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War StoriesThe Murder Of Captain Fryatt
Captain Charles Fryatt was in command of a British steamshi...
Among the losses that the World War has caused--many of the...
Although I am an American, I am still in the French aviatio...
Why We Fight Germany
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Let Us Save The Kiddies
At 12:20 noon, on Saturday, May 1, 1915, there steamed out ...
Killing The Soul
As the centuries pass, the greatest glory of any nation, it...
The greatest leaders in history are often men who for the l...
Bacilli And Bullets
Sir William Osler, one of the greatest medical men in the w...
The Melting Pot
America has been called the "crucible" or the "melting pot"...
The World War
The story of the World War is the story of the control of t...
What One American Did
If a person had been standing one night beside the railroad...
The Charge Of The Black Watch And The Scots Greys
Sometimes a retreat is in reality a great victory. It has b...
The Destruction Of Louvain
More than one hundred years ago, Napoleon, the famous Frenc...
In April, 1917, a small group of men in civilian dress clim...
He hurried away, young heart of joy, under our Devon sk...
The Torch Of Valor
The torch of valor has been passed from one brave hand to a...
Americans are particularly interested in the story of Edith...
The Case Of Serbia
But Belgium is not the only little nation that has been att...
She is a wall of brass; You shall not pass! You sh...
The God In Man
A soldier on the firing step, aiming at the enemy, is sudde...
The World War
The story of the World War is the story of the control of the sea by
the Allies, of land fighting on two fronts, the western and the
eastern, and of separate scattered campaigns in Africa and Asia.
THE WESTERN FRONT
Here the war really began and here it seems likely to be decided and
ended. The Germans who planned the war were ready and, using their
railroads built for that purpose, rushed their armies to the Belgian
border before France had hardly begun to mobilize. Luxemburg was
overrun at once and Belgium invaded. The brave Belgians under General
Leman held up the advance for several days at Liége and saved France
and western civilization. The Huns soon occupied nearly all of Belgium,
taking Brussels on August 20 and Antwerp on October 9.
They pushed on directly toward Paris, driving the British who had been
landed, the Belgians, and the French, before them. They advanced to
within twenty miles of Paris, near Meaux on the Marne, and were there
defeated September 5-10, 1914, and forced to retreat to the Aisne,
where they entrenched themselves.
The Germans had driven the British south by constantly threatening to
outflank them, and there had been a race to the gates of Paris. Now the
British turned the tables and, in attempting to outflank the Germans,
there was a race away from Paris to the North Sea, with the final
result that the enemies were lined up opposite each other, from
Switzerland near the German border to the coast between Dunkirk and
Until 1918 trench warfare continued. The Germans sought to drive the
English out of Ypres, but did not succeed. In one of these attacks on
April 22, 1915, gas was used for the first time.
The British and French won a great victory on the Somme, July, 1916,
taking nearly 75,000 prisoners. This battle is recognized as one of the
turning points of the war, for it caused the extensive retreat of the
Germans the following spring. The Huns devastated the territory from
which they retreated more completely and mercilessly than any army,
even barbarians, had ever done before in the history of the world. The
British attempted to capture Lille and the bases of the German
submarines on the Belgian coast at Ostend and Zeebrugge, but were
In November, 1917, General Byng, in a surprise attack in which for the
first time a large number of tanks were used, broke the famous
Hindenburg line of trenches and captured 8000 Germans. He soon lost
all the territory he had gained and many men, through being surprised
himself by attacks on both sides of the pocket or salient which he had
pushed into the German lines.
The Battle of the Somme referred to above was intended to relieve the
terrible pressure of the Germans on the French forts at Verdun. The
German Crown Prince had attacked these in July, 1916, determined to
break through at whatever cost. But the soul of France rose to the
occasion and declared, "They shall not pass!" The Battle of Verdun
lasted from July until December, 1916. The Germans lost half a million
men, but they did not pass. Before many months every vantage point
which the Germans had won was back in French hands.
In 1917, the French pushed the Germans back between Rheims and Soissons
to the Ailette River, where they remained until the Second Battle of
the Marne, July, 1918.
