from ‘the Great War’ edited by H.W. Wilson, vol. 12 chapter 265
'The Geography of the War'
by Sir Harry H. Johnston, G.C.M.G., K.C.B.

War and the Shape of the World

the road to Paris from Germany


It is easy for the lay mind to be wise after the event, but the extent to which geography in relation to strategy was ignored by the War Offices of the Allies before the outbreak of the world-war is only approached by the singularly meagre output of works on the subject written during the first four years of the colossal.conflict. It is with special pleasure, therefore, that the Editors of THE GREAT WAR are able to place before their readers the following chapter by so eminent an historiographer as Sir Harry Johnston, G C M G K.C.B., D.Sc, whose work in geographical science is of world-wide repute, and who has had wide experience as both explorer and administrator, particularly in Africa. Sir Harry Johnston is the author of many valuable works, including a "History of the Colonisation of Africa by Alien Races" and a "History of the British Empire in Africa," and his wide travels before the war had made him familiar with much of the country he describes in this chapter, while he has also visited most of the scenes along the western front during the course of the war. To the problems dealt with in the appended chapter he has brought the results of long years of study and the capacity of a trained thinker and observer, and what he has to tell the reader has the quality of permanent as well as immediate interest.


In war, while it is true that what conquers is not Nature (geography) but the will of man in overcoming both topographical and human obstacles, especially the will of man when it embodies justice, it is also true that earth surface, air currents, the configuration and currents of the sea, meteorology, and the presence, absence, and extent of railways and inland waterways must be closely studied before victory can be achieved. The railway factor was dealt with especially in Chapter CV.

Here it is proposed to discuss the larger problems connected with geography and strategy in their relation to the war. In all probability the geography of what was to be the greatest war in history had been far more thoroughly studied in Germany by the military and political authorities than by British statesmen, generals, admirals, and others in authority. The British had, previous to August, 1914, their Intelligence Division of the War Office in London, thinly staffed and poorly housed; they had also their remarkable Royal Geographical Society, recently installed by the energy of Earl Curzon in a magnificent building, and further helped by a modest subsidy from the State to assist it in carrying on its work of geographical instruction.

But it is to be feared that much of the information regarding what turned out to be the principal theatres of the war in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa remained unutilised in the map-rooms and archives of that society, and did not, until the third or fourth year of war, penetrate to the Government offices most concerned with strategy. The British Intelligence Division was hampered by lack of space and of suitable accommodation for both storage of maps and papers and compilation of maps and reports; most of all by lack of funds for independent, secret, and adept research.

Geography played a very small part in the entrance examinations for Army (or Navy) officers in Great Britain.

A considerable proportion of the Front Bench statesmen in the House of Commons knew no foreign geography, little or nothing of Imperial geography, and either avowed this ignorance as a graceful social trait, indicative of no pedantry, or showed it by their speeches and their decisions. Much the same condition of affairs had been apparent in 1899 and 1900 in reference to the South African War and to the actions of British officers in India, and had been bitterly commented on in the Press of 1902, when impelled by the writings of Professor Spenser Wilkinson and Dr. Miller Maguire to review the scope of approved military studies.

Yet there is no branch of knowledge more necessary to those who serve the British Empire on land or sea than geography: in other words, a realisation of the surface relief and geological formation of the land, the existence and nature of rivers, swamps, or arid deserts, the position of escarpments, hill-ranges, dunes, and isolated natural forts, the altitude of hills and mountains, the practicability of passes, the presence of springs, the quality of herbage, the configuration of the coasts, depth of harbours, direction and force of currents, seasons of rainfall, prevailing winds, character of indigenes, resources of local food supply, type of forest trees; in short, a practical mastery of the hydrography, ethnography, phytography, zoography, meteorology, and geology which, in common with the understanding of a relief map above and below shore-level, must go to make up a sound knowledge of geography.


Obstacles to the Rapid Seizure of Paris

To every student of military geography and strategy it must have been apparent that, once war broke out between Germany and France, Germany would attempt to pass through Belgium into North-East France for a rapid seizure of Paris. The direct route to Paris from the German frontier would start from Metz and proceed more or less by Chalons and Epernay, but such a march of the invading army would expose it to several risks of severe defeat, or to appalling, crippling losses. The Paris Basin, the He de France, is rather like a saucer, with Paris nearly in its centre and with the rim abrupt towards the east, north-east, and southeast, though scarcely perceptible when approached from the centre.

Beyond this eastern rim of the Paris saucer, moreover, there was a succession of steep escarpments if Paris were approached from due east or from the south-east. Firstly, coming from the direction of Metz, there would be the clayey, swampy Wosvre Plain to cross under a galling fire from the Verdun heights (a long, narrow plateau running a little west of north and south and protecting the eastward approach to the Meuse valley); next, the menace of the Foret d'Argonne, commanding the climb up into Eastern, or "Wet Champagne"; then, again, the successive ascents of the cliffs which constitute the eastward buttresses of the drier regions of Champagne about Chalons and the entry into the basin of the Lower Marne River.

Finally, there would be encountered the intricacies of the Petit Morin and the Ourcq Rivers, and the crossing of the Marne "trench" near Meaux, before the outskirts of Paris could be reached.

Though this "direct" route to Paris might be only 170 miles in approximate length, and the way through Belgium considerably longer (270 miles), the material obstacles of the Belgian route would be distinctly less serious and costly in time and in soldier- life. The Meuse would have to be crossed at the Liege gateway, but the new German artillery could dispose of the Liege fortifications, as of those surrounding the key fortress of Namur. With the fall of Namur the Sambre might, without too great difficulty, be crossed near its junction with the Meuse, and then the German Grand Army would meet no great natural difficulty in its path north of the Oise River towards Compiegne and Paris. Moreover, the advance through Belgium would, at the same time, paralyse Holland and Great Britain. Holland would thus be surrounded on the land side and Great Britain forestalled where she might most effectively (with her small Army) attack the right flank of the German armies.

It can hardly be denied, therefore, that, from the spring of 1912, both the British and French military authorities might have concerned themselves more than they did with the probabilities of a German attack on France through Belgium, and have sought by their dispositions of defence effectually to provide against it. To this end too much reliance was placed on the fortifications of Liege, Namur, Charleroi, and Maubeuge, and on the extraordinarily defensive qualities of the great hill salient of the Ardennes, between the Meuse and the Sambre, coming to a point or spear-head with the fortress of Namur. Here the deep trench valley of the Meuse was a moat, which might, it was thought, protect the Franco-Belgian defence force to an extraordinary degree. The Meuse between Mezieres and Sedan was a continuance of this barrier, and the Sambre between Maubeuge and Namur its northern complement. The dikes and canals of low-lying Flanders, between Ypres and the sea, and a British expeditionary force garrisoning the uplands west and south of the Belgian frontier, were considered to complete the French defences against an attack coming across Belgium.

Unfortunately, neither the French nor the British Intelligence Divisions appear to have realised that by the triumphs of Krupps' manufacture the fortresses in Eastern Belgium and North-East France were utterly outclassed, mere trumpery obstacles capable of holding up the German armies for three or four days at most.


Crises of Marne and Ypres

The natural defences of the Verdun heights, of the one-to-two-thousand-feet-high hills and plateau sides between the sources of the Aire and the forts of Toul and Nancy, the low ridge of the Montagne de Rheims, the steep sides of the Marne and Ourcq and Great and Little Morin Rivers aided General Joffre and the heroic French armies in saving Paris from capture and France from being overwhelmed in the autumn of 1914 and the spring of 1918.

