from the book ’At the Front with Three Armies’
'From Antwerp to the Yser'
by Granville Fortesque 1915

an American Journalist Travels the Battle-Lines on the North Sea Coast

left : 'first' German soldier to enter Bruges
right : 'first' German soldier to enter Ostend


"Annexing" Belgium

Reluctantly I turned my back on Antwerp. It was my good fortune to have been in the vicinity of all the eventful scenes of the war up to this time, and being barred from seeing the bombardment was a disappointment. In this war the correspondent works under so many difficulties. It is not a question of getting to the front—the best we can do is to place ourselves in a certain position, and wait for the front to come to us. In the early days of the war this was easy. As the German inundation advanced this became more and more difficult. Soon the whole continent was crowded up with soldiers. However, working on this principle, I transshipped to a refugee boat bound for Ostend. It was one of the mail boats that ordinarily run from Folkestone to Ostend. It had made two trips to Antwerp, carrying off fleeing citizens. On these two voyages its larders had been emptied. For twenty-four hours I suffered all the physical anguish of the refugee. His mental anguish I escaped. Two apples and a stick of chocolate was all I had to eat during these twenty-four hours. My bed was the softest place I could find on the deck. There were not enough cabins for the women and children. In the middle of the night it rained, but when I felt sorry for myself I thought of the plight of those around me, then I would forget my own troubles. Picture yourself in an overcrowded steerage, then fill the minds of the passengers with haunting fear and you can imagine what it was like on that refugee ship.

From talk with some of the passengers I learned that the Belgian government was already in Ostend, so I knew the army would eventually come to that city. When after many delays our ship did arrive at the popular seaside resort I made a curious discovery. Although I had eaten almost nothing for twenty-four hours I was not hungry. I had no inclination to make up for my lost meals, a new and curious experience for me.


Belgian soldiers prior to leaving Ostend


Ostend presented a most inspiring picture of military activity. Motors filled with Belgian, French or English soldiers flashed back and forth along the Digue. Men in every type of uniform from the Highlander's kilt to the Frenchman's red pantaloons hurried up and down the narrow streets. Detachments of Belgian dog artillery were packed in the main square. It was a picture to gladden the heart of any war correspondent.

As I walked along the Digue to my hotel I saw that the Kursaal, the great gambling casino, had been turned into a hospital. The roulette table had been replaced by the operating table, and instead of the continuous call of the croupier one sometimes heard the low moan of the suffering wounded.

When I arrived in Ostend I found enough troops here to hold back a German army ; at least from their unceasing activity one got this impression. My hope was that they would decide to hold Ostend. This seemed a remote chance, however, for an acquaintance with that part of the coast convinced me that there were no defensive positions worthy of the name.

The Belgian army which had evacuated Antwerp was still wending its way into the town. Artillery columns clanged through the streets and all day long I heard the uneven tramp of tired infantry. Carefully watching the indications, I soon saw that no stand was to be made here. I kept watch on certain British transport columns that were camped just over the canal bridge and when one night it "folded its tents like the Arab, and silently stole away," I began to suspect that no fight would be made here.

The rumour that Ostend was to be abandoned to the Germans spread in the mysterious way that such news does. British and Belgian troops were still as far beyond the town as Ghent, when the Ostend populace began to make its preparations for flight. When I found there was to be no conflict I decided that the only "story"—as newspaper men call it—the situation offered, was from the German side. I had been to Ghent with Mr. H. E. Johnson, the American Consul, who had temporarily removed to Ostend and on the road there I saw an English division moving out of Eccloo and still long columns of Belgian troops marching tiredly westward.

In Ghent I talked with some officers of the Belgian armoured motor detachment, who I discovered were acting as rearguard. They had captured a motor belonging to the German Aviation Corps and were proudly putting it in order for their own service. There had been a rearguard skirmish that morning.

It was apparent that the Germans were to be allowed to sweep across Belgium with no opposition. Two days I motored into Bruges to meet them.

I found the inhabitants fleeing in terror. "They'll shoot you! They'll shoot you! The Germans are here!" Here was proof indeed that Germany had succeeded only too well in putting the fear of her wrath into the hearts of the simple Belgian people.


German cyclists, invariably in the forefront of the advancing armies


I had placed an American flag above the windshield of my motor and confident in this protection, I drove into the central square of the old city, and drew up before the famous restaurant Panier d'Or. In little groups many of the people of the town hurried across the square flying before the invaders.