Little of importance happened during the winter of 1917 and 1918, and
Germany, with Russia out of the way, prepared to deliver a final blow
and win the war, before American troops should arrive in force. The
Germans, with large numbers of troops from the eastern front, were so
confident, that great fear was felt among the Allies that America would
be too late.
The German plan as it unfolded itself was to attack, wave after wave,
with tremendous numbers of men; to use great quantities of a new and
more terrible gas; to pay no attention to losses, but to break through
where the French and English lines joined; then to push the French
south towards Paris and the English north towards the sea. They
expected to take Amiens, forty miles from the mouth of the Somme, and
to push down the river to the sea. With the broad river between them
and the French, a small force could keep the French from crossing,
while the great German army captured or destroyed the British, who
would be hemmed in by the sea.
The attack was launched on March 21 over a front of fifty miles and it
nearly succeeded. It brought the Germans to within six miles of Amiens,
which would have been captured if the English on Vimy Ridge had not
prevented them by holding the German line from advancing. The Germans
waited a month, planning an attack which should capture Vimy Ridge and
prepare the way for the capture of Amiens. In this they were
Not being able to divide the armies of the French and English or to
take the Channel ports, they turned in May toward Paris. They attacked
in tremendous force between Rheims and Soissons and pushed forward
thirty-two miles to the Marne. On July 15 they launched another great
offensive over a front of fifty miles from east of Rheims to west of
Château-Thierry. They crossed the Marne and were making some progress
when, on July 18, the French and Americans struck them on the flank
between Soissons and Château-Thierry. The Germans were forced to
retreat, having lost 220,000 men, hundreds of guns, and vast stores.
At this time over 1,000,000 American soldiers were in France. They
arrived in time and showed themselves "the bravest of the brave." One
of the American units was granted, for its bravery in the Second Battle
of the Marne, the only regimental decoration ever awarded by France to
a foreign regiment; and the French commander bestowed upon one division
the most thrilling praise. "They showed," he said, "discipline that
filled the Germans with surprise. They marched with officers at the
sides and with closed ranks exactly like veteran French troops."
Italy began operations against Austria in May, 1915. For more than two
years, she advanced over almost impassable mountain ranges to the
reconquest of the territory Austria had stolen from her. Then, in
October, 1917, Italy met with a terrible disaster; she lost 180,000 men
and was driven back to the river Piave and to within fifteen miles of
Venice. This costly defeat was due partly to lack of supplies which her
allies should have furnished her; partly to printed lies dropped from
Austrian airplanes among the Italian soldiers telling of the wonderful
peace and liberty that had come to Russia, where Germans and Russians
were like brothers; and partly to the mistake of Italy and her
commanders. It resulted in making all the Allies realize that they
could not succeed separately but must work together as one, if they
were going to win; and in the appointment of General Ferdinand Foch as
commander in chief of all the allied forces in the West, including
In the spring of 1918, the Austrians, at Germany's command, renewed
their attack and succeeded in crossing the Piave, which in its upper
reaches towards the mountains was almost a dry river bed. They waited
until, as they supposed, the mountain snows had melted. After many of
them were across and after they had been checked on the western bank by
the Italians, they attempted to recross the river. In the meantime
floods had poured down from the mountains changing the dry bed into a
rushing river, deep and broad, in which thousands of the Austrians were
lost. Austria was able to make no further effort.
THE EASTERN FRONT
Russia was the first of the Great Powers among the Allies to enter the
war, but Germany did not count upon her remaining in it long. German
influence, especially that of the German Socialists with the uneducated
Russians, was so strong that the Kaiser expected a revolution long
before it happened. The Russian leaders were self-seeking, and the Tsar
and his advisers were lacking in ability and force. The Germans
thought Russia would collapse very soon, and thus leave Germany free to
turn and conquer France; after which they could settle with England,
and then with the United States.