On the other hand, it was the natural moat of the Aisne River, the surface quarries and vast subterranean excavations of the Laonnais, of the Aisne Department, which alone saved the German army under Von Kluck from an overwhelming disaster in September, 1914.

The minute study of the geography of North-East France which the Germans made prior to 1914 had caused them to realise the defensive qualities of the Aisne Department, and prepare cemented gun platforms and make other local arrangements and plans for the housing and defending of an army which might be foiled in its first swoop on Paris.



Belfort and the Vosges

The geographical configuration of Eastern France, after the new frontier had been fixed in 1871, enabled France to command the Vosges Mountains. The approach to this comparatively lofty range of "real" mountains —no mere hills, in several places over 4,000 feet in altitude—is easy from the French side, from the west; whereas it is remarkably abrupt if ascended from the level valley of the Rhine.

After the declaration of war the French easily mastered the summits and passes of the Vosges, and sent a comparatively weak army down for the premature release of Alsace, while the brave Leman was holding up the German host before Liege. This Importance of French army in the plains Mont St. Salbert of Alsace had to retreat from Mulhouse (Mulhausen), though the French still continued to hold portions of German Alsace in the Vosges Mountains.

But an even more disastrous result might have followed from this reverse, and from the simultaneous recall of the bulk of the French forces to defend Paris and thrust the Germans back across the Marne. Had it not been for Belfort—and less for the fortifications of Belfort itself than for the natural fortress of Mont St. Salbert behind it, barring the way to the Doubs valley—the German armies of the Rhine might have poured down through the Doubs Valley to the Rhone and threatened Lyons, and even Marseilles and Mediterranean communications. The hills at the back of Belfort scarcely exceed 2,000 feet. Many of the great episodes of the war have been concerned with monticules and hill-crests of from 600 to 2,000 feet, and not infrequently it is the shape and the surface petrology of the eminence that mark it out as a natural fortress resistant to modern artillery rather than mere altitude.

The Pan-Germans who directed German policy had demanded an advance to the Channel and open sea. Thence followed the great Battle of Ypres and other desperate attempts to drive the British into the sea, sever England from easy contact with France, and reach Calais. The British at that time were aided in resisting the terrific and repeated attacks of the German Army by the geography of West Flanders—the canalised rivers, the dikes, the flooded land, and behind these the little hills and ridges, dunes, and downs of from one hundred to six hundred feet in height above the plain— natural fortresses difficult to batter down. But it was the will of man, inspired by high purpose and maintained by unflinching courage, that throughout the awful ordeal enabled the British to use these topographical aids to turn the invading tide.


From the Baltic to the Rumanian Frontier

The next theatre of war to occupy British attention, after the crises of the Marne and of Ypres were over, was in East-Central Europe, from the Eastern Baltic shores to the Rumanian frontier with Hungary. Here Russia was attacking Germany and preparing to attack Austria-Hungary. It was mainly in the dismembered kingdom of Poland that these operations took place prior to the spring of 1917.

The Russians at first advanced from the Suwalki province of northernmost Poland into East Prussia through the difficult and dangerously intricate region of the Masurian Lakes. They had got well into East Prussia, to the vicinity of the town of Allenstein, when they were met by the redoubtable Hindenburg and disastrously defeated at or near Tannenberg, a spot already celebrated for a famous battle when the fortune of war turned the other way. On that occasion the Slavs (Poles) utterly defeated the Germans, the Teutonic Knights.

The Russians were confronted by great physical difficulties, while Hindenburg was aided materially by the German railway system and got across the Russian line of retreat owing to Mazedoieffs treachery. A somewhat detailed review of the whole geographical problem as between Russia and her western assailants was given in Chapter XVI.

The Russian rout at Tannenberg was followed by a retreat into the mazes of lakes and swamps known as "Masuria," wherein some 80,000 Russians were engulfed. After the further attempt made on East Prussia by the Tenth Russian Army late in 1914—an attempt again betrayed by Mazedoieff — the course of the fighting turned more to the south, where the Austro-Hungarians proved a far less resolute and skilful foe. The northern part of the Kingdom of Poland, which, like Western Russia and Prussia, has no natural frontier of any kind, is very flat and traversed in all directions by big rivers, sluggish streams, and marsh-forming rills of water. Roads are sometimes reduced in districts as large as Surrey to a single narrow causeway raised above the surface of what is swampy fenland in summer and autumn, and frozen marsh in winter. This is, likewise, a prominent feature in Suwalki, that northern peninsula of Poland which extends into Lithuania. The character of the ground explains why, even after their victory of Tannenberg, the Germans were for long unable to follow up their success and effect an entrance into Russia through Northern Poland and Lithuania.

Southern Poland, especially all that part known as Galicia (or, properly, Halicz), is a very different country. Near the confluence of the San and the Vistula (from this important point, it should be noted, there is uninterrupted steamer communication for hundreds of miles down the Vistula into the Baltic) the land rises in a series of terraces or "rims," not unlike those that defend the Paris Basin on the east. This is the "pleasant" part of Poland, with a far more genial climate, little or no swamp, much better roads, good farming, abundant orchards, and the broad base from which rise up the lofty Carpathians in a vast semicircle to the south of Galicia.

The Carpathians, though the altitudes of their principal-passes are not so very high (1,900 to 3,300 feet), are so arranged in a series of gigantic natural trenches, with such abrupt ravines and such protecting screening forests, that it is little wonder the Russians, even when most formidable, failed to penetrate in any great force into the Hungarian plains, though the superior railway facilities of the enemy were a factor of considerable importance.

When through treachery and lassitude the Russians fell back before the final German rush of 1917, it was only in one direction that the German armies succeeded in penetrating to any great extent the Russian territories beyond Poland.

This course was taken through the non-Russian countries of Courland, Livonia, and Esthonia. Here, owing to a former Germanisation, the influence of Sweden on the north and Poland on the south, there was more civilisation, there were better and more numerous roads, and the swamps and fens were less frequent.

The people were either Lithuanians (Letts, etc., or of Finnish stock), and had no great liking for the true Russians, being of different speech and mainly of the Lutheran faith. The aristocracy was largely of Teutonic stock and made common cause with the invaders.

After the so-called Peace of Brest Litovsk the Austrians entered the province of Podolia, an attractive region of well-populated, cultivated plateau land, with a singularly large local breed of cattle, and the Germans, more or less in alliance with the Little Russians (Ukrainians), reached Kieff, the capital of Ukrainia.

The people of this comparatively vast country of "Little Russia," the Ruthenians, came to look on the German and Austrian invaders—to some extent, at any rate—as allies against the hated rule of Great Russia, a burden made more intolerable still under the mad Bolshevists. This also accounted for the facilities with which, in 1917- 18, the German troops overcame physical obstacles which would have been insurmountable to any invader of Russia who had had a united people fighting against him.

In Poland, Lithuania, Little Russia, and Western Russia the aims of Germany were from the first facilitated, and the Russian strength, of resistance greatly diminished, by the intense rancour and the subtle intrigues of the strongly pro-German, pro- Austrian Jews of Russia, Ukrainia, and Poland. "Remember Kishineff" was a cry which reached from Bessarabia to the United States. The Pripet Marshes and the winter cold were thus, to some, extent, nullified as geographical defences by the spirit of man fighting against injustice.


