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The Great War

News Reports From the Front
100 Years Ago This Month

1914 - A most disastrous year abroad

Everything else that happened abroad during the year is completely overshadowed by the disastrous war, which has overtaken Europe.

Since that memorable day, July 23, 1914, when Austria made demands upon Serbia for reparations for the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife and for their anti-Austrian agitation, to which Serbia consented with but one exception, the world has been kept on edge by one big shock after another. After Serbia's reply proved unsatisfactory to Austria, Germany declared her intention of supporting Austria.

On July 28 Austria declared war on its little neighbor. Quickly thereafter the Kaiser proclaimed martial law throughout the German Empire. On August 1 Germany declared war on Russia, and France ordered mobilization.

Then followed a terrible period of suspension, which was to show the way the other powers would act. Europe has been divided into groups for the purpose of maintaining their balance of power. Germany, Austria and Italy for the Triple Alliance on one side, while Russia, France and England were pledged in a Triple Entente on the other.

Italy Backs Out

Italy showed her disinclination to be brought into the fight and announce that the alliance called for defense entirely. France and Russia were as tightly bound as Germany and Austria, but England had more freedom of choice. She hesitated only five days and then declared war on Germany, announcing it would be for the protection of Belgians neutrality, which had been violated after permission for German troops to cross into Belgian to attack France had been rejected. About this time the battle of historic city of Liege began, which withstood the German host so bravely until the giant guns were used.

Montenegro allied herself with Serbia, and Japan declared war against Germany and Austria and set out to capture the Tsingtao, the German port in China. Germany entered Brussels without any resistance on her way towards Paris, and the Belgian government fled to Antwerp.

Belgium Left In Ruin

By forced marches the Germans advanced into Belgium, leaving ruin and desolation in their wake. Historic city after historic city fell quickly. So quickly came the Germans, that the Allied armies were unable to muster their forces in sufficient numbers to make any appreciable stand against them.

The hastily organized British forces which had been landed in France, found it necessary to retreat, and the German Army entered upon French territory, where it was met by another German detachment, which had entered through Luxembourg , another neutral state. This combined strength crept forward until, a month after the war was declared, it was almost at the gates of Paris. The city, bustling with life and activity, was thrown into turmoil. The French government fell to Bordeaux, which became the capital.

Suddenly the Germans wavered, and then began to retreat, and for about 12 days, they showed their heels to the enemy. The German forces again collected for battle when the river Aisne was reached, and from then to now the famous method of warfare of digging deep trenches began.

Zeppelin Attacks Antwerp

Surprised as the Belgians were by the giant German siege engines, they were as greatly astounded by the early-morning attack upon Antwerp by a Zeppelin airship, bombs from which destroyed houses and killed citizens. Zeppelins have since then bombed cities occupied by noncombatants all across Europe. The streetlights of Paris are often extinguish at midnight to prevent Zeppelinís heading in the direction of the city to find it easily.

The Germans followed upon the success of the Zeppelins by providing pilots of aeroplanes with bombs, which they throw out of their cockpit as they fly over cities with little regard for the citizens below.

The world has seen the first battle in the air, between a zeppelin dirigible and aeroplanes. The zeppelin maneuvered clumsily and was unable to make use of her explosives. Bullets from the aeroplane found the balloons bellows which crumpled up. But in spite of all the shooting, the occupants of both the zeppelin and the aeroplanes returned to their bases.

That could not be said for the fighting on the ground.

With the fall of Antwerp, the German desire to control the coastline of Belgian and northern France became evident, it being conceded that they needed the command of the coast before they can commence an invasion of England with airships and troops.

The Russians on the German and Austrian frontier advanced more rapidly than was thought possible for their army. Alicia, the Polish province of Austria, quickly fell to the Tsarís men. Austria's defeat being almost decisive. Germany sent troops into Russian territory, but soon retreated towards home ground, and Russian troops pushed into Eastern Prussia. But they in turn had to flee before German reinforcements. The Russians once more organized and pressed back the Germans to their own country. Then came the memorable second march of the Germans towards Warsaw.

The Germans, benefiting from inside lines of communications and excellent railways, constantly shifted troops between the Western and Eastern front. No sooner had the Kaisersí troops been pulled from the Western front and thrown against the Russians on the Eastern front, then the Allies on the Western Front would go on the attack. Once the Germans had sent the Russians running, their troops were sent back to the Western front were they sent the Allies running. Only to be sent back again to the Eastern front to fight off the next Russian Offensive.