Until the close of 1916, the Russian armies gave the Germans fierce
opposition except when, through treachery of the officers of the
government, supplies and ammunition were withheld and the soldiers had
to fight cannon, machine guns, and rifles with the butts of their
muskets. Of course the Russians were driven back, but not until they
had come within one hundred and eighty-five miles of Berlin, which was
the nearest approach of an enemy army during the first four years of
In the fall of 1914, the Russian armies suffered through treachery a
terrible defeat near Tannenberg in the Masurian Lake region of East
Prussia, but the great leader of their armies farther south, Grand Duke
Nicholas, invaded Austria, capturing stronghold after stronghold until
treachery of Russian officials forced him to retreat. The retreat of
his armies was conducted in so masterly a manner that it has ranked him
as one of the great generals of the World War.
As soon as German money and German lies had undermined the directing
forces at the Russian capital, it was an easy matter for German armies
to overrun Russian Poland, to capture Warsaw and the great Russian
fortresses, and to advance as far north as Riga.
Then in the spring of 1917 came the revolution, when the Duma refused
to obey the order of the Tsar. The soldiers sided with the people; the
Tsar was thrown into prison, to be shot more than a year later. Germany
made a "peace drive," and soon had the entire Russian army ready to
quit. Leaders in the service of Germany, like Lenine, used dreamers
like Trotsky to help on the breaking up of Russia. Kerensky, who had
been chosen to lead the government after the first revolution, was
deposed and obliged to flee the country as the result of a second
revolution by soldiers, sailors, and workmen. Lenine became Prime
Minister and Trotsky, Foreign Minister. Then the way was clear for
Germany to work her will. Agreeing to all proposals, she led the
Bolsheviki, which means "the majority," into such a situation that
they were powerless. Then throwing aside all her agreements, she forced
them to sign the disgraceful treaty of peace at Brest-Litovsk. It broke
up a portion of the old Russia into several nations or independent
provinces, which separated the Russia that remained entirely from the
rest of Europe. The provinces, Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Esthonia,
Livonia, Courland, and Lithuania were really dependencies of Germany.
Turkey was also rewarded by receiving a part of Transcaucasia, which
Germany later attempted to take from her.
The Germans promised not to use soldiers from the eastern front against
Russia's former allies in the West; but this promise was only another
"scrap of paper," and she transferred vast numbers to the front in
Italy and in France and, by their help, nearly won her great drives of
When Russia collapsed and made peace with the Central Powers, Roumania,
who entered the war on the side of the Allies, August 27, 1916, was
left entirely surrounded by enemies and, to save herself from the fate
of Belgium and Serbia, was obliged to consent to peace terms offered by
Germany. She ceded a large part of her territory south of the Danube to
Bulgaria, who had joined the Central Powers "for what she could get out
of it," on October 4, 1915. Bulgaria's king is called "The Fox of the
Balkans" and looks upon agreements, treaties, and honesty in the German
manner. Like the Germans, all his acts show that he believes "might is
right" and that any act is justified if necessary to his success.
THE DARDANELLES AND FARTHER EAST
In the spring of 1915, English and French fleets attempted to force the
Dardanelles, but failed. Had the straits been opened and Constantinople
taken, Russia would probably have been saved and the war shortened.
Many believe now that a mistake was made in not sacrificing the ships
necessary to force the straits and to capture Constantinople, but at
the time the French and British leaders were unwilling to make the
sacrifice. Troops had been landed at Gallipoli to assist the fleets,
but they were withdrawn in January, 1916.
England sent an expedition from the Persian Gulf to capture Bagdad in
the fall of 1914. It was small in numbers and suffered some reverses,
but succeeded in capturing the city on March 11, 1917.
When Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers, the
Germans hoped to stir up a religious war, uniting all the Mohammedans
in the East under the lead of Turkey, against the Christian nations.
All Mohammedans, however, do not recognize the Sultan of Turkey as
their leader, and the King of Hedjaz revolted against Turkey in June,
1916. Hedjaz includes all the Arab tribes between the Tigris on the
east and Syria on the west. Arabia forms the largest part of the
territory of this kingdom.
With the assistance of the King of Hedjaz, the English have been able,
by advancing across the Sinai Desert, to capture Jerusalem. Jerusalem,
the Holy City of the Christians, has been in Mohammedan hands, except
for two short periods, for seven hundred and thirty years. The Crusades
were fought to take it from them, and ever since, Christians have
mourned that it had to be left in the hands of the Moslems. It probably
will never again pass from the control of Christian nations.
