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And walked off, talking to herself or Paul,
I cuore from the New York “Globe”
to tell has actually some proper place of November 8, 1918:
in the voluminous history of America's “French troops resumed their advance
war-time. along the whole front this a. m.”
I trust I may be pardoned a brief To-day's report of military operations explanation of my humble place in the quoted above is the best commentary on proceedings. For a few months prior the greatest and most cruel hoax in the to November 7, 1918, I had been the history of journalism, which yesterday army intelligence officer of the military deluded not only New York City but port area based on Brest. every city and town in the country into
My duties, in addition to the major a delirium of joy by a spurious report
one of conducting counter-espionage from Paris to the effect that an armistice
activities within the base, called for had been effected between Germany and
the reception and care of newspaper the Allies and that hostilities had ceased.
correspondents who came to Brest. It will not be difficult to recall The reason for this attention was printhat astounding November 7, when an cipally one of courtesy, for, although allegedly unemotional nation indulged the intelligence section of the general in a demonstration of universal and staff is charged by army regulations hysterical gladness such as the Pari- with the supervision of war corresian boulevards have yet to equal. spondents, the base-intelligence officers
The inside story of how that historic had nothing to do with the censoring occurrence came to pass has not, I be- of press reports. This task was cared lieve, ever been told, due doubtless to for by a special censorship branch of the fact that even to this day scarcely the intelligence section, having officers a handful of persons are acquainted at Chaumont and Paris, and it is imwith the facts. Following immediately portant to bear in mind that although after the event, there were a number of Brest is the seat of the French cables erroneous and incomplete explanations and the despatching-point of all mesin the press, soon lost sight of in the sages to the States, no message of imexcitement of real armistice days, and portance could pass by its local censor never again revived. I feel, therefore, that had not been approved by the that the lapse of time has served to Paris censors. mellow interest in the affair and to When, therefore, shortly after the warrant my somewhat retrospective arrival of the rapide from Paris at narrative. Perhaps what I am able nine o'clock on the morning of Novem
ber 7, Roy W. Howard's entrance into boy still lurking behind his little brush Brest was signaled by my gare control,' mustache, and with a breezy manI expected to see him shortly there- ner that dispelled formality, Howard after. Most newspaper men made a perched on the edge of my desk and in point of reporting promptly at the of- short order made me glad he had come. fice of the local "I.O." in order to hear He immediately laid the groundwork if any news had broken locally, and to for the historic occurrence that was to : be facilitated generally in getting take place within a few hours by his around and seeing things and people. expressed desire to effect a change in
I had heard of, but had never met, the transportation plans that had been Howard. I knew him to be president made for him in Paris. of the United Press, an important "I 'm due to sail at two this afternews association which serves a host noon on some ark that takes two weeks of papers all over the world, princi- getting home," he lamented. “I 'd pally in America. Furthermore, in- like to make better speed if possible.
telligence instructions as to the status Want to catch President Wilson in V of all correspondents in France, which time to come over here again in his
included their standing in the profes- party.” sion and the degree of attention to The man knew even then that the which they were entitled wherever they President was coming. I sensed somewent, graded Howard among the high- thing of what goes to make the successest. Hence I looked forward to the ful newspaper man. call of some one who approached the By telephone I learned that the S. S. exalted ranking of "distinguished visi- Leviathan was due to sail the following tor," a class of ambulatory and privi- morning. As she made the trip across leged beings who, having shaken hands in six days or so, Howard could save a with the commander-in-chief, fre week by waiting a day. Accordingly, quently felt justified in emulating the arrangements were made to shift him manners of a German top-sergeant by from the sailing-list of the one ship to
a demanding the attention and services that of the other. of any junior officer.
That done, we discussed ways and
means of his killing time advanta$ 2
geously, and Howard, inspired by It was accordingly a matter for sur- some mischievous fate, decided that he prise and gratification when Howard would like to meet Admiral Henry B. strolled in casually shortly before noon Wilson, commander of the American and disclosed himself to be what we in navy in French waters, whose headthe army were wont to call a "regular quarters were in Brest. guy." (There is no higher form of I suggested strolling around to naval decoration in the army short of the headquarters, which were near by, Congressional Medal.) Still in his and we left my office about noon, it early thirties, or seemingly so, Howard then being not quite seven A. M. in the was the typical newspaper man, genial, land across the sea that little suspected natural in manner, and alert. Slight what had started to brew for it. of build, with something of the college As we turned from the rue du
1 Intelligence operators in civilian clothes posted at all portant railroad depots to report the arrival of any one who might interest the "I.0."
Château into the old public square, able to gain the cables ahead of its Place du Président Wilson, we paused competitors. before the office of Brest's daily news- Thus the system by which United paper, "La Dépêche," to examine the Press communications went through bulletin, and saw that the Germans from Paris was as follows: first, it had evinced a desire to quit and that would pass through the necessary centheir plenipotentiaries were reported sorship, then it would be put on the to be coming across the lines to sue for private “Dépêche" wire and sent to an armistice. A small, excited crowd Brest.
Brest. It is highly important to note was discussing the tidings and wait that the receiving-instrument in “La ing eagerly around for more. Oddly Dépêche” office was of the ticker-tape enough, a rumor was seeping through variety commonly used throughout it to the effect that an armistice had France, being a machine which typealready been signed, and Howard told writes its own messages on paper ribme that he had heard the same thing bon. When the United Press comwhen he came in at the station that munications were ticked off in “La morning.
Dépêche" office by the sending operaThe sight of "La Dépêche" office tor in Paris, the tape recording the inspired Howard to pay it a visit, due message was cut up, pasted on the to his company having relations with usual telegraph form, sent by messenit that I was soon to hear about. We ger across the place to the post-andwalked inside and stopped first at the telegraph office, and filed for the cables. telegraph room, which was nearest the Long practice had accustomed the door, and Howard entered animatedly Brest cable censors to recognize these into conversation with the operator on United Press messages, and, in view of duty in a French that was as utilitarian their having already been censored in as it was full of gestures. I gradually Paris, to accord them prompt transgathered a fact that was to have tre mission without further censoring. mendous bearing later on.
As will be seen, this habitual treatment It seems that, apart from our own of Paris-"Dépêche" telegrams had signal lines, there were only two ways great bearing on, and is largely acof communicating by telegraph be- countable for, what is to follow. tween Paris and Brest. One was by After Howard had given greetings the regular wires of the public tele- and remerciements to everybody on "La graph service; the other was by the Dépêche" staff, we went along to naval private wire of “La Dépêche.” Users headquarters. I thought that Howard of the public service-and this included would be able to see the admiral at correspondents sending their com- once, as the latter was almost always munications through to be cabled to in his office and exceedingly easy to the States from Brest—had to wait "get to." He was one of that small, their turn, a matter usually of several but eminently successful, group of houtrs, and the United Press had scored service executives who, despite the a brilliant "beat" by getting the con- stature of their war tasks, seemed alsent of "La Dépêche" to share its ways able to see any one and for any special wire, thereby avoiding delays length of time. Admiral Wilson was in transmission to Brest and being at the time directing all transport and