THE CHARACTER OF MODERN WARFARE
 THE reason why the Allies failed in 1915 was the extremely complex character of the new warfare. They at first did
not understand it, partly because it was new and partly because it was so complicated that it took time to
analyze it. What the Germans had needed thirty years and more to think out, it was not to be expected the
Allies would understand in a few months. What the Germans needed thirty years to get ready to do, the Allies
could not prepare to duplicate in six months. That is the chief reason why the war lasted four years. The
Allies had to fight under the new conditions. They were able at once to prevent the Germans from winning, but
how to win themselves was not a thing so easy to learn. In fact, it was not until 1918 that they worked out a
successful technique for the offensive. Much of the history of the war therefore is a story of experiment, of
experience, of relative success, and relative failure. There are new methods and new weapons. The Germans
invent one, and the Allies neutralize it. The Allies create one, and the Germans offset it.
This was the first great war fought with the new weapons which science had provided. The Russo-Japanese War
had, to be sure, tried them out somewhat and the Boer War had shown some things, but in the main the result
upon warfare of the new artillery and the new rifle was not fully appreciated even by the Germans. One of the
discoveries was shrapnel. This was a shell, thrown
 from a short-range gun—and a gun firing no more than three miles was short-ranged—timed to burst
in the air and scatter over a wide area a great number of bullets or jagged fragments of iron. Flesh and blood
could not resist it.
THE GALLIPOLI PENINSULA.
One of the great German surprises was the high explosive shell loaded with one of the super-powders or
super-dynamites. The explosion was so tremendous that one shell falling upon a regiment would annihilate it;
landing upon a trench it would simply wipe it out. Houses crumbled like cardboard and the most elaborate steel
forts in Europe were turned upside down. There was only one way to meet that kind of shell and that was to
keep out of the way. Then there was the machine gun, sending forth a stream of bullets, covering a wide area
as fast as a man could turn a crank. The bullets were deadly and the stream was continuous.
The new cannon projected these shells and bullets astonishing distances. Rifles hitting at more than a mile
were common; shrapnel was effective at great distances; and high-explosive shells could be shot with accuracy
from five to ten miles. Eventually the large guns threw projectiles twenty miles or more, and one German freak
cannon hit Paris from a distance of over seventy miles.
The result was that fighting in the open simply came to an end. Men in the open would positively be killed. A
body of troops advancing across a field miles away from the German lines could be wiped out by high-explosive
shells, if they were seen from a German aëroplane or balloon. Once they came within eyesight of the German
batteries shrapnel could annihilate them, and long before they could get near enough to take a German trench,
the machine guns could kill them all. They could not escape the three. At the end of the battle of the Marne,
both armies were
 digging furiously to get into the ground out of sight. Nothing but Mother Earth could protect them from the
new artillery. There came to be, therefore, in France, and to some extent in eastern Europe, nothing but a
trench line from the mountains to the sea, in which both armies burrowed like moles in a desperate anxiety to
get as far out of sight as quickly as possible.
FRENCH OBSERVATION BALLOON. NOTE TRANSPORT WAGONS, HORSE LINES, CEMETERY,
ETC. THE PICTURE GIVES MULTIFOLD DETAILS ABOUT THE AREA BEHIND THE LINES.
It may be interesting to give a typical description of an approach upon the battle line from the open country
at the rear. The first thing we come to is the army of supply which supports and keeps alive the army in the
trenches. It is a city of huts and
 horse tents something like a mammoth circus. Passing through long stretches of it we come to the supply lines.
Here we find the roads filled with motors, carrying all sorts of things, and small railroads, with little
dummy trains puffing back and forth on tracks running out here and there like veins in the landscape.
Far away on the horizon, miles away, is a ridge with a row of charred trees, standing out gloomily etched
against the sky. That is the battle line. We do not hear anything, but we see some fleecy balls of smoke.
Those are the exploding shells. Suddenly from above comes a roar of noise and we see an aëroplane, or perhaps
half a dozen of them, starting out for a trip across the lines or coming back from one. Up in the air out in
front of us are floating around a number of fat sausages. They are observation balloons, in each one of which
is a man with a glass trying to see where the German batteries are.
On we go an interminable distance, several miles perhaps, and we come presently to a plain which was once a
wood. A battle was fought here some time ago. The trees have all been mowed down as if by some giant scythe or
tremendous mowing machine; here and there a solitary tree trunk, which somehow was missed, sticks out of the
ground: Presently we come to a sort of slit in the ground and begin walking downhill. Now the surface of the
ground is up to our knees, presently it is up to our waist, and pretty soon over our heads.