Japan entered the war early, August 23, 1914, as an ally of Great
Britain and, on November 7, had taken the only German colony in China,
Tsingtau. Germany had forced this from China, as punishment for the
murder of two German missionaries. Japan and Australia soon captured
all the German possessions in the Pacific, and Great Britain all the
German colonies in Africa, leaving Germany without a single colonial
The Kaiser is reported to have said, "Germany's future lies on the
sea"; and it seems as if the control of the sea by the Allies has
really determined her future, for had the Central Powers controlled the
sea, they would have won the war.
By the wise foresight of those directing the movements of the British
navy, the Grand Fleet, numbering about four hundred vessels, had been
assembled for inspection just before the war broke out, and they were
ready, when England entered the war, to move to ports from which they
could attack the Germans, if the latter should decide to send out their
fleet. The Grand Fleet has all through the war remained hidden, and,
like some invisible power, is protecting the freedom of the world.
Hundreds of swift scout ships keep watch ready to report every move of
the enemy. Only once has Germany come out in force, to be driven back
to shelter, defeated, in the Battle of Jutland, May 31, and June 1,
Germany placed her hopes in the submarine, but she has had little
chance to use it against English war vessels. She also scattered mines
upon the high seas in violation of the laws of war and of nations. One
of these mines on June 5, 1916, sank the British cruiser Hampshire,
which was carrying Lord Kitchener to Russia. Lord Kitchener and his
staff were lost.
Germany used every power in her hands to win, never hesitating to set
aside the laws of nations or the opinions of civilized men. So she
turned her submarines against merchant ships in violation of
international law. The sinking of the Lusitania was the first great
shock to the United States. President Wilson protested on behalf of the
American people, and after other merchant vessels had been sunk and
more American lives lost, Germany was given her choice of a break with
America or of promising that she would give up her submarine attacks
without warning upon merchant ships. Germany promised to do so, but
made this promise, as the United States learned later, only to give her
time to build enough submarines to starve out England in a year or less
by using them against merchant ships in violation of her agreement with
the United States. It was only another "scrap of paper."
So America entered the war April 6, 1917, and at once the danger from
submarines began to grow less, for American destroyers, combined with
those of the other Allies, soon were sinking submarines faster than
Germany could build them, and American shipyards began to turn out
merchant ships in such unheard-of numbers that the sinking of a few
ships each month became a minor matter. At the close of the fourth year
of the war, an English writer said of what America had done in one
It would be idle to recount here what America has done. But for
what she has done the heart of every Briton beats with
gratitude. There is physical evidence of it over here. American
soldiers throng the streets. American sailors gather in our
ports. American naval vessels are scouring our home waters in
fullest coöperation with the British and French and have reduced
the destruction by submarine pirates by more than half what it
was one year ago. On land they are fighting with the Allies the
battles of civilization and dying for its ideals, and the
fondest wish of every patriot both here and in France is that
the community of feeling thus cemented in blood will never pass
In October, 1918, there were about two million American soldiers in
France. They had made possible the great victories, beginning with the
Second Battle of the Marne, by which all the German gains of 1918 were
wiped out and the St. Mihiel salient recovered. The Huns had held this
salient since 1914. Its capture was a brilliant victory for the
American army under General Pershing. It was accomplished in
King George of England wired President Wilson as follows:
London, Sept. 14, 1918.
On behalf of the British Empire, I heartily congratulate you on
the brilliant achievement of the American and Allied troops
under the leadership of General Pershing in the St. Mihiel
The far-reaching results secured by these successful operations,
which have marked the active intervention of the American army
on a great scale under its own administration, are the happiest
augury for the complete, and, I hope, not far-distant triumph of
the Allied cause.
President Wilson cabled to General Pershing:
Please accept my warmest congratulations on the brilliant
achievements of the army under your command. The boys have done
what we expected of them and done it in the way we most admire.
We are deeply proud of them and of their chief. Please convey to
all concerned my grateful and affectionate thanks.
