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