We do not march straight forward, because the trench is not straight. It curves and zigzags and goes round
sharp corners until we are dizzy and have lost all sense of the way in which we are going. That is so that a
machine gun of the enemy would not be able to fire the whole length of the trench, in case they should happen
to get in front of it. It also protects the people walking along the trench from the tons of chance bullets
 the Germans and Allies were both continually shooting at each other in the hope that one of them might kill a
man. Nothing but large masses of Mother Earth stops bullets.
We come presently to a line of trenches that runs at right angles with the one we have come through. These are
the support trenches and there are sometimes several lines of them. We proceed from one of these lines to
another, all of them more or less parallel, by means of communication trenches which zigzag back and forth
from one to the other. No one sticks his head above ground if he can help it. He would be likely to lose it.
AEROPLANE PICTURE OF GERMAN TRENCH LINES AT MALMAISON, DECEMBER 1917.
The front trenches are like the others, except that they are worse. Every once in a while a German shell blows
out a section of them. In front of these a mound of earth has been thrown up or sand bags have been piled to
make a sort of low parapet. Through cracks in this a soldier looks out to see if the enemy is coming, or he
uses a periscope, exactly the same as the submarine uses. It is really an arrangement of mirrors, and is
 allow one to look around a corner or over a wall. Looking through the periscope we see outside in front, a few
yards away, a series of barbed wire fences. They are Allied entanglements to stop or delay a German charge.
Some further distance off, in some places a long distance, in others only a hundred or two hundred yards, are
other fences. Those are the German wire fences. The ground in between looks as if it had been stirred with
some giant egg beater and churned up into mud. It is pitted all over with enormous holes where the high
explosive shells have struck.
There in these trenches in the ground, looking through periscopes, sit the Allied soldiers, watching another
series of holes where the Germans are sitting. A certain amount of shooting is going on all the time and the
humming of rifle bullets and the scream of shells is constant. Then will come a great scream, announcing the
arrival of a big shell. All the noise in the world seems concentrated on that spot and the earth shoots up
like corn popping in a pan.
At night the trench line looks like a continual display of fire-works. Darkness is the most useful thing in
modern warfare because at night it is more difficult to see people. Then the soldiers come out and repair the
barbed wire, mend trenches, and go back and forth to the rear without much danger. In the day-time even an
automobile moving along a road so far away that the cannonade sounds like little more than a rumble is in
danger of being hit. To prevent the enemy from rushing, the trenches both sides keep sending up lights called
star shells. Little balloons also are sent up carrying lights which float around and burn a long time. Some of
these are so very brilliant that they light up whole sections of the line almost like daylight. When the
artillery fires at night, the flashes make a magnificent spectacle.
 In the day-time trench warfare is not very picturesque; at night it is magnificent.
This was all the result of the necessity of getting out of sight and it at once transformed warfare. The old
battle had been one of movement. One formation of troops marched against another. One general tried to get his
army on the flank or in the rear of the other general's, and it was always possible because there was plenty
of open ground to move over. But the number of troops engaged in the present war was so enormous that they
spread out over miles of ground. The German invasion advancing into France was over one hundred miles broad,
and when that number of men began to dig into the ground to get hidden, it took an extraordinary number of
miles of trenches to hide them. The battle line started in half as wide as France and presently was continued
all the way to the sea.
Movement in the old sense became impossible: there were only two ways to move. One was forward and the other
was back, and both sides only wished to go forward. This meant that the only possible attack was a direct
frontal attack upon prepared positions. The only thing either side could do was to charge straight at the
other and attack the enemy exactly where he was expecting to be hit, exactly where he had concentrated his
guns, was ready to do the most damage, and receive the least injury.
The Germans at first believed (as the Allies also did) that, if only enough men were sent out to rush the
enemy trenches, they could capture them. It would cost a good many lives but it could be done. But presently
the idea had to be given up. There were too many ways of checking the charge long enough to kill every man who
started. The big guns could begin with the charge when it first left cover a long distance away, the shrapnel
could continue the work as they came nearer, and then the machine
 guns could open up. The barbed wire would effectively prevent their getting at the front trenches until they
had been riddled with bullets. Hand grenades, or small bombs thrown by hand, could be tossed out into the
advancing troops by the defenders and would kill numbers of men. Then mines could be laid out in front of the
trenches and exploded by electricity when a whole regiment of the foe was standing on them. Flesh and blood
could not overcome such resistance. Some other method of attack had to be found.
