" and they were hooted and hissed.
After the presentation of the bill conferring full powers upon the Government the President of the Chamber submitted the question whether a committee of eighteen members should be elected. Out of the 421 Deputies who voted 367 cast their ballot in the affirmative. The other 54 were against. The opposition was composed of Socialists and some adherents of ex-Premier Giolitti.
Foreign Minister Sonnino then rose, and, taking a copy of the "Green Book" from his pocket, said: "I have the honor to present to the Chamber a book containing an account of all the pourparlers with Austria from the 9th of September to the 4th of May." He handed the book to Signor Marcora.
The Chamber then adjourned until 5 o'clock, when the committee reported in favor of the bill, and it was adopted.
The first complete official statement of the difficulties between Italy and Austria-Hungary, which forced the Italian declaration of war against the Dual Monarchy, was made public in Washington on May 25 by Count V. Macchi di Cellere, the Italian Ambassador. It took the form of a carefully prepared telegraphic statement to the Ambassador from Signor Sonnino, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, with instructions that it be delivered in the form of a note to the Government of the United States. After presenting the communication to Secretary Bryan, Count Cellere made public the following translation of its full text:
The Triple Alliance was essentially defensive and designed solely to preserve the status quo, or, in other words, the equilibrium, in Europe. That these were its only objects and purposes is established by the letter and spirit of the treaty as well as by the intentions clearly described and set forth in official acts of the Ministers who created the alliance and confirmed and renewed it in the interest of peace, which always has inspired Italian policy.
The treaty, as long as its intents and purposes had been loyally interpreted and regarded and as long as it had not been used as a pretext for aggression against others, greatly contributed to the elimination and settlement of causes of conflict, and for many years assured to Europe the inestimable benefits of peace.
But Austria-Hungary severed the treaty by her own hands. She rejected the response of Serbia, which gave to her all the satisfaction she could legitimately claim. She refused to listen to the conciliatory proposals presented by Italy in conjunction with other powers in the effort to spare Europe from a vast conflict certain to drench the Continent with blood and to reduce it to ruin beyond the conception of human imagination, and finally she provoked that conflict.
Article I. of the treaty embodied the usual and necessary obligation of such pacts—the pledge to exchange views upon any fact and economic questions of a general nature that might arise pursuant to its terms. None of the contracting parties had the right to undertake, without a previous agreement, any step the consequence of which might impose a duty upon the other signatories arising out of the Alliance, or which would in any way whatsoever encroach upon their vital interests. This article was violated by Austria-Hungary when she sent to Serbia her note dated July 23, 1914, an action taken without the previous assent of Italy.
Thus, Austria-Hungary violated beyond doubt one of the fundamental provisions of the treaty. The obligation of Austria-Hungary to come to a previous understanding with Italy was the greater because her obstinate policy against Serbia gave rise to a situation which directly tended to the provocation of a European war.
As far back as the beginning of July, 1914, the Italian Government, preoccupied by the prevailing feeling in Vienna, caused to be laid before the Austro-Hungarian Government a number of suggestions advising moderation, and warning it of the impending danger of a European outbreak. The course adopted by Austria-Hungary against Serbia constituted, moreover, a direct encroachment upon the general interests of Italy, both political and economical, in the Balkan Peninsula. Austria-Hungary could not for a moment imagine that Italy could remain indifferent while Serbian independence was being trodden upon.
On a number of occasions theretofore Italy gave Austria to understand, in friendly but clear terms, that the independence of Serbia was considered by Italy as essential to Balkan equilibrium. Austria-Hungary was further advised that Italy could never permit that equilibrium to be disturbed to her prejudice. This warning had been conveyed not only by her diplomats in private conversations with responsible Austro-Hungarian officials but was proclaimed publicly by Italian statesmen on the floors of Parliament.
Therefore when Austria-Hungary ignored the usual practices and menaced Serbia by sending her an ultimatum without in any way notifying the Italian Government of what she proposed to do, indeed leaving that Government to learn of her action through the press rather than through the usual channels of diplomacy, when Austria-Hungary took this unprecedented course she not only severed her alliance with Italy but committed an act inimical to Italy's interests.
The Italian Government had obtained trustworthy information that the complete program laid down by Austria-Hungary with reference to the Balkans was prompted by a desire to decrease Italy's economical and political influence in that section, and tended directly and indirectly to the subservience of Serbia to Austria-Hungary, the political and territorial isolation of Montenegro, and the isolation and political decadence of Rumania.
This attempted diminution of the influence of Italy in the Balkans would have been brought about by the Austro-Hungarian program, even though Austria-Hungary had no intention of making further territorial acquisitions. Furthermore attention should be called to the fact that the Austro-Hungarian Government had assumed the solemn obligation of prior consultation of Italy as required by the special provisions of Article VII. of the treaty of the Triple Alliance, which, in addition to the obligation of previous agreements, recognized the right of compensation to the other contracting parties in case one should occupy temporarily or permanently any section of the Balkans.
To this end, the Italian Government approached the Austro-Hungarian Government immediately upon the inauguration of Austro-Hungarian hostilities against Serbia, and succeeded in obtaining reluctant acquiescence in the Italian representations. Conversations were initiated immediately after July 23, for the purpose of giving a new lease of life to the treaty which had been violated and thereby annulled by the act of Austria-Hungary.
