Page images

stantine of Greece was strengthened in his ob- Franco-Belgian line could be held intact for a stinate refusal to allow the Venizelist parlia few months longer, the Russian "hordes” would mentary majority to make war on Turkey; overwhelm Germany from the East, like an Prince von Buelow delayed the entry of Italy enormous military "steam-roller” or an irresistinto the war during the spring, when the Cen- ible “tidal wave.” After five months of the tral Powers needed all their troops on the Rus- war, neither "steam-roller" nor "tidal wave" sian and Franco-Belgian fronts. In justifying had materialized; the Russian invasion of Gal. Germany's submarine policy to neutral nations, icia was offset by the Teutonic invasion of Poand notably to the United States, the German land; several disastrous defeats had overtaken diplomatists were less successful, but at any Russian armies; and it was already becoming rate they avoided open rupture, without sac apparent that without adequate railway facil. rificing submarine warfare. The diplomacy of ities, without proper training and equipment, the Entente Powers, on the other hand, suf- and without sufficient ammunition, the “Rusfered two serious reverses. First, Italy could sian hordes” could not seriously menace Gernot be induced to throw in her lot with the Al- many. In short, by the close of the year 1914 lies until many months had been wasted in par. it had become reasonably clear that neither the ley. Second, by pursuing a mistaken policy in efficiency of the Germans nor the numbers of the the Balkans, the Entente not only failed to Russians would suffice to achieve an immediate achieve its object-the reconstitution of the victory. In 1915, consequently, the war reBalkan alliance against Turkey—but also es- vealed itself as a contest of endurance, in which tranged Rumania and Greece, so that instead mere battles might play a far less decisive rôle of entering the war in January, 1915, as had than political and economic factors. Regarding been expected, they remained neutral through the situation in this light, the principal factors out the year. Over against these failures may upon which the Allies might count may be be set one great accomplishment, the inclusion summarized briefly as follows: (1) The imof Italy and Japan in the Pact of London. The mense naval superiority of the British and AlPact of London, it will be recalled, was the lied fleets would enable the Allies to make full agreement signed in London by representatives use of their commercial and colonial resources, of Great Britain, France, and Russia, Sept. 5, to draw upon neutral nations for munitions and 1914, binding their respective nations not to food, to transport troops freely from the remake peace except in concert with the others. motest regions of Australasia to European batJapan was included in the agreement on Oct. tlefields, and possibly to "starve Germany out" 19, 1915. Italy's adhesion was announced by by destroying her commerce and cutting off her Baron Sonnino to the Italian Parliament, Dec. food-imports; (2) the Allies expected that 1, 1915. As far as pledges could bind, the Pact "Kitchener's army,” several millions strong, of London would be a bulwark of the solidarity amply supplied with munitions from English of the Coalition against the Quadruple Alliance, factories, would make possible a great offensive and would make it impossible for Germany to movement against the German lines in Belgium force her antagonists separately to surrender and France; (3) Italy's entry into the war upon humiliating terms. For further details seemed comparatively certain; (4) negotiations regarding the entry of Italy into the war, con- were under way, in January, for the reconsult the paragraph on that subject in this ar. stitution of the Balkan alliance of Bulgaria, ticle, and the separate article on ITALY; for de- Greece, Serbia, and Rumania, for a new war tails regarding the Balkan situation, see The against Turkey; (5) the attitude of a few Diplomatic Failure in the Balkans (infra) and Socialists in Germany (see GERMANY) and the the separate articles on ALBANIA; BULGARIA; publication of reports regarding popular unFRANCE; GREAT BRITAIN; GREECE; RUMANIA; rest in Austria-Hungary (see AUSTRIA-HUNSERBIA; TURKEY.

GARY) led Allied journals to predict an upris

ing of the masses against the ruling military IV. THE SITUATION ON Jan. 1, 1915

aristocracy in the Central Powers. On the other

hand, the Germans might hope: (1) That econThe course of the war in 1915 may be made omy, industrial efficiency, and submarines might intelligible only after the essential elements in compensate Germany for the loss of her overseas the situation at the beginning of the year have trade; (2) that the superior training and equipbeen clearly grasped. The battles of 1914, it ment of the German and Austro-Hungarian must first of all be remembered, were significant troops might more than counterbalance any principally because they exposed two momentous numerical superiority which the Allies might fallacies. The belief that before the terrific on- achieve; (3) that by skillful diplomacy Italy slaught of the German army, with its unrivaled might be persuaded to remain neutral, or at discipline and its ponderous howitzers, the re- least to delay a declaration of war until the sistance of France would wither and crumple Central Powers had further strengthened their up, was definitely relegated to the realm of fancy position; (4) that Bulgaria and possibly Ruby the battle of the Marne (Sept. 6-10, 1914); mania would espouse the Turco-Teutonic cause, the magnificent holding battle fought by the out of self-interest; (5) that the discontented French, after a long and a discouraging retreat, millions in Egypt and in India, as well as the effectively dispelled the illusion that the swift disgruntled Irish Nationalists and the pacifist Prussian victory over France in 1871 could be labor organizations in England, might cripple repeated in 1914. By the close of the year, the British Empire in the war; (6) that the therefore, a sudden decisive German victory in amazing inefficiency already revealed in certain the West was no longer hoped for-or feared. branches of the Allies' organization, the absence The second fallacy was the popular Anglo-French of unity in the Allies' political and military proconfidence in the hugeness of Russia. In the grammes, and the apparent inability of the autumn of 1914, military critics in Allied coun- British and Russian governments to command tries had cheerfully predicted that if the Anglo- the confidence of the people, might lend inval

