The fire from the trenches died down at dusk and we made our way back along the empty crossroad. Half way back to the dunes we passed a Red Cross motor ambulance, headed toward Ramscapelle. On the seat beside the driver was a young English woman. She was wearing the gray-brown coat and gray-brown puttees of the English soldier. We called out to her we thought the town was empty, but the only answer we got from the speeding ambulance was an assuring wave of the young woman's hand, which was evidently meant to inform us she knew where she was going.
[Sidenote: Ambulances and infantry pass.]
On the main road from Nieuport to Furnes, which we followed a short distance, there were dozens of ambulances going to the rear and a long column of infantry going forward. Headed toward the rear there were also many wounded men on foot. They had been dressed at Nieuport, but there were not enough ambulances to take them all away. One who was walking slowly and painfully told me he had a bullet in his back.
During the afternoon the Schneiders I had seen had evidently been placed among the sand dunes, and they were now bombarding the German lines over our heads. Crossing over the sand dunes to the beach, we passed under two batteries, though we did not see them. We could tell they were French, though, by the rapidity of the fire. The French seem to be able to fire their guns several times as fast as the Germans or the English.
A cluster of houses belonging to shrimp fishermen was right under these batteries, where they were sure to get some of the return fire. But we noticed there were lights in every one of the cottages. Inside were the same fishermen who were so apathetic about the fight off-shore.
[Sidenote: Battle of the sand dunes.]
[Sidenote: Red flashing of the contact shells.]
The view from the sand dunes was what the war artists on English illustrated weeklies try so hard to show. The French batteries were using shrapnel on the German trenches, the shrapnel leaving puffs of white smoke in long, uneven lines; and the Germans were keeping up their steady pounding of contact shells, with a short red flash after each explosion. The firing of the guns on both sides gave the effect of continuous summer lightning.
Into the panorama the fleet off-shore kept up a new attack on the German batteries in the sand dunes just beyond Nieuport-les-Bains. As it was dark now we could see where they were only by the streaks of fire from their guns. These flashes came and went like the strokes of a dagger, as if they were stabbing the dark.
[Sidenote: French soldiers.]
We went back along the beach to avoid being questioned, turning around constantly to watch the fleet. At Coxyde a whole company of French soldiers was standing along the edge of the water, jumping back in surprise when the little waves advanced on them. They told us they were from the centre of France and had never seen salt water before.
The shore there is lined with new villas made of light colored bricks. One of these had been dynamited, because it belonged to a German and was suspected of having a concrete floor for siege guns. I had heard of cases of this kind before, but I had never had an opportunity to examine one.
[Sidenote: Concrete foundations.]
My private thought was that the villa had probably been built by a German with a passion for solidity, but, examining it under a half-full moon, I could see the foundations were brick walls two feet thick covered with mosaic backed by reinforced concrete about a foot thick. It seemed like something more than Teutonic thoroughness.
A little later in La Panne I was shown a concrete tennis court belonging to a German which had been punched full of holes. It was in no place thick enough, however, to give cause for suspicion that its real purpose was in any way sinister.
By the time we regained La Panne I was hardly able to walk as I had been going hard all day, a good deal of the way through soft sand. But even if I had been much more tired I would have sensed the atmosphere of that town. To me the little seaside village, built for summer gayety, had more of the romance of war in it than any place I have seen.
The half dozen summer hotels and all the villas were filled with the mothers, wives, and children of the Belgian soldiers whose firing line I had just left. Their homes had been in Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent. Now they were in the last little town in Belgium. To some their soldiers had already returned, and they were dining as merrily as if to-morrow did not hold out a reasonable likelihood of being killed. At the doors of the hotels and on the street were many others waiting, and, as the street had filled up with another French artillery division bivouacked for a few hours, they could not see their men folk until they were close at hand.
[Sidenote: Refugees at La Panne.]
Now and then as we passed we could hear little gasps of happiness. For some, of course, there were disappointment and bad news. But they must have carried their sorrow to their chambers, as La Panne was all gayety.
A comment on the Belgian soldiers made at the beginning of the war occurred to me: "They shoot the enemy all day; at night they come home and kiss mother. In the morning they kiss mother again and go back to shoot some more."
They certainly showed themselves capable of shaking off the horrors of war before their women folk. To see them there in La Panne that night you might have thought it was all a sham battle if it had not been for a conviction of reality that would not shake off.
It was nearly ten o'clock, now but Belgian soldiers relieved from the firing line and off duty for the night were still coming into La Panne. In the Hotel Des Arcades, which incidentally, has no arcades, the bar and the dining room were full of soldiers. Officers and their men were eating and drinking together in the pleasant democratic way they have in the Belgian army. Room was made for us at the long central table in the dining room, and all at the table were solicitous to see that we were at once given plenty to eat and drink. Several of the fifteen men at the table had hands or heads bandaged, but that did not seem to detract from their gayety.
[Sidenote: Spirit of the Belgian soldiers.]
A joke was being told as we sat down, and every one was taking a lively interest in it, the narrator was a bearded man of fifty, and he was telling to the delight of the others how his son had once got the better of him in Brussels before the war. There were other stories of matters equally foreign to war. The private on one side of me told me he was the manager for Belgium of an American typewriter. The lieutenant on the other side was in ordinary times an insurance agent. All the men there were in business and talked and acted like a company of young American business men.
My first hint that these men had been through any trying experience was the apology offered by a new-comer for being late. He entered rather gravely and said something about having to take the word to his sister of his brother-in-law's death. The whole company turned grave then and conversation from being general was carried on for a few minutes between those near together. I asked the typewriter agent, to fill an awkward pause, whether they had seen much action, and he told me their story.
[Sidenote: The fight on the road to Nieuport.]
This was a crack mitrailleuse company of Brussels. It had been in the fight from Liege back to Malines and from Antwerp back to Dixmude and Nieuport. Three days before it was told to hold a road into Nieuport. It was a road the Germans must take, if they were to advance, but the Belgians would not give way. They were too clever with their rapid-fire guns to be rushed, and the German bayonet charges only blocked the road with their dead. Again and again the gray line came on, but each time it crumpled before their fire. They were attacked every hour of the day or night, but they were always ready. Finally the Germans got their range and dropped shell after shell right among them.
"They blew us all to pieces," the story went on in a low tone at my elbow. "Those shells don't leave many wounded, but they littered the place with arms and legs. They got a good many of us, but they did not seem to be able to get our guns."
I asked what their loss had been, and he looked around the table, counting, before he answered.
"Let's see, now," he said. "We lost some at Dixmude first. I think there were just seventy last Monday." This was Thursday. "We had a pretty bad time," he ended; looking down.
"How many are there now?" I asked, and he answered with a sweep of his hand around the table. "Five or six more," he said. There were eighteen of them at table now. That meant twenty-three or twenty-four—out of seventy.
"The dogs suffered, too," he added. "We've only got eight out of twenty, and I just heard the dogs around here have already been pressed into service."
[Sidenote: Courtesy of the machine gunners.]
When I went to bed four of the members of that shattered mitrailleuse company climbed three flights of stairs to see that I had a comfortable room. And these men had just come out of a trench where they had lost more than two thirds their number in three days stopping one of the main lines of the German advance.
[Sidenote: Back to the lines.]
In the twilight of early morning, when the cannonading had at last died down, I heard the movement of troops in the street and saw my friends of the night before falling into line and getting their equipment straight. By the time I reach the sidewalk they were moving off, some of the men helping the dogs with the mitrailleuse.
"Big fight last night," said the typewriter agent smiling. "Company that relieved us got it hard. We must hurry back."
They were all very alert and soldierlike in the chill of the morning, but they were a pitifully small company as they passed up the road and were lost in the sand dunes.
* * * * *
In August and September, while on the western front were being fought the great initial struggles of the Great War, Turkey, long under German political influence, was making ready to cast her lot with the Teutonic Powers. Germany had already made diplomatic and military moves which indicated that she was certain of a Turkish alliance. The strongest figures of the Ottoman Empire, Enver Pasha and Talaat Bey were strongly pro-German, although the latter endeavored for a time to conceal his real sentiments and intentions under a cloak of pretended neutrality. The causes which induced Turkey to side with the Central Powers rather than with the Allies are explained in the narrative which follows.
WHY TURKEY ENTERED THE WAR
ROLAND G. USHER
Copyright, World's Work, January, 1915.
[Sidenote: Extreme danger of Turkey.]
Many people entirely misunderstand the significance of the declaration of war by Turkey against Russia, France, and England. Why these despairing gasps of the dying? they ask. What possible chance has this weak, moribund state to survive a clash of arms with the Triple Entente? Has not the Turk, in fact, dug his own grave and committed suicide? In all probability the Turk is in considerable danger, but the danger does not arise from his joining Germany. In fact, the war and the present international situation provide the Turk with the best opportunity in a century to achieve the aims cherished by Turkish statesmen who have the best interests of Turkey itself at heart. For several years Turkey has been in extreme peril. It was condemned to death by the Triple Entente some time ago, and the prediction of the British Prime Minister in a recent public speech that this war would end the existence of Turkey as an independent power was only the publication of the sentence of death long since decided upon. The Sick Man was kept alive by his friends, the doctors, largely because they deemed his malady incurable. The moment he showed signs of convalescence they agreed to poison him. But for the protection of Germany the political existence of Turkey would be already a thing of the past. The Turk, therefore, will stand or fall according to the decision in this war for or against Germany. He will be excessively foolish not to do everything he can to insure a German victory.
