The War By Years
( Originally Published 1918 )
GERMANY'S military strength developed during forty years of preparation, and the offensive plans of the German High Command developed in connection with an extraordinary spy service in France, Belgium, Russia, England and the United States, culminated in a simultaneous campaign on land and by sea, affecting these five nations.
AUGUST 1, 1914-AUGUST 1, 1915
Belgium and Northern France were overrun by a German invading force under General von Kluck. The heroic effort of the French army under General Joffre and a supreme strategic thrust at the German center by General Foch turned back the German tide at the battle of the Marne. The scientific diabolism of the German High Command was revealed when poison gas was projected against the Canadians at Ypres, torturing, blinding and killing thousands.
German terrorism on the high seas culminated in the sinking of the Cunard liner Lusitania by a German submarine off the Irish coast. Men, women and children to the number of 1,152 lost their lives. Of these 102 were Americans.
German colonies in South Africa were invaded by British South African troops under General Louis Botha, who during the Boer War commanded a division against the British. The German holdings at Tsing-Tau and in the Marshall Islands were seized by Japan.
German cruisers that had raided sea-going commerce were destroyed. The most noted of these was the Emden, which was defeated and destroyed by the Australian cruiser Sydney off the Cocos Islands.
German sea power was further humiliated in a running fight off Helgoland in which the battle cruiser Blucher was sunk and in a battle off the Falkland Islands in which three German cruisers were destroyed.
Italy entered the war on May 23, 1915, and invaded Austria on a sixty-mile front. Russian forces, after early successes, were defeated at Tannenburg by von Hindenburg, the out-standing military genius on the German side.
The development of aircraft as an aid to artillery and as a destructive force on its own account, was rapid, and the use of machine guns and hand grenades in trench operations became general.
AUGUST 1, 1915—AUGUST 1, 1916
The tragic sea and land operations at the Dardanelles and Gallipoli marked this year with red in British history. Sir Douglas Haig succeeded Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in France. The out-standing operation of the British forces on the western front was the bloody battle of the Somme, beginning July 1st, and continuing until the fall of 1915. The losses on both sides in that titanic struggle staggered two continents. Especially heroic were the attacks of the Canadians in that great battle and especially heavy were the losses in, killed and wounded of the Canadian regiments. They ranked in magnitude with the depletion that came to the Australian and New Zealand armies in the fatal Gallipoli campaign.
This year will be glorious forever in the annals of France because of the heroic defense at Verdun. That battle tested to the limit the offensive strength of the German machine and it was found lacking in power to pierce the superhuman defense of the heroic French forces under Pétain and Nivelle.
Bulgaria entered the war on October 14, 1915, with a declaration of war against helpless Serbia. Greece, torn by internal dissensions, inclined first to one side, then to the other. The occupation of Saloniki by French and British expeditionary forces finally swung the archipelago to the Allies.
A British Mesopotamian force under General Townshend, poorly equipped and unsupported, was cut off in Kut-el-Amara, and surrendered to the Turks on April 29, 1916, after a long siege.
The Italian forces under General Cadorna made a sensational advance terminating in the bapture of Gorizia. Portugal entered the war on the side of the Allies after it had refused to give up to Germany several German ships that had been interned in Portuguese ports.
An object lesson in German submarine possibilities was given America when the Deutsch-land, a super-submarine cargo vessel, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 9, 1916. The Deutschland later was converted into a naval submarine and re-visited American shores, sinking a number of merchant vessels. It was, one of the German submarine fleet surrendered to the Allies in November, 1918.
Russia proved itself to be a military ineffective. German armies under von Mackensen and von Hindenburg occupied Warsaw, Brest-Litovsk, Lutsk, and Grodno. Grand Duke Nicholas was removed from the command of the Russian armies and Czar Nicholas assumed command.
Germany's pretensions to sea power ended with the battle of Jutland, May 31, 1916, when its High Seas fleet fled after a running fight with British cruisers and destroyers. Never, thereafter, during the war did the German ships venture out of the. Bight of Helgoland.
AUGUST 1, 1916—AUQÙST 1, 1917
This year was marked by two dramatic episodes. The first of these was the sudden en-trance and the equally sudden exit of Roumania as a factor in the World War.
The second was the appearance of the United States which became the deciding factor in the war.