This object could be attained only by the conclusion of new agreements. The conversations were renewed, with additional propositions as the basis, in December 1914. The Italian Ambassador at Vienna at that time received instructions to inform Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, that the Italian Government considered it necessary to proceed without delay to an exchange of views and consequently to concrete negotiations with the Austro-Hungarian Government concerning the complex situation arising out of the conflict which that Government had provoked.
Count Berchtold at first refused. He declared that the time had not arrived for negotiations. Subsequently, upon our rejoinder, in which the German Government united, Count Berchtold agreed to exchange views as suggested. We promptly declared, as one of our fundamental objects, that the compensation on which the agreement should be based should relate to territories at the time under the dominion of Austria-Hungary.
The discussion continued for months, from the first days of December to March, and it was not until the end of March that Baron Burian offered a zone of territory comprised within a line extending from the existing boundary to a point just north of the City of Trent.
In exchange for this proposed cession the Austro-Hungarian Government demanded a number of pledges, including among them an assurance of entire liberty of action in the Balkans. Note should be made of the fact that the cession of the territory around Trent was not intended to be immediately effective as we demanded, but was to be made only upon the termination of the European war. We replied that the offer was not acceptable, and then presented the minimum concessions which could meet in part our national aspirations and strengthen in an equitable manner our strategic position in the Adriatic.
These demands comprised: The extension of the boundary in Trentino, a new boundary on the Isonzo, special provision for Trieste, the cession of certain islands of the Curzolari Archipelago, the abandonment of Austrian claims in Albania, and the recognition of our possession of Avlona and the islands of the Aegean Sea, which we occupied during our war with Turkey.
At first our demands were categorically rejected. It was not until another month of conversation that Austria-Hungary was induced to increase the zone of territory she was prepared to cede in the Trentino and then only as far as Mezzo Lombardo, thereby excluding the territory inhabited by people of the Italian race, such as the Valle del Noce, Val di Fasso, and Val di Ampezzo. Such a proposal would have given to Italy a boundary of no strategical value. In addition the Austro-Hungarian Government maintained its determination not to make the cession effective before the end of the war.
The repeated refusals of Austria-Hungary were expressly confirmed in a conversation between Baron Burian and the Italian Ambassador at Vienna on April 29. While admitting the possibility of recognizing some of our interests in Avlona and granting the above-mentioned territorial cession in the Trentino, the Austro-Hungarian Government persisted in its opposition to all our other demands, especially those regarding the boundary of the Isonzo, Trieste, and the islands.
The attitude assumed by Austria-Hungary from the beginning of December until the end of April made it evident that she was attempting to temporize without coming to a conclusion. Under such circumstances Italy was confronted by the danger of losing forever the opportunity of realizing her aspirations based upon tradition, nationality, and her desire for a safe position in the Adriatic, while other contingencies in the European conflict menaced her principal interests in other seas.
Hence Italy faced the necessity and duty of recovering that liberty of action to which she was entitled and of seeking protection for her interests, apart from the negotiations which had been dragging uselessly along for five months and without reference to the Treaty of Alliance which had virtually failed as a result of its annullment by the action of Austria-Hungary in July, 1914.
It would not be out of place to observe that the alliance having terminated and there existing no longer any reason for the Italian people to be bound by it, though they had loyally stood by it for so many years because of their desire for peace, there naturally revived in the public mind the grievances against Austria-Hungary which for so many years had been voluntarily repressed.
While the Treaty of Alliance contained no formal agreement for the use of the Italian language or the maintenance of Italian tradition and Italian civilization in the Italian provinces of Austria, nevertheless if the alliance was to be effective in preserving peace and harmony it was indisputably clear that Austria-Hungary, as our ally, should have taken into account the moral obligation of respecting what constituted some of the most vital interests of Italy.
Instead, the constant policy of the Austro-Hungarian Government was to destroy Italian nationality and Italian civilization all along the coast of the Adriatic. A brief statement of the facts and of the tendencies well known to all will suffice.
Substitution of officials of the Italian race by officials of other nationalities; artificial immigration of hundreds of families of a different nationality; replacement of Italian by other labor; exclusion from Trieste by the decree of Prince Hohenlohe of employes who were subjects of Italy; denationalization of the judicial administration; refusal of Austria to permit an Italian university in Trieste, which formed the subject of diplomatic negotiations; denationalization of navigation companies; encouragement of other nationalities to the detriment of the Italian, and, finally, the methodical and unjustifiable expulsion of Italians in ever-increasing numbers.
This deliberate and persistent policy of the Austro-Hungarian Government with reference to the Italian population was not only due to internal conditions brought about by the competition of the different nationalities within its territory, but was inspired in great part by a deep sentiment of hostility and aversion toward Italy, which prevailed particularly in the quarters closest to the Austro-Hungarian Government and influenced decisively its course of action.
Of the many instances which could be cited it is enough to say that in 1911, while Italy was engaged in war with Turkey, the Austro-Hungarian General Staff prepared a campaign against us, and the military party prosecuted energetically a political intrigue designed to drag in other responsible elements of Austria. The mobilization of an army upon our frontier left us in no doubt of our neighbor's sentiment and intentions.
The crisis was settled pacifically through the influence, so far as known, of outside factors; but since that time we have been constantly under apprehension of a sudden attack whenever the party opposed to us should get the upper hand in Vienna. All of this was known in Italy, and it was only the sincere desire for peace prevailing among the Italian people which prevented a rupture.
