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realized, of course, that not one more person than was absolutely necessary, no matter how trustworthy, could have been safely informed of the plan-that secrecy was essential. The end justified it all. The stirring up of the silent places in the Alsace front had its result. The Intelligence Section found soon after that three German divisions, thirtysix thousand men, had been moved from near St.-Mihiel more than one hundred miles southeast to the region of Mulhouse, to help repel the expected American attack. Then on September 12 the American people and the world were electrified by the first terse United Press despatch sent by F. S. Ferguson, announcing that the real attack upon St.-Mihiel salient had commenced. It was instantly and completely successful. The German reserves there were too weak for a counter-attack. The ruse had worked.
This was a more elaborate "battle" than that of Alsace, for all were learning by experience. It was decided to create the impression that American reserves were moving, and that other preparations were afoot for a great converging attack upon the powerful German fortress of Metz, a natural sequence to the St.Mihiel victory.
So the same game was tried again. Immediately after its victory at St.Mihiel, the American First Army swung into preparations for a second and greater blow at the Germans in the Meuse-Argonne region northwest of St.-Mihiel. Now if the Germans could be made to believe that five hundred thousand American troops, with guns and supplies, were moving from the St.-Mihiel region not northwest but southeast, in exactly the opposite direction from that in which they really were going, the First Army would again be able to surprise the enemy. General Pershing, General Drum, and Colonel Howell held a conference at First Army headquarters at Ligny-en-Barrois, out of which grew the battle of Lorraine.
About September 15 German observers stationed on the Vosges foot-hills in the Lunéville sector, quiet as Alsace since the disturbing Rainbow Division had left, reported that Allied aviators were becoming very inquisitive about the German rear areas. Planes with the red, white, and blue marking were flying far behind the lines, evidently seeking photographs and information. This was one of the early premonitory signs of a far-reaching offensive. It was followed by another, equally well recognized. The Allied artillery aroused itself from its wonted lethargy, and began dropping shells far behind the German lines, upon points untouched for years. The artillery fire was so handled that German observers, noting every detail, could conclude only that preparations were being made for the barrage and concentration fire that precede and accompany an attack.
Then Brigadier-General S. D. Rockenback, commanding the First Army tanks, received a mysterious order to send twenty-five tanks on "a mission extremely dangerous, that must be handled with great discretion." General Rockenback was then making every effort to assemble as many tanks as possible for the Meuse-Argonne. The A.E.F. never
had tanks enough, and for this attack had no heavy tanks at all. The tank commander could not spare twenty-five light tanks and said so, but General Pershing ordered that they be sent anyway.
So the twenty-five tanks, commanded by officers especially chosen for gallantry, reported to MajorGeneral Joseph T. Dickman's Fourth Corps in the old St.-Mihiel salient. The young officers, fully understanding that this was a desperate job, agreed that rather than be captured they would kill themselves.
On the night of September 21-22, German listening-posts in the Hindenburg Line, across the Woëvre plain, heard the unmistakable clatter and rumble of tanks behind the American lines. Next morning, their observers spotted tank tracks leading from one patch of woods to another. There were a good many tank tracks. The next night the noise was repeated, with even more tracks the following morning. A large force of tanks seemed to be concentrating behind the American the American lines, and tanks are used only in attacks. The young officers succeeded so well that they brought down a terrific German bombardment.
At the same time, only a few miles away, the greatest military figure of the war stepped for a moment upon the scene and played a brief "bit" in the farce. Marshal Foch, Allied commander-in-chief, made a flying visit to Alsace and Lorraine in his special train. He and General Pershing went over the St.Mihiel battle-field just as the tanks were assembling; and the next day found the director of all the Allied armies holding conference in the
large and rather conspicuous city of Nancy, near the front, with Generals de Castelnau and Gérard, who would command an attack in either Alsace or Lorraine.
Afterward the marshal explained that trip by saying he had been informed that Ludendorff was complimenting him by having his goings and comings closely watched, and he wanted to "give him a little change.”
In the meantime, down around Lunéville, Colonel Conger had a set-back. The reconnaissance parties had worked so well in Alsace that he tried them again. Each division in reserve of the First Army sent to Lunéville a party of officers and men, who sallied forth to go through the trenches and get from the French occupants information necessary for an American relief. They were enthusiastic-too thusiastic, when they proudly reported back to Colonel Conger that they had taken pains not to arouse the suspicions of the German observers, crouching with glasses in the tree-top observation-posts of that wooded sector.
"Good Lord!" said Colonel Conger to himself. "What have they done?" They had borrowed French uniforms and worn them all the time they were under German observation! Some other way must be found to complete the Germans' deception. The Meuse-Argonne attack was to begin September 26, now only a few days off.
But General Drum's First Army staff was not lacking in resource. So while the Germans prepared for trouble in the Lunéville sector and beyond St.-Mihiel, their wireless stations east of Verdun, seeking to
intercept Allied messages, succeeded -and got an awful jolt. Messages in English, a considerable number of them, suddenly began to fill the air. They were in code, of course, but a code the Germans could decipher, and when they did they came to this astounding conclusion: A great many American troops-they identified the wireless stations of half a dozen divisions were moving up to the front, east of Verdun and northwest of St.Mihiel, behind the thin screen of French troops who held the front-line trenches there. They belonged to a new American Army, the Tenth, and were exchanging messages which, though carefully worded, could only mean that a general attack might be expected.
of September 26 the nine attacking American divisions, two hundred and forty thousand men, jumped off west of the Meuse all the way to the Argonne Forest, they found immediately facing them only five weak German divisions, sixty thousand men. They were able to advance, at some places, seven miles before the Germans could bring to the real point of danger the reserve divisions that had been awaiting elsewhere the attack that never came. This took two or three days, and meantime these American divisions, most of them inexperienced in battle, had dealt the Germans one of the hardest blows of the decisive campaign of 1918.