Soon, however, it was realized that the Germans were entering peacefully, assuring the populace that so long as they showed no hostility they would not be molested. I watched a detachment of about forty cyclists in grey with long guns slung over their shoulders ride in and take possession of the town. They were not the arrogant type of Teuton soldier I had seen in other fields—mostly they appeared to be older, more settled men. All were smoking. Some drew deep draughts of blue vapour from china bowl pipes, while others puffed at long black cigars. Their first act on entering Bruges was to tear down the English and French flags that were flying from the Hotel de Ville. The Belgian black, yellow and red colours they did not touch. By some sort of military magic, posters in four languages, German, French, Flemish and Walloon, suddenly appeared on all the hoarding of the town. These told that Bruges was now a German city and called on the citizens to obey strictly the orders of their new masters. These posters were signed by General von Beseler.

By this time the advance-guard had scattered to take positions on the different roads leading out of the town, and certain of the city fathers there had been taken as hostages.

I was very much impressed with the businesslike manner in which the German soldiers went about their work. I knew the duties of an advance-guard entering an enemy's city and could appreciate the difficulties of this manœuvre. But these men went through with the task in that systematic thorough manner characteristic of the whole German military organization.

I went around the town in my motor without let or hindrance, some of the soldiers even saluting my American flag. They even posed for their photographs and showed a most friendly spirit in every way.

It is the fashion to represent the German soldier as an ogre. I know that as a class he has done some unforgivable things in this war. Yet the individuals whom I met on many occasions were far from being awe-inspiring monsters. The troops that came into Bruges that afternoon were all the steady father-of-family type.

After an hour in the town during German occupation I turned my motor back towards Ostend. I went unquestioned, and hardly two miles outside Bruges I ran into the last stragglers of the fast retreating Belgians. Late that night I was once more in Ostend.

In the seaside town I found the preparations for departure far more advanced than when I had left. I saw outside English head-quarters motor after motor, loaded with impedimenta, snort off down the Digue and disappear in a cloud of dust. I lived at the Hotel de Phare where it was possible to watch the departing staffs without difficulty.

When on the following morning I saw the French general having breakfast in the hotel, while his motor with baggage strapped behind stood waiting at the curb, I knew that the final chapter of the evacuation of Ostend was about to begin. That day the city began to empty itself as a theatre where someone has shouted "Fire!" The roads to Holland and France were soon dense with the fleeing multitude. On they trudged, each carrying some bundle with all that the war had left them. The exodus continued for three days. During this time there was the greatest confusion among the crowd that struggled in the boat station and on the quay. Here thousands stood close packed waiting their chance to board departing steamers. Many of these were women and children. They waited here from daylight to dark, to daylight again, without food or drink. Several children died. Vessel after vessel was loaded far beyond the danger-mark with human freight, and left for the hospitable shores of England. But still the crowd thronging on the wharf never seemed to dwindle. When the last ship cast off, those despairing ones in the rear who saw their last chance of escape slipping away, pressed forward frantically. The scenes of this flight now come back to me as the vision of some frightful nightmare. The dread in the faces of the fleeing women, and the pathetic helplessness of the children are haunting memories.

Out of the confused impressions one picture is clear. By the roadside I see the body of an old man. His dead fingers still clutch the little bundle of his belongings. Unheeding the crowd rushes by.

Since I have left Belgium I have sometimes heard the question as to what indemnity the people of the ravished kingdom will ask when war loosens its grip on their beloved country. To me the question is absurd. There is no money, not all the wealth of the world, that can wipe out the misery or efface the memory of those terrible days and nights. Three English women stayed in Ostend doing their best to help the stricken people. Two of these were members of the English Red Cross. Almost alone they transferred more than two hundred gravely wounded Belgian soldiers to a waiting train, and started them to the French base hospitals. These two women worked without stop for twenty-four hours to empty the improvised hospital. When the Germans entered they found it bare.

Another work of distinct merit was that carried on by the Double White Cross Society, under the direction of Mr. Batonyi, Secretary of the American Consul, and Mrs. Coster. The broad aim of this Society is to aid all non-combatants in the war zone, irrespective of nationality. From daylight to dark Mrs. Coster laboured, distributing food and clothing to the peasants who paused here in their flight from the oncoming Germans.

Ostend was now held by but a handful of the Belgian rearguard. In aspect it was a city of the dead. Every house showed a blank face of close-drawn shutters. Every shop had lowered its iron window. As I tramped the deserted streets my footsteps echoed at every corner. A little beyond the circle of the centre of the town, house after house stood empty. Some stood wide open just as the owners had left them. The city brought to mind a visit to Pompeii. I looked in one house. A pot of jam with half a tin of biscuits stood