[Sidenote: Entrance of Turkey into War.]
[Sidenote: Constantinople core of the War.]
The entrance of Turkey into the war has long been foreseen, and its vast significance has long been clear to students. Some trained observers go much further: Sir Harry Johnston, a traveler, statesman, and diplomat of repute, has declared: "Constantinople is really the core of the war." In diplomatic circles in Vienna this summer there was a general agreement that the loss of Salonika, which the Turk was forced to hand over to Greece at the end of the Balkan wars, was a vital blow to the Triple Alliance, and its recovery would be of sufficient importance to justify the risk of a European war to accomplish it. The situation in the Near East and in the Balkans is an integral part of the European war. In fact, the war is not a European war at all; it is a world war in the most literal sense of the words.
[Sidenote: Control of exit from the Black Sea imperative to Russia.]
At the beginning of the twentieth century keen observers saw clearly that the old order of things, which had preserved the Turk so long in the face of many enemies, had passed away beyond a peradventure and had left the Turk in great peril. Ever since the decay of the strength of the Ottoman Empire the Turk had been hardly pressed in Europe by Russia and by Austria, both of whom coveted sections of his dominions, and both of whom would have been glad to obtain Constantinople, the gateway between Europe and Asia. Of the two, Russia was more insistent because her interests made the control of the exit from the Black Sea imperative for her. The Turk, however, until very recently, was himself strong enough to throw considerable obstacles in the face of the invader; he was probably, in 1900, more efficient than in 1850; but his enemies had grown by leaps and bounds. He was confronted by a new Austria and a new Russia.
What was worse, the Balkan nations, who had long been subject peoples, ill-organized, poverty stricken, had grown with the help of the Turk's enemies into sturdy, self-reliant, independent communities with good-sized armies and something approaching national wealth. The long years of subjection had left behind a consuming hatred of the Turk in their breasts; as Christians, they hated the Turk as the Infidel; and they promised themselves some day the control of Constantinople in the interest of Christianity. The neighbors of the Turk had grown formidable and would be able to make short work of him unless help arrived.
[Sidenote: Industrial growth of Germany.]
[Sidenote: Old order changes.]
There was none to be had from his past friends; so much was only too clear. The shift in the international situation caused by the astounding industrial growth of Germany, the rapid development of the German, Austrian, and Italian fleets, the increased efficiency of the armies of the Triple Alliance had all made the control of the Mediterranean far more difficult for England and France. They could no longer spare ships and troops in sufficient numbers to rescue the Turk from Russia without exposing themselves more than was wise in northern Europe. Besides, the designs of the Triple Alliance made it seem only too probable that the possession of Constantinople by Russia and the creation of a fleet in the Black Sea might be the only means of preserving for the French and English control of the western Mediterranean. The old order had changed: the Turk's friends were now his enemies bent on his destruction.
[Sidenote: Ambition of new Turkish party.]
[Sidenote: Democratic and nationalist revival.]
Yet there had never been a time when the Sick Man was more desperately determined to get well, when life had seemed to him so entirely desirable. The passing of the old order caused no grief among the Turks—outside of those few henchmen who had long drawn a fat revenue from foreign nations. The Turks had become fired with ambition, with democratic conceptions, highly inconsistent with the state of things which the old order had so long sanctioned. The new democrats declared indignantly that Turkey had been for years conducted for the benefit of foreign nations; it should be conducted in the future solely in the interests of Turkey. They were roused to enthusiasm by the past history of the Ottoman empire and burned to reconquer its old provinces, to establish a closer relationship between the provinces which remained. An imperialistic movement, a nationalistic revival, if you will, was preached in Turkey by ardent enthusiasts whose words fell on willing ears. To the democratic and nationalist revival was joined religious discontent. The Sultan was the religious head of the Mohammedan world. Everywhere the true Believers were in chains. Everywhere the infidel reigned supreme. From Constantinople to Mecca, from the confines of Morocco to the plains of India, the Mohammedan world was ground under the heel of the conqueror and the conqueror was the Arch Enemy of Truth. There must be, they preached, a great crusade, a united rising to cast out the Christian dogs and restore the sceptre of empire to the hand of a devout believer in Allah. Turkey, Assyria, Asia Minor, Persia, Arabia, India, Egypt, the whole of Africa, should be freed from the yoke of the oppressor.
[Sidenote: Great Confederation of States.]
[Sidenote: From Berlin to Bagdad railroad.]
And now appeared an ally, unfortunately a Christian, in fact a peculiarly devout Christian, but one able to save the Turk from his foes, glad to foster his ambitions. The plans of Germany for her future involved the creation of a great confederation of states stretching from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf and including Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Balkans, Turkey, and Persia. These states controlled the great overland roads from central Europe to the Persian Gulf and would make possible overland trade with the East. A railroad already existed as far as Constantinople, and a railroad from Constantinople to Bagdad and the Gulf would not only throw open Asia Minor and the great plains of Mesopotamia to European capital, but would furnish a perfectly practicable commercial road to the East through which in time would flow a trade which would make the great Confederation rich. Of this Confederation, Turkey would be an integral and essential part. Adrianople, the key to the Balkans; Salonika, key to the AEgean; Constantinople, controlling the outlet to the Black Sea and the crossing to Asia Minor; the land approaches of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys—all these the Turk had, all these an alliance with him would give Germany. The stronger the Turkish State, the better organized, the larger its army and fleet, the greater its resources, the more useful it would be to Germany and the more thoroughly it would insure the success of Pan-Germanism.
[Sidenote: England and France sustain courteous hold on Constantinople.]
It had been for the interests of England and France to keep Turkey weak. The Turk must hold Constantinople, but must not be strong enough to use it; as a tenant, as a nominal owner, he was extremely useful; some one had to own it; England and France could not hold it themselves; they were determined Russia should not have it; and the Turk was a useful locum tenens. They, therefore, frowned upon Turkish ambitions for democratic government and would, undoubtedly, have sacrificed the Turk rather than see an independent Mohammedan State take real control of Asia Minor and Northern Africa.
[Sidenote: Pan-Germanic Confederation.]
Germany, on the contrary, wished an active agent to pursue an aggressive policy in her favor. If the Sick Man could get out of bed only with assistance, Germany was anxious to help him; and the Turk vastly preferred an alliance with a Power which was eager to make him well to one with Powers almost afraid to keep him alive. The Turks wished a capable government, a good army, a State deserving of independence, and were overjoyed to find Germany ready and desirous to foster this ambition. Indeed, as a member of the Pan-Germanic Confederation, the Turk must be strong enough to hold Constantinople and the Bagdad Railway in the event of a general European war, without depending upon Germany for more than assistance, supplies, and advice. Germany and Austria, menaced on both sides at home, would not be able to take the risks of sending troops to the Near East, and the Turk would have to be strong enough to keep at bay such forces as it seemed likely Russia would be able to spare from the battlefields of northern Europe.
Germany was equally ready to have the Turk gratify his imperialist and religious ambitions. Pan-Islam would destroy the political control of England and France in northern Africa and in Egypt. It might even overturn the British Empire in India. This would be the greatest possible service any one could render Germany, and it might be one which Germany could accomplish in no other way. If the Triple Entente was the greatest foe of Pan-Islamism, Pan-Germanism should be its greatest friend. Where ambition and interest coincide, co-operation is simple.
[Sidenote: Reorganization of Turkey.]
In complete accord, therefore, the Germans and the Turks undertook the reorganization of Turkey above five years or more ago. They saw with clear vision the real truth about Turkey. With engaging candor they laid the blame for the deficiencies of Turkish government upon England and France and declared them the work of intention. Turkey, they saw, was not a nation in the European sense of the word; it was not even a single race. It was not a geographical unit by any means, but a series of districts on the whole geographically disconnected. Far from being an economic unit with a single interest vital to all its inhabitants, it produced nothing essential to the outside world which its inhabitants could depend upon exchanging for European manufactured goods.
[Sidenote: Turkey's economic interests.]
Its economic interests were potential rather than real; its trade, the result of its strategic position rather than of the interests and the capacity of its population. Normally and naturally the Turk should be a middleman, a distributor rather than a producer. He was placed in control of the continental roads between Asia and Central Europe, and was able to control the overland trade as soon as it emerged from the Caucasus or the Persian Gulf, and maintain that control until the continental highway passed into the defiles of the Balkans beyond Adrianople. Constantinople itself, controlling the narrow passage which formed the exit of the Black Sea, was in a position to foster or hinder the entire trade of southern Russia with the rest of the world. In fact, it was impossible to deny, and the Germans thoroughly well understood it, that the trade of the East with Europe and the trade of Russia with the rest of the world might pass through Turkey, but was not likely to stay there.
[Sidenote: Turkey's important strategic position.]