General Drum and Colonel Parker Hitt, the radio expert of the army, were creating an American Tenth Army for the first and only time in the history of the A.E.F., from a few radio stations-a feat unique in our military annals.
The intercepted and decoded messages were considered so important that they were sent immediately to Hindenburg and Ludendorff. They knew another American blow must fall soon, somewhere. Apparently here was the priceless intelligence that told where. Orders went out to hasten preparations for defense of the front on each side of Metz, from east of Verdun to the Vosges, and to redouble vigilance in seeking information about the coming American attack. Besides this, such reserves as could be spared from other parts of the front must be massed in German Alsace and Lorraine, and east of the Meuse.
When the battle which began that September 26 ended on November 11 in victorious armistice, the Intelligence Section set out to find how its practical joke had looked from the other side. It came in contact with an officer of the German Intelligence who, even now, must be called only Colonel X. During the war he had the very important job of receiving and acting on information, from whatever source, that came in about Allied plans and movements. He had been on the receiving end of all the decoy misinformation, and he had duly weighed the reports of the American activities in Alsace. Then he had written to Ludendorff:
"I recognize quite fully that all these preparations made for attack may perfectly well turn out to be a ruse de guerre intended to mislead us as to the real point of attack. However, there is nothing to indicate that it is not the real point of attack, and That is why, when on the morning our danger there is so great that I
deem it imperative to have these General Ludendorff's staff, who had divisions." memorized and repeated almost verbatim what Ludendorff had told him to say.
"Things are bad now," was its burden. "They will get worse, not better."
Upon this advice Ludendorff sent the thirty-six thousand men to Alsace. Then indications of the coming battle of Lorraine, the converging attack upon Metz, began to pour in upon Colonel X. The wireless messages, the tank tracks, the airplane flights, the artillery fire, all were carefully studied. The German troops were still so disposed as to protect the southern front against the new danger.
Ludendorff took that danger very seriously, for the southern sector, that of Alsace and Lorraine, was of the whole Western Front the section nearest the Fatherland. A breakthrough there meant invasion. In his mind's eye, Ludendorff saw Metz overwhelmed by a shimmering flood of bayonets that poured onward toward the Rhine. The Central Powers were crumbling; already Bulgaria had collapsed. Threatened with desertion by her allies, no wonder Germany looked to the strengthening of her own defenses.
Crashing blows were dealt those defenses in late September by all the Allied armies on the Western Front, coördinated in masterly fashion by Marshal Foch. On October 2, the On October 2, the leaders of all parties in the German Reichstag assembled to hear a report from Ludendorff of conditions at the front. Much depended on that report, for if the German Army could not hold out there, the jig
When they heard the report, they concluded that the jig certainly was up. The report was delivered by Major Baron von dem Bussche, of
He said, word for word:
"From the North Sea to Switzerland, preparations for attack are in progress. The most extensive are against Lorraine and Upper Alsace, and we are forced to distribute our reserves and to keep the whole front in a state of readiness for the attack. Considerable forces have to be stationed especially in Lorraine and Upper Alsace, for the defense of German territory."
The battles of Alsace and Lorraine had done their work. After emphasizing the danger that these "battles" represented to him, Ludendorff gave many other reasons why there was only one thing to do-seek an armistice. Germany's allies were falling away; her own armies were being rolled back slowly but inexorably. The German soldier was losing his nerve; to-day he still fought; to-morrow-who could tell? There was talk of revolution. The Reichstag leaders listened to the voice of doom. Soon after, an armistice was asked-the armistice that took effect at eleven o'clock on November 11, 1918.
So two battles that never were fought, and never were meant to be fought, helped to end the world's greatest war. It was a neat piece of work, of which General Pershing could say afterward, laughing delightedly:
"Rather think we foxed 'em."
SMILING TO THE END
"But it may be good for him-the fresh air," I protested.
"It will kill him," Gina stated firmly, "and then mother and I will have to run the tailor-shop alone. Mother can cut almost as well as
father. I sew the buttons, but now I don't have much time on account of taking Vittorio out in the park. When he dies, though, I'll be able to help more."
"Is the baby going to die?" I asked in awe.
"All mother's babies die. Vittorio is sickly like father. He's almost two now, and the last one died when he was two years and twenty-one days." She looked at Vittorio with affectionate regret, tossed him, and then set him with motherly solicitude down among the warm pebbles of the park path. Looking up at me again she announced with abrupt satisfaction, "Your pants are ripped."
"Are they?" I pretended surprise, though as a matter of fact I had known for some time that such was the case, and had learned to assume a posture while sitting which I had believed concealed my misfortune from the public eye. Nothing escaped the keen eyes of Gina, how
"Yes, they are," she said positively. "It's a bad one too-and will get worse if you don't get them