[ocr errors]

uable assistance to the Central Powers; (7) Champagne country, northeast of Reims, and, finally, that the superior strategic situa- through Perthes across the forested ridge of tion of the Teutonic Powers, with their ability Argonne to the Meuse River, just west and to transfer troops quickly from point to point north of Verdun; (c) the eastern sector, swingon the battle-line, thanks to a wonderful system ing around the great fortifications of Verdun, of railway communications, would contribute to bending back sharply to the Meuse again at St. the ultimate achievement of victory.

Mihiel (about 10 miles south of Verdun), turn

ing east again from St. Mihiel to strike the V. MILITARY OPERATIONS

Moselle River at a point near the Lorraine

frontier, extending southeast along the Lorraine (1) The Allied Offensive in France: January

border, and crossing over the crest of the Vosges April.

into Upper Alsace, where Thann was still reThe first great German offensive in the West tained by the French. It will be observed that had been repulsed at the battle of the Marne the Belgians held only 18 miles and the British (Sept. 6-10, 1914); the second serious German only 31 miles of the front, while the French offensive in the West, the “drive to Calais," had army, about two and a half millions strong, debeen stopped in October and November by the fended the remaining 543 miles. valiant resistance of the Belgians on the Yser, (a) The fighting on the northern sector, the British colonials and French troops before from January 1st to April 21st, effected little Ypres, and the Anglo-French line in Artois. By change in the line. On the extreme north, the the beginning of January, 1915, the 600-mile Allies captured a sand dune of some strategic battle line in Belgium and France, extending importance just east of Nieuport, January 28th, from the coast of the Channel to the border of repelled German attacks at Ypres and west of Switzerland, had become almost stationary, and La Bassée, January 25th-February 5th, and capwas so formidably intrenched and fortified that tured a brickfield east of Cuinchy, February 6th. it could not possibly be broken except at a ter. The first ambitious offensive in this sector was rible cost of life and with an enormous expendi- undertaken on March 10th by the British, who ture of shells. Notwithstanding the difficulty, by this time numbered well-nigh 500,000 men. the Allies confidently planned to undertake a Early in the morning a terrific bombardment of general offensive movement during the spring the German trenches west of Neuve Chapelle

(about two-thirds the distance from Arras to

Armentières) and of the village itself prepared POSTOST S C HOLLANO LATERAL HOLLAND

the way for an infantry attack. Before noon Forene

the village of Neuve Chapelle, now a smolderj BRUSSELS MAASTE

ing heap of ruins, was completely in British EBROUEN BÈ LAGI U M Hur

possession. The attacking forces north of the village, where the artillery preparation had not been so effective in demolishing the German defenses, were caught in barbed wire entanglements and cruelly decimated by German machine-gun fire; but in spite of losses the attack

succeeded. On the afternoon of March 10th, Soissons

however, and on the two succeeding days, the

British failed to push their advantage with PERNAY CHALON

energy; the Germans were allowed to recover from the surprise and demoralization of the

sudden bombardment; the British artillery was SCALE: STAT. MILES so

poorly aimed during the cloudy weather of the second and third days' fighting, and as a result

of the destruction of telephonic communications ATA VESOUS Bronto

orders were imperfectly obeyed. Consequently

the British failed to gain the commanding ridge LA MONTEBELARUS

east of Neuve Chapelle. At the cost of 13,000

men Sir John French had advanced his line a ALLIES' LINE, JANUARY, 1915

mile or so, on a front of three miles. Three

days after the British offensive had come to a months of 1915. The progress made up to the standstill, the British minister of war, Lord fourth week of April, when the Allied offensive Kitchener, told the House of Lords that the was interrupted by a German counter-attack at supply of war munitions was causing him “very Ypres, will be more easily evaluated if the Al- serious anxiety." Sir John French's dispatch lied front is considered as three sectors: (a) the describing the battle of Neuve Chapelle, pubnorthern sector, extending in a line over a lished on April 14th, likewise referred to the hundred miles long from the Belgian town of pressing need of "an almost unlimited supply Nieuport east of Ypres and Armentières, west of ammunition.” Hence it may be concluded of Lille, east of Arras, west of Péronne, east of that one very potent factor in the British failRoye, and through Noyon to a point on the Oise ure to make Neuve Chapelle a great victory was River a few miles north of Compiègne, and held the lack of artillery support after the initial by Belgian and French troops from Nieuport to bombardment. This first move in the Allied of. Ypres, by British from Ypres to Béthune, and fensive on the northern sector met with ill sucby French alone from Béthune to the Oise; (b) cess; Lille had been its final objective, and Lille the central sector, exclusively French, from the had not even been seriously menaced. For over Oise to Soissons on the Aisne, following the a month no important action was fought on northern bank of the Aisne for perhaps twenty the northern sector, until the capture of a miles, then swinging southeast through the hill near Ypres (Hill 60) by the British, April



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small]

Photographs by Paul Thompsun


« PreviousContinue »