In this important strategic position, economically valuable to others but not to its inhabitants, had been collected a peculiar and extraordinary conglomeration of races, creeds, and interests; few of which had much in common, and all of which cherished for each other antipathies and jealousies almost as old as history. The racial problem of Turkey would be less difficult if the races were only located side by side in solid masses. With few exceptions the races interpenetrate one another to a remarkable extent and the Turk himself is numerically in the majority in comparatively few districts of Asia Minor, where the bulk of the Turkish population lives, and in scarcely any part of European Turkey. The Turks are literally overlords, a ruling class.
[Sidenote: Turkey's weak political fabric.]
The Turk has governed this vast territory and this conglomeration of races and religions by a peculiarly weak political fabric which seemed in the nineteenth century to combine in one structure all the disadvantages of centralization, and all those of decentralization. Subject peoples have been ruled by a combination of military, civil, and religious authority which has been dependent in the long run for its support on the army. However, had the subject peoples hated each other less cordially, had they been more capable of organization and willing to compromise, they might have ended the Turkish rule decades ago, army or no army. Some observers, indeed, have thought the Turkish Government an artificial sham kept alive by France and England for their own purposes. Whatever reasons were to be given, the Germans and the Turks saw that Turkey as a nation and Turkey as a state had been, both of them, practically non-existent. Both had been names, not realities. Turkey had appeared on the European maps. A series of so-called statesmen had taken European bribes in Constantinople; numerous incompetent and venal officials had robbed the populace with the help of the soldiers in the provinces, and this Government plus the army was Turkey. Turkey had, indeed, been sick, but that particular kind of illness, the Turks thought, could be cured; and the Germans agreed with them.
[Sidenote: Germany's willingness to assist Turkey.]
[Sidenote: Germany's influence in Turkey.]
[Sidenote: Reasons for Turkey's joining Germany.]
We must not forget as observers the exceeding importance of German willingness to assist the ambitions of the educated Turks for self-government and for independence from European influence. The English and French control of Turkey was fortuitous and artificial and depended solely upon the control of a little group of men in Constantinople. German influence in Turkey has deep and fundamental roots in a large and significant part of the Turkish population and appeals to their best and highest impulses. We have here in the last analysis the reasons why Turkey has joined Germany in the war. The enlightened Turks see in Pan-Germanism a democratic Turkey with constitutional self-government, a Turkey developing its own resources, a Turkey gradually freeing itself from the fetters of European alliances and becoming gradually but certainly strong enough to take its place in the Pan-Germanic chain as a state of worth, integrity, and importance. They see in the victory of Pan-Germanism the effective promise of the realization of such ideals. They see in the defeat of Pan-Germanism political and national death, the annexation of Turkey by its enemies, and the subjection of the Turks to the rule of the Infidel. For these reasons they joined Germany in the first place. For these deep, fundamental reasons they hold staunchly to their friend. We shall be guilty of quibbling and of shortsightedness if we look for an explanation of Turkish policy in the seizure of warships and the breach of treaties.
[Sidenote: Reorganization of Turkey.]
The reorganization of Turkey was duly observed by the Triple Entente and its purpose thoroughly well understood. Their opposition to it was prompt, and Italy attempted by the Tripolitan War to rob the Turk of one of his distant provinces. Having seized Tripoli with the consent of the Triple Entente, Italy then changed sides, returned to the Triple Alliance and took Tripoli with her. The result was a prompt reversal of the strategic situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and placed England and France in such danger that they saw the moment had probably come when it would be positively to their advantage to gratify Russia's ambition and allow her to seize Constantinople. The Tripolitan War suspended the sword of Damocles over the Turk's head.
[Sidenote: The Balkan War.]
[Sidenote: The loss of Macedonia.]
The Balkan War threatened for a time to annihilate him. The prompt aid of Austria and Germany as stout representatives in the international conclave, the mobilization of the Austrian army, the knowledge that Germany was ready to mobilize, saved the Turk. The ambitions of Bulgaria brought her over to the side of the Triple Alliance, which was more than ready to assist her in dominating the Balkans. The second war cost Bulgaria dear but gave back to the Turk Adrianople. Macedonia, however, was lost entirely, and much of Thrace, with Salonika, the key of the AEgean, was also lost and fell into the hands of the Turk's enemy, Greece.
[Sidenote: Little likelihood of attack on Constantinople.]
The reorganized state was now undeniably in great peril; and the probability of an outbreak of a European war in the near future, the knowledge that the Turk must himself defend Constantinople and the Bagdad Railway, urged the Germans and the Turks to great efforts in reorganizing the army and providing equipment. The fleet also received attention; two battleships were building in England and another was purchased from one of the South American states. There would this time be no escape. The death sentence had been passed upon the Turk, and if he waited for his enemies to gather and descend upon him defense would be problematical. It was, of course, realized that in the long run Germany would save Turkey by battles won in France or in Poland, and also that German defeats in Europe would in the long run spell the downfall of Turkey whatever the Turk did. It was, therefore, advisable to postpone action as long as possible. While Russia was exerting herself to the utmost to mobilize an army in Poland, there was small likelihood of an attack on Constantinople, and the Turk might well remain neutral, equip and organize the army, acquire supplies, and choose the moment to take the offensive.
[Sidenote: German cruisers at Constantinople.]
England, on the outbreak of the war, seized the two battleships building in England, and, therefore, weakened the Turkish strength in the Black Sea. The deficiency was supplied by sending two German cruisers to Constantinople and selling them to the Turkish Government. Some weeks ago the Germans judged that the time had come when the Turk must openly join in the war, send his troops to the frontier in order to hold the invader as far as possible from Constantinople. Indeed, action at this time might allow the Turk to accomplish results of the utmost importance. Those who see simply the fact that Russia could easily overwhelm the Turk standing alone, that the Balkan States united might also dispose of him, entirely fail to grasp the possibilities before the Turk at the present moment when Russia is extremely busy in the North, when the Balkan States seem hopelessly divided, and when Italy is maintaining with determination her neutrality.
[Sidenote: Closing of the Black Sea by Turkey.]
[Sidenote: Enormous value of oil supplies in the Black Sea District.]
The most important thing the Turk has done for Germany has been the closing of the Black Sea. The sowing of a few mines in the Straits promptly put an end to Russian trade from the Black Sea and dealt southern Russia a great blow commercially. Germany thus struck at England, because a large part of the English food supply has normally come from the Black Sea district, and the desire to protect the grain ships through the Mediterranean has been one of England's chief reasons for maintaining control of that sea. So large were these supplies normally that England has had considerable difficulty in replacing them and is destined soon to experience greater difficulty in furnishing a supply equivalent in volume and accessibility. The Black Sea district also has large oil supplies which would be of enormous value to England and France, now that the extensive use of the automobile in warfare has made gasolene a supply second in importance only to powder and food. If the Turkish navy, augmented by the German cruisers, can dispose of the Russian ships in the Black Sea, and this seems not improbable, the Turk might annex for Germany this supply of oil. That would be a stroke of the utmost consequence.
[Sidenote: Isolation of Russia.]
[Sidenote: Importance of Turkey to Germany.]
Closing the Black Sea by the Turk, plus the closing of the Baltic by the German fleet in the North Sea, would also accomplish another extremely important result, the absolute and complete isolation of Russia from contact with all parts of the world except Germany, Austria, and Turkey. The question has often arisen as to the ability of Germany to prolong the war in the face of her inability to export goods to her usual customers. The complete cessation of manufacture in Germany would sooner or later bankrupt the country and bring her to her knees. The Germans point out that the isolation of Russia will have precisely the same effect on that country unless Russia can find some place where her raw products can be exchanged for the manufactured goods which are much more necessary in warfare than the crude products which she always has to sell. The experience of the past has proved again and again that belligerent countries persistently trade with one another when it is profitable. The Germans expect to sell their manufactured goods in Russia in exchange for the raw materials which Russia produces, just as long as their fleet holds the mouth of the Baltic and the Turk controls Constantinople. A brisk trade between Germany, Austria, and Russia is already reported and if it attains the proportions the Germans expect, their commercial problem will have been largely solved. But its continued solution will depend upon the maintaining of Turkey in Constantinople. If these considerations are as important as the Pan-Germanists have usually claimed, it will be obvious that the adhesion of the Turk has exceeding importance for Germany and had long been arranged in advance.
[Sidenote: Control of the Suez Canal vital to Great Britain.]
The possibilities before the Turkish army, well equipped with modern munitions of war and capably officered by Germans, have been by no means forgotten. The great objective of Pan-Germanism is not in Europe but in Asia and Africa. The defense of the English and French dominions in both will have to be made in Europe. The strength of the German army, the size of the German fleet, would prevent the English and French from dissipating their forces over the vast territory which they claim to control. The experienced troops in India, in Egypt, and in Morocco were shipped to France upon the outbreak of the war exactly as the Germans expected and hoped. Their places were filled by less experienced regiments from France, England, and the English colonies. Egypt and the Suez Canal, India, and the great defenses would not be so strongly held. The Turk occupied a position flanking Persia and a position flanking Egypt. A strong, well-trained Turkish army might conceivably capture either or both. Assistance from within might well be expected in both, and victory in either would exert a moral effect upon the war in Europe which would be of the utmost importance. A few hours' possession of the Suez Canal, furthermore, would allow the Germans to obstruct it and effectually block the approach of England to Australia and India except by the long road around Africa. Conceivably this might interfere seriously with the English food supplies from Australia and New Zealand, particularly with the supplies of meat from the latter. This would be more than usually important in view of the deficiency of meat supplies in the United States and Canada, and the length of time necessary to procure them from the Argentine Republic. It is by these blows at the food supply that the Germans expect to make the greatest impression upon England. Short of actual invasion, the stoppage of supplies is the only method by which the Germans can inflict suffering upon England.