Russia's Isolation from Western Europe

Alter the Russian Revolution in March, 1917, came a further cause for Western European interest in the physical severance of Russia from the west, in the configuration, climate, people, and means of communication of the Grand Duchy of Finland and the adjoining Russian Murman coast.

In the early and later stages of the war the command of the Baltic was in German hands, and Germany and Austria, by their success in diplomacy and arms, having secured the alliance of Turkey and Bulgaria, the defection of Greece, and the conquest of Serbia and Northern Albania, the means of direct communication between France, Great Britain, and Russia were virtually restricted to the passage through Norway and Sweden or the sea journey round Scandinavia to the White Sea. The only alternatives were transport through Persia—then convulsed by German intrigues, revolts, and Turkish invasions, and entirely without speedy and sure means of land transport—or the seven-thousand-mile-long Siberian Railway, which kept up communications with the United States through China and Japan.

Passengers and mails might, with occasional interruptions from German submarines, pass fairly quickly across the Scandinavian peninsula to the Finnish coast or round the north of Finland, at the head of the Baltic Gulf of Bothnia. Thence Finnish railways carried them to Russia. Munitions of war, however, could not proceed by the Scandinavian route, but had to be taken all the way by sea to Archangel, a port on a great gulf of the Arctic Ocean known as the White Sea.

Archangel is not far outside the Arctic Circle, and between November and May the White Sea is blocked with ice. Sheer necessity, prompted by British energy, led to a careful investigation of the Murman coast close up to the Varanger Fiord, belonging to Norway. Here, on the Russian side of the frontier, were found an inlet and harbour sufficiently influenced by the warm water of the Gulf Stream to remain—as does Norway's coast—free from obstructing ice all the year round. A railway constructed with all possible speed and paid for with British money eventually connected Kola, on the Kola inlet, with the Russian railway system.

Then further geographical difficulties arose. Finland, loyal to Russia through the first three years of the war, found herself, by the rise to power of the Soviet, at war with Red Russia, with the murderous plundering Red Guards. Communication therefore ceased or became very difficult between Sweden and Russia through Finland. In her agony Finland turned to Germany for help against the Russian anarchists.

The German forces entered Finland and expelled the Russians, but took over the virtual control of the country. They next attempted to reach to the Murman coast and tried to sever the railway communications between Kola and Petrograd. Their geographical ambitions took higher flights; they contemplated, from a naval base on the Murman coast, seizing and annexing the Spitzbergen Archipelago with its valuable coal deposits, dominating the Arctic Ocean, establishing themselves in Iceland, and even Danish Greenland, and thence bidding defiance to the other "Arctic" Powers—Britain and the United States.

Moreover, the virtual subordination of Finland gave them a land frontier with both Sweden and Norway, and the occupation of the Aland Archipelago, those islets midway between Finland and Sweden which are a standing menace to Stockholm and give the occupying Power the means of closing the Gulf of Bothnia and of throttling Northern Sweden.

This was one of the unfortunate consequences of the Vienna Conference of 1815. At that assemblage of European Powers the Grand Duchy of Finland—originally an appanage of the Swedish Crown, a people Lutheran in religion, Swedish in culture, in customs, and partly so in race—was, against its will, handed over to Russia as one of the prizes of victory over France. For many years, however, the Tsars of Russia respected the Finnish Constitution and its semi-independence. But under the last of the Tsars, and under some provocation from the Finns, who really abused their Constitution, blundering attempts were made to incorporate Finland into the Russian Empire and to abolish her representative institutions. The outbreak of war in 1914 found Finland, like Poland, half hoping that some reverse to the Russian arms might be the means of her securing release from the Act of the Vienna Congress — independence, or the former connection with Sweden. Then promises of complete autonomy from the Tsar's Government won over the Finns to the Russian cause. These promises were set at naught by the Bolshevists, and Finland underwent such months of horror in 1917-18 that a counter German invasion seemed by contrast a relief from absolute ruin. She had indeed appealed to Sweden to come to her rescue, and Sweden by so doing might have secured for herself the Aland Islands and have made Scandinavia a Great Power. But Sweden was afraid; she hesitated; the Germans came instead.


The Turkish Theatre of War

The great geographical fact about the war in South-East Europe was the existence of the fortifications on the Dardanelles. If Turkey joined Germany and Austria and coerced Bulgaria into an alliance, Southern Russia was at once cut off from communication with the Mediterranean; her immense supplies of corn and mineral oil were withheld from Western Europe, and she in her turn could not get arms, ammunition, and other war supplies by the southern route, really her only sea outlet after the closing of the Baltic.

The failure of the Mediterranean Fleet of Britain to intercept the Goeben and the Breslau, and prevent those German warships from reaching the Dardanelles and Constantinople, was at least a factor in Turkey's decision to throw in her lot with the Central Powers. Turkey's attitude warped the loyalty of Greece towards Serbia and determined the policy of Bulgaria. The adhesion of Turkey and Bulgaria isolated Russia from Mediterranean Europe, and gave Germany and Austria the means of conquering Serbia, of seriously threatening Egypt, of attacking Aden, mining British shipping between the Gulf of Suez and the coasts of India and Ceylon, and of invading Persia and intriguing with Afghanistan.

One way of dealing with the Turkish menace in its inception, that commended itself to some critics, was the landing of an overwhelmingly strong British or British and French force at Alexandretta, the seizure of the Bagdad Railway and Aleppo, and the garrisoning of Diarbekr. Certainly the wealthiest provinces of Turkey lay to the eastward of Alexandretta, but the topography and the strategic difficulties of this part of Turkey are best explained by a diagram. The passage of the zigzag Dardanelles might have been made with little damage by a British fleet if it had gone in immediate pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau; but not some months afterwards, when German engineers had strengthened the fortifications and mounted new artillery.

As much bravery and persistency as went to that ill-fated attempt to invade Turkey where she was strongest might have availed, with the then possible co-operation of the Russians, to cut off Turkish Asia Minor from Syria, Arabia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia. Communication with Russia in Transcaucasia might have been opened up via Bitlis and Lake Van. The Mesopotamian and Palestine Expeditions could then have taken place, and might have been far more easily accomplished if due allowance had been made for the seasonal differences in the Mesopotamian river depths. The Turkish power in Arabia would then have died of inanition.


The Balkan States

The Turkish theatre of war can scarcely be separated geographically from that of the Balkan States, the affairs of all these countries having been so interdependent after the outbreak of war. It might be considered to begin on the north-west in the kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro. Both are very mountainous, like the neighbouring country of Albania and South-West Bulgaria; but Montenegro is so small that it is little more than one huge mountain mass—the "Black Mountain"— which commands the southernmost coast of Dalmatia and specially the "four- fingered" harbour of Cattaro. Serbia is divided into two unequal parts by the long Morava River, with its twin sources, the Upper Morava, that flows through Nish, and the Ibar (or Serbian Morava), rising in North Albania. It was mainly up the valleys of these rivers that the Austro-Germans were first able to penetrate in their conquest of Serbia.

The mountain barrier on her south-west frontier for a long time protected Bulgaria from any serious degree of invasion on the part of the Western Allies. Another factor in favour of Bulgarian resistance, which was maintained up to the end of September, 1918, was the unhealthiness of the iEgean coast districts, in the neighbourhood of the big river mouths and deltas, especially those of the Struma (the virtual frontier of the Bulgarians) and the Vardar. Enormous numbers of mosquitoes spread the germs of malarial fever.