After the European war broke out, Italy sought to come to an understanding with Austria-Hungary with a view to a settlement satisfactory to both parties which might avert existing and future trouble. Her efforts were in vain, notwithstanding the efforts of Germany, which for months endeavored to induce Austria-Hungary to comply with Italy's suggestions, thereby recognizing the propriety and legitimacy of the Italian attitude. Therefore Italy found herself compelled by the force of events to seek other solutions.
Inasmuch as the Treaty of Alliance with Austria-Hungary had ceased virtually to exist and served only to prolong a state of continual friction and mutual suspicion, the Italian Ambassador at Vienna was instructed to declare to the Austro-Hungarian Government that the Italian Government considered itself free from the ties arising out of the Treaty of the Triple Alliance in so far as Austria-Hungary was concerned. This communication was delivered in Vienna on May 4.
Subsequently to this declaration, and after we had been obliged to take steps for the protection of our interests, the Austro-Hungarian Government submitted new concessions, which, however, were deemed insufficient and by no means met our minimum demands. These offers could not be considered under the circumstances.
The Italian Government, taking into consideration what has been stated above, and supported by the vote of Parliament and the solemn manifestation of the country, came to the decision that any further delay would be inadvisable. Therefore, on this day (May 23) it was declared in the name of the King to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at Rome that, beginning tomorrow, May 24, it will consider itself in a state of war with Austria-Hungary. Orders to this effect were also telegraphed yesterday to the Italian Ambassador at Vienna.
German Hatred of Italy
[By The Associated Press.]
AMSTERDAM, May 23.—The Frankfurter Zeitung today prints a telegram received from Vienna saying:
"The exasperation and contempt which Italy's treacherous surprise attack and her hypocritical justification arouse here (Vienna) are quite indescribable.
"Neither Serbia nor Russia, despite a long and costly war, is hated. Italy, however, or rather those Italian would-be politicians and business men who offer violence to the majority of peaceful Italian people, are so unutterably hated with the most profound honesty that this war can be terrible."
ITALY'S NEUTRALITY—THE LAST PHASE
The attitude of the Italian press since the character of its papers were defined in the May number of THE CURRENT HISTORY is here recorded. Since May 17, when the King, on account of the heated pro-intervention demonstrations held all over Italy, declined to accept the resignation of the Salandra Ministry, the Giolittian organ, the Stampa, of Turin, has dropped something of its feverish neutralistic propaganda, the Giolittian color has gradually faded from the Giornale d'Italia and the Tribuna, while ex-Premier Giolitti himself has left Rome, declaring that he had been misunderstood in having his declaration that Italy could obtain what she desired without fighting construed into meaning that he desired peace at all costs.
It is understood that in the middle of April Austria-Hungary became convinced that neutralistic sentiments might prevail in the peninsula, and consequently became less active in her negotiations with the Salandra Government. Thereupon Italy resumed negotiations with the Entente powers, and on April 14 acknowledged that Serbia should have an opening on the Adriatic Sea. This caused the Austro-Italian negotiations to be heatedly resumed, and on May 18 the German Imperial Chancellor read to the Reichstag the eleven Austro-Hungarian proposals. The text of these proposals, together with the Italian counter-proposals and the Italian exchange of claims in the Adriatic with the Entente powers, will be found outlined in the Italian official statement cabled by Minister Sonnino to the Italian Ambassador at Washington, presented on Page 494.
It must be borne in mind that the press comments are based upon an imperfect knowledge of the ultimate proposals and claims, and that the Italian attitude for rejecting the Austro-Hungarian proposals obviously rests on these grounds:
1. They are inadequate and might be rendered nought in case of the victory of the Entente powers.
2. They do not give Italy a defensive frontier in the north and east.
3. They do not materially improve Italy's commercial and military condition in the Adriatic.
4. They make no mention of Dalmatia and the Dalmatian Archipelago, with their deep harbors and natural fortifications—a curious contrast to the lowland harbors of the Italian coast opposite.
The Italian demands take into account the possible victory of the Entente powers.
In the circumstances, it is best to begin with an extract from a German paper, as there seems to be an impression abroad that Germany has not appreciated Italy's reasons for not joining with her allies at the beginning of the war and has conducted a propaganda discrediting her willingness to remain neutral provided the Austro-Hungarian concessions proved sufficient and were sufficiently guaranteed.
THE GERMAN VIEW.
From the Frankfurter Zeitung of March 3.
Article VII. of the Austro-German-Italian Treaty, the terms of which have never before been made public, not only provides for the right of compensation in case one party to the contract enriches itself territorially in the Balkans, but also forbids either Austria or Italy to undertake anything in the Balkans without the consent of the other....
In the Tripoli war, when the energetic Duca degli Abruzzi made his advance in the Adriatic against Prevesa and wished to force the Porte to yield through a serious action in the Dardanelles, and when Italy wished to extend her occupation of the Aegean Islands, which lie as advance posts before the Dardanelles, she was obliged to forego her aims, and did loyally forego them, because Austria at that time did not yet desire a movement on the then still quiescent Balkan Peninsula. According to the Italian view, Austria, in determining to liquidate her matured account with Serbia without coming to an agreement in the matter with Italy, canceled the treaty in an important and essential part, irrespective of the assurance that she contemplated merely punishment of Serbia and not the acquisition of territory in the Balkans. The Italian policy considered itself from that moment free from every obligation, even if the speech of Premier Salandra in December could not be interpreted as a formal denunciation of the Dreibund....
We have today good grounds for assuming that much as we must reckon with the fact that the country is determined to go to war if nothing is granted to it, just so little would it support a Government bent on making war because it does not receive anything.