Spreading the men out on the field instead of allowing them to advance shoulder to shoulder was promptly
tried. The difficulty here was that more men got through out of those who started, but that not so many could
start, and the weight of the charge was likely to be lost. It is just the same problem as that of a football
eleven which spreads out five feet apart and then runs at its opponents. The men cannot go so far as when
Then the accuracy of the artillery fire became so great as the first months passed that a sort of attack which
was very successful at the beginning of the war was destroyed before it had gone a hundred yards after the war
was a year old. The shrapnel fire became absolutely accurate, the machine gun fire sure death to anything
within range, and even the big guns, miles away, soon were able to hit a moving object with great frequency.
It was difficult to get out of the trenches without being annihilated; it was almost as perilous to stay in
them. Both sides experienced the same trouble.
It was clear that the decisive factor in the new warfare was the artillery and that the large artillery played
the most important part. It was absolutely imperative to defend the Allied trenches from the German artillery
by keeping it back out of range. The
 big Allied guns must be sufficiently prompt and accurate to wipe out all small German guns which were likely
to fire upon the infantry at short range. They would never be able entirely to clear them out, but unless they
demolished a considerable number, the Allied trenches could not be held. Of course, small guns of all sorts
and kinds could be kept, and soon were, within the battle area by both sides, provided they did not reveal
themselves to the foe by firing. This came gradually to be the rule: guns within range of the enemy's big
artillery must be thoroughly concealed or must keep quiet until an infantry attack should take place. Then the
enemy's large guns must stop firing to allow his own infantry to move into that area.
On the offensive, the artillery was absolutely the essential factor. It must first accurately blow out of the
ground the barbed wire entanglements of the enemy. Otherwise the Allied troops would be held up and killed. It
must also destroy the bulk of the machine guns and small artillery within the entire area the Allied troops
were to attack. If it did not succeed, they were absolutely certain to be killed. If the artillery did its
work properly, the infantry could then move forward and occupy as much territory as the artillery could
"prepare," as the phrase went. It was demonstrated early in 1915 that it was perfectly easy to destroy any
section of the enemy front line by artillery fire and then occupy it at some cost of life so long as the
infantry kept within the protection of their own artillery.
It was merely a question of the amount of ammunition which had to be fired in order to destroy the enemy
defenses. To be sure, that amount turned out to be extraordinarily large, but the real cost of taking the
other lines was ammunition, not lives. But if enough ammunition was not spent, the price in lives was
sickening. Even after proper artillery "preparation" it was not at
 first possible for the infantry to go forward more than a few hundred yards. Every step they advanced beyond a
certain short range, they were leaving their own guns behind and running into the range of the German
artillery which their own guns had not yet been able to destroy.
INTERIOR VIEW OF FRENCH CONCRETE MACHINE GUN NEST.
It was soon clear that the artillery could not move forward as fast as the infantry did, but it was also clear
that the infantry would be exterminated the moment they went faster than the
 artillery. It was easy to go a short distance, but not particularly worth while. Days and months were
necessary by this method to move into the enemy's defense for a few miles, and the trenches were of such a
simple nature that he could dig new ones almost as fast as the Allies could take the old ones. A zone of
trenches several miles wide, the Germans calculated, would be a perfect defense, if prepared in advance and
protected by artillery. Human beings could not enter it and live.
GERMAN CONCRETE HOUSE ABOVE GROUND ON THE HINDENBURG LINE
WHICH SURVIVED THE FINAL ALLIED ARTILLERY ATTACK IN 1918.
The Germans now began to systematize the new warfare. If the game was to destroy the trenches, the machine
guns, and small artillery within a certain area. so that the infantry could then come over and occupy it, the
answer was simple. Even the largest shells did not penetrate into the earth more than a few yards. If,
therefore, fortifications were built of concrete and timber thirty or forty feet underground, the Allies might
pound them with as large shells as they pleased. They could not destroy them. Protection was merely a question
of depth. When the Allied artillery began to fire, all the Germans needed to do was to retire to the
underground forts and wait, playing phonographs, eating, or sleeping until the enemy should get through. The
Allied guns would have to stop firing to allow
 their own infantry to advance, and, when the silence began, the Germans would know that the Allied infantry
was coming. They could then climb upstairs and annihilate them with machine guns.
Of course, it was true that the Allies could and did play this same game. By it, they could prevent the
Germans from winning the war, but by it, undoubtedly, the Germans could also prevent them from winning. Modern
warfare had produced a deadlock. Neither side seemed to be able in 1915 to make any progress nor did either of
them make in France any real progress for three years.
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