Turkey was only open to a paralysing attack from the Mediterranean in two directions: (1) At the head of the Gulf of Saros (alongside the Gallipoli Peninsula), and (2) at Alexandretta, or Iskanderun, already referred to. An army like that despatched by the British for the capture of the Dardanelles—say, a force of six hundred. thousand men—might have succeeded better if it had been disembarked at Avrasha and had quickly seized the neck of the Gallipoli Peninsula, which is also the southern end of the Tekir Ridge, a range of mountains 1,600 to 2,900 feet high. This, with Saros Island, could have been occupied to safeguard the holding of Saros Gulf. From such a position an attack on Adrianople, the Vienna-Constantinople railway, and the Black Sea coast might have been quite possible undertakings, to be followed by Russian co-operation (in 1915 and 1916) and the taking of Constantinople. Again, it is not improbable the presence of the British and French at Adrianople might have restrained Bulgaria from open enmity.

Asia Minor is only of geographical interest in connection with the war in that its Mediterranean coasts afforded Germany, no doubt, means of carrying on her submarine campaign against allied shipping in the Eastern Mediterranean. Otherwise this peninsula, with its rugged ranges of southern, eastern, and western mountains, its interior salt deserts and bitter lakes, its climate of extremes—broiling heat in summer, deadly cold in winter — its relative absence of good roads and only one trunk railway, scarcely entered into the strategy of the campaigns as a means of reaching the Bosphorus overland from the east. Eastward of Constantinople it was only at Iskanderun, Aintab, Diarbekr, and Bitlis that smashing blows could have been delivered at the Turkish Power—protecting Persia, freeing Armenia, and forcing Turkey to abandon Syria, Mesopotamia, and Arabia.

The Syrian coast lands from Antioch to the Sinai Peninsula consist of parallel ridges of mountain, rising to snowy heights on Lebanon and Hermon, to altitudes of five and six thousand feet in the Jebel Hauran, and to over three thousand feet in the mountains of Judaea. This region constituted, on the whole, the least trying and climatically disagreeable portion of the war area. Water, vegetation, and local food supplies were fairly abundant. Portions of the land, except for accidental devastation, were comparative paradises in contrast with the deserts of Sinai and Northern Arabia, the broiling plains or fetid swamps of Mesopotamia.

But one great strategic feature of Mesopotamia in favour of the British invasion was the river system. The two great, nearly parallel rivers, Euphrates and Tigris, uniting in one estuary and further interconnected by natural offshoots and artificial canals, were navigable from the Persian Gulf inland, eight or nine hundred miles, to the mountains of Kurdistan and the vicinity of Northern Syria. Thus India was connected by water communication without a break with Basra, Bagdad, and Mosul, with Hit, and with a point on the Euphrates nigh to Aleppo. Moreover, the Karun affluent of the Shat-el-Arab (Euphrates-Tigris estuary) was navigable up-stream into Southern Persia and the vicinity of the oil-wells of Dizful and Shuster.

The native peoples of these regions of man's earliest civilisation are of diverse stocks and religions, but of sympathies on the whole preponderating in favour of Western European intervention in their affairs. They had a hearty dislike of Turkish rule. There is the Armenian population on the north, with its big noses and facial resemblance to the Hittites graven and sculptured on rocks and amid the ruins of forgotten empires. There are the Kurds of the mountains on the Persian border-line, very "Nordic" often in facial feature, hair-colour, and complexion, speaking a corrupted Aryan language, but fanatically Mohammedan and bent on the perpetual massacre of the Christian Armenian. There are the Arabs of more—or less — pure descent ranging through all Mesopotamia and the eastern part of Syria, the sole, scanty population of the intervening deserts.

Syria and Palestine have a very mixed population, some tribes descended from prehistoric races, others more distinctly Semitic, like the vanished Phoenicians and the modern Arabs and Jews. There are the Druses, of mixed race and a mysterious religion—old, old broken faiths grafted on to fanatic Mohammedanism; there are the Christian Syrians (Maronites), the Christian Chaldeans (chiefly of Northern Mesopotamia), the Jews and Samaritans of Palestine, colonies of Circassians and Tatars, Albanians, and German mongrels.

In the region about the Euphrates Delta may be found remains of the original Gipsy tribes from India, and in Southern Persia one encounters a Negroid type of people descended from the ancient Elamites, are really seeming to represent the relics of the Asiatic Negroes that once dwelt almost uninterruptedly in the lands between Egypt and Malaysia.

In the land of Sinai, where such history-making battles took place between British and Turks—first to repel the Turco-German invasion of Egypt and next to reconquer Palestine from the Turks — the land is sandy desert in the north, and bare, sun- scorched rock and mountain in the south. The loftiest summits of Sinai reach to altitudes of nearly 10,000 feet, and their scenery, if desolate, is very imposing to the eye. Moreover, as they do attract some rain, and even snow, they supply enough moisture to pasture native flocks of goats and sheep and herds of wild ibex. These again maintain the existence of a few lingering leopards of large rosette markings, somewhat similar to the Persian leopard.

North from Sinai and the narrow Gulf of Akaba runs the extraordinary rift of the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley. This gorge, from above the Lake of Gennesaret to near the Gulf of Akaba, is below sea-level. In the Jordan waters a dwarf variety of the Nilotic crocodile is still found, and the fish of these lakes and connecting river—those which so frequently are mentioned in the Gospels—belong, like most of the birds of this hot, sunken valley, to African genera.

The region of Western Arabia came within the war area, for the Arabs of the Holy Places of Islam seized the opportunity to throw off the yoke of the Turk—in Mecca and its neighbourhood, at any rate. Across the elevated, dreary, stony desert tablelands of Midian, and along the dry river valley of Khaibar, the Hedjaz Railway had been constructed by the Turks before war broke out. This railway was repeatedly attacked and torn up at various stations on the way to Medina, where it stops, one favourite place for attack being Maan, about halfway in an easterly direction between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Akaba. South of the Hedjaz, that region of Western Arabia which is lifted above the sandy deserts of the interior and which consists mostly of volcanic rock and old lava flows from long extinct volcanoes, is the far more delectable country of Yemen—"Arabia Felix" — with ten- thousand-feet-high mountains, a certain rainfall, and an approach to tropical vegetation. Coffee, introduced centuries ago from Abyssinia, has long been cultivated here in terraced plantations on the mountainsides.

This—and the "Himyaritic" country, the land of Hadhramaut, east of Aden—is the region producing incense and other perfumed gums. Here are to be seen ancient cities with cliff-like houses of many stories, and fantastic castles, altogether worthy of "The Arabian Nights," of jinns and black magicians, of subterranean treasure- houses, of the old Minadan civilisation which had so much to do with the first revelation of the East African coast to the commerce of Europe and Asia. Yet it has been involved in the world-war through the action of Turkey.

When she had joined the Germans, Turkey lost no time in making terms, with the chiefs of Yemen, who had long disputed her authority and had oft-times been helped by the British authorities at Aden when Turkey would have pressed too hard on them. The Arabs of Mokha and Sana were too-fanatically Mohammedan to resist the opportunity of making war on a Christian Power, so Turks and Arabs alike, from the north-west of Aden, attacked that small protectorate, and for a time wrenched the little Sultanate of Lahij; from British control.