[Sidenote: Bulgaria ally of Germany.]
[Sidenote: All Balkan states weakened by Balkan War.]
No one in Berlin or Constantinople has forgotten the existence of the Balkans. Servian enmity, Greek hatred for the Turk, are only too obvious; Bulgaria is believed to be entirely faithful to the German interests; Roumania has never been very trustworthy, and has at times been an ally of both the coalitions in Europe. The ability of the Turk, of course, to hold Constantinople and above all to take the offensive would depend upon the continued neutrality or alliance of the Balkan States. Combined, they are amply strong enough to overrun Turkey in Europe and probably to invade Asia Minor in force. All the Balkan States except Roumania—which is hardly a Balkan State—were very much weakened in men and in resources by the late Balkan wars, and will probably have considerable difficulty in obtaining any quantity of supplies from foreign countries, though we are told of large purchases by the Greeks in the United States. The fact, however, that the Turk has taken the offensive against Egypt and Persia makes it extremely probable that the Balkan hatreds have offset each other. Bulgaria's existence probably depends upon Austrian protection. Roumania is probably afraid to take the field with Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, and Austria against her, while the Greeks and Servians have still to recover from the recent wars. It is probable, therefore, that, Bulgaria and Roumania being neutral, Servia at war with Austria, Turkey can take from Greece Salonika and possibly Macedonia. Should the war in Europe progress favorably for Germany, the attitude of the Balkan States toward Germany would be influenced and a scramble would ensue to join the victor, which would probably result in the extinction of Servia and Greece and the strengthening of Bulgaria and Turkey. Naturally, the Turk would retake the islands in the AEgean Sea which are now in Italy's hands.
[Sidenote: Turkey's position if Germany wins in Europe.]
Let us suppose that all goes as they hope: that the Germans win in Europe; that the Turks and Bulgarians take control of the Balkans; that the Russians are excluded from Persia, and the English from Egypt. The victorious Turkish army is then in a position to advance along the Persian Gulf road upon India, and would assail India at her weakest point, outflanking the great defenses at Quetta which have been developed primarily against Russia.
[Sidenote: Possibilities of Pan-Islam.]
We must not forget to enumerate, among the possibilities, Pan-Islam. Success by the Turks in Egypt or Persia would undoubtedly give an impulse to Pan-Islam which might put all the fanatical enthusiasm of the Mohammedans into a vast uprising which might sweep the French and English out of northern Africa and India. The Sultan of Turkey is the official head of the Mohammedan religion. His orders Moslems are all bound to obey. At present the Mohammedans in the English and French possessions, who are, of course, under English and French influence, are claiming that the acts of the Sultan are not really his, but those of German officers; and the reports at the time of writing indicate that at the present moment the order from Constantinople for a holy war will probably not be regarded or obeyed. But a victory by Turkish arms would probably instantly change the situation and might loose the pent-up fanaticism of the most intensely emotional of the Oriental races. Here is another weapon in the German arsenal whose use will depend upon the cooperation of the Turk.
[Sidenote: Key of situation is Constantinople.]
It should now be evident that there is much to be said for the view that the key to the present situation is Constantinople. We are dealing with world politics, with a world war which is being fought on the battlefields of Europe; but we are dealing with a world war whose results are not expected to develop in Europe proper. The key to this situation lies in Constantinople, and the Turk holds it.
* * * * *
The outbreak of the Great War found the British navy in a high state of preparedness, and so preponderant in number of vessels and in weight of guns that the German Grand Fleet as a whole was content to remain behind the walls of Helgoland. Squadrons were sent out, however, to attack isolated British ships, and on August 28 the first naval battle of the war occurred in the Bight of Helgoland. Here British and German cruisers engaged in a struggle in which the honors were for a time even. The arrival of British dreadnoughts quickly turned the scale, and the German ships fled to the safety of their harbor. The Germans lost four large ships, while the British fleet lost none.
The German navy was revenged in November 3, when a fleet of warships met and sunk three British cruisers off the Coronel. On December 9, however, a British fleet, after a search of many days, came up with and sank three German cruisers, and severely damaged two others in the Battle of Falkland Islands.
THE FALKLAND SEA FIGHT
A. N. HILDITCH
Battle Sketches by A. N. Hilditch, Oxford University Press.
[Sidenote: The Falkland Islands.]
In 1592, John Davis, the arctic explorer, after whom the strait between Greenland and the North American mainland is named, made an attempt, in company with Thomas Cavendish, to find a new route to Asia by the Straits of Magellan. Differences arose between the two leaders. One was an explorer: the other had a tendency towards freebooting. They parted off the coast of Patagonia. Davis, driven out of his course by stormy weather, found himself among a cluster of unknown and uninhabited islands, some three hundred miles east of the Straits of Magellan. This group, after many changes and vicissitudes, passed finally into the hands of Great Britain, and became known as the Falkland Islands.
[Sidenote: Climate surface, and vegetation.]
They consist of two large islands and of about one hundred islets, rocks, and sandbanks. The fragments of many wrecks testify to the dangers of navigation, though masses of giant seaweed act as buoys for many of the rocks. So numerous are the penguins, thronging in battalions the smaller islands and the inland lagoons, that the governor of the colony is nicknamed King of the Penguins. As New Zealand is said to be the most English of British possessions, the Falklands may perhaps be appropriately termed the most Scottish. Their general appearance resembles that of the Outer Hebrides. Of the population, a large proportion are of Scottish extraction. The climate is not unlike that of Scotland. The winters are misty and rainy, but not excessively cold. So violent are the winds that it is said to be impossible to play tennis or croquet, unless walls are erected as shelter, while cabbages grown in the kitchen-gardens of the shepherds, the only cultivated ground, are at times uprooted and scattered like straw. The surface, much of which is bogland, is in some parts mountainous, and is generally wild and rugged. Small streams and shallow freshwater tarns abound. A natural curiosity, regarded with great wonder, exists in 'stone-rivers'; long, glistening lines of quartzite rock debris, which, without the aid of water, slide gradually to lower levels. There are no roads. Innumerable sheep, the familiar Cheviots and Southdowns, graze upon the wild scurvy-grass and sorrel. The colony is destitute of trees, and possesses but few shrubs. The one tree that the Islands can boast, an object of much care and curiosity, stands in the Governor's garden. The seat of government, and the only town, is Port Stanley, with a population of about 950. Its general aspect recalls a small town of the western highlands of Scotland. Many of the houses, square, white-washed, and grey-slated, possess small greenhouse-porches, gay with fuchsias and pelargoniums, in pleasing contrast to the prevailing barrenness. A small cathedral, Christ Church, and an imposing barracks, generally occupied by a company of marines, stand in the midst of the town. The Government House might be taken for an Orkney or Shetland manse.
[Sidenote: Prosperity of the colony.]
The administration of the colony and of its dependencies is vested in a Governor, aided by a Colonial Secretary, and by an executive and a legislative council. The Governor acts as Chief Justice, and the Colonial Secretary as Police Magistrate. There is a local jail, capable of accommodating six offenders at a time. Its resources are not stated, however, to be habitually strained. Education is compulsory: the Government maintains schools and travelling teachers. The inhabitants are principally engaged in sheep-farming and seafaring industries. The colony is prosperous, with a trade that of late years has grown with extraordinary rapidity. The dividends paid by the Falkland Islands Company might excite the envy of many a London director. Stanley's importance has been increased by the erection of wireless installation; and as a coaling and refitting station for vessels rounding the Horn, the harbour, large, safe, and accessible, is of immense value.
[Sidenote: A raid expected.]
To this remote outpost of empire came tidings of war in August, 1914. Great excitement and enthusiasm prevailed. News was very slow in getting through: the mails, usually a month in transit, became very erratic. But the colony eagerly undertook a share in the burden of the Empire; L2,250 was voted towards the war-chest; L750 was collected on behalf of the Prince of Wales's Fund. Detached, though keen, interest changed, however, as the weeks passed, to intimate alarm. The Governor, Mr. Allardyce, received a wireless message from the Admiralty that he must expect a raid. German cruisers were suspected to be in the neighbourhood. Never before had the colony known such bustle and such excitement. They, the inhabitants of the remote Falklands, were to play a part in the struggle that was tugging at the roots of the world's civilization. The exhilaration of expectancy and of danger broke suddenly into their uneventful, though not easy, lives. But there was cause for keen anxiety. The colonists were, however, reassured for a time by a visit from three British warships, the cruisers Good Hope, Monmouth, and Glasgow, with the armed liner Otranto.
[Sidenote: British warships arrive.]
[Sidenote: Search for German cruisers.]
