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ated, for no real communica- week the German Emperor tion could be established be- gave Hindenburg a decor&tween them on the lower tion that has only been given reaches of the Somme below on one other single occasion Amiens. Onoe separated, in Prussian history, to Blücher Ludendorff could take breath, after Waterloo : perhaps St and fling his mass of manœuvre Quentin is the greatest Gerof 100 divisions against each man viotory of the war. separately and in turn, either It is certainly the greatest the reduced British pressed defeat we have ever suffered against the Channel ports, or in our history, measured by the Frenoh with a vast front any standard. By Wednesto oover.
day, 26th March, the units of Daring the week-end, there. Gough's army had officially fore, at London, Paris, and been considered as having Versailles, disastrous events ceased to exist. Of the were discussed and desperate greatest British army ever resolutions taken: measures assembled, then 57 divisions, for the evacuation of Paris between a third and a quarter were considered. Clemenceau had been wiped out. In deolared he would fight to the Flanders and in Picardy, bePyrenees, and oaloulations were tween 1st June 1917 and made whether it would be 30th April 1918, a period of possible to re-embark and save eleven months, between 600,000 the remainder of the British and 650,000 Englishmen beArmy. But, however deter- oame Casualties. Never bemined their statesmen might fore, therefore, have Englishbe, the two nations might have men been slaughtered at such refused to make a further effort. a rate and on such a soale; The loss of Amiens might in- and at the end of this period volve the loss of the war: every. the remainder were still on thing hung upon it. Viotory, the brink of ruin, from which therefore, was again within the only their “usual tenacity” grasp of the Germans.
saved them. Ludendorff proudly says the The prognostios of Sir Henry Germans at St Quentin did Wilson and Foch in the prewhat no one else had done in oeding autumn were fulfilled the war. But even the Ger- as if by programme. The Germans must be given their mans, impelled by a single due, and he mistakes his own will, had in turn endeavoured achievement. After resisting to orush the separate armies for nearly two years the at. of the Allies—the Italians at tempts of Allied armies almost Caporetto, and the British at twice their size to break St Quentin-and very nearly through their front, the Ger- suoceeded. The system of mans themselves broke through three independent oommandersthe Allied front with a bare in-chief had been disastrous on equality of forces, and this the defensive for just the same with a plan of operations reason they had predioted, that that was faulty. During the the help which one commanderin-ohief would give a colleague theregion of Compiegne-Villersin danger would be either in- Cotterets,” that is to say, to the sufficient or too late, or both, north of Paris. He points out and oould only be decided by a that it was an irretrievable supreme authority superior to mistake of Ludendorff's to them all. From the first week oross the Aisne with &“master of Maroh, when the plan of a of manoeuvre” like Fooh in General Reserve was aban- possession of these wooded doned, Gough's army was hills. Bat Ludendorff bad doomed. During the fortnight committed no less an error in that preceded the battle no Maroh (and Fooh had antione on the immediate staff of oipated it) when he pushed Fooh had any doubt that & across the Somme. If Fooh oatastrophe was inevitable. had been allowed, as he inThe future historian of the war tended, to concentrate the bulk oan easily satisfy himself of the of his General Reserve in these acouracy of their forecast. same wooded hills of Com. There are two doouments, short piegne, a mass of Allied diviand simple, whioh for this, as sions, issuing from them, would well as every other battle of have fallen on the German the war, tell the story of the flank in Maroh with an even engagement at a glance, the more deadly weight than in order of battle of the Allied July. Fooh in the summer armies and the diary of G.H.Q.; only returned to his original these are worth for any battle Maroh maneuvre, just as all the mountain of doouments Ludendorff returned to his that exist. The battle disposi. original error. tion for Maroh 21 shows the On Sunday, Maroh 24, Haig Allied Reserves were so dig- himself appealed to Lon. posed that none of them would don for a supreme authority reach Gough in time to save over both armies. Mr Lloyd him, and the diary of G.H.Q. George sent over Lord Milner that they did not.
and Sir Henry Wilson, who at It might have been far other- Doullons, on Tuesday, met wise. The“ terrible blow," as M. Clemenceau : he still vaoil. Major Grasset oalls it, which lated between Petain and Fooh, Fooh inflicted on the Germans but, as Major Grasset tells us, at the Marne in July 1918, "on the proposal of the British might just as well, and perhaps Government,” Fooh was given more effeotively, have been authority to “00-ordinate the dealt on the Somme in Maroh. action of the two armies." When in June Ludendorff Thus at the end of March Fooh orossed the Aisne and prepared was put again in the position to cross the Marne, Major into which he had been placed Grasset says, Fooh, then the at the end of January. To Generalissimo and with power Mr Lloyd George we owe Sir to do what he willed, “divined Henry Wilson, and to Sir the error the enemy would Henry Wilson, Foob. make,” that “he magsed his von Hatier, according to reserves in the wooded hills of plan, was due in Amiens on
Reserves of them conva over ce sont or Wilson, wh met
20.sy of G.H.Q. Govor both armieme authority
Sunday, but had been kept man, now sixty-seven years baok by the “usual tenacity” old, who had snatched the of our troops, which (as prize from the Germans in 1914 Hindenburg says in his newly in Lorraine and Champagne, published 'Aus Meinem Leben') just when it was in their grasp, 80 often repaired the errors of was to do so again in Picardy their leaders. On the Tues- in 1918, when again they had day, however, the Germans almost reached it. racing along the St Quentin. He was only appointed to. Amiens road, with their wards the middle of the day artillery and supplies left far on Tuesday. But at a quarter behind, suffering from hunger, to five, a few hours after his and with little strength left in appointment, he managed to them, were only 12,000 or get through to Debeney on the 13,000 yards away from the telephone; henow hadauthority town; the exact distanoe, to oommand. Heatonoe ordered therefore, within which the him to take all his troops Germans came to winning the out of the line farther south war may, perhaps, be exactly on a front of six miles, risk oomputed in yards: it is the leaving a gap there, and send space along this road which them up in front of Amiens. separated them from Amiens. Against these, on the WednesThe meeting at Doullens was day, the last effort of the not very sanguine of saving it, spent German wave broke and Fooh outlined his plans itself. of defence in case Paris had to So Fooh, as soon as he was be abandoned and the British given a chance, found in himarmies were driven back to the self at once, then, as before in ooast. On returning to London 1914, the means of retrieving Sir Henry Wilson reported to the faults and errors of other the War Cabinet next day, leaders, and 80 saved them, not very hopefully, that the but only just, on the edge of safety of Amiens depended on ruin. Within six months of the whether the French could oolleet day when he was given the sufficient troops there in time desperate task of commanding to defend the town. For south armies defeated and pressed of the Somme, where along the back to positions of the most main road the Germans were imminent disaster, those same expending all the strength that armies under his leadership was left in them to reach it, were thundering viotoriously there was nothing left but at the gates of the Hindenburg fragments of the Fifth Army, Line, the safeguard and the broken by five days oontinuous symbol of German domination, unrelieved fighting and retreat and the leaders of the invinAs Major Grasset says, a leader oible German hosts who had of less steely determination awed Europe for half a century than Fooh would probably have and very nearly overwhelmed oonsidered the situation hope it, had decided upon unoonless. But this same old gentle- ditional surrender.