Siberia and the Far East

Siberia became involved in the war, in 1918, by the attempts of the Germans to secure control of this vast North Asiatic territory through their Bolshevist allies. Against them, on the other hand, especially in Eastern Siberia, fought a few Russians opposed to the Soviet, or Anarchist, Government, and—strange episode of the war—a host of Austrian war prisoners, captured by the Russians in the days when the Tsar's armies overran Galicia and Bukovina.

These "Austrians" were in reality Slavs from Bohemia and Moravia, who regarded Russia as the upholder of the Slavic peoples. When the Bolshevists tried to arrest them and hand them over to Austria they threw themselves on the side of law and order in Eastern Siberia and determined to fight against the Germanisation of the Russian dominions.

Japan, as the ally of Great Britain, declared war against Germany very early in the struggle, and with assistance from British and British Indian troops and a few ships from the British Navy, after desperate fighting and resort to some of the latest devices in artillery fire, captured the principal German stronghold on the Chinese coast. This was the city of Kiao-Chau, which, with a considerable area round it in the province of Shantung, had been leased by China to Germany for a hundred years. Japan simultaneously (and acting in concert with Australian forces and ships) occupied the German archipelago of the Mariana (or Ladrone) Islands

inhabited by a Micronesian race—that is to say, Polynesians of more Mongoloid aspect than those of the other Pacific islands. The Mariana Archipelago was secured by Germany from Spain in 1898. The islets are rich in tropical produce and have a very healthy climate for the tropics. But the only good-sized island in this group— Guam —is the property of the United States. Their relative proximity to the outlying parts of the Japanese Empire (Bonin Island and the Liu-kiu group) gave our ally of the Far East a special interest in their eventual disposal.


Germany's Island Colonies

On the other hand, the Caroline and Marshall Islands, conquered by the British Australian Fleet, seem destined to become a part of the Australian Commonwealth, together with the Solomon Islands, New Britain, New Ireland, and Northern (German) New Guinea; while Samoa may pass to the control of New Zealand, the destined mistress of Fiji, the Gilbert, Ellice, and Tonga Islands.

Northern Papua (as the Australians prefer to call New Guinea) is a land of 70,000 square miles in extent, of dense tropical forest, and possessing some of the most wonderful among the Birds of Paradise. Its native inhabitants, who for the most part welcomed and assisted the Australian and British forces, are almost entirely of the Papuan race, a branch of the Oceanic Negro stock. There are also the traces of former Polynesian or Indonesian settlements of a higher and more refined semi- Caucasian people, and in the central mountains (nearly reaching to snow levels) there are Negritos, or Pygmy Negroes.

The peoples of the Admiralty Islands and of the large islands of New Britain and New Ireland and the adjacent Solomons are of the highest interest to the ethnologist, some for their extraordinary physical resemblance to African Negroes, a few because they represent survivals of the ancient Indonesian immigrants to the Pacific, the originators of the Polynesian type —of comparatively fair skin, European cast of features, and remote European descent (via India and Indo-China).

The Samoans are typical Polynesians —that fall, handsome blend between the ancient white man stock, the Mongol, and the Negroid Melanesian. Samoa will always be interesting to the English-speaking peoples as the last home and resting- place of Robert Louis Stevenson.


Persia and the Caspian Sea

In discussing the topography of the war, Persia cannot be altogether overlooked, because a portion of the struggle was fought out there. But in this connection the main fact for Great

Britain in the summer of 1918 was that, with Russia destroyed, there was nothing between Germany and the Indian frontier; nothing between Germany or German - governed Turkey and the oil-wells of Baku, on the Caspian. The possession of this wealth of petroleum might conceivably tip the balance in favour of the Central Powers', success.

The Persia of the middle nineteenth century had grown hostile to the British rulers of India. She intrigued with Afghanistan and seemed ever and again to be the cat's-paw of Russia. The Russian Empire, in fact, impinged so much on Persia that, in order not to be at war with Russia, Great Britain had to consent to some definition and partition of interests in that country which should at any rate save Persia from complete absorption into the Tsar's Empire.

Thus arose the 1907 agreement which the Persians construed into a division of their anarchically governed country between Russia and Britain.

The British in no way abused the advantages of their position in Southern Persia. But as soon as war broke out it was seen that Germany—acting perhaps through the Swedish traveller Sven Hedin—had won over the Swedish officers of the international gendarmerie (which was to maintain law and order in Central and Southern Persia); and this force, led by its Swedish officers, forthwith attacked- and cruelly maltreated the British telegraph officials, Consuls, traders, and employees of the Persian Government, the Persian power being incapable of controlling them. Consequently the British Government, as a war measure, and to ward off Turkish or German interference with Afghanistan and India, had to organise a new police force (the South Persia Rifles) under the leadership of Sir Percy Sykes.

But all along and repeatedly the British Government asseverated that it desired most not to have to interfere with Persia. If the Russians would have consented to a "self- denying" ordinance, the British would have willingly agreed with Russia to leave Persia alone, provided equally that no other Power attempted to interfere with its concerns. Lying between the Caspian Sea (with its Russian and Siberian communications) and the Indian Ocean, geographically speaking, Persia is the isthmus that joins India to Arabia and the Mediterranean countries.


The Adriatic and the Alps

The mutiny of the Swedish officers and the Persia gendarmerie occurred before Italy came to the help of the Western Powers. Moreover, what Persia was to the illumining of Asia after the first devastating rush of Islam, that mediaeval and renaissance Italy was to Europe after the invasions of Goths and Huns, Magyars and Vandals, Germans and Bulgarians; and mostly after the warped Christianity of the Byzantine Empire had submerged the science of Athens, Alexandria, and Rome.

It needed no common courage on the part of Italy to declare war on Austria in 1915. It was at a time when the fortunes of the Triple Entente (as it then was) were none too brilliant. Belgium was almost completely overrun, and North-East France was in the firm grip of the invader, who ever and again made a feint or threw out a suggestion of treating Switzerland as he had done Belgium, or of aiming at Lyons and severing the French contact with Italy. But the Italian people realised that the success of the Teuton attack on the liberties of Europe would be fatal to Italian destinies, except as a subordinate part of a Germanised Central Europe.

The Adriatic coast of Italy is in singular contrast to that of Dalmatia and Albania, being almost entirely without harbours, whereas the opposite coast of Dalmatia and Albania is a maze of islands and deep, secure, sheltered passages with unnumbered seaports. This western fringe of the Balkan Peninsula—Istria and Dalmatia, Ragusa and Cattaro—had once belonged to the vanished republic of Venice, and been saved by Venice from incorporation in Turkey or Serbia during the slow destruction of the Eastern Empire. Hungary, it is true, had acquired an access to the Adriatic at Fiume, and the Holy Roman Empire of Austria-Germany had secured Trieste when Venice was taking up the control that the Constantinople Emperors were losing to Slavs and Turks.

But between the fifteenth and the eighteenth centuries the Adriatic Sea was an Italian lake Italy, which had struggled against German envelopment in the ninth, tenth, twelfth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, was not minded to let the insidious attack succeed in the twentieth. The dominions of Venice had been transferred to Austria by the Congress of Vienna. The southernmost part of the Tyrol was a sovereign bishopric, an Italianate State of the " Holy Roman Empire," from the Middle Ages. Austria annexed it in 1814, and it became a threatening protrusion of Teutonic power into Northern Italy, a constant menace of armed intervention in Italian affairs.