Roumania created enthusiasm in Allied countries when it declared war on Austria-Hungary August 27th. A sudden descent by a Roumanian army into Transylvania on August 30th was hailed as the harbinger of further successes. These hopes were turned to ashes when von Mackensen headed an irresistible German and Austrian rush which fairly inundated Roumania. The retreat from Transylvania by the Roumanians was turned into a rout. Bulgarian forces invaded the Dobrudja region of Roumania and on November 28th the seat of the Roumanian Government was transferred from Bucharest, the capital, to Jassy. Roumania ceased to be a factor in the war on December 6th, when Bucharest fell to von Mackensen. Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary died on November 22d, while Austrian hopes were at their highest.
America's appearance as a belligerent was forecast on January 31, 1917, when Germany announced its intention of sinking all vessels in a blockade zone around the British Isles. Count von Bernstorff was handed his passports on February 3d, and on April 2d President Wilson, in a remarkable address to Congress, advised a declaration of war by the United States against Germany. This was consummated by a formal vote of Congress declaring war on April 6th.
This action by America was followed by the organization of a Council of National Defense. Under this body the resources of the nation were mobilized. The council was later virtu-ally abandoned as an organizing factor, its functions going to the War Industries Board, presided over by Bernard Baruch; the Fuel Administration, under Dr. Harry A. Garfield; the War Trade Board, with Vance C. McCormick at its head; and other governmental bodies. George Creel headed the Committee on Public Information.
Conscription was decided upon as the foundation of America's war-making policy, and the training of officers and privates in great training camps was commenced. Great ship-ping and aircraft programs were formulated and the nation as a whole was placed upon a war footing.
The Russian revolution, beginning in bread riots in Petrograd, spread' throughout that country, with the result that Russia disappeared as one of the Entente Allies.
FROM AUGUST 1, 1917-NOVEMBER 11, 1918
America's might and efficiency were revealed in the speed and thoroughness with which her military, naval and civilian resources were mobilized and thrown into the conflict. Under the supervision of the Chief of Staff, two million American soldiers received the final touches in their military training and were transported safely overseas. They became the decisive factor in the war during the summer and fall of 1918. To their glory be it recorded they never retreated. St. Mihiel, Siecheprey, Boureches Wood, Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Sedan and Stenay are names that will rank in American history with Yorktown, New Or-leans and Gettysburg. The "land of dollars" became over night the "land of high ideals" to the civilized world. Lightless nights in cities, restriction of the use of gasoline on Sundays and daylight-saving legislation linked civilians to soldiers in war effort.
Italy suffered a severe reverse beginning October 24, 1917, when the German forces rushed through a portion of the Italian army that had been honey-combed with pro-German Socialistic propaganda.
Canada again emblazoned its name in history through the heroic capture of Passchendaele on November 6, 1917.
The Russian revolution turned to the Bolsheviki when Lenine and Trotsky at the head of the Reds seized Petrograd on November 7th and deposed Alexander Kerensky, leader of the Moderate Socialists. The Czar Nicholas was executed by the victorious Bolsheviki and the Imperial family made captives.
The British Mesopotamian forces advanced into Palestine and Mesopotamia, destroying the Turkish army under Ahmed Bey in a battle terminating September 29, 1917. General Stanley Maude, the leader of the expedition, died in Mesopotamia November 18, 1917.
General Allenby commanding British and Arabian forces, routed and destroyed three Turkish armies in Palestine, capturing Jerusalem which had been held by the Turks for six hundred and seventy-three years.
The turning point of the war came on March 29, 1918, when General Foch was chosen Commander-in-Chief of all the Allied forces. This followed Germany's great drive on a fifty-mile front from Arras to La Fere. Successive German thrusts were halted by the Allied forces now strongly reinforced by Americans.
Foch, patiently 'biding his time, elected to halt the German drive with Americans. The Marines of the United States forces were given the post of honor, and at Château-Thierry the counter-thrust of Foch was commenced by a complete defeat of the Prussian Guard and other crack German regiments, by the untried soldiers of America.
From Château-Thierry to the armistice of November 11th was only a short span of time, but in it was compressed the humiliation of arrogant Teutonic imperialism, the destruction of militaristic autocracy, and the liberation of the world.