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GERMAN OFFENSIVE. I

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GERMAN OFFENSIVE. I It should be unnecessary, but I unhappily it is required that a pro- test should be offered jjgainst the indecent manner in which the Prime Minist-er and the Govern- ment, as well as the High Com- mand, are being attacked over the events of the last month. The position is far too serious for these bickerings and sharp-edged criti- cisms. Take one pointâthe break- through at St. Quentin. The diary .f a German officer killed at Hebu- teme, which was published in the Press, is interesting in every way, but it is particularly important evi- dence of the way in which the Ger- mans attempted to secure a con- centration surprise. This officer's unit detrained as far back as a vil- lage near Mons, and marched the 8fJ) odd miles to the battlefield al- ways by night. This is of direct bearing on a quesdoaa which is being discussed wherever men meet: "Why if we knew where the attack was owning, why, if we were numerically equal to tne Germans, did that attack sueceed ?" That question is iguorantly stated and its terms are insufficiently de fined. Certainly a remarkably ex act prophecy was made both as to the area and the forces to be eh gaged, by a very distinguished authority. But in war no prophecy can be admitted as though it were certain knowledge. As an officer writes in some notes on the battle which we have received, we have learnt that Petain expected an at- tack in Champagne. French writers were warning their readers to be re- signed to the possible loss of Rheims. The German concentra- tions were roughly known, but directly the attack started it was obvious that the concentrations would be merged; say the Picardy into the Champagne, or, as actu- ally happened the Champagne into the Picardy concentration. Then you have .hundreds of thou- sands of men like this German officer marching West, who could be deflected by a word of com- mand to any point between Hemn and Chaious. It would have been folly for as to have massed all our reserves between &t Quentin and La Fere, since the attack might have come miles away .As it was, our reserves moved with precision once the attack was launched, but many things served to assist the Germans. The mist was a God- send, the weather was phenjjmenal, and the weight of the attack was tremendous. Had we managed to hold the line, of the Somme, we should have emerged from the ordeai brilliantly. We did succeed in bringing the Germans to a halt, we did succeed in inflicting enor- mous losses on them, and our Army is still intact. After all, it Ã6 not possible to be assaulted by 110 Ger- man divisions, driven on by the most callous High. Command in history, which has staked all its future on the issue, without having some pretty deep wounds to show for it. And, as this English commenta- tor whose battle notes we are avail- ing ourselves of says further, the German offensive has also its own peculiar perils. Foch at the Battle of La Fere Champenoise deliber atelv allowed his right wing to be bent right back and almost en- veloped. He had actually with- drawn a crack division from a barely holding line. But at the critical moment he hurled it at the German centre, and the Battle of the Marne was won by 10,000 men handled by a genius with a marvel- lous nerve. Foch's career has been founded on a sequence of. momen- tous crises. He rides confidently upon the great storms of battle, the gm&teet military thinks d his I age, ⢠So when nerves are tried by the monotonous chant of the special correspondents about outnumbered heroism, remember that heroism $ serving a splendid purpose, and that outnumberiing is part of the Great Design. On the other hand do not talk abrut Haig laying a trap for the Huns." Do not im- agine that we are rejoicing in this frightful stress. We do not want to lose ground; the loss of Bailleul is a loss, although the loes is not vital. Bemembea that every great battle is a great crisis, ana there hae nevear been a greater or möre, critical battle than this, save, of course, the Marne, which nothing can ever displace from its unique eminence, the most fateful moment in recorded hi-story.

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