The Good Hope had, at the declaration of war, been patrolling the Irish coast. She was ordered to sweep the Atlantic trade routes for hostile cruisers. She reached the coast of North America, after many false alarms, stopping English merchantmen on the way, and informing the astonished skippers of the war and of their course in consequence. When forty miles east of New York, Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock came aboard with his staff, and hoisted his flag. The Admiral turned southwards, sweeping constantly for the enemy. Passing through the West Indies, he proceeded to the coast of Brazil. Here he was joined by the Glasgow. The Good Hope had picked up the Monmouth previously. The three ships, accompanied by the auxiliary cruiser Otranto, kept a southerly course. The discovery at Pernambuco of twenty-three German merchantmen snugly ensconced behind the breakwater, in neutral harbour, proved very galling. The Straits of Magellan and the cold Tierra del Fuego were at length reached. The squadron was on the scent of three German cruisers, the Leipzig, Dresden, and Nuernberg. It was suspected that they had gone to coal in this remote corner of the oceans. Their secret and friendly wireless stations were heard talking in code. The British made swoops upon wild and unsurveyed bays and inlets. The land around was covered with ice and snow, and the many huge glaciers formed a sight wonderful to behold. But the search had proved fruitless. After rounding the Horn several times, the squadron had turned towards the Falklands.
[Sidenote: Rumors of disaster.]
The inhabitants could not long rely, however, upon these powerful guardians. The squadron, after coaling, departed, again bound for the Straits of Magellan and the Pacific. Its strength was certainly adequate to tackle with success the three German ships believed to be in the vicinity. The colony could depend upon Admiral Cradock to protect it to the best of his ability. But it was not improbable that the enemy might evade the patrolling cruisers, and descend upon the hapless Falklands without warning. The Governor saw the advisability of instant preparation. On October 19, he issued a notice that all women and children were to leave Stanley. Provisions, stores, and clothes were hastily removed into the interior, which was locally termed the 'camp'. The colony possessed a Volunteer Rifle Company, some 120 strong, and two nine-pounder field-guns. Further volunteers were enrolled and armed. Suddenly, on November 3, an alarming wireless message was received. The Good Hope and the Monmouth were reported to have been sunk off the coast of Chili. It was unsigned. There was no proof of its authenticity. But the next day another message followed from the captain of the Glasgow. The disaster was confirmed. The Glasgow, in company with H. M. S. Canopus, was running with all speed for the Falklands. They were probably being followed by the victorious Germans. Four days of acute suspense followed. The situation seemed critical. The Governor passed several nights without taking off his clothes, in expectancy of wireless messages that needed instant decoding. People slept beside their telephones. Early in the morning of Sunday, November 8, the two warships arrived.
[Sidenote: The Glasgow arrives.]
The Glasgow was badly damaged. An enormous hole, three feet by nine feet, gaped in her side. A shell had wrecked Captain Luce's cabin, giving off fumes such as rendered unconscious several men who rushed in to put out the fire. The vessel had escaped any serious outbreak, however, and had suffered only four slight casualties. Warm tributes were paid by the captain to the cool and disciplined conduct of both officers and men. The Canopus had not been engaged. But a narrative of the preceding events may now be appropriate.
[Sidenote: German cruisers in Pacific.]
Vice-Admiral the Graf Maximilian von Spee was in command, at the outbreak of hostilities, of the German China fleet stationed at Tsing-tao. A successor, indeed, had been appointed, and was on the way to relieve him. But just before war was declared von Spee and his squadron steamed off into the open seas. To remain at Tsing-tao while vastly superior forces were closing in upon him would be to little purpose. Commerce raiding offered a field for rendering valuable service to the Fatherland. The Emden was dispatched to the southern seas. The Leipzig and the Nuernberg proceeded across the Pacific, and began to prey upon the western coast of South America. Half the maritime trade of Chili was carried in English ships. Many of them might be seized and destroyed at little risk. The Admiral, with his two remaining vessels, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, successfully evaded the hostile fleets for some time. On September 14 he touched at Apia, in German Samoa, familiar to readers of Robert Louis Stevenson. It could be remembered how, fifteen years before, this colony, shortly to fall before a New Zealand expeditionary force, had been a bone of contention between Great Britain and Germany. Captain Sturdee, whom von Spee was soon to meet in more arduous operations, had on that occasion commanded the British force in the tribal warfare. Eight days later, on September 22, the two German cruisers arrived off Papeete, in Tahiti, one of the loveliest of Pacific islands. A small disarmed French gunboat lying there was sunk, and the town was bombarded. The Admiral, planning a concentration of German ships, then steamed east across the Pacific. He got into touch with friendly vessels. By skilful man[oe]uvring he finally brought five warships, with colliers, together near Valparaiso.
[Sidenote: Armament of cruisers.]
[Sidenote: Coal needed.]
[Sidenote: Drake's exploits.]
[Sidenote: Search for cruisers.]
The German ships were all of recent construction. The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau were armoured cruisers of 11,600 tons. The Leipzig, the Nuernberg, and the Dresden were light cruisers of about 3,500 tons. The armament of the larger vessels included eight 8.2-inch and six 6-inch guns. The smaller relied upon either ten or twelve 4-inch pieces. Each ship carried torpedo tubes, and the speed of each was about twenty-two or twenty-three knots an hour. The Dresden, however, could go to twenty-seven knots. The squadron possessed all-important allies. Several German merchant-marine companies, notably the Kosmos, plied along the Chilian coast. The tonnage of their vessels, indeed, amounted to no less than half that of the English companies. The advance of German enterprise in Chili in recent years had been very marked. Von Spee's great stumbling-block was coal. The laws of war prevented him from sending more than three of his warships into a neutral port at the same time, from staying there more than twenty-four hours, from taking more coal than was necessary to reach the nearest German harbour, from coaling again for three months at a port of the same nationality. But if German merchantmen, hampered by no such restrictions, could constantly renew his supplies, the difficulty of fuel could be to some extent met. Provisions and secret information as to British movements could also be obtained through the same source. Such employment of merchantmen, however, being contrary to international law, would have to be clandestine. The great Pacific coast offered numerous harbours and abundant facilities for being utilized as a base under such conditions. It showed many historic precedents for bold and adventurous exploits which could not fail to appeal to an admiral whose family, ennobled by the Emperor Charles VI, took pride in its ancient and aristocratic lineage. The occasion seemed opportune, moreover, for the accomplishment, by himself, his officers, and men, of deeds which should inspire their posterity as British naval traditions, for lack of other, at present inspired them. They could recall how, on this very coast, in 1578-9, Drake, the master raider, had seized a Spanish treasure-ship off Valdivia, had descended like a hawk upon Callao, had pounced upon another great galleon, taking nearly a million pounds in gold and silver; and how the intrepid mariner, sailing off into the unknown ocean, had circumnavigated the globe, while the furious de Toledo waited, with eleven warships, in the Straits of Magellan. Why, indeed, should not the Germans imitate, in the twentieth century, the deeds of Drake in the sixteenth? If they preyed ruthlessly upon English merchantmen, laden with the wealth of the West, if they made a descent upon the Falkland Islands, if then they were to disappear into the wide Pacific, a career of splendid adventure and of unbounded usefulness would earn for them both the respect and the plaudits of the world. Australian and Japanese warships were sweeping the eastern Pacific for them. Many British vessels, called from useful employment elsewhere, would have to join in the search for them. But so vast was the area that they might elude their enemies for months.
British ships were already cruising near the Horn, possibly unaware that a concentration of the Germans had been effected. It was not unlikely that von Spee might be able to cut off and to destroy stray units of the patrolling squadrons. The Graf could see many opportunities of serving effectively the cause of the Fatherland. He must utilize them to the full.
[Sidenote: Cradock near coast of Chili.]
[Sidenote: German cruisers sighted.]
Sir Christopher Cradock, meanwhile, had rounded the Horn once more, and was cruising northwards up the coast of Chili. That coast, indeed, once the haunt of corsairs and filibusters, was rich in historic associations and in natural beauties. An element of grandeur and of mystery seemed to hover around the countless ridges and peaks of the Andes, stretching, with the gleam of their eternal snows, for four thousand miles, and gazing down across the illimitable waters of the occident. Upon the plateaux, miles above sea level, stood old stone temples and pyramids which rivalled in massiveness and ingenuity those of Egypt and of Babylon. The student of ancient civilizations could trace, in the mystic deities of the Incas and Araucanians, a strange similarity to the deities of the Chaldeans and Babylonians. Speculation upon this analogy formed a fascinating theme. This coast, too, was sacred to memories that could not but be dear to sailors as gallant and daring as Cradock, since his services in China, in 1900, was known to be. Among other familiar British names, Cochrane, Lord Dundonald, had won enduring glory in the struggle for Chilian independence, nearly a hundred years before. The conditions of naval warfare had, indeed, through the introduction of armour and the perfection of weapons, radically changed since Cochrane, in a series of singularly audacious exploits, had overcome the fleets of Spain. Sea-fighting had become purely a matter of science. The object of strategy was to concentrate faster ships and more powerful guns against weaker force. The odds with which Cradock was to contend against the Germans were greater in proportion, if less in bulk, than the odds with which Cochrane had contended, with his peasant crews and his hulks, against the Spanish "wooden-walls". Admiral Cradock now knew that there were two more cruisers in the neighbourhood than had at first been supposed. The Canopus had accordingly been sent to join his squadron. But she was a battleship, and much slower than the cruisers. She could travel no faster than at eighteen knots. Cradock proceeded northwards, ahead of the Canopus, made a rendezvous off Concepcion Bay for his colliers, and went into Coronel and on to Valparaiso to pick up news and receive letters. The squadron then returned to the rendezvous and coaled. This completed, the Admiral directed the Glasgow to proceed again to Coronel to dispatch certain cables. Captain Luce duly carried out his mission, and left Coronel at nine o'clock on Sunday morning, November 1, steaming northwards to rejoin the other ships. A gale was rising. The wind was blowing strongly from the south. Heavy seas continually buffeted the vessel. At two o'clock a wireless signal was received from the Good Hope. Apparently from wireless calls there was an enemy ship to northward. The squadron must spread out in line, proceeding in a direction north-east-by-east, the flagship forming one extremity, the Glasgow the other. It was to move at fifteen knots. At twenty minutes past four in the afternoon, smoke was observed upon the horizon. The Glasgow put on speed and approached. Officers soon made out the funnels of four cruisers. It was the enemy. The Germans, their big armoured cruisers leading, and the smaller behind, gave chase.
