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The Great War

News Reports From the Front
100 Years Ago This Month

November 1914

November 6

Nightly blackouts

The yellow glare which usually floods the London sky on an evening has almost disappeared, and the lights of the metropolis are still diminishing. In the darkness overhead the rays of the searchlight dart here and there in search of hostile aircraft, vivid columns of brilliance which are a strange contrast to the feeble glimmer of the streetlights. The shop windows with their gay decorations are blotted out, window lights have become things of the past. Londoners, however, have accepted this altered condition with resignation in the belief that the dark is their best protector.

The lights in tramcars and motor buses become dimmer every evening. Recently the tramcars traveled with every blind drawn, and they spread across the bridges in total darkness. Now new electric lamps have been installed. These have a bluish black glass, and the city workers returning home cannot even read the evening papers.

War tax stamps are coming

The internal revenue service has issued notice that the new license stamps to be issued on account of the war tax and which are effective today will be received before November 15. As soon as they are received those affected will be expected to call and pay the tax promptly. The class affected by the tax include: bankers, brokers, custom home brokers, commission merchants, theaters, museums, concert halls, tobacco dealers. The general stamp tax, which will affect the public the most, does not go into effect until December 1.

War dispatches from the front

Monday - The Petrograd correspondent of the London Observer sends the following: "According to report being circulated in Army circles, Russia has recently been approached regarding the concluding of a peace with Germany. It is said that the German Emperor wrote a personal letter to the dowager empress, urging her to persuade the Russian Emperor to make peace. The dowager empress forwarded the letter onto Emperor Nicholas, who sent it to the Grand Duke Nicholas, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army. The Grand Duke returned the letter with this comment: "If you comply, our armies will mutiny, and there will be a revolution in all of Russia."

The Russians are reported advancing all along the Eastern front. If the present campaign is not checked by the Germans is said that West Galicia will be taken for the Tsar. Berlin reports that the Kaiser’s men are being rapidly reorganize for another offensive move.

Tuesday - Turkish armies are massing on the Caucasus frontier with Russia and to Turkish armies are nearing the frontier of Egypt. In addition Turkey is mining the Dardanelles and is sending Mullahs to preach Jihad in Asia and Africa.

Thursday - In spite of a loss of almost 30,000 men, Allied intelligence does not believe the Germans are not preparing for a general retreat through Belgium, but rather for final supreme assault within the next few days. The Germans have assembled an army of half a million men, but the troops, according to the Allies are weary, and made up of youthful and age recruits. In response the Allies have been throwing fresh forces into Belgium.

Friday - The most overwhelming reversal the German have experienced so far against the Russians has taken place in the south of Poland, where the left-wing of the Russian central army clashed with the right wing of the German invaders. The whole German campaign against Russia was now rapidly crumbling. The German army which is retreating from Poland has been overtaken. Military experts explain that the passing of the Germans from the offense to the defense is due to reported withdrawal of seven army corps (280,000 men) from Poland to the western theater of the war.

November 13

Something about submarines

The submarine is one of the most important factors in the navies of the European nations now at war. It has a narrow deck, above which rises a conning tower, containing the watertight door, and a periscope, a reflecting instrument by means of which what is happening above water maybe seen by those in the submerged vessel. The periscope is, unfortunately, visible at some distance, so that if the submarine wishes to escape observation it must plunge altogether below the surface and travel "blind" through the water. Submarines have, to a great extent, superseded torpedo boats for purposes of attack. The most modern type of British submarine, has a displacement of 200 tons below water, runs 21 knots on the surface, and carries six torpedo tubes and four 12 pounder guns mounted on disappearing platforms.

It is submerged at will by the emission of water to ballast tanks, and is raised to the surface by pumping out the tanks. The motive power is supplied by a gasoline engine for use when on the surface, and an electric engine for use when submerged. Compressed air for the crew when under water is stored in cylinders and can supply air sufficient to last the crew 24 hours.

British have lost most ships

Although it is almost impossible to ascertain the exact number of losses, both in ships and men, which have been sustained by the German and British navies, the figures which have been obtained from various admiralty statements and newspaper sources show the British are the heaviest losers. The Germans it is true, have lost more vessels than the enemy; but the total tonnage is against the English. Whereas 21 German warships have been destroyed, and their displacement is 88,887 tons, only 17 British ships have been lost but with a displacement of 114,890 tons.