It was a great sea-saw battle were territory gained or lost in the West was measured in feet, while whole states changed hands in the East on almost a weekly basis, causing many residents in the East to have sets of both flags, ready to swap at a moments notice.

In the meantime the Austrians had captured Belgrade, the Serbian capital. Serbian asked Russia's permission to conclude peace with Austria, but before they got an answer, Austria was compelled to evacuate the city, and any thought of surrender ended.

The loss of several Austrian armies and the impending invasion by Russian into their heartland, led to informal offers for peace with Russia from the Austrians. But the Germans would have none of this, and assumed command of the Austrian armies and drove the Russians back, and any thought of peace between the two old monarchies ended.

The Austrians introduced a new remarkable engine of war for the first time. The machine, constructed on the principles of the ancient Roman catapult, throws barrels filled with stones and explosives at a high trajectory into the enemy's positions with terrible effect, the stones being split up into thousands of pieces and hurled over a wide area, killing hundreds with a single barrel.

After finishing off the Germans in Asia, Japan sent troops to both the Western as well as the Eastern fronts. The Japanese, known for their precision, have proved invaluable to the Russians as artillerymen, manning some of the big guns in the Russian artillery sections. Japanese troops made their way to the Eastern front by the way of the trans-Siberian Railway.

The entrance of the Turkish government into the war created indignation among Christians, and soon after Turkey's attack on Russian shipping on the Black Sea she declared a holy war. Constantinopleís troops soon arrived at the Egyptian border with the claim that an uprising of Mohammendan Tribes would overthrown British rule.

Closer to home however, Constantinople was facing British and French warships, with a fleet of troop ships, which were menacing the western entrance of the Dardanelles, with the conquest of Constantinople their object.

Submarine Surprise

On the sea the biggest surprise of the war was the work of the submarine. When the world was appraised of the sinking of the British cruisers Cressy, Aboukit, Hogue, and the Pathfinder, by the German submarine C-9, nearly all aboard drowning, it stood aghast at the possibilities of the little craft.

The Turkish battleship Messudieh was torpedoed by British submarine B-11, which entered the Dardanelles, and in spite of the strong current dived under five rows of mine and torpedoed the battleship. The B-11 return safely after being submerged, on one occasion, for nine hours.

Great Britain also lost the cruiser Hawke in a like manner, while the blowing up of the Dreadnought Audacious off the Irish coast was due to a mine. The British ship Bulwark also came in contact with a mine near the mouth of the Thames not far from London.

The German and British fleets met at the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. The battle was inconclusive. The British failed to prevent the German fleet from scattering and raiding allied shipping in the South Atlantic.

Meanwhile a German fleet slip through the British defenses in the Channel, which had made the coast of England inviolate for centuries and bombarded cities on the Northeast coast. It was the most daring and successful exploit the German Navy has performed in war. England was much alarmed an excited over the possibility of invasion. All the German ships which took part in the raid, escaped in the fog, dropping mines behind them for pursuing ships.

A fleet of British warships met an assembled fleet of German ships off the coast of Chile and gave battle. The British were defeated, losing two ships with all their men. The Germans suffered little damage. To avenge this England sent out a stronger fleet, which sank four German vessels, taking with them 2,000 men, off the south Atlantic coast of South America.

A short time before this battle the German cruiser Emden was destroyed by an Australian cruiser, thereby freeing the Indian Ocean of what would have proved to be a most disastrous enemy to the Allied shipping.

The American Governor of the Panama Canal has requested the Navy sent destroyers to help enforce neutrality in the waters of the Canal Zone, which have recently been the scene of naval battles between the German and combined Japanese and British fleets.

Death Toll to Date

The war so far has claimed over 800,000 Germans since the beginning of the war this summer. Travelers declared that the supplies with which the German armies were equipped for war are becoming exhausted. This is particularly true of petrol. Germany has issued a decree limiting the use of petrol and advising the use of alcohol instead.

The Swiss have the names of 90,000 French prisoners in Germany. The total losses of the French army is estimated to be 590,000 men since the beginning of hostilities. The British have admitted to at least 200,000 casualties to date. Russian casualties are unknown, but are estimated to top 1 million.

The final news dispatch of the year sums up the year in general: In the Western arena of the war the Allies continue to claim slow progress in some parts of the front, and the Germans success in others. The territory gained in most cases is the distance between opposing trenches.

On the Eastern front the Russians are advancing on the Austrians and retreating from the Germans. The troops of the Ottoman Empire are running in circles, and no more a threat then gnats on a hot summer night.

The only thing that can be predicted for sure in 1915, is that once beautiful fields across Europe will be strewn with the dead and the dying.

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