The Great War Part 178, January 12th 1918

Cb e Great War EDITORS H .W. WILSON J. A. HAMMERTON EDITORIAL TN the present Part of The Great War will be found --the conclusion of Mr. K oebels account of the attitude and activities of Portugal in the world-wide hostilities and Mr. Basil Clarkes most interesting story of how the war was chronicled while it was instill the waging. This chapter will be enjoyed particularly as relief to the graver interest of the great events that form the bulk of the material of this history it will also be welcomed as tribute due to the exceptionally capable and brilliant men who, b y pen pencil and camera have done all that was within the power of man to enable non-combatants the whole world over to visualise the thrilling episodes that have gone to the shaping of the future of mankind in these crowded forty months of war. Chronicling the War H THE despatches of these war correspondents are the first and often the only daily reading of millions of men and women and they are taken so much as a matter of course that few people try to realise the conditions under which they are produced. There is no one however so devoid of natural human curiosity as not to enjoy being taken behind the scenes and shown something of the working of the system that produces results with which they are quite familiar. That is a fair description of what Mr. Basil Clarke has done in the chapter in question. The extracts given here from his notc-books filled while serving as an accredited correspondent on the British front in France are the most illuminating pen-pictures of a fascinating life that have ever appeared anywhere. They will give great pleasure to our readers who cannot but be glad to have these personal details of men whose names they know so welland whose work is a main interest of their lives in this sombre wartime. They will give even greater pleasure to the brilliant but retiring men of whom they make such eulogistic mention all of them men of world culture and men who have seen things and done things— probably the most delightful and surprising company into which one could hope to be admitted. ~Y\TH IL E displaying characteristic vigour in his statement ’of the British Governments attitude towards the reporting of the war Mr. Clarke tempers justice with mercy and achieves a quite beautiful charity in his final judgment. Of the reporters he says: “Thanks mainly to the enterprise of the British newspapers and news agencies, and the sincerity of the men they sent out to write records of wars changes and events the files of the British Press will serve the historians of the time to come as archives of war fact and information more valuable probably than any other source.” Of the Government all he says in. conclusion i s :“The pity of it is that through official short-sightedness the making and keeping of this record was given so cramped and inauspicious a start. Pending the arrival of those Greek Kalends when in the stereotyped phrase so dear to men of tw enty-fifth rate intelligence, “the final history of the war shall come to be written ,”much of the harm done b y Bureaucracy to the proper contemporary chronicling of the war in its manifold aspects has been mitigated b they weekly publication of our own standard history which has combined with quite singular success the quality of permanent history with the quality of the best synchronous literary journalism. The British Offensive at Ypres 1 N this present Part will also be found the opening pages -*of anew chapter b y Mr. Edward Wright devoted to the British offensive at Ypres and the Battles of Lens, a chapter which maybe commended to the particular consideration of persons of a gloomy cast of mind whose prognostications of the future would seem to be based upon their ignorance of the past. It should prove beneficial too to some of those civilian arm-chair critics who startled b y events unexpected b y themselves, propound series of conundrums asking why something that has not been done was not done instead of concen­trating upon the main issue and attempting to understand why that which has been done was done. In the casein point Mr. Wright explaining the strategy of “Western­ ism ”adopted b y Sir Douglas H aig with the full concurrence of General Petain answers some of the conundrums which have been asked in connection with the developments of events on the Isonzo line and in the Venetian Plain. He shows too that no miscalculation of a military nature was proved b they evidence furnished in Ttaly in October, 1917 that the direct sustained pressure of the British inoffensive Flanders did not compensate entirely for the feebleness that had practically eliminated Russia from the belligerents. Praise of Famous Men 'T'HIS chapter will be completed in our next Part and, apart from its absorbingly interesting story will be found to contain some exceptionally heartening reminders of the achievements of the British Army that perhaps are not fully realised outside professional circles. Indeed as a battle story this chapter and the following chapter in which it is continued rank among the most stirring and best work that Mr. Wright has contributed to this history. His estimate of the test to which Sir Douglas H aig submitted the German race is that it excelled in nightmarish intensity that to which the French race was submitted b y Ludendorff at Verdun. Terrible as was the blood-bath on the Somme it was in Mr. Wright’s opinion a lighter ordeal for civilised man than the cauldron of death between Passchendaele and Ypres. It has surcharged the imagination of this highly competent historical writer and he rises to the height of the oppor­tunity to praise the famous men who won immortal glory in this dreadful field. Many of the regiments who added honour to their already splendidly honourable record are mentioned b y name and their achievements described in detail. Some measure of justice is meted out to the heroes of the K.R .C.R .and the Northam ptons who shone Nat ieuport and LSinbartzyde to the Welshmen at Pilkem the Englishmen Oat osttavernc, the Scotsmen at Frezenberg the Australians b y Messine« Wand arneton the New Zealanders Lat a Basse Ville, and the Guards at the junction point where the British Army connected with the French troops under the command of that 'superb artillerist General Anthoine. Some measure of justice !Full justice can never be done to the superb heroism of these wonderful men, worthy successors to those Seven Divisions to whose memory the Empire united again the other d a yin paying thanks and honour. The Great War— X art 378
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