[Sidenote: The squadrons approach.]
The Glasgow swept round to northward, calling to the flagship with her wireless. Von Spee, anticipating this move, at once set his wireless in operation, in order to jamb the British signals. Captain Luce soon picked up the Monmouth and the Otranto, and the three ships raced northwards towards the flagship, the Glasgow leading. At about five o'clock the Good Hope was seen approaching. The three ships wheeled into line behind her, and the whole squadron now proceeded south. Von Spee, coming up from that direction in line ahead, about twelve miles off, changed his course and also proceeded south, keeping nearer to the coast. The wind was now blowing almost with the force of a hurricane. So heavy was the sea that small boats would have been unable to keep afloat. But the sky was not completely overcast, and the sun was shining. Firing had not opened. The washing of the seas and the roaring of the wind deafened the ear to other sounds. The warship of to-day, when her great turbines are whirling round at their highest speed, moves without throb and almost without vibration through the waves. The two squadrons, drawing level, the Germans nearer to the coast, raced in the teeth of the gale, in two parallel lines, to the south.
[Sidenote: British vessels.]
[Sidenote: Cradock orders attack.]
Sir Christopher Cradock could not but realize that the situation was hazardous. He had three vessels capable of fighting men-of-war. The Otranto was only an armed liner, and must withdraw when the battle developed. The Good Hope displaced some 14,000 tons, and was armed with two 9'2-inch and sixteen 6-inch guns. The Monmouth, with a tonnage of 9,800, carried fourteen 6-inch pieces, but the Glasgow, a ship of 4,800 tons, had only two of the 6-inch weapons. It was certain that the German 8.2-inch guns, if the shooting was at all good, would be found to outrange and outclass the British. Cradock was certainly at a disadvantage in gun-power. His protective armour was weaker than that of the enemy. Nor did his speed give him any superiority. Though the Glasgow was capable of twenty-six knots, the flagship and the Monmouth could only go to twenty-three. But there was another consideration which the Admiral might weigh. Coming slowly up from the south, but probably still a considerable distance off, was the battleship Canopus. Her presence would give the British a decided preponderance. She was a vessel of some 13,000 tons, and her armament included four 12-inch and twelve 6-inch pieces. How far was she away? How soon could she arrive upon the scene? Evening was closing in. Cradock was steering hard in her direction. If the British, engaging the enemy immediately, could keep them in play throughout the night, when firing must necessarily be desultory, perhaps morning would bring the Canopus hastening into the action. It was possible that the Germans did not know of her proximity. They might, accepting the contest, and expecting to cripple the British next morning at their leisure, find themselves trapped. But in any case they should not be allowed to proceed without some such attempt being made to destroy them. It must not be said that, because the enemy was in greater force, a British squadron had taken to flight. Perhaps it would be better, since darkness would afford little opportunity of man[oe]uvring for action, to draw nearer and to engage fairly soon. It was about a quarter past six. The Germans were about 15,000 yards distant. Cradock ordered the speed of his squadron to seventeen knots. He then signalled by wireless to the Canopus, 'I am going to attack enemy now'.
[Sidenote: At closer range.]
[Sidenote: Only gun flashes to direct fire.]
[Sidenote: The Good Hope blown up.]
The sun was setting. The western horizon was mantled by a canopy of gold. Von Spee's man[oe]uvre in closing in nearer to the shore had placed him in an advantageous position as regards the light. The British ships, when the sun had set, were sharply outlined against the glowing sky. The Germans were partly hidden in the failing light and by the mountainous coast. The island of Santa Maria, off Coronel, lay in the distance. Von Spee had been gradually closing to within 12,000 yards. The appropriate moment for engaging seemed to be approaching. A few minutes after sunset, about seven o'clock, the leading German cruiser opened fire with her largest guns. Shells shrieked over and short of the Good Hope, some falling within five hundred yards. As battle was now imminent, the Otranto began to haul out of line, and to edge away to the south-west. The squadrons were converging rapidly, but the smaller cruisers were as yet out of range. The British replied in quick succession to the German fire. As the distance lessened, each ship engaged that opposite in the line. The Good Hope and the Monmouth had to bear the brunt of the broadsides of the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. The Glasgow, in the rear, exchanged shots with the light cruisers, the Leipzig and the Dresden. The shooting was deadly. The third of the rapid salvos of the enemy armoured cruisers set the Good Hope and the Monmouth afire. Shells began to find their mark, some exploding overhead and bursting in all directions. In about ten minutes the Monmouth sheered off the line to westward about one hundred yards. She was being hit heavily. Her foremost turret, shielding one of her 6-inch guns, was in flames. She seemed to be reeling and shaking. She fell back into line, however, and then out again to eastward, her 6-inch guns roaring intermittently. Darkness was now gathering fast. The range had narrowed to about 5,000 yards. The seven ships were all in action. Many shells striking the sea sent up columns of white spray, showing weirdly in the twilight. It was an impressive scene. The dim light, the heavy seas, the rolling of the vessels, distracted the aim. Some of the guns upon the main decks, being near the water-line, became with each roll almost awash. The British could fire only at the flashes of the enemy's guns. Often the heavy head seas hid even the flashes from the gun-layers. It was impossible to gauge the effect of their shells. The fore-turret of the Good Hope burst into flames, and she began to fall away out of line towards the enemy. The Glasgow kept up a continual fire upon the German light cruisers with one of her 6-inch guns and her port batteries. A shell struck her below deck, and men waited for the planks to rise. No explosion nor fire, however, occurred. But the British flagship was now burning brightly forward, and was falling more and more out of line to eastward. It was about a quarter to eight. Suddenly there was the roar of an explosion. The part about the Good Hope's after-funnel split asunder, and a column of flame, sparks, and debris was blown up to a height of about two hundred feet. She never fired her guns again. Total destruction must have followed. Sir Christopher Cradock and nine hundred brave sailors went down in the stormy deep. The other ships raced past her in the darkness. The Monmouth was in great distress. She left the line after a while, and turned back, steaming with difficulty to northwest. She had ceased firing. The vessels had been travelling at a rate which varied from seven to seventeen knots. The Glasgow, now left alone, eased her speed in order to avoid shells intended for the Monmouth. The Germans dropped slowly back. The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau now concentrated their salvos upon the Glasgow. The range was about 4,500 yards. A shell struck the second funnel: five others hit her side at the waterline, but fortunately not in dangerous places. Luce, her captain, since the flagship was no more, was senior officer. He brought his vessel round and moved rapidly back.
[Sidenote: Monmouth in distress.]
[Sidenote: Enemy is signalling in Morse.]
[Sidenote: Glasgow draws away.]
[Sidenote: The Monmouth finally capsizes.]
The Monmouth had now fallen away to a north-easterly course. Luce stood by signalling. Could she steer north-west? She was making water badly forward, Captain Brandt answered, and he wanted to get stern to sea. The enemy were following, Luce signalled again. There was no reply. The Glasgow steamed nearer. The Monmouth was in a sinking condition. Her bows were under water, and the men were assembled at the stern. The sea was running very high. Rain and mist had come on, though a moon was now rising. The enemy had altered course, and were approaching in line abreast about 6,000 yards away. A light kept twinkling at regular intervals from one of the ships. They were signalling in Morse, and evidently were forming plans of action. Firing was still proceeding intermittently. It was about half-past eight. Captain Luce could see nothing for it but to abandon the Monmouth to her fate. To rescue her crew, under such conditions, was impossible, while to stand by and endeavour to defend her would be folly. The Glasgow was not armoured, and could not contend with armoured vessels. Of the two guns she possessed capable of piercing the enemy's armour, one had been put out of action ten minutes after the start. If she stayed and fought to the end, 370 good lives, in addition to the sufficiently heavy toll of 1,600 in the Good Hope and the Monmouth, would be needlessly sacrificed. The Canopus, moreover, must be warned. She was coming up from the south to sure destruction. She could hardly be expected successfully to combat the whole German squadron. Nevertheless, it must have been with heavy hearts that the men of the Glasgow turned away to seek safety in flight. It is recorded that, as they moved off into the darkness, a cheer broke forth from the Monmouth's decks. Before the sinking vessel became lost to sight another and a third went up. At about a quarter past nine the Nuernberg, which had not been engaged in the main action, came across the Monmouth. It is said that, though in a sinking condition, the British ship attempted to ram her enemy. But the Nuernberg began to bombard her, and she capsized.