War dispatches from the front

Saturday - The second attempt of the German right wing army to blast its way to the coast and cut off Belgium has failed. After many days of hard fighting, thebattlefields are held only by the dead, dying and wounded. The Allies blew up dykes to flood the path of the Germans, but in doing so, they have made the vicinity uninhabitable for the living and having prevented an advance of the British, French and Belgians. Thousands of Germans left behind in the retreat doubtlessly will perish, as many were marooned in the rising waters like driftwood. The outcome of battle should decide whether Germans are going to reach the French coast this winter.

Sunday - Extending over a line of 350 miles, from the Baltic to the Carpathians, the vast Russian army is advancing rapidly, driving the Germans and Austrians before them, inflicting terrible losses. Encouraged by the victories the Russians are determined to clear Poland of the invading Germans, and wage a relentless war in Germany.

Monday - Great numbers of Russian troops are passing through gaps torn in the German armies on the Eastern front. All Poland, excepting the section in the extreme Southwest, is cleared of German troops. In southwestern Poland the enemy is falling back, unable to withstand the onslaught of the Russians who are striking heavily to take Kraków, the "Gateway of Silesia." Austrian and German forces are falling back upon that city, which is strongly fortified, in an attempt to prevent the Russian from occupying it. The capture of Kraków by the Russians would permit them immediately to launch a third Army to join its forces headed towards Berlin.

The Germans are weakening their forces now fighting against the French and British to help stem the tide of losses in the East. Reports have been received of the movement of German troops from the Western front. Long military trains filled with men and munitions are being sent to reinforce the armies now retreating from Poland.

It is mere speculation, of course, to say that Germany may be forced to withdraw from Belgium. In any event, a German retirement from Belgian probably would be very slow as the forces of the Kaiser have made the entire country behind her battle lines one vast fortification, with trenches, even more carefully prepared than those they are still holding in France

Tuesday – An official announcement was made by the Ottoman empire that a Turkish army has invaded Egypt. The following dispatch from Constantinople was provided to news reporters: "With the help of the Almighty, the Turkish army crossed the Egyptian frontier on Sunday. " The Ottoman commander expects the inhabitants of Egypt to join the Turkish army in the fight against Britain. No information was given out as to the size of the Turkish force that invaded Egypt.

Rumors persist in London that unrest has developed among the vast Muslim population in India. Although official statements minimize the danger of the situation in India, is admitted that the call to a holy war issued by the head of the Muslims in Constantinople has had its effects. In addition Hindu agitators have called upon their followers to throw off the British yoke.

Wednesday - From Tokyo comes reports that a Japanese army may be sent to the West to assist the British, French and Belgians in the struggle on the battlefields of Europe. The suggestion has not yet taken tangible form, but the idea is attracting increasing attention and finds support in military circles. The sending of a Japanese army to the west would be without precedent and one, which would emphasize the extent of the present conflict – it would be a true ‘World War.’

Thursday - Driving forward with increasing fury and battling more violently than any time since they made their stand along the Aisne River, the Germans hammered the defense of the Allied forces along the full western battle line to the coast. Germany is making frantic efforts to stem the tide of defeat on the eastern war front.

Friday - Germany’s attack along the extreme right of the western front has been checked, temporarily. Hurling fresh forces to the breach, the French, Belgian, and British repulsed all the attacks of the invaders and forced him to retire to their original line of trenches.

November 20

Cost of feeding the troops

The amount of bread eaten daily by the German soldier in the field would make a loaf 393 feet high and weigh 60 million pounds. A week’s supply of potatoes would make a tuber 188 feet high and weigh 120 million pounds. The figure given out for the standard ration, is probably a very different thing from that actually being consumed along the great battle formation, where there is a great flexibility as to the food to be used. The Kaiser has always expressed a lively interest in his soldiers’ food, and he has not infrequently ridden up to the field bakeries and sampled the products of their ovens.

Some idea of the enormous expense of the war will be gained from the fact that the daily cost of provisions for the combined armies would be 14.5 million dollars without the expense of transportation, which would be 4.2 million more each day.

German Spies

A particularly ingenious example of the method employed by German spies at the front for communicating information to the troops is given in the London Times.

