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machine shops and mechanics which must exceed by twice or thrice the total of those in a humming town like Coventry. Such factories have had to be manned, and manned with labor able to meet the sudden emergencies of war. The labor has all had to come from home. Clerks, engineers, fitters, mechanics, quickly settled down to the monotonous regularity of military life and the communal existence of the barracks, huts, and tents in which they live. True it is that every consideration possible las been shown for their happiness, comfort, and amusement. They have their own excellent canteens, reading rooms, and places of entertainment. They are not forgotten by the Y. M. C. A. or by the Salvation Army and Church Army, whose work cannot be too highly spoken of. They are individually looked after by their own heads of departments with solicitude and kindness. The gramophone, the joy of the dugouts, the hospitals, and the billets, is a never-ending source of entertainment.
The workers are by no means unable to amuse themselves. They are well provided with cinematographs and frequent boxing tournaments. Gardening, too, is one of their hobbies, and from the casualty clearing stations at the front to the workers' huts at the bases are to be counted thousands of English-made gardens. The French, who know as little of us as we do of them, were not a little surprised to find that, wherever he sojourns, the British workman insists on making himself a garden.
Huge bakeries, the gigantic storehouses, (one is the largest in the world,) factories, and repair shops are filled with workers who are a visible contradiction of the allegations as to the alleged slackness of the British workman. The jealousy that exists in peace times between most army and civilian establishments does not seem to be known.
The War Atmosphere The authorities at home seem to hide our German prisoners. In France they work, and in public, and are content with their lot. Save for the letters “P. G.” (prisonnier de guerre) at the back of their coats it would be difficult to realize that comfortable-looking,
Landsturm Hans, with his long pipe, and young Fritz, with his cigarette, were prisoners at all.
The war atmosphere and the patriotic keenness of the skilled mechanics and labor battalions in France have enabled the Commander in Chief, Sir Douglas Haig, who has personally visited the bases in hurried journeys from the front, to accomplish what in peace time would be the impossible. Transport alone is a miracle. The railways are so incumbered that it is frequent to see trains nearly a kilometer (five-eighths of a mile) in length. As one travels about in search of information mile-long convoys of motor lorries loom quickly toward one from out of the dense dust, and it is by this combination of rail and road that the almost impossible task has been achieved of keeping pace with the German strategic railways, which were built for the sole purpose of the quick expedition of men and supplies.
Vast War Schools Scattered through the army behind the army are schools where war is taught by officers who have studied the art at the front. Here in vast camps the spectator might easily imagine. that he was at the front itself. Here the pupils fresh from England are drilled in every form of fighting
There is something uncanny in the approach of a company to a communication trench, in its vanishing under the earth, and its reappearance some hundreds of yards away, where clambering over the top," to use the most poignant. expression of the war, the soldier pupils dash forward in a vociferous bayonet charge. At these great reinforcement camps are gas mask attacks, where pupils are passed through underground chambers, filled with real gas, that they may become familiarized with one of the worst curses of warfare. The gas itself is a subtle and at first not a very fearsome enemy, but the victim is apt to be overcome before he is aware of it.
And at these miniature battlefields, all of them larger than the field of Waterloo, are demonstration lecturers who teach bombing, first with toy bombs that explode harmlessly with a slight puff,
and then with the real Mills bombs which have a noisy and destructive effect altogether disproportionate to their size and innocent appearance. The various types of machine guns are fired at ingenious targets all the day long. There are actual dugouts in which pupils are interned with entrances closed while gas is profusely projected around them, so that they may learn how to deal with the new weapon by spraying it and flapping it away when the entrance is uncovered at a given signal. Crater fighting is taught with an actual reproduction of a crater, by a lusty Sergeant who has seen much of the actual thing, and tells the men what to do with their bombs and with Germans.
German Prisoners In the centre of one of these schools there arrived, while I was on the scene, a great number of German prisoners on their way to the base. I do not know how many young soldiers just landed from England were being trained that day. Certainly many, many thousands, and I do not wonder that the prisoners were amazed at the spectacle before them. One of them frankly confessed in excellent English that his comrades were under the impression that we had no men left. The food supplied to these German prisoners here, as everywhere, was excellent, and they did not hesitate to say so. Temporary baths and other washing arrangements were fitted up for them, they had an abundance of tobacco, and were just as comfortably off in their tents as our soldiers not actually in barracks. Their condition on arrival here, as elsewhere, was appalling. Imprisoned in their trenches by our barrage of fire, they had been deprived of many of the necessities of life for days, and on their arrival ate ravenously. Most of them were Prussian Guards and Bavarians, and the number who had the Iron Cross ribbon in their buttonholes was eloquent testimony to the type of enemy troops our new armies have been fighting.
In one great branch of the clerical departments is kept a complete record of every British soldier from the hour of his arrival in France to his departure, or death. Think of the countless essential correspondence and forms that must
necessarily be filled up to achieve that end efficiently and with accuracy.