It will be as impossible to solve the Trentino question from the point of view of abstract right as to solve any other iridescent question in that way. The Trentino question, which was long a question of national, historical, and ethnological idealism, has now become a real question of power. The European war and its developments have placed Italy in a position to use her power in order to expand. This is not unusual in history....
But it should be carefully noted that only to an Italy remaining within the Triple Alliance can compensation be given, and, of course, only on the basis of complete reciprocity—(zug um zugleistung gegen leistung). To demand anything whatsoever Italy has no right. On the other hand, the ignoble exploitation of the needs of an ally fighting for her existence would correspond neither with the generosity of the Italian nature nor with her real interests.
The honest path for Italy, who finds herself unable to enter the war on the side of her allies in accordance with the spirit of the Alliance, is to preserve unconditional neutrality. A simple discussion between the leading statesmen of all the three powers will banish every shade of misunderstanding and clear the situation. Italy will spare her strength for the great task on the other side of the Mediterranean and for her correct and sensible attitude will receive, under the guarantee of her friend, (Germany,) the promise of the fulfillment of her comprehensible desire. Any other policy would be foolish and criminal.
ITALY AND ENGLAND.
From the Giornale d'Italia, March 26.
It is known in London, we believe, that Italy is firmly resolved to assure her own future in whatever manner seems best. A seafaring, agricultural, industrial, mercantile, emigrant people like the Italian must for its very existence conquer its own place in the sun, cannot endure hegemonies of any kind, cannot suggest exclusions, oppressions, or prohibitions of any kind, but must defend at any cost its own liberty, not only political, but economic and maritime. Italy is resolved to defend a outrance that sum total of her rights in which the whole future is inclosed. A people does not spend for nothing in a few months $300,000,000 to complete its military preparations and does not intrust for nothing, with a great example of concord, the most ample powers to the Government.
From the Messaggero, April 1.
As Prince von Buelow's negotiations have apparently failed, Italy naturally addresses herself to England. There is, however, this difficulty: England has already made arrangements with France and Russia for the solution of the questions of the Dardanelles and Asia Minor, whereas Italy wishes to have her say in these questions before giving her assistance to the Triple Entente. Moreover, there are Greek aspirations in the Levant and Serbian in the Adriatic to be reconciled with those of Italy. Consequently the situation is not easy.
From the Stampa, April 11.
Not only must Italy have her natural frontiers on the east restored, not only must she have her legitimate supremacy in the Adriatic assured, not only must she safeguard her interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the eventual partition of the Turkish Empire, but she must also see assured in the Western Mediterranean a greater guarantee for the safety of herself and her possessions and wider liberty of action than that of which she has recently had painful experience. These things must be guaranteed by an alliance with either Russia or with England....
Before having solved this difficulty any decision in favor of war would be a leap in the dark, an act of inconceivable political blindness. It would be, to adopt a rough, but inevitable, term, a veritable betrayal.
From the Giornale d'Italia of April 12, in criticising the foregoing.
We absolutely fail to understand the motive which induced the Piedmontese journal to print matter so calculated to confuse public opinion. Indeed, the care with which our contemporary seeks to embarrass Italian diplomatic action seems somewhat strange and cannot escape the blame of all those who think it necessary not to hamper the liberty of action conceded to the Government almost unanimously by Parliament and by the people....
It seems almost as though the Piedmontese journal had no thought but to put insoluble problems to the Government, in the face of public opinion, so as to try to prejudice its action in advance. The Stampa's program practically means that to the diplomatic rupture with the Central Empires would be added another diplomatic rupture with the Triple Entente, thus insuring the isolation which the Stampa professes to fear so much.
From the Corriere della Sera, April 12.
The article in the Stampa, which appears ultra-nationalist, is in reality purely neutralist. Italian aspirations must be kept within reasonable bounds. What would happen to Italy if demands were put forward which the Entente could not entertain? Quite apart from questions of direct interest and gain, other factors must be taken into account. There is the danger to Italy in case of the success of her late allies, which would mean the prostration of France, the annexation of Belgium to Germany, the arrival of Austria at Saloniki, British naval hegemony replaced by German, the revival of Turkey, and the consequent ambition to resume possession of lost territories.
From the Politika of Belgrade, March 30.
Italy is claiming not only Italian territories which are under Austro-Hungarian domination, but also a very considerable part of the most purely southern Slav regions. Italy will have to realize one simple fact. Until this war Serbia was closed in on all sides by Austria-Hungary. She therefore asked that Europe should secure for her from Austria-Hungary at least a free outlet to the Adriatic, the price of which she had already paid in blood.
The two Balkan wars were waged primarily for the same thing, since they were wars of liberation. Today it is no longer a question of the economic independence of Serbia, since Austria-Hungary is passing from the scene, but it is a matter of the liberation and of the union into a single State of our race as a whole. This is the idea which at this moment governs the masses of our people, and the numberless graves of our fallen heroes testify to the sacrifice which we have made for the sake of this idea. Whoever, therefore, opposes our national union is an enemy of our race.
Deeply as it would pain Serbia to uproot out of her heart the sympathy which she feels for Italy, she will none the less do so without fail if ever it should become manifest that Italy's present policy signifies that she desires not only to consolidate her legitimate interests, but also to encroach upon the Balkans by attacking Serbia.
From the Giornale d'Italia, April 4.