[Sidenote: Glasgow and Canopus start for Rio de Janeiro.]
The Glasgow steamed off in a north-westerly direction. A few minutes before nine the enemy became lost to sight. Half an hour later many distant flashes of gunfire, the death-struggle of the Monmouth, were seen. The play of a searchlight, which lasted a few seconds and then disappeared, was also observed. The vessel bore round gradually to the south. Her wireless was put into operation, and she made efforts to get through to the Canopus. But the Germans had again set their apparatus in motion, and the messages were jambed. Only after some hours was the Glasgow successful. Steaming hard at twenty-four knots through the heavy seas, her engines and boilers fortunately being intact, she at length joined the battleship. The two ships made straight for the Falkland Islands.
The news of the disaster stirred great alarm in the colony. Before the day on which the ships arrived was out the dismay was further increased. The Canopus at first expected to stay ten days. Her presence provided substantial relief. If the enemy appeared, she and even the damaged Glasgow could give a very good account of themselves. But during the morning Captain Grant of the Canopus received a wireless message from the Admiralty. He was to proceed immediately to Rio de Janeiro with the Glasgow. The Brazilian Government had granted the latter permission to enter the dry dock there to make urgent repairs. But seven days only were allowed for this purpose. In the evening the warships cast off, and steamed away to northward.
[Sidenote: The colony almost defenseless.]
[Sidenote: Falklands prepare for attack.]
[Sidenote: Burying the Governor's silver and table linen.]
Stanley was now in an unenviable situation. A powerful German squadron, flushed with victory, was probably making for the Islands. The colony was almost defenceless. All the opposition that the enemy would meet would be from a few hundred volunteers. A wireless message that came through emphasized the imminence of the danger. Warnings and instructions were outlined. If the enemy landed, the volunteers were to fight. But retiring tactics must be adopted. Care should be taken to keep out of range of the enemy's big guns. The Governor at once called a council of war. There could be little doubt that a descent would be made upon the colony. The position was full of peril. But resistance must certainly be offered. The few women, children, and old men who still remained at Stanley must be sent away immediately. Fortunately the time of year was propitious. November is, indeed, in the Falklands considered the only dry month. The ground is then covered with a variety of sweet-scented flowers. Further, all the stores it was possible to remove must be taken into the 'camp'. Quantities of provisions must be hidden away at various points within reach of the town. In order to add to the mobility of the defending force, it would be well to bring in another hundred horses from the 'camp'. Every man should be mounted. These measures were duly carried out. Every preparation was made and every precaution taken. Everybody began to pack up boxes of goods. Clothes, stores, and valuables were all taken away to safety. Books, papers, and money were removed from the Government offices, and from the headquarters of the Falkland Islands Company. What was not sent away was buried. The official papers and code-books were buried every night, and dug up and dried every morning. The Governor's tableclothes gave rise to much anxiety. It was thought, since they were marked 'G. R.', they would be liable to insult by the Germans. They were accordingly buried. This conscientious loyalty, however, proved costly. The Governor's silver, wrapped in green baize, was, unfortunately, placed in the same hole. The tablecloths became mixed up with the baize. The damp got through, and the linen was badly stained. There was a feeling that the attack would come at dawn. People sat up all night, and only went to bed when morning was well advanced. All offices were closed and business was suspended. This state of tension lasted several days. At length, from the look-out post above the town, a warship, apparently a cruiser, was seen making straight for the wireless station. When she got within range she turned broadside on. Her decks were cleared for action.
[Sidenote: Canopus arrives.]
There was a call to arms. Church and dockyard bells pealed out the alarm. Non-combatants streamed out of the town into the 'camp'. The volunteers paraded, and lined up with their horses. It would soon become a question whether to resist a landing or to retire. In any event the men were ready and provided with emergency rations. But no firing sounded. Signals were exchanged between the vessel and the shore. It was a false alarm. The new-comer was H. M. S. Canopus.
[Sidenote: A serious outlook—decks are cleared for action.]
She had proceeded, in accordance with her orders, towards Rio de Janeiro with the Glasgow. When two days' journey off her destination, however, she received another message. She was directed to return and to defend the Falklands in case of attack. These instructions were received with mingled feelings. To fight alone a powerful squadron was by no means an attractive prospect. Duty, however, was duty. The Canopus turned about, and retraced her passage. She set her wireless in operation, and tried to get through to Stanley. But for some reason she was unable to do so. It was concluded that the Germans had made a raid and had destroyed the wireless station. Probably they had occupied the town. The outlook seemed serious. The Canopus had her instructions, however, and there was no drawing back. The decks were cleared for action. Ammunition was served out. Guns were loaded and trained. With every man at his post the ship steamed at full speed into the harbour. Great was the relief when it was found that all was well.
[Sidenote: German raid anticipated.]
[Sidenote: Shackleton's visit to South Georgia.]
The inhabitants were not less relieved. The presence of the battleship was felt to add materially to the security of the town. The Germans would probably hesitate before attacking a ship of her size. If they sustained damage involving loss of fighting efficiency, there was no harbour they could turn to for repair, except so far as their seaworthiness was affected. Nevertheless, it was almost certain that some raid upon the Islands would be attempted. Guns were landed from the ship, and measures were taken to make the defence as effective as possible. Perhaps if the enemy blockaded Stanley, the British would be able to hold out until other warships, certain to be sent to avenge the defeat, arrived. Relief could hardly be expected for two or three weeks. The Falklands formed a very distant corner of the Empire. It was doubtful, indeed, whether even the ubiquitous German spy had penetrated to these remote and barren shores. It could, however, be recalled that, in 1882, a German expedition had landed on South Georgia, a dependent island of the Falklands, eight hundred miles to their south-east, to observe the transit of Venus. Upon that same island, indeed, another and a quite unsuspicious expedition had landed, early in that very month, November. Sir Ernest Shackleton, the explorer, had left Buenos Ayres on the morning of October 26, on his way across the antarctic continent. His little vessel of 230 tons, the Endurance, passed through the war zone in safety, and reached South Georgia on November 5. He remained for about a month before leaving for the lonely tracts for which his little party was bound. The island was his last link with civilization. Though sub-antarctic, it possessed features as up-to-date as electric-light, universal even in pigsties and henhouses. And the march of man, it was observed, had introduced the familiar animals of the farmyard, and even a monkey, into a region whose valleys, destitute of tree or shrub, lay clothed with perpetual snow.
[Sidenote: Sturdee's squadron reaches Port Stanley.]
[Sidenote: German cruisers sighted.]
Meanwhile, November passed into December without any appearance of the Germans off the Falklands. The tension became very much relieved. Women and children were brought back to Stanley, after being away a month or six weeks. Messages emanating from the hostile squadron, registered by the wireless station, indicated that the enemy were still in the vicinity. But the condition of the colony became again almost normal. The relief and security were complete when, at length, on Monday, December 7, a powerful British squadron, under Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, arrived at Port Stanley. There were seven warships, besides the Canopus. The Invincible and the Inflexible had left Plymouth on November 11, and had proceeded to the West Indies. Their mission was to avenge Coronel. They had picked up at Albatross Rock the Carnarvon, Cornwall, Bristol, Kent, Glasgow, now repaired, and Macedonia, an armed liner. All had then steamed southwards towards the Falklands. The vessels started coaling. Officers came ashore to stretch their legs. Certain stores were laid in. It was anticipated that the squadron would depart in search of the enemy on the evening of the following day. That search might, indeed, be a matter of months. Early next morning, December 8, at about eight o'clock, a volunteer observer posted on Sapper's Hill, two miles from Stanley, sighted two vessels upon the horizon. Twenty minutes later the smoke of two others came into view in the same direction. They were soon recognized as German cruisers. The excitement was intense. The news was immediately carried to the authorities. It was hastily signalled to the fleet. Most of the ships were at anchor in Port William, the outer entrance to Port Stanley. Some of the naval officers were aroused from their repose. It is recorded that, upon hearing the news, the flag-lieutenant dashed down to Admiral Sturdee's cabin, clad in his pyjamas. Sir Doveton was shaving. The lieutenant poured forth his information. 'Well,' said the Admiral, dryly, 'you had better go and get dressed. We'll see about it later.'
 The writer cannot vouch for the truth of this anecdote, which he merely records as given in a letter published in the press. But the source from which it was taken, together with many of the preceding details of the condition of Stanley during the period of tension, has proved so accurate in essential points of fact, that their insertion seems justifiable.
[Sidenote: Achievements of the raiders.]
[Sidenote: Supplies hard to obtain.]
[Sidenote: The question of neutrality.]
[Sidenote: Chile's neutrality.]
[Sidenote: Falklands a possible base.]
[Sidenote: Gneisenau and Nuernberg fire on wireless station.]
[Sidenote: Germans are surprised.]