"A favorite sign of the German spies is a black cow. This animal, crudely sketched in black crayon on walls, gates and fences, was frequently noticed by the French as they passed and was so badly drawn that it aroused no suspicion. The only remark it called forth was that it was much out of proportion. Sometimes it was small, sometimes large, and often the horns were ridiculously long in comparison with the rest of the animal.

A small cow signified that the road was only weakly defended; a moderate sized cow meant that Allied troops were in the neighborhood; a large cow was warning that they were earthworks and trenches nearby. The direction in which the cow’s head pointed indicated where the danger was. If it pointed into the air, that meant that the Germans have better reconnoiter the ground by airplane before advancing.

War dispatches from the front

Saturday - The Russian advance into German territory is not going ahead with the same speed that marked the earlier days of the invasion. The Germans have reached territory which they are familiar and are turning giving battle bravely and contesting every inch of ground. Great earthworks, have been thrown up by the Kaiser's troops in Prussia and they are preparing to offer stubborn resistance to stem the movement of the Czar’s forces.

It is certain, however, that the most decisive battle on the eastern campaign has begun at Kraków. At this point the Austrian and German armies have concentrated and had the advantage of the fortifications of Kraków. The fortifications have been greatly strengthened and are now among the most formidable in the world. The Czar’s army, which seeks entrance into Silesia, must first pass Kraków, and it is probable that this objective can be obtained only by great sacrifice.

Sunday - Reports received from Constantinople say that the Turkish army in the Caucuses is attacking the Russians and that the Russians are retreating along the entire front.

Monday - Russia's advance on Kraków is believed to be in danger. Military strategists believe they either Germany is preparing for another invasion of Poland or a flanking movement against the Russian’s moving on Kraków is to be made.

On the Western front, as a result of heavy rains a big force of Germans cut off around Dixmude is in danger of being annihilated by Allied forces. All over West Flanders fighting continues in snow and water ankle-deep. To stem attacks by the Allies German forces had been blowing up dikes to flood fields.

Tuesday – Russian war office announcements are not so cheering to the populace as they had been in the past two weeks. From all points along the line, come reports that Austrian and German armies are now offering stubborn resistance. The skirmishes that marked the Russian advance in southwestern Poland last week have now developed into general battles and the Tsar’s armies have failed to clear a path to Kraków.

On the western front, a blizzard accompanied by intensely cold weather, is sweeping over the battlefield. In Flanders, the Germans have continued their attempts to cut their way to the seacoast. All attacks by the invaders have been repulsed with severe losses.

Despite the flooding conditions of battlefields and trenches, which is hampered both armies and their offensive operations, the battles continues but without the intensity that characterized the battles of last week. Artillery duels for the most part are taking place with an occasional sally by infantry forces. Although there is a lull in the battle of Flanders. The two sides continue to deliver attacks on other sections of the right wing of the German battlefront, but these operations have availed neither side much, and they practically hold the original lines.

Thursday - A Russian army, comprising several corps (about 80,000 men) has been completely routed, by the German army. 23,000 Russians were captured in this battle. Whether the latest German victories in the East stop the Russian advance cannot yet be foretold, but they undoubtedly have resulted in giving the Germans an excellent strategic position, and at the same time increasing the difficulties of the Russian situation.

Friday - The flag of the United States has been fired upon by Turkey. Cannon shot was hurled at the cruiser Tennessee by the Turkish forts at Samaria. The Tennessee got underway and is now anchored in a Greek port. Before regarding the firing upon the American ship as a hostile act, officials are inclined to wait for the reports, and hold to the belief that it might have been a misunderstanding of the act of some local official which will quickly be corrected in Constantinople.

No change in the operations in Russian Poland have been more startling than the sudden resumption of the offensive by the Germans, a movement by which the heart of the Russian line has been attacked and Warsaw again threatened. As usual, conflicting reports arrived from the neighborhood of these operations. But clearly a great battle is underway in western Poland. It is equally clear that the Russian advance has been brought to a halt.

The latest official communications regarding the operations on the western battlefield are much the same as those for preceding days. There has been fighting virtually all along the front, but without an appreciable change in the situation.