Frank H. Simonds, the famous military critic, says:
In our own national history, therefore, as in world history, the
Battle of St. Mihiel will have an enduring place. To the world
it announced the arrival of America in her appointed place in
the battle line of civilization.... The road from Concord Bridge
to the heights above the Meuse is long, but it runs straight,
and along it men are still led by the same love of liberty and
service of democracy which was revealed in our first battle
morning nearly a century and a half ago.
At the beginning of October, 1918, the Allies were everywhere
successful, in Palestine, in the Balkans, in northern Russia, in
Siberia, and on the western front. The world was proving again that
deceit and violence always lose in the long run.
THE FINAL CHAPTER OF THE WAR
In July, 1918, the western battle line, running from the North Sea to
Switzerland, was, in general, a huge curve bending into France. Germany
had been working on interior lines on this western front--that is, as
her forces were needed to defend or to attack, she moved them from
place to place on the inside of the circle. The Allies were obliged to
work on the outside of the circle and were therefore at a considerable
Then, too, the Germans had the initiative, that is, they could
determine when and where to attack, while the Allies in 1918, up to
July 18, were having all they could attend to in defending themselves
and preventing a serious break in their lines.
With July 18, 1918, all this was changed. The Allied forces were now
under the direction of a single commander, Marshal Foch, one of the
great military geniuses of all time. His plan was to strike at a
weakened point; then, when the Germans had rushed reinforcements to
ward off the danger, to strike at some other point in the line and thus
use up the German reserves; and to give the German commanders no time
to prepare an offensive on a large scale. The German by nature seems to
think that size determines victory. The big things seem to him the
things that are effective and that win. So his offensives were planned
on a great scale and required months of preparation; and after one
offensive had been stopped, he required more months of comparative rest
to plan and prepare another. The French nature is different; it is
subtle, deft, and skillful, and by repeated strokes of less force,
often accomplishes what the German fails to do with one mighty blow. In
riveting the plates on a ship, or in joining the framework of a steel
skyscraper, a riveting machine is used which, by very rapidly repeated
blows, does the work quickly and well. Somewhat in this way did Marshal
Foch strike the German line, now in this spot, now in that, capturing
or putting out of action large numbers of German troops, outflanking
first one strategic point and then another. As a consequence, the
German line was obliged to draw back and back to prevent the Allies
from breaking through and attacking the German supply trains coming up
in the rear with food and munitions.
West of Verdun the Germans had come into Belgium and France along the
line of the Meuse through Liége and Namur, and across Luxemburg by the
main railway through Sedan. Could either of these great lines of
communication be captured, the Germans would be unable to withdraw to
their own territory without terrible losses, if at all; for between
their armies and Germany lay the great forest region of Ardennes with
but few roads. Two millions of men could not retreat through this
region without leaving guns and munitions behind and their retreat
becoming a rout.
From Verdun the Meuse River runs north and west to Sedan and to the
railroad which extended from the German lines through Luxemburg to
Germany. Marshal Foch honored General Pershing and the American troops
by assigning to them the difficult task of advancing from Verdun
through the valley of the Meuse to Sedan. The story of the fighting of
the Americans in this advance is a story glowing with deeds of heroism
and of reckless daring, a story of the overcoming of almost impossible
difficulties and of final victory. At Sedan in 1870, the Germans
humbled the French and decided the Franco-Prussian War. It is a strange
turn of history that, with the capture of Sedan from the Germans in
1918, the World War was practically decided and ended.
The Allied army from Salonica, with the help of the Serbians, had
conquered Bulgaria late in September, and she had surrendered
unconditionally, thus cutting off Germany and Austria from
communication with their ally, Turkey. General Allenby's conquest of
Palestine and occupation of Aleppo brought Turkey to realize that she
was helpless. She surrendered the last of October. Then the
strengthened and refreshed Italian army attacked the Austrians on the
Piave in Italy and won perhaps the most complete victory of the war on
the western front, capturing over five hundred thousand prisoners and
completely breaking Austria's power for further resistance. Austria
surrendered on November 4.
Thus Germany was left alone, open to attack on her southern and eastern
fronts, while being hopelessly beaten in the west. She asked President
Wilson to secure an armistice from the Allied nations. The President
had declared earlier in the war that we would never deal with the
Kaiser and the autocratic rulers of Germany who had repeatedly broken
their word to us and to other nations. The German people, aware of this
fact, were taking things into their own hands, and the German
Revolution had really begun.