No one in Italy has ever said or thought that in the event of a bouleversement in the Adriatic and the Balkans there should be denied to Serbia or any Slav State which might arise from the ruins of Austria-Hungary a wide outlet to the Adriatic. But, on the other hand, no one in Italy could ever permit that the reversion of Austria's strategic maritime position should fall into any hands but ours.
There are political and military considerations which are above any question of nationality whatever. It should be enough to cite the example of an England which holds a Spanish Gibraltar and an Italian Malta, besides a Greek Cyprus and the Egyptian Suez Canal. It should be enough to recall the claim made by all the press of Petrograd to establish Russia at Constantinople and on the banks of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, in spite of all the principles of nationality, Balkan or Turk.
Let the Serbians, in case of an Adriatic and Balkan upset, have an ample outlet to the Adriatic, but do not let them aspire to conquer a predominance in that sea. The Italian people is not, and can not be at this moment, either phil or phobe regarding any other people. The existence, or at least the future, of all the nations is at stake today, and whoever desires the friendship of Italy must begin by loyally recognizing her rights and interests.
From the Giornale d'Italia of April 19.
We reject altogether the idea that Italy would be satisfied with the western portion of Istria, leaving the rest of the Eastern Adriatic shore to the Croatians and Serbians. While Italy would certainly gain by the possession of Trieste and Pola, the strategic position in the Adriatic would still be exceedingly disadvantageous, especially as the Slav claim advanced by certain Russian newspapers, (that Croatia become an autonomous State and divide Dalmatia with Serbia,) includes the right to maintain fortified naval bases on the eastern shore.
This would merely mean exchanging Austrian strategical predominance for Slavonic, and, consequently, Russian predominance nearly as threatening to Italian interests.
The principal objective of Italy in the Adriatic is the solution once for all of the politico-strategic question of a sea which is commanded in the military sense from the eastern shore, and such a problem can be solved only by one method—by eliminating from the Adriatic every other war fleet. Otherwise the existing most difficult situation in the Adriatic will be perpetuated and in time inevitably aggravated.
From the Messaggero of April 21.
We understand that an Italian-Russian accord has been practically concluded. This accord refers both to the war, on which Italy will shortly embark, as well as to the peace which will be finally signed. The French and British Governments have taken an active part in facilitating this accord, as it deals with other questions besides that of the Adriatic.
From Idea Nazionale, May 10.
Italy desires war:
1. In order to obtain Trent, Trieste, and Dalmatia. The country desires it. A nation which has the opportunity to free its land should do so as a matter of imperative necessity. If the Government and the institutions will not make war, they render themselves guilty of high treason toward the country.
2. We desire war in order to conquer for ourselves a good strategic frontier in the north and east in place of the treacherous one which we now have. When a nation can assure the protection of its domain it ought to do so, otherwise its future will have less. It is a necessary duty. There is no other alternative but this—either complete the work or betray what has already been done.
3. We desire war because today in the Adriatic, the Balkan Peninsula, the Mediterranean, and Asia Italy should have all the advantages it is possible for her to have and without which her political, economic, and moral power would diminish in proportion as that of others augmented. To this has the Hon. Salandra borne witness. If we should avoid war we desire less than his words most sacredly proclaimed to the nation in Parliament. If we would be a great power we must accept certain obligations; one of them is war in order to keep us a great power. If we do not want to be a great power any longer, we deliberately and vilely betray ourselves.
The foregoing are the three reasons for entering the war—reasons which are tangible, material, and comprehensive.
From the Giornale d'Italia, May 12.
Italy is determined to realize her national aspirations, cost what it may. For this reason the Government has hastened its preparations for war which, when completed, caused Austria to offer compensations, thus tacitly acknowledging the claims of Italy.
When the Austro-Italian negotiations were begun Signor Giolitti most unfortunately obstructed their successful issue by his inopportune letter declaring that war was unnecessary. Nevertheless, owing to the firmness of the Government and the determination to resort to war, the conversations were resumed. However, Austria, aside from offering insufficient concessions, assumed a waiting policy and sought secretly to conclude a secret peace with Russia. Thereupon the Italian Government opened negotiations with the Allies, which had the effect of increasing the offers of Austria.
During the ultimate, delicate phase of the conversations, when those who advocate neutrality are causing great injury to the interests of the country and also helping its enemies, the Government, reposing in the support of the people, is determined to expose the intrigues and conspiracies intended to favor the Austrians and Germans.
Hence the Government will, if necessary, make an appeal to Parliament. Meanwhile, it will conserve its power and righteously defend the interests of the country.
By Ernst Lissauer.
Ernst Lissauer, the author of the famous "Song of Hate Against England" has written a second poem entitled "Bread," and directed against the British policy of cutting off Germany's food supply. The poem was published in the Bonner Zeitung and reprinted in the Frankfurter Zeitung of March 26, 1915. Following is a translation:
With arms they cannot overpower us, With hunger they would fain devour us; Foe beside foe in an iron ring. Has want crossed our borders, or hunger, or dearth? Listen: I chant the tidings of Spring: Our soil is our ally in this great thing; Already new bread is growing in the earth.
Save the food and guard and hoard! Bread is a sword.
The peasants have sown the seed again. Now gather and pray the prayer of the grain: Earth of our land, With arms they cannot overpower us, With hunger they would fain devour us, Arise thou in thy harvest wrath! Thick grow thy grass, rich the reaper's path! Dearest soil of earth Our prayer hear: Show them of little worth, Shame them with blade and ear.
ALLIES' SECOND CAMPAIGN WITH FLEETS AND LAND FORCES.