Another department, which exists for the satisfaction of relatives and possible decisions in the Court of Probate, keeps an exact record of the time of death and place of burial of every officer and private soldier in France, whether he comes from the British Islands or the dominions. Such establishments necessarily demand the use of much clerical labor.
It should be remembered always, in regard to such a department as that which follows the course of every soldier in France, that a Tommy is a difficult person to deal with. It is more than possible that there is a considerable number of men who have been reported as missing and dead who are not missing or dead at all. One case was discovered while I was at a certain office. It was that of a soldier who had been reported missing for more than a year, but who was found in comfortable surroundings doing duty as an army cook in a totally different part of the field to that in which he disappeared.
A Pathetic Duty There are countless departments of which the public knows nothing. I have only space and time to deal with one more. It is that which watches over the recovery of the effects of dead men and officers. There are separate departments for each, but I only saw that affecting the men.
The work begins on the battlefield and in the hospitals, where I saw the dead bodies being reverently searched. A list is carefully made there and then, and that list accompanies the little familiar belongings that are a part of every man's life to one of the great bases on the lines of communication. The bag is there opened by two clerks, who check it once more, securely fastening it, and sending it home, where it eventually reaches the next of kin. I watched the opening of one such pathetic parcel during the final checking. It contained a few pence, a pipe, a photo of wife and bairn, a trench ring made of the aluminium of an enemy fuze, a small diary, and a pouch. It was all the man had.
Preparing the Somme Offensive
First, the ground must be prepared. The engineer corps construct railroads: lines of normal gauge, with large capacity, along which circulate enormous
They told me that nearly every soldier said: “I gave my son to the war, you carries a souvenir. In one haversack was have had him, you might at least return found a huge piece of German shell which all his property intact. Where are the had probably been carried for months. pair of gloves and zinc ointment he had The relatives at home set great store on with him? these little treasures, and though the The work of collecting these last meproper officials to address are those at mentos of the dead is carried out with the War Office, London, the people in promptness, care, and very kindly feeling, France are often in receipt of indignant despite the monotony of the task, which letters from relatives asking why this or begins in the morning and goes on to that trifle has not been returned.
the evening, a task which is increasing One of them which arrived that day daily with the size of the war.
By a French Officer [Translated for CURRENT HISTORY MAGAZINE from L'Illustration] T will be one of the greatest claims tonnages of munitions, supplies of every
to honor of the French General kind, and also the heavy guns mounted Staff that during the very height on rails; lines of twenty-four inches
of the battle of Verdun they staged gauge, which will make it possible to the offensive on the Somme. The Ger carry munitions far forward, and which mans, on their part, had had, from the will form a network serving all the declose of the battle of Champagne (Sep pots. It is necessary to lay the rock tember-October, 1915) to the last days ballast, and for this purpose quarries of February, 1916, four months of rela are opened and worked, a system of militive calm on the western front, to pre tary trains established. And when the pare their undertaking on
the Meuse, track has been laid it is necessary to (Verdun.) On the contrary, it was while construct the stations and platforms. victoriously resisting the most powerful Plank villages thus rise from the earth effort of the German Army that our in a few days. high command conceived and realized an To fix the position of munition deother battle.
pot is a problem. It must be hidden What the preparation of an offensive from the enemy's view, as much as possiis we shall try to indicate by broad ble in a dead angle, in order that it may strokes. The region behind the battle escape artillery fire. About the depots, front is an immense workshop, in which along the roads everywhere, it is necesthe instruments of battle are manufact sary to dig shelters, to establish firstured; arms, munitions, material of every aid posts, to burrow into the earth. kind, brought regularly to the advanced While these excavations are going on depots and put at the disposal of the other forces of men build new roads, leaders for the execution of their plans.
widen the old roads, mend them, reguThe representatives of the nation, the
late traffic on them. Further forward people
, all will co-operate, each accord they are working at the trenches, at the ing to his rôle. The advanced position connecting trenches, which must be wide becomes a great storeyard, in view of and numerous, and at the troop quar
ters. This is only a part of the task. Add the reconnoissance of artillery emplacements, the installation of platforms, the organization of the ground. And all this activity, carried out through several
the coming battle.
weeks, must escape the notice of the enemy, his observers and aviators must discover nothing of it. But we, on the contrary, must be perfectly informed as to what is going on within his lines.
It has been told how, before the release of our offensive and during its opening days, the German Drachen were rendered incapable of accomplishing their work by our aviators. Since that time the enemy “ sausages
" have only attempted a few ascensions at long intervals, and quickly interrupted by the apparition of one of our pilots. And just as the captive balloons were unable to remain in the air, so the German aviators were unable to pass behind our lines. But if the enemy was ignorant of our preparations, we were well informed as to his organization. The position of his lines, the defensive works, the gun emplacements, had all been sighted and measured.