THE LOSS OF THE SAPPAO.
“ Hail, snow and ice, which, praise the Lord : I've met them at their work, An' wished we had anither route, or they anither kirk.”
- RUDYARD KIPLING.
sh The Engneedn't suppof try
ing to of the Admin suspeot the
The last of the cargo had ward bound ships at 9 A.M. to. boon hoisted on shore, the morrow; they've just brought hatohes were all covered and me my orders." secured, and the Chief Officer “The Lord be praised,” ingave a sigh of relief as he left terposed the Chief Engineer the deck and hurried into the piously; "it's the best bit of weloome warmth of the saloon. nows I've heard for two months It was terribly cold outside. or more.” Winter had come unusually “How are we off for early, and with quite unlooked- bankers ?” said the Captain, for severity. For the last fort. addressing the last speaker; night the thermometer had not “my orders are to call in for stood above zero, and had often coal at Kola Inlet if we are been 20° below, and now in short.” the first week of December The Engineer smiled. “I 1915 the river at Arkhangel reokon we needn't suspeot the was covered with two feet of Lords of the Admiralty of try
ing to make puns, but I'm in“Thank God that's over at elined to think we shall be last,” he exolaimed. “I don't coaling at Kola all right in think I could have stood an- about ten days time, as we other day of it myself, and I'm shan't have enough to get pretty sure half the orew home. We've got enough for would have ohuoked their ten days, that's all.” hands in if it had gone on “What are the latest remuch longer. Working oargo ports of the ice in the is no joke in this sort of Gorla, sir?” asked the Chief weather, and four or five of Officer. them had their ears frost. “All the other ships are bitten this afternoon."
believed to have got through The Captain, to whom these safely without much trouble," remarks were addressed, put replied the Captain ; "and the down the book he had been Russians say there ought not reading, and rose from his to be any quantity there for obair.
at least a fortnight. I'm more "You can certainly thank frightened of those blinking God you've finished," he re- mines than I am of the ice, as plied, “because we're just in all the trawlers have had to time to get away and save stop sweeping for the rest of wintering here. We are to be the year." ready to go down the river "Well, anyhow, thank God with the last batch of home. We're off," said the Chief Officer, "and may I never see to salt water being largely this perishing place again. responsible for this. The My next trip will be to the weather was still bitterly Indian Ooean if I can possibly cold, and a fresh northerly manage it."
wind was blowing, with occaNext day the Sappho joined sional snow-showers. & procession of four or five Before very long clear water ships of various sizes, who was encountered, and by the were slowly following the morning of the second day the leading ice-breaker down the Sappho was the last of the river. There were constant little batoh of ships, and there stoppages and delays, and was nothing to be seen of her the thirty miles to the Bar companions except an 0008took the whole day and part sional patoh of smoke far of the night; but it was ahead between the snowsafely accomplished without squalls. serious accidents. Quite & The Sappho at her best was number of British ships were not a fast ship, but now, in passed in the river, lying at her light condition, and with different unloading stations the necessity of husbanding or waiting for berths, and her coal, she was not able to the crew of the Sappho make more than three or four exchanged greetings as they knots in a strong wind. How. passed with the less fortunate ever, she was making progress, and envious crews who were and the ice was left behind; destined to spend the next and though no one on board five months in the darkness looked forward to a pleasant and cold of an Arotio yachting trip, still everybody winter.
realised that things might “A merry Christmas," shout. have been very much worse, ed the Captain to a friend and that they had a great deal whom he recognised on the to be thankful for bridge of a big ammunition. There was very little sea carrier which they passed close running, and the ship made at hand.
good weather of it, though a “Thanks, old chap; I'm certain amount of spray kept expecting it. Bully beef and washing over the forepart of melted snow is about all we've the ship, which froze solid got to be merry on. You're almost immediately it reached all right; you'll be just about the deck. Everything was soon home in time. Good look," covered with ice, creating a and the ships separated in weird and rather ghostly effeot the dusk,
in the twilight. The sun was Soon after passing the Bar only above the horizon for the ice thinned very consider. about an hour at noon, and ably, and before long the little the remaining twenty-three group of ships were able to hours were divided up between proceed on their way indepen- about five hours of twilight dently, the change from fresh and eighteen of darkness,