November 27

Allies need woolens

Agents from the British and French governments announced here that they were in the market for 1,350,000 wool sweaters, 600,000 woll stomach bands, 1,600,000 wool gloves and 500,000 pairs of wool socks. In order that they may be purchased quickly and advertisement was placed in almost every commercial newspaper on the East Coast. It was said that the goods were required for prompt delivery, and that orders would be given immediately and that payment would be made in cash for goods delivered in New York.

Warships may use canal

The Panama Canal is open to vessels of war of all nations; the only condition is that they shall not remain in the canal longer then it is necessary to make the passage, nor it even are of the terminal ports beyond the time necessary to take on coal or supplies.

The cost of moving a fleet of big ships through the waterway will be considerable. The established warships toll is 50 cents per displacement ton. Allowing the British vessel to be the average size of the European Dreadnought, the bill would be about $87,500. The British squadron now on its way to the canal would be the first European belligerent ships to pass through the waterway since the start of the war.

War stops sale of vodka

The discontinuance of the sale of vodka in Russia has greatly improved the condition of the inhabitants of that country according to dispatches from Petrograd. Peasants who before the war have fallen into hopeless depravity have emerged into self-respecting citizens. The effect on character is already visible in neatly brushed close instead of the former ragged and slovenly attire. Huts which were formerly dilapidated are now kept in good condition. People now say 55% of their earnings, which formally was spent for drink, and they have increased their earnings capacity through sobriety. The extra money is now devoted to the necessities and comforts of life

War dispatches from the front

Saturday - In Flanders, an artillery duel, described during the last few days as furious, has become more violent, on the part of the Germans at least. Heavy fighting has resumed in the Argonne Forest, where some of the most severe encounters of the war have raged during the last two months. Fighting between the Germans and Allied forces in the inundated territory, on the Northeast seacoast, is now frequently carried out in boats In a battle between two squadrons of airplanes one airship of the allies and one of the Germans was lost.

Sunday - Strong Russian forces that have been involved in the Russian advance in East Prussia, have been driven back 60 miles to the river Bug, and the Germans are now about 25 miles northwest of Warsaw.

Military experts feel the Russians have been lured into a trap laid by German General. Von Hindenburg. If the German successes continue, a debacle will ensue that will set the Russian campaign back for the six months. The Russians have once more displayed the lack of military ability for which they are noted, they permitted themselves to be forced southward, and if German forces advance as rapidly as they have in the last three days, they will cut off the Russian retreat upon Warsaw. In such an eventuality they'll be forced to retreat southward into the waiting arms of the Austrian army that is advancing from Kraków

Monday - There is a lull in the battles along the front in Belgium and northwestern France, in large measure to the intensely cold weather and the flooded conditions on the highways in that section. Infantry attacks were halted along the western end of the battle line due to the intensely cold weather. In this weather the armies are compelled to live in the devastated territory, where there are no houses to give shelter or warmth.

Large bodies of German engineers have you seen passing towards the front, and it is believed that the Germans are planning to cross the flooded country by scientific engineering methods.

Tuesday - For the time being the Eastern area of war is absorbing the energies of the Germans, where their blow at the Russian advance seems to have penetrated far into Russian Poland. Tremendous battles are occurring all along the line. The current battles will not only affect events in the western theater of war, but is likely to have a great effect on the duration of the war.

Wednesday - In Flanders and France, armies seem to be enjoying a long deserved rest, for the only remaining evidence that belligerents are facing each other is an occasional bombardment with heavy guns. Infantry attacks have temporarily ceased, and while the generals are laying their plans for the next move the men are getting a chance to rest and to tidy themselves up after a month in watery trenches. An eyewitness to recent battles confirm the reported heavy losses the Germans have suffered in recent attacks. He speaks of hundreds of dead left before the trenches and the batches of bodies found in farmhouses. The fighting of the last five weeks have cost close to 100,000 lives on both sides.

Thursday - Steadily pressing South the German forces in Russian Poland, under Gen. von Hindenburg, continue to capture territory. It said that the German advance has penetrated further into Poland that hitherto has been disclose, and that Warsaw for the second time since the outbreak of hostilities, is threatened by the German armies

Friday - A bomb from a German airship fell in front of the American consulate in Warsaw, breaking the windows of the consulate, but injuring no one within. Several persons in the street in front of the consulate were killed. The incident was regarded in Washington as indicating the proximity of the German advance guard to Warsaw.

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