It was therefore towards the Trentino and Trieste, Istria and Albania, that the Italian attack turned when war with Austria (and Germany in the background) proved inevitable.

The Albanian coast bulges out southwards so as to approach within forty-five miles of the Italian peninsula of Otranto, and whereas the latter has only the one indifferent port of Brindisi, Southern Albania possesses the magnificent harbour of Valona, partially sheltered and defended by the islet of Sasseno. The territory of Valona is bordered on the south by Epirus, the northernmost prolongation of Greece. If the Teutonic Powers had succeeded in securing Albania as one of their principalities and had fortified Valona, they could have closed the Adriatic at their pleasure.

Having made this point secure, the Italians turned their attention to the Trentino and Trieste.

All along the frontier of North-East Italy, Austria, when Italy was almost a suppliant in such matters, had so fixed the border line that Austria was everywhere able to dominate the entries into Italy and to defend access to her own territory—and much of it territory really Italian in race and tongue — by towering precipices and unscalable walls of rock.

Nowhere was warfare to be so amazing, so spectacular, as this struggle between Italy and Austria in the high Alps, much of it at an altitude of ten thousand feet. "The wildest regions of the Vosges, the most difficult mazes of the Balkans' ranges, the most formidable barriers of the Carpathians"—to quote Professor Douglas Johnson— were tame compared with the precipices and icy peaks of the Trentino Alps. The Italian soldiers had sometimes to climb a mountain wall that was nearly vertical and five thousand feet up, and could only do so by driving rings and iron pegs into the rock and hauling themselves up by ropes and ladders.

There were broad glacier trenches of old-time river valleys that led northward from Verona to Trent and Bozen (the limit of Italian ambition), but, naturally, they were blocked by artillery. Another way northward was up the Ampezzo valley and over the Monte Croce Pass, or eastward by a still more Alpine route, the Tre Croci Pass, through which at one time the Italians hoped to reach the valley of the Drave and get into the heart of Austria.

The more spectacular point of attack, however, was in the direction of Trieste. The fall of Trieste would have a resounding effect on the Austrian Empire; it would entail the capture of the whole Istrian Peninsula and the naval stronghold of Pola, and thus permit of Italy bringing help to Serbia and menacing Hungary. So towards Trieste the main Italian objective was always addressed between 1915 and 1917. The Italian frontier was here drawn so as to give Austria the whole valley of the Isonzo River down to its marshy outlet into the Adriatic. Immediately east of the Isonzo the natural defences of Trieste were tremendous, almost insuperable, with a strong army and the most modern artillery defending them. First there was the town of Gorizia to be taken—Gorizia, overhung almost by the abrupt and lofty tablelands of the Bainsizza and Ternovano. But Gorizia, taken by the Italians on August 9th, 1916, was comparatively a side issue. The real defence of Trieste was the parched and porous limestone plateau of the Carso and the jutting-out Gibraltar of Hermada Mountain, an untakable natural fortress commanding the coast road into Trieste. These barriers long held Italy at bay.

But if the Alps and Dolomites stayed the frantic assaults of the Italians and saved Austrian territory from invasion, they similarly acted as deterrents to German invasions of the Lombard and Venetian plains. They offered so many obstacles to the passage of the protective artillery; they were impassable in the snows of winter, dangerous in the land-slides, torrents, and mists of spring and autumn. And when Germans and Austrians did break through and commence debouching on the plains their advance laterally from east to west was held up by the hundreds of great and small streams and rivers flowing in parallel courses from the mountains to the Northern Adriatic.

The Danube and its tributaries played a considerable part in the geography of the war. It was the first river to be brought within the range of hostilities. At the end of July, 1914, the Austrians had commenced to attempt crossings of the Save, Drina, and Danube, and enter Serbia. But their difficulties were tremendous and very costly. Serbia seemed to be girt about by wonderful natural moats, far too deep at all times to wade through, usually approached on either side by nearly impassable swamps. The few bridges were destroyed by the Serbians.

Even when a temporary occupation of Belgrade was effected in December 1914, the Serbians elsewhere succeeded in driving the Austrian armies into the rivers or the marshes; and when the war was more than a year old they stood with their heroic country intact, without a single Austrian being left upon Serbian soil.

Similarly the Danube, in conjunction with the Transylvanian Mountains, seemed to guard Rumania's neutrality, and to make it safe for her to enter the war on the side of the Allies with her south front protected against Bulgaria, and her north by the Russian armies occupying the Bukovina. Germany and Austria were at a deadlock. They could not communicate directly with Turkey and ensure her co-operation; they could not force the river guard of Serbia with the full Serbian Army to face them. Then Bulgaria and Greece were won over by Germany to make a dastardly attack on—or fail to defend —Serbia on the east and south. But for this traitorous stab in the back Serbia might have succeeded, with her rivers and mountains as defence, in keeping the Germanic Empires at bay till the end of the war. As it was, the remnant of the Serbian Army had to retreat into Albania and to Salonika.

Rumania, when it came to be her turn to enter the lists—urged to redress the balance in the Balkan Peninsula, upset by the Bulgarian attack on Serbia—did not read aright the lessons of her geography.

Rumania—a combination of the old provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia, with a semi-Tatar district, the Dobruja, added after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, and enlarged by cessions from Bulgaria in 1913—was a kingdom in 1916 of 53,400 square miles. Her boundary with Russia was the Pruth River to its junction with the Danube estuary; her only land frontier with Bulgaria consisted of a not very lengthy line between Ekrene on the Black Sea and Turtukai on the Danube. Fifty miles north- east of this was the twenty-five miles of railway between Constantsa on the Black Sea and the bridge-head of Cerna Voda on the Danube. Thence, westwards of Cerna Voda for over three hundred miles, the great Danube (often breaking into marshes from five to twelve miles wide) separated Rumania from Bulgaria. The Danube was not bridged for a length of five hundred miles between Belgrade and Cerna Voda. On the north-west and west, towards Hungary, Rumania was bounded by a southward extension of the Carpathians, the Transylvanian Alps, a rugged, lofty chain of mountains, rising into heights of 8,000 feet in the south, and 6,000 feet in the north, and only crossed by roads for wheeled traffic over a few passes.

So splendidly defensive a position was the Hungarian frontier, of Rumania that it would have sufficed to leave at most two hundred thousand men to defend it against the Austro-German Army, especially as the Russians were in possession of Bukovina on the north, and able to threaten diversions in Northern Hungary. Between the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps and the Danube flowed, almost at right angles to the great river, many large and deep affluents, each one of which might be made a costly barrier to any army that crossed the mountains to march on Bukarest.

Obviously, the strategy required of Rumania, when she came into the war in 1916, was to invade Bulgaria through the Dobruja and march straight on Varna, the great Bulgarian seaport, hand that over to Russia for the landing of Russian contingent forces, then make for Tirnovo and cut the Constantinople railway at Philippopolis. With the support of the Western Allies attacking Bulgaria from the south, and a Russian army landed at Varna, the Rumanians might have had the glory of taking Constantinople and ending the war. Instead of which the Rumanian Army, insufficiently furnished with the necessary artillery, flung itself into Transylvania, was forced to retreat, was followed up, and, very insufficiently backed by Russia, was unable to save the bridge at Cerna Voda, for the Bulgarians and Germans had in itheir turn invaded her through the Dobruja.