The Graf von Spee had, meanwhile, after the Battle of Coronel, been devoting himself to harrying maritime commerce. The Falklands could wait for the present. Since the beginning of hostilities the work of his light cruisers had been moderately successful. The Nuernberg had cut the cable between Bamfield, British Columbia, and Fanning Island. The Leipzig had accounted for at least four British merchantmen, and the Dresden for at least two more. The armed liner Eitel Friedrich had also achieved some success. Several traders had had narrow escapes. The Chilian coast was in a state of blockade to British vessels, the ports being crowded with shipping that hesitated to venture forth into the danger zone. The Germans were masters of the Pacific and South Atlantic trade routes. The Straits of Magellan and the Horn formed a great waterway of commerce, which for sailing vessels was, indeed, the only eastern outlet from the Pacific. But completely as he had the situation in hand, von Spee was experiencing increasing problems and difficulties with regard to supplies of coal and provisions. Without these he was impotent. He had been employing German merchantmen to great advantage for refueling. But trouble was brewing with the Chilian authorities. Many signs were leading the latter to suspect that, contrary to international law, German traders were loading at Chilian ports cargoes of coal and provisions, contraband of war, and were transferring them at sea to the German warships. There were other causes of complaint. Juan Fernandez, the isle of romance and of mystery, the home of the original of Robinson Crusoe, was said to have been degraded into use as a base for apportioning the booty, coals and victuals, among the belligerent vessels. The island was a Chilian possession. It was practically certain that von Spee's squadron had stayed there beyond the legal limit of time. A French merchantman had, contrary to rule, also been sunk there by the Dresden, within Chilian territorial waters. Inquiries in other quarters were being made, moreover, as to the friendly wireless stations which the Germans had been utilizing secretly in Colombia and Ecuador; while a rumour was current in the United States that neutral vessels had been seized and pillaged on the high seas. Von Spee soon found that he was nearing the end even of his illegitimate resources. He had tried the patience of the Chilian authorities too far. About the middle of November they suddenly prohibited, as a provisional measure, the vessels of the Kosmos Company from leaving any Chilian port. On November 24 a Government ship was sent to Juan Fernandez to investigate, and to see that Chilian neutrality was upheld. Many such signs seemed to warn von Spee that the time was appropriate to a sudden disappearance. He gathered his squadron for a descent at last upon the Falklands. His plans must be, not merely for a raid, but for an occupation. There were probably two or three small ships there. They should be sunk. The wireless station must be destroyed. The Islands, after a landing had been effected and the defence reduced, could be used as a base for the German operations. There were large quantities of coal and stores at Stanley. The harbour possessed facilities for refitting. To dislodge a strong German naval force, with adequate guns, placed in occupation of the colony, would be a difficult task for the enemy. The Falklands had many possibilities. According to von Spee's information they were feebly defended and would fall an easy prey. At length, early in the morning of December 8, the Admiral brought his fleet off Stanley. His five cruisers approached from the south. They were, of course, observed. A warning gun, probably from one of the small ships which he would shortly sink, sounded the alarm inside the harbour. There was no need, however, for haste. At twenty minutes past nine the Gneisenau and the Nuernberg moved towards the wireless station, and brought their guns to bear upon it. But suddenly from inside the harbour there came the thunder of a big gun. Five shells, of very heavy calibre, screamed in quick succession from over the low-lying land. One of the vessels was struck. Surprise and bewilderment took the Germans. This was most unexpected. The Gneisenau and the Nuernberg hastily retired out of range.
[Sidenote: Strength of British squadron.]
[Sidenote: Admiral Sturdee both confident and cautious.]
[Sidenote: Enemy eight miles away.]
[Sidenote: Canopus opens fire.]
Sir Doveton and his fleet, meanwhile, had gone to breakfast. Steam for full speed was got up as rapidly as possible. Coaling operations had recommenced at 6.30 that morning. The colliers were hurriedly cast off, and the decks were cleared for action. Officers and men were delighted at the prospect of an early fight. The Germans had saved them a long cold search around the Horn by calling for them. There was going to be no mistake this time. The enemy could not escape. Sturdee's squadron was superior both in weight and speed to the German. It consisted of two battle-cruisers of over 17,000 tons, the Invincible and Inflexible; of three cruisers of about 10,000 tons, the Carnarvon, Kent, and Cornwall; and of two light cruisers of 4,800 tons, the Glasgow and Bristol. The primary armament of the Invincible and Inflexible was eight 12-inch guns; of the Carnarvon, four 7'5-inch; of the Kent and Cornwall, fourteen 6-inch; of the Glasgow and Bristol, two 6-inch. The speed of the battle-cruisers was twenty-eight knots; of the three middle-class cruisers, twenty-two to twenty-four knots; and of the light cruisers, twenty-five to twenty-six knots. In size, in armament, in speed, the British squadron would decidedly preponderate. Admiral Sturdee, however, though confident of victory, was determined to take no risks, and to minimize loss in men and material by making full use of his superior long-range gunfire, and of his superior speed. He would wait, screened by the land, until the Germans had drawn nearer. Everything should be got ready carefully. Undue excitement was to be deprecated. Meanwhile, he watched the enemy closely. At about a quarter to nine, Captain Grant of the Canopus reported that the first two ships sighted were now about eight miles away: the other two were still at a distance of some twenty miles. The Kent passed down the harbour and took up a position at the entrance. Five minutes later the smoke of a fifth German vessel was observed. When, in about half an hour's time, the two leading enemy ships made a threatening move in the direction of the wireless station, the Admiral ordered a swift counterstroke. Officers upon the hills above the town signalled the range, 11,000 yards, to the Canopus. She opened fire with her 12-inch guns. The Germans hoisted their colours and drew back. Their masts and smoke were now visible from the upper bridge of the Invincible across the low land bounding Port William on the south. Within a few minutes the two cruisers altered course and made for the harbour-mouth. Here the Kent lay stationed. It seemed that the Germans were about to engage her. As, however, they approached, the masts and funnels of two large ships at anchor within the port became visible to them. The Gneisenau and the Nuernberg could hardly expect to contend alone with this force. They at once changed their direction, and moved back at increased speed to join their consorts.
[Sidenote: Weather unusually fair.]
[Sidenote: Chase begins.]
[Sidenote: More German ships sighted.]
[Sidenote: Battle joined.]
The morning was gloriously fine. The sun shone brightly, the sky was clear, the sea was calm, and a breeze blew lightly from the north-west. It was one of the rare bright stretches that visit the Islands, for usually rain falls, mostly in misty drizzles, on about 250 days in the year. At twenty minutes to ten the Glasgow weighed anchor, and joined the Kent at the harbour-mouth. Five minutes later the rest of the squadron weighed, and began to steam out. The battleship Canopus, her speed making her unsuitable for a chase, was left in harbour. The Bristol and the Macedonia also remained behind for the present. By a dexterous use of oil fuel the two battle-cruisers were kept shrouded as much as possible in dense clouds of smoke. The enemy for some time could not gauge their size. But as vessel after vessel emerged, Admiral von Spee grew uneasy. The English were in altogether unexpected strength. His squadron could not cope with such force. He had played into the enemy's hands, and unless he could outspeed their ships, the game was up. Without hesitation, he steamed off at high speed to eastward. The British followed, steaming at fifteen to eighteen knots. The enemy, to their south-east, were easily visible. At twenty past ten an order for a general chase was signalled. The Invincible and the Inflexible quickly drew to the fore. The Germans were roughly in line abreast, 20,000 yards, or some eleven miles, ahead. The morning sunlight, the gleaming seas, the grey warships, white foam springing from their bows, tearing at high speed through the waves, formed a magnificent spectacle. Crowds of the inhabitants of Stanley gathered upon the hills above the town to view the chase. The excitement and enthusiasm were intense. The vessels were in sight about two hours. At about a quarter past eleven it was reported from a point in the south of East Falkland that three other German ships were in sight. They were probably colliers or transports. The Bristol signalled the information to Admiral Sturdee. He at once ordered her, with the armed liner Macedonia, to hasten in their direction and destroy them. The newcomers made off to south-west, and the British followed. Meanwhile the rest of the squadron, now travelling at twenty-three knots, were slowly closing upon the enemy. The distance had narrowed to 15-16,000 yards. The British were within striking range. Nevertheless, Sturdee decided to wait till after dinner before engaging. His guns could outdistance those of the enemy. It would be advisable for him to keep at long range. The Germans, on the other hand, would be forced, when firing commenced, to alter course and draw in, in order to bring their own guns into play. The men had their midday meal at twelve o'clock as usual. It is said that comfortable time was allowed afterwards for a smoke. The Invincible, Inflexible, and Glasgow at about 12.30 increased their speed to between twenty-five and twenty-eight knots, and went on ahead. Just after a quarter to one there was a signal from the Admiral: 'Open fire and engage the enemy.' A few minutes later there were sharp commands. The ranges were signalled, and the bigger guns were laid. Fiery glares and dense clouds of smoke burst suddenly from their muzzles. The air quivered with their thunder. Shells went screaming in the direction of the nearest light cruiser, the Leipzig, which was dropping rapidly astern. The firing was uncomfortably accurate. The three smaller German cruisers very soon left the line, and made an attempt, veering off to the south, to scatter and escape. Flame and smoke issued from the Leipzig, before she drew clear, where a shell had struck. Sir Doveton Sturdee directed the Glasgow, Kent, and Cornwall to pursue the German light cruisers. With his remaining vessels, the Invincible, the Inflexible, and the slower Carnarvon, he turned upon the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, and began operations in earnest.