The first campaign to force the passage of the Dardanelles by fleet operations alone was suddenly halted on March 19, 1915, when floating mines carried by the swift currents destroyed and sank three battleships. An appraisal of the real difficulties attendant upon reducing the forts and batteries lining the European and Asiatic shores, which determined the Allies upon their present joint operations by land and sea, is found in the subjoined dispatch, presented in part from E. Ashmead-Bartlett, appearing in The London Daily Telegraph of April 26. It is followed by full press reports from the Dardanelles describing the difficult landing and establishment of the Allied troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Eastern Mediterranean, April 12.
The days of the Turk in Europe are numbered, but no one will deny that he is dying hard and game. It came as a disagreeable shock to many to read on the morning of March 19 that two British battleships and one French had been sunk in the Dardanelles, while several others had been hit and damaged.
We were told that the outer forts had been completely destroyed and that the work of mine sweeping had made excellent progress. This news was given in perfect good faith and was also quite true, but we built up on it too great a structure of hope, but few realizing the immense difficulties the fleet has had to face—obstacles which do not really commence until the Narrows are approached. The combined advance of the allied fleet up the Dardanelles on March 18 was not an attempt to pass the Narrows. It was merely intended as a great demonstration against the forts, in order that the destroyers and sweepers might clear the minefield under cover of the guns of the ships.
This work was carried out in the most gallant manner and was perfectly successful, but unfortunately the further advance had to be abandoned, owing to the sudden and unexpected disasters to three vessels inflicted by drifting mines. But the price paid cannot be considered too high when one remembers the issues at stake and the vast bearing they may have on the future of the war. The Turks have always believed the Dardanelles to be impregnable, and this belief has been accepted as the truth by most lay minds until the navy started to put the issue to the test. Then, for some unknown reason, here came a quite unjustifiable wave of optimism, which swept over the country until the eyes of the public were opened by the events of March 18.
In the old days of sailing ships the Dardanelles were a most formidable obstacle which no Admiral would have faced with confidence.
It was almost impossible to overcome the obstacles in the early days of the nineteenth century. The difficulties and dangers of the passage have been increased tenfold now by long-range weapons, torpedoes, and mines. Nevertheless, the navy is of opinion that the Narrows can be forced, in spite of these obstacles, and this opinion has been strengthened and confirmed by the great trial of March 18. It might mean the loss of ships, but if the occasion justified the sacrifice the fleet would not hesitate to make the attempt.
But, unless there is a powerful army ready to occupy the Gallipoli Peninsula the moment the fleet passed into the Sea of Marmora or made its way to Constantinople, the strait would immediately be closed behind it, and, supposing the Turks, backed up by German officers and German intrigues, decided to continue the war, it would have to fight its way out and again clear the minefield. It has long been an accepted axiom of naval warfare that ships are of no use against forts, or that they fight at such a disadvantage that it is not worth while employing them for such a purpose.
This axiom must now be modified, after the experience which the fleet has gained in the present operations against the Dardanelles. Any fort built of stone or concrete, however strong, can be put out of action by direct fire from guns, if only a clear view of it can be obtained, or provided aeroplanes are available to "spot" for the gunners, to signal back results, and correct the fire.
The Landing at Gallipoli
The following series of dispatches sent by a special correspondent of The London Times at the Dardanelles describes the first phase of the operations resulting in the landing of the allied troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula:
Dardanelles, April 24.
The great venture has at last been launched, and the entire fleet of warships and transports is now steaming toward the shores of Gallipoli.
Yesterday the weather showed signs of moderating, and about 5 o'clock in the afternoon the first of the transports slowly made its way through the maze of shipping toward the entrance of Mudros Bay. Immediately the patent apathy which has gradually overwhelmed every one changed to the utmost enthusiasm, and as the huge liners steamed through the fleet, their decks yellow with khaki, the crews of the warships cheered them on to victory, while the bands played them out with an unending variety of popular airs. The soldiers in the transports answered this last salutation from the navy with deafening cheers, and no more inspiring spectacle has ever been seen than this great expedition setting forth for better or for worse.
It required splendid organization and skilled leadership to get this huge fleet clear of the bay without confusion or accidents, but not one has occurred, and the majority are now safely on the high seas steaming toward their respective destinations.
The whole of the fleet and the transports have been divided up into five divisions and there will be three main landings. The Twenty-ninth Division will disembark off the point of the Gallipoli Peninsula near Sedd-el-Bahr, where its operations can be covered both from the Gulf of Saros and from the Dardanelles by the fire of the covering warships. The Australian and New Zealand contingent will disembark north of Gaba Tepe. Further north the Naval Division will make a demonstration.
The difficulties and dangers of the enterprise are enormous and are recognized by all.
Never before has the attempt been made to land so large a force in the face of an enemy who has innumerable guns, many thousands of trained infantry, and who has had months of warning in which to prepare his positions. Nevertheless, there is a great feeling of confidence throughout all ranks, and the men are delighted that at length the delays are over and the real work is about to begin.
Last night the transports were merely taking up their positions, and the real exit of the armada from Mudros commenced this afternoon at about 2 o'clock. The weather, which was threatening at an early hour, has now become perfectly calm, and if it only lasts the conditions will be ideal for a rapid disembarkation.