The German Chancellor informed President Wilson that Germany had
changed its form of government and was now being ruled by those
responsible to the German people, and that the German government was
willing to make peace on the basis of President Wilson's Fourteen
Points, as stated on January 8, 1918, and of his later declarations,
particularly that of September 27, 1918.
After some correspondence, the President referred the German government
to Marshal Foch. Envoys were sent from Spa, the German headquarters,
under flag of truce to the headquarters of Marshal Foch in a railroad
car near Senlis. The terms of the armistice made it absolutely
impossible for Germany to renew the war after the cessation of
hostilities, for she was obliged to evacuate all invaded territory, to
remove all her troops twenty miles back from the Rhine, and to give the
control of the river and its crossings to the Allies. She was also
forced to surrender vast quantities of large and small guns, two
thousand air-planes, all her submarines, and the greater part of her
navy. She was practically to give over the control of her railways and
shipping to the Allies and to renounce the unfair treaties with Russia
and Roumania. Alsace-Lorraine was to be returned to France, and Belgium
and northern France restored. The armistice was signed by the Germans
on November 11, 1918. It has been called the most complete surrender
ever known, but Germany had no choice, for her armies were defeated and
her navy had no hope in a battle against the overwhelming odds of the
Der Tag or "The Day" for which haughty Germans had hoped, had come,
but how different from the day they had imagined! When the white flag
of truce was raised on the German battle line, the red flag of
revolution was unfurled in Berlin and other German cities. The Kaiser
had abdicated, the Crown Prince had renounced his right to the throne,
and both had taken refuge in Holland. Other German kings were
abdicating and royal princes were fleeing for safety.
Great celebrations were held in the Allied countries. It seemed as if
the people in the great cities of America had gone wild with joy.
President Wilson appeared in the hall of the national House of
Representatives at one o'clock on the afternoon of Monday, November 11,
and announced the signing of the armistice and its terms and the
conclusion of the war. He asked America to show a spirit of helpfulness
rather than one of revenge toward the conquered Germans, concluding his
message as follows:
The present and all that it holds belongs to the nations and the
peoples who preserve their self-control and the orderly
processes of their governments; the future to those who prove
themselves the true friends of mankind. To conquer with arms is
to make only a temporary conquest. I am confident that the
nations that have learned the discipline of freedom and that
have settled with self-possession to its ordered practice are
now about to make conquest of the world by the sheer power of
example and of friendly helpfulness.
The peoples who have but just come out from under the yoke of
arbitrary government and who are now coming at last into their
freedom, will never find the treasures of liberty they are in
search of if they look for them by the light of the torch. They
will find that every pathway that is stained with blood of their
own brothers leads to the wilderness, not to the seat of their
hope. They are now face to face with their initial test. We must
hold the light steady until they find themselves. And in the
meantime, if it be possible, we must establish a peace that will
justly define their place among the nations, remove all fear of
their neighbors and of their former masters, and enable them to
live in security and contentment when they have set their own
affairs in order. I, for one, do not doubt their purpose or
their capacity. There are some happy signs that they know and
will choose the way of self-control and peaceful accommodation.
If they do, we shall put our aid at their disposal in every way
that we can. If they do not, we must await with patience and
sympathy the awakening and recovery that will assuredly come at
To the people of the United States he sent the following message:
My Fellow Countrymen: The armistice was signed this morning.
Everything for which America fought has been accomplished. It
will now be our fortunate duty to assist, by example, by sober,
friendly council, and by material aid, in the establishment of
just democracy throughout the world.
No one can foretell all that this victory, won through the most
terrible suffering and sacrifice the world has ever been called upon to
bear, means to mankind; but we know it means a new day and a new
opportunity for millions of down-trodden men and women in all parts of
the world. It means giving a new world of democracy and equality of
opportunity to those who never dreamed this possible, except by leaving
their native lands and coming to America. It means bringing all that
America means to us to races that for centuries have lived without
hope. It means the downfall and the punishment of those who would
selfishly rise by the persecution and suffering of others. It means
that in the end right must always conquer might.
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