Balkans

The little side-wheeler - she had been built in Glasgow in 1892, and done duty as a Bosporus ferry-boat until the war began - was supposed to sail at four, but night shut down and she still lay at the wharf in Stamboul. We contrived to get some black bread, hard-boiled eggs, oranges, and helva from one of the little hole-in-the-wall shops near by, watched Pera and its ascending roofs turn to purple, and the purple to gray and black, until Constantinople was but a string of lights across Galata Bridge, and a lamp here and there on the hills.

Next morning, after news had been telephoned in that the submarines had got another battleship, the Majestic, we climbed again into the covered wagon and started for the south front. We drove down to the sea and along the beach road through Maidos - bombarded several weeks before, cross-country from the Aegean, and nothing now but bare, burnt walls - on to Kilid Bahr, jammed with camels and ox-carts and soldiers, and then on toward the end of the peninsula.

The press department of the Foreign Office in Vienna duly presented the application to the press bureau of the Ministry of War; the latter conveyed it to the "Kaiserliche und Konigliche Armee-Oberkommando Kriegs-Presse-Quartier," a day's railroad journey nearer the front; the commandant made his recommendation to the chief of the General Staff. The permission itself percolated back to Vienna presently, and early next morning I took the Teschen express.

At the head of each iron bed hung the nurse's chart and a few words of "history." These histories had been taken down as the wounded came in, after their muddy uniforms had been removed, they had been bathed, and could sink, at last, into the blessed peace and cleanness of the hospital bed. And through them, as through the large end of a telescope, one looked across the hot summer and the Hungarian fields, now dusty and yellow, to the winter fighting and freezing in the Carpathians.

We left Nagybiesce in the evening, climbed that night through the high Tatras, stopped in the morning at Kaschau long enough for coffee and a sight of the old cathedral, rolled on down through the country of robber barons' castles and Tokay wine, and came at length, in the evening, to Munkacs and the foot of the high Carpathians.

Warsaw had fallen, and Ivangorod, and the centre of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies, sweeping across eastern Europe like beaters across a prairie, was now before Brest-Litovsk. This was the apex of this central triangle of Russian forts, a city and a rail-road centre as well as a fortress, and the last strongly fortified place on the direct road to Moscow. It seemed as if the Russians must make a stand here, and even though we were four or five days getting there, the heavy artillery was not yet up, and there might still be time.

A Year of the War on Many Fronts - and Behind Them

by Arthur Ruhl

 

The Germans had already entered Brussels, their scouts were reported on the outskirts of Ghent; a little farther now, over behind the horizon wind-mills, and we might at any moment come on them.

The Calais and Boulogne routes were already closed. Dieppe and Havre might at any moment follow. You must go now, people said in London, if you want to get there at all.

At the end of the village the road climbed again from the ravine and emerged on open fields. A wall of timber, dark and impenetrable as the woods round an old chateau, rose at the farther end of these fields - the road cutting through it like a tunnel - and on the brow of the ravine, commanding the road and the little plain, was a line of trenches. Here evidently they had fought.

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