The War Illustrated No 8 Vol 1 November 4th 1939

Novembzr Ath, 1939 The War Illustrated Waiting for Zero Hour in the West After many days during which there was but little to report on the Western Front, the war developed an active spurt on Oct. 16 with the launching of several German attacks on the Moselle Front. An observer officer of a British an ti-aircraU gun is seen above on the look-out. The gun and its crew have found a natural camouflage in a thicket. Photo, British Official Crown CopyrightS o quiet were the opening weeks of the war that some of the German troops in the online the Western Front did not know that there was a war on !Such a state of affairs would have been inconceivable in the Great War, but in 1939 it was quite understandable when the armies were not occupying lines of intrenches the open but were in fact garriso'n troops in permanent fortifica­tions. Moreover, their superiors had done their best to keep the German rank and file incomplete ignorance of the situation, and the fact that they were at war was not realized by some until they were actually taken prisoner. Those men who came from quiet sectors of the line were told that they were on manoeuvres, and that the ominous bangs which they heard on their right or left were just the results :of target practice or blasting. Taken prisoner and interrogated by their captors, these innocents were flabbergasted to learn the truth. On,e of the prisoners is reported to have said:“ A war against France and England with the Bolsheviks as our allies! Xo, that just can’t be true.” When assured that it was true, he added that “then there will be trouble. But not at first, because as Germans don’t think for themselves anymore it will take sometime for them to realize they have been deceived. After all, Hitler got everything without war.” “Poland ?”queried the interrogator. “Oh,” came the reply, “that doesn’t count, that was just exercising the troops.” Confronted by such an exhibition of carefully-fostered ignorance, the officers making the examination reported that the captured Nazis talked like men who, after years of living amidst savages, had at last resumed contact with civilization. By the middle of October, howT ever, there can have been few Germans in the vicinity of the Siegfried Line who were not aware that not only was there a war in progress, but that they were engaged in it, and very shortly might' be called upon togo'“ over the top.” French com­mentators said that all the signs went to show that the enemy was preparing a ,great inoffensive which the maximum of material would be used and between 700,000 and 800,000 men. Watchers in the advanced positions of the French line reported twinkling fiashlamps and the striking of matches in the opposite posi­ tions—indications of troops moving up into the forward zone, and, moreover, French reservists are liable to be recalled to the colours up to the age of 4 9 ,but the older men are not usually sent into the front line. Upper photo,«n elderly Poilu who does duty as a cook sits in his op en-air kitchen to write a letter home. Bottom left, French soldiers are examining German land-mines which were discovered during a French advance and removed before they exploded. aRight, captured German mach in e-gun is an object of curiosity. The perforated sleeve is for cooling the barrel, Photos, Associated Press
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