Only the long trench of the Sereth River and the Northern Transylvanian Alps saved Rumania from coming completely into the enemy's possession. Once again the victory of the Allies was deferred through a lack of geographical knowledge or an insufficient appreciation of the importance of geography as applied to military strategy, though it has to be, remembered that Rumania was led to Relieve that Bulgaria had had enough of war, and would not attack her if she did not attack Bulgaria.


War Topography of Africa

Our suxvevjof the war's topography must now tufB to Africa. The first resort to arnte on that continent was probably the hostile action by Germany on the northern frontier of Cape Colony, but it was almost immediately followed by the seizure of the German Government steamer the Von Wissmann on Lake Nyasa, and the British and French invasion of Togoland, in West Africa. Togoland was an elongated State (33,700 square miles in extent), with a bottleneck only thirty-two miles broad, which Germany had built up in the later eighties of the last century, midway between the British Gold Coast and French Dahomey. It was an artificial collocation of three districts, somewhat diverse in history and ethnology, with an absurdly inappropriate name derived from some portion of the "beach," or narrow coast-line.

The eastern half of Togoland belonged ethnically and linguistically to Dahomey, and was formerly under the rule of that bloodstained native kingdom; the western half, in British occupation, was related in people and language to the northern territories of the Gold Coast—or, in the south-west, was what is termed semi-Bantu. That is to say, the speech of the natives has an affinity with the tongues of the Kaduna basin or the Central Benue in British Nigeria, and those of Sierra Leone and Portuguese Guinea.

Politically speaking, Togoland had no claim to separate existence; one half should have followed the fortunes of the Gold Coast, and the other those of Dahomey. One half had been already Britannicised (through the missionaries and their education), and the other half similarly Frenchified, before the Germans forcibly acquired it. Consequently, when war broke out, the natives of Togoland showed respectively such decided preference for British or French rule that the German forces surrendered after very little resistance, and the native chiefs wrote quite well- expressed letters in English or French announcing their satisfaction at the change of control. Indeed, some of the Togoland people enlisted in the French Senegalese battalions and came to defend French soil, while others found their way into the Gold Coast regiments sent to Cameroon. Togoland is a valuable part of West Africa, tolerably high and healthy, with no more than a moderate rainfall in the interior. It produces abundant supplies of palm-oil, ground-nuts, and live-stock.

Germany's three great possessions in Africa—almost entirely within the tropics— were (1) Kamerun, or Cameroon, (2) South-West Africa, and (3) German East Africa—Zangia, as it might be called, seeing that it arose from the former dominions of Zanzibar, on the Zanj (or Zangian) coast.

Kamerun consisted, like Togoland—only on a much larger scale, for it had an area of 191,130 square miles—of several regions, four in all, dissimilar in character as regards their ethnology and political affinities. It was a country wholly lacking in homogeneity such as there is in British Nigeria, in Congoland, or Somaliland. Its name—Kamerun—was simply a Germanising of the British seamen's name of "Cameroon," (or "the Cameroons") which, again, was derived from the Portuguese word camaroes, and only meant "prawns."

The Portuguese discoverers of this coast noticed the abundance of large shrimps in the estuary of the Wuri, or Duala, River. This trivial term "Cameroon" therefore had to cover in course of time: (1) A region which in the north lay between the basins of the Upper Benue, the Logon, the Shari, and Lake Chad, which was low-lying, unhealthy, peopled by semi-civilised Mohammedans, and ethnically part of Eastern Nigeria; (2) a central plateau country dotted with great mountains rising to 10,000 feet* fairly healthy, and possibly suited in some degree to European colonisation; (3) in the west one of the most rainy, heavily-forested parts of Africa, the home of Bantu Negroes, forest pygmies, and great apes, especially the gorilla; and (4) in the south- east an important section of Congoland, the basin of the Sanga River, and contact with the great main stream of the Congo and with its most important affluent, the Wele-Mubangi.

German South-West Africa, though also on the Atlantic side of the continent, was a widely different land in outward aspect. Its area was even larger—322,200 square miles. It extended between the south of Angola and the Kunene River to the frontier of Cape Colony at the Orange River. It is sometimes written of as lying " outside the tropics," but as it is much broader in the north than in the south, two-thirds of it lie to the north of the tropic of Capricorn. The northernmost portion, Ambo Land, is comparatively low-lying, and in general level much below the lofty tableland that comprises nearly all this former German colony, a tableland from which again rise— to heights of between 4,000 and nearly 9,000 feet— ridges and peaks of mountains. The coast region is almost unmitigated sandy desert, in which, however, some very interesting plants are found growing, such as the weird-looking welwitschia, a "dicotyledon which has never grown up." Ambo Land has a tropical climate and heavy rains in its summer season. Consequently it is unhealthy for Europeans, and exacted a fearful toll in deaths from its early explorers. But the rest of the country has a climate sometimes described as "superb," and certainty conducive to health and stamina among its white colonists. The rainfall is rather scanty, but water is seldom far from the surface, and by means of wells, dams, storage, and systems of irrigation, a good deal of tropical and sub-tropical agriculture can be carried on.

As regards natives, the southern part, which is the most arid—though wealthy in diamonds—has, besides European settlers, only a few thousand Hottentots and Hottentot half-breeds, and this is also the case with the sterile coast-belt up the Kunene River. But Ambo Land is rather abundantly populated by Bantu Negroes; and Damaraland, in the centre of the country, at one time maintained several hundred thousand Ovaherero, a fine-looking Bantu people, with—like so many of the Bantu tribes—a hint of ancient Hamite intermixture in their physique. By long wars with the Hottentots and Hottentot half-breeds coming up from the south, and later by conflicts with the Germans, they were reduced to only twelve or thirteen thousand in number.

A long tongue of German South-West Africa extended eastward to Zambezi, a very artificial arrangement which was never recognised by its indigenous Negro tribes whose affinities ( lay with the people of the Zambezi valley.

German East Africa was 384,000 square in the Equatorial zone of Africa between 1 and 3 , and 10 40' of south latitude, reaching from the Victoria Nyanza Lake in the north to Tanganyika in the west, and Nyasa and the Rovuma River in the south. It included, by a special loop, the whole of the mighty snow-crowned, twin-summited volcano of Kilimanjaro; it extended to the other snowcapped volcanoes of Myfumbiro in the north-west, to Mount Rungwe and the Livingstone Mountains in the south. Running nearly parallel with the hot coast-belt are ranges of mountains of varying names, with heights of six and seven thousand feet, offering many an uninhabited tract with tempting conditions of soil and climate, rainfall and vegetation, to the foreign settler. Immediately east of the northern parts of the Tanganyika coast there are pleasant plateaus where rises the ultimate source of the Nile, and these might well become the homes of white men. The coast has a number of good harbours, some of them of historic interest, since they were associated with the early efforts of Arabs and Persians to "open up" East Africa. At some of these ancient coast towns there are ruined mosques, exhibiting an interesting phase of early Saracenic architecture.