Throughout the morning transports steamed out to take up their respective positions in the open sea. The same enthusiastic scenes were witnessed as yesterday. The covering forces will be put ashore from certain battleships, while others will sweep the enemy's positions with their guns and endeavor to prevent them from shelling the troops while disembarking. It is generally considered that the critical period of the operations will be the first twenty-four hours, and the success or failure of the whole enterprise will depend on whether these covering parties are able to obtain a firm foothold and seize the positions which have been assigned to them. Every detail has been worked out and rehearsed, and every officer and man should now know the peculiar role which has been assigned to him.
The navy will have entire charge of the landing of these thousands of men. Beach parties will go ashore with the first of the troops, and officers from the ships will direct the movements of all the boats as they bring the troops ashore.
This battleship belongs to a division which will consist of the Australians, who are to land near Gaba Tepe. We are one of the landing ships, and this afternoon received on board 500 officers and men of the Australian contingent who are to form part of the covering force. They are a magnificent body of men, and full of enthusiasm for the honorable and dangerous role given to them.
At 2 o'clock the flagship of this division took up her position at the head of the line. We passed down through the long line of slowly moving transports amid tremendous cheering, and were played out of the bay by the French warships. No sight could have been finer than this spectacle of long lines of warships and transports, each making for its special rendezvous without any delay or confusion.
At 4 o'clock this afternoon the ship's company and the troops were assembled on the quarterdeck to hear the Captain read out Admiral de Robeck's proclamation to the combined forces. This was followed by a last service before battle, in which the chaplain uttered a prayer for victory and called for the Divine blessing on the expedition, while the whole of the ship's company and troops on board stood with uncovered and bowed heads. We are steaming slowly through this momentous night toward the coast and are due at our rendezvous at 3 A.M. tomorrow, (Sunday,) a day which has so often brought victory to the British flag.
THE SECOND DISPATCH.
Dardanelles, April 25.
Slowly through the night of April 24 our squadron, which was to land the covering force of the Australian contingent just north of Gaba Tepe, steamed toward its destination. The troops on board were the guests of the crews, and our generous sailors entertained them royally. At dusk all lights were extinguished, and very shortly afterward the troops retired for a last rest before their ordeal at dawn.
At 1 A.M. the ships arrived off their appointed rendezvous, five miles from the landing place, and stopped. The soldiers were aroused from their slumbers and were served with a last hot meal. A visit to the mess decks showed these Australians, the majority of whom were about to go into action for the first time under the most trying circumstances, possessed at 1 o'clock in the morning courage to be cheerful, quiet, and confident. There was no sign of nerves or undue excitement such as one might very reasonably have expected.
At 1:20 A.M. the signal was given from the flagship to lower the boats, which had been left swinging from the davits throughout the night. Our steam pinnaces were also lowered to take them in tow. The troops fell in in their assigned places on the quarterdeck, and the last rays of the waning moon lit up a scene which will ever be memorable in our history.
On the quarterdeck, backed by the great 12-inch guns, this splendid body of colonial troops were drawn up in serried ranks, fully equipped, and receiving their last instructions from their officers who, six months ago, like their men, were leading a peaceful civilian life in Australia and New Zealand 5,000 miles away. Now at the call of the empire they were about to disembark on a strange unknown shore, in a strange land, and attack an enemy of a different race. By the side of the soldiers the beach parties of our splendid bluejackets and marines were marshaled, arrayed in old white uniforms dyed khaki color and carrying the old rifle and old equipment.
These men were to take charge of the boats, steer them ashore, and row them to the beach when they were finally cast off by the towing pinnaces. Each boat was in charge of a young midshipman, many of whom have come straight from Dartmouth after a couple of terms and now found themselves called upon to play a most difficult and dangerous role like men. Commanders, Lieutenants, and special beach officers had charge of the whole of the towing parties and went ashore with the troops.
At 2:05 A.M. the signal was given for the troops to embark in the boats which were lying alongside, and this was carried out with great rapidity, in absolute silence, and without a hitch or an accident of any kind. Each one of the three ships which had embarked troops transferred them to four small boats apiece towed by a steam pinnace, and in this manner the men of the covering force were conveyed to the shore. More of the Australian Brigade were carried in destroyers, which were to go close in shore and land them from boats as soon as those towed by the pinnaces had reached the beach.
At 3 A.M. it was quite dark and all was ready for the start. The tows were cast off by the battleships and the ladders taken in and the decks cleared for action, the crews going to general quarters. Then we steamed slowly toward the shore, each of the battleships being closely followed by her tows, which looked exactly like huge snakes gliding relentlessly after their prey. I do not suppose the suppressed excitement of this last half hour will ever be forgotten by those who were present. No one could tell at the last minute what would happen. Would the enemy be surprised or would he be ready on the alert to pour a terrible fire on the boats as they approached the beach?
The whole operation had been timed to allow the pinnaces and boats to reach the beach just before daybreak so that the Turks, if they had been forewarned, would not be able to see to fire before the Australians had obtained a firm footing and, it was hoped, good cover on the foreshore.
Exactly at 4:10 A.M. the three battleships in line abreast four cables apart arrived about 2,500 yards from the shore, which was just discernible in the gloom. The engines were stopped, guns were manned, and the powerful searchlights made ready for use if required. The tows, which up to this time had followed astern, were ordered to advance to the shore. The battleships took up positions somewhat further out on either flank, for to them was assigned the duty of supporting the attack with their guns as soon as light allowed.