The destruction caused by our artillery was regularly followed. In order to learn the effect of a shot several means are employed. The first is to send patrols to find out the condition of barbed-wire entanglements and defensive works. But human testimony is always fallible; the conditions of observation during the night are bad; it is possible to see one point and not see a neighboring point, or to be completely prevented from seeing anything by bullets or machine-gun fire. But we have at our disposal an eye which makes no mistakes: the eye of the photographic lens-and aerial photography is yet another new tool for our aviators.
Every evening before the battle of the Somme was begun a map of the German trenches was drawn up, in accordance with what the photographs revealed. On it was distinctly marked what had been completely destroyed, what was not, and what was incompletely indicated. Thus, the corps were informed as to the work of their artillery and as to what remained to be done. The conditions of a complete preparation were wanted. And they were gained, to the complete satisfaction of our infantrymen. The German first-line trenches were leveled; the nets of barbed wire,
however closely woven they might be, were annihilated; the most substantial organizations were knocked into ruins.
One of the first problems of armies during a campaign is that of communications. It can be imagined to what a degree, in a war in which the fronts have become stabilized, among an infinity of wheels and organisms, this problem is complicated, and what an amount of new works an offensive will require. In this domain the installation of telephone lines dominates everything. It could never have been imagined beforehand to what an extent they would be employed. In August, 1914, if the General Staffs of the armies were connected by telephone with their army corps, that was as far as matters went. In the war of movement there were, to carry orders, connecting agents and messengers.
Today not a service but has its telephone line, and in constant use. For the artillery, the telephone is the indispensable auxiliary; it is by telephone that the observers in balloons communicate with the batteries. Therefore, how much work and what consumption of telephone wire! On July 15, 1916, 12,420 miles of 'wire were in use in the army of the Somme. A thousand telephone operators were employed. Wireless telegraphy also renders precious services, particularly in the control of gunfire. But each of these organs of the army would deserve a special study, and our purpose is only to show what a battle is.
When these immense works of organization have been accomplished, when what would require a year and more in normal life has been realized in a few weeks, when everything is in place, the hour of battle arrives. The date is chosen, the hour is fixed, the moment when the assault is to begin.
Then from the lines of departure, from which they have started, to the enemy positions which they are approaching, the actual fighters have to play their part. In the complexity of the conflict, the dispersion of the action, and the episodes of the battle, the high command of the army does not intervene. It will recommence its activity as soon as the general devel
opment of the situation becomes known and the workmen must be brought forto it; up to that moment it is the leaders ward, then, to begin with; the loose earth of the small units who orient the battle. in the enormous holes left by the largeIt is they who work for success. But be
calibre shells must all be removed and hind them the immense, minutely regu replaced by pebbles; then earth must be lated machine is carrying on its work. added and the whole rammed down hard.
To begin with, it is necessary to be in And this difficult task has often been formed, quickly and well, as to the posi- performed under enemy shells. tions attained. Reinforcements must be Each day the ravages of the day bepushed forward, and the battle must be fore must be repaired. The arrival of fed. All the experiments which have supplies must be made secure, the pas-, been made are utilized in order that con sage of carts and movable kitchens must nections may work as perfectly as possi be provided for; new emplacements for ble. Heliographs, flags, optical signals, batteries and for observers must be Bengal fire, runners when the lines are sought; drinking water must be brought cut-every system is put into use. But -13,200 gallons, at least, for each army the services of the infantry airmen have corps; the crews of well sinkers must be been particularly remarkable. And the pushed forward to the conquered villages, officers detailed to orient the artillery, the water must be sampled, tested for going forward with the waves of the as poisons, for it may always be feared sault and followed by a telephonist un that the conquered Germans, before rolling his reel, keep the firing batteries abandoning a position, may have poiperfectly informed as to the points hit soned the wells. The depots of munitions and the shots to make. The barrier fire and material must also be moved forfollows the movements of the infantry in ward, the troops who are to take up positheir advance.
tions in an unknown territory must be The infantry has reached the objectives oriented, the traffic control must be orwhich were fixed for it. It must now ganized. stop there and consolidate its position. And in the rear, while the front is beBehind it also begin the organization ing organized, the animation redoubles of the conquest and the preparation for and extends. The convoys come up in the next battle.
order, the regiments march toward their First the communications. The teleph- destined stations, the wagons of the sanionists install a new network, utilize tary department go and return, and the the newly won emplacements, place their railroads are busy. Along the road reapparatus. The French advance on the served for motor traffic the regulating north and on the south of the Somme, commission exercises its function, as it and during the first ten days of the was organized in the Verdun region, each battle they install 500 miles of new tele of its divisions assuring good circulation phone wires. The blocked passages of along a fixed space. the deeper trenches, broken down by Everything is order and method. Each shells, are put in order. The materials one knows his rôle—and fills it.