A good deal of the interior is lacking in interest to the eye of the superficial observer, as it is merely a wilderness overgrown with stunted forest, coarse grass, and euphorbias. Some districts in the north-east and centre are arid desert, but nevertheless valuable, either from surface deposits of soda, nitrates, or other chemicals derived from the drying up of ancient lakes, or because their sun-baked rocks contain valuable minerals. Usambara, the mountain region north of the River Rufu, and not far from the Zanzibar coast, may well be described by the hackneyed phrase, "an earthly paradise." Its beauty of scenery and vegetation are accompanied by a delightful and equable climate. By the ill-luck that so long dogged the footsteps of the British in this war, the first three years of the struggle were characterised by rainy seasons in German East Africa unusual in their incidence and almost unexampled in their volume of rain, so that most of the campaigners railed against the climate, and the armies were hampered in their movements by constantly recurring marshes, swollen and unfordable rivers, and an extravagant growth of vegetation. But ordinarily the climate of this region can be defined fairly accurately according to the season of the year, except, perhaps, on the coast opposite Zanzibar and round about Kilimanjaro, where the rainy periods depend a good deal on the monsoon winds or other local circumstances. As a rule, the dry season commences in May and continues till the end of October; the heavy rains occur during January, February, and March; the lesser rains in November and December. Yet one side— the north—of a great mountain, or a range of mountains, may be dry and almost wanting in vegetation when the south or west is dripping with moisture and clothed with magnificent forest.

In Togoland no strategy or application of geographical knowledge to military plans was needed, as the conquest was a walk-over, largely because of the natives withholding all support from the Germans, or beginning hostilities on their own account. But in Cameroon geographical knowledge —and ethnological as well—was needed to grapple with tremendous physical obstacles and to win over the very decisive influence of the natives. Fortunately it was present in the officers commanding both British and French, and when the story of the conquest of this vast and varied region of West Central Africa is fully told, great credit will devolve on its organisers and conductors; on the officers of the British Navy as well as of the Army; on the French Senegalese soldiers and the British Hausas, Yorubas, and Gold Coast troops. The rapidity with which this extremely difficult campaign was conducted to a successful issue was really amazing.

Of South-West Africa, much the same must be said. General Botha avoided the obvious, and fell into none of the traps laid for him. His march overland from the Middle Orange River, through the upland desert of Namaqualand, and thence to his goal in the Damara Mountains, was a masterpiece of good organisation and good generalship, made possible, we must remember, by the loyalty of the Cape Boys, the Negroes of Basutoland, and the Cape Colony Kafirs. Forty thousand of these yellow and brown-skinned men cheerfully trudged over the desert, carrying loads or driving carts and waggons, and performing every service asked of them. Thus the invading army, which had been expected to arrive by sea, and to march into the ambushes laid for it, and drink of the wells carefully poisoned for its undoing, came into Windhoek by the back door, and wound up the whole campaign in three or four months.

The East African war was another matter. In this region the Germans were more numerous, and their black army likewise. The latter had been well drilled, and was recruited from local races that loved fighting for its own sake; also from the former slave-holding, slave-raiding Arabs and Arab half-breeds, who hoped the regime of slavery was to return with a German victory. Such men— more often Negroes than Arabs in reality, for the pure-blooded East African Arab is rather anaemic, and not over strong physically—threw in their lot with the Germans, and stood by them with an obstinacy that calls for some admiration, even following their officers into the hopeless struggle in the wilderness of Portuguese East Africa that followed the expulsion of the Germans from their own domain.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of the war the British authorities were at fault in their East African policy. Not only in matters of military strategy, such as the first attack on Tanga, but even more so in not winning over the whole-hearted support of the ten millions of indigenous Negroes. Foolish articles and letters appeared in the London and the South African Press, proposing either that German East Africa should be given to Japan—to colonise—or that it should be carved up into "farms" to reward the thousands of South Africans who might volunteer to serve under the South African generals who were to—and who did — repeat in East Africa the success they had achieved in Namaqu aland and Damaraland.

Suggestions such as these were carefully noted by the Germans, were translated (with exaggerations) into Swahili and circulated among the many natives who, thanks to the Arabs and still more to the European missionaries, could read. The idea got abroad during the first twelve months of the war that the expulsion of the Germans would only be followed by the land being taken away from its native holders and handed over to a foreign people, white or yellow. No effort was made by the home authorities to employ in or send out to East Africa persons who could speak one or more native languages, and who could be trusted by the natives to tell the truth and to reassure them as to their future after the war. Consequently, whole tribes—whose defection from the Germans might have paralysed their resistance to the Allies, or their escape from the allied forces, as it had done in Cameroon —remained sulkily neutral.

But it is a long lane that has no turning. Expert knowledge came into play at last, and great services were rendered to the allied cause by the Belgians and their Negro army from Congoland. They had first by prodigies of valour, aided by a British naval contingent, driven the Germans from Tanganyika; they next captured the real capital of German East Africa, Tabora, situated in the plains of Unyamwezi. But the most desperate fighting took place between the British, South African, and Rhodesian armies, under Boer and British generals, in the neighbourhood of Kilimanjaro, in the harsh country of Irangi, on the heights of the Nyasa-Tanganyika plateau, round about the north end and south-east end of Lake Nyasa, and up and down the Zangian coast from the intricate maze of the Rufiji delta to the great Rovuma River. Only a small remnant of the German East African Army (which at one time must have numbered 25,000 Negro, Arab, and Negroid soldiers, under some 7,000 German officers) escaped across the Rovuma to be finally rounded up by the British and Portuguese.

The topography of the war, when it is fully described in detail, must include the remote archipelago of the Falkland Islands, near the southernmost extremity of South America, off which was fought one of the decisive naval battles of the war.

Then Caucasia and its snow - crowned, glaciated mountains, its valuable forests and oil-wells, was fiercely fought over by Turks and Armenians, Georgians and Tatars, Russians—renegade and loyal—Mongolians and Circassians; and, lastly, by a truly amazing British force which crossed Persia and seized the Western Caspian shores and the region of the oil-wells.

Even the hermit State of Tibet was affected by the war, declared its sympathy with Great Britain, and afforded some assistance. China watched with anxiety and precaution the fate of Central Asia, to which she could not be indifferent. Liberia—the Negro republic in West Africa—had her capital shelled by a German submarine for siding with her creatress, the United States; Abyssinia's dynastic revolution and deposed young Emperor are said to be related to German intrigue, which had won over the grandson of Menelik to action against Britain and French interests.

Scarcely one Pacific island or atoll but felt the war somehow, saw German raiders, or witnessed their destruction by avenging ships from Britain, Japan, or the United S.ates. The great Libyan Desert, west of Egypt, was the scene of tremendous exploits by "fleets" of armoured motors dashing at astonished Berber or Arab cavalry officered by Turks or renegade Germans. British airships quelled German-incited rebellions amid the peaks of the Hindu Kush and the sun-scorched mountains of Northern Baluchistan. Madagascar sent her blend of Negro and Malay to fight or work for France in France.

Annam contributed her gallant little soldiers for the same purpose with signal success; so did British Fiji; so did Bhutan and Nepal; Argentina had her ships "spurlos versenken" by the Germans, but refrained from returning blow for blow. Brazil, on the other hand, was not slow to resent such treatment , and showed herself navally a very useful belligerent on the side of the Allies. Guatemala, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Honduras came into the war on the side championed by the United States.

Portugal contributed an army of respectable size to fight in France, and forces to fight the Germans in East Africa, and as one result had her towns in the island paradises of Madeira and the Azores bombarded by submarines. Morocco, still in parts unexplored, still a land of unexhausted romance and unsolved mysteries, only fighting against the French twelve months before the war broke out in Europe, nevertheless contributed to the French Army soldiers so resolute, so fierce, so hardy that they won respectful notice from the enemy and admiration from the Allies.


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