Very slowly the snakes of boats steamed past the battleships, the gunwales almost flush with the water, so crowded were they with khaki figures. Then each lot edged in toward one another so as to reach the beach four cables apart. So anxious were we on board the battleships that it seemed as if the loads were too heavy for the pinnaces, or that some mysterious power was holding them back, and that they would never reach the shore before daybreak and thus lose the chance of a surprise.
The distance between the battleships and the boats did not seem to diminish, but only for the reason that we steamed very slowly in after them until the water gradually shallowed. Every eye and every glass was fixed on that grim-looking line of hills in our front, so shapeless, yet so menacing, in the gloom.
At 4:50 A.M. the enemy suddenly showed an alarm light, which flashed for ten minutes and then disappeared. The next three minutes after its first appearance passed in breathless anxiety. We could just discern the dull outline of the boats which appeared to be almost on the beach. Just previously to this seven destroyers conveying the other men of the brigade glided noiselessly through the intervals between the battleships and followed the boats in shore.
At 4:53 A.M. there suddenly came a very sharp burst of rifle fire from the beach, and we knew our men were at last at grips with the enemy. This fire lasted only for a few minutes and then was drowned by a faint British cheer wafted to us over the waters. How comforting and inspiring was the sound at such a moment! It seemed like a message sent to tell us that the first position had been won and a firm hold obtained on the beach.
At 5:03 A.M. the fire intensified, and we could tell from the sound that our men were firing. It lasted until 5:28 and then died down somewhat. No one on board knew what was happening, although dawn was gradually breaking, because we were looking due east into the sun slowly rising behind the hills, which are almost flush with the foreshore, and there was also a haze. Astern at 5:26 we saw the outline of some of the transports, gradually growing bigger and bigger as they approached the coast. They were bringing up the remainder of the Austrians and New Zealanders.
The first authentic news we received came with the return of our boats. A steam pinnace came alongside with two recumbent forms on her deck and a small figure, pale but cheerful, and waving his hand astern. They were one of our midshipmen, just 16 years of age, shot through the stomach, but regarding his injury more as a fitting consummation to a glorious holiday ashore than a wound, and a chief stoker and petty officer, all three wounded by that first burst of musketry which caused many casualties in the boats just as they reached the beach.
From them we learned what had happened in those first wild moments. All the tows had almost reached the beach, when a party of Turks intrenched almost on the shore opened up a terrible fusillade from rifles and also from a Maxim. Fortunately most of the bullets went high, but, nevertheless, many men were hit as they sat huddled together 40 or 50 in a boat.
It was a trying moment, but the Australian volunteers rose as a man to the occasion. They waited neither for orders nor for the boats to reach the beach, but, springing out into the sea, they waded ashore and, forming some sort of a rough line, rushed straight on the flashes of the enemy's rifles. Their magazines were not even charged. So they just went in with cold steel, and I believe I am right in saying that the first Ottoman Turk since the last Crusade received an Anglo-Saxon bayonet in him at five minutes after 5 A.M. on April 25. It was over in a minute. The Turks in this first trench were bayoneted or ran away, and a Maxim gun was captured.
Then the Australians found themselves facing an almost perpendicular cliff of loose sandstone, covered with thick shrubbery, and somewhere half way up the enemy had a second trench strongly held, from which they poured a terrible fire on the troops below and the boats pulling back to the destroyers for the second landing party.
Here was a tough proposition to tackle in the darkness, but these colonials are practical above all else, and they went about it in a practical way. They stopped a few moments to pull themselves together and to get rid of their packs, which no troops should carry in an attack, and then charged their magazines. Then this race of athletes proceeded to scale the cliffs without responding to the enemy's fire. They lost some men, but did not worry, and in less than a quarter of an hour the Turks were out of their second position, either bayoneted or in full flight.
THE THIRD DISPATCH.
Dardanelles, April 26.
After the events I have previously described, the light gradually became better and we could see from the London what was happening on the beach. It was then discovered that the boats had landed rather further north of Gaba Tepe than was originally intended, at a point where the sandstone cliffs rise very sharply from the water's edge. As a matter of fact, this error probably turned out a blessing in disguise, because there was no glacis down which the enemy's infantry could fire, and the numerous bluffs, ridges, and broken ground afford good cover to troops once they have passed the forty or fifty yards of flat, sandy beach.
This ridge, under which the landing was made, stretches due north from Gaba Tepe and culminates in the height of Coja Chemen, which rises 950 feet above the sea level. The whole forms part of a confused triangle of hills, valleys, ridges, and bluffs which stretches right across the Gallipoli Peninsula to the Bay of Bassi Liman above the Narrows. The triangle is cut in two by the valley through which flows the stream known as Bokali Deresi.
It is indeed a formidable and forbidding land. To the sea it presents a steep front, broken up into innumerable ridges, bluffs, valleys, and sand pits, which rise to a height of several hundred feet. The surface is either a kind of bare and very soft yellow sandstone, which crumbles when you tread on it, or else it is covered with very thick shrubbery about six feet in height.
It is, in fact, an ideal country for irregular warfare, such as the Australians and New Zealanders were soon to find to their cost. You cannot see a yard in front of you, and so broken is the ground that the enemy's snipers were able to lie concealed within a few yards of the lines of infantry without it being possible to locate them. On the other hand, the Australians and New Zealanders have proved themselves adepts at this form of warfare, which requires the display of great endurance in climbing over the cliffs and offers scope for a display of that individuality which you find highly developed in these colonial volunteers. To organize anything like a regular attack on such ground is almost impossible, as the officers cannot see their men, who, the moment they move forward in open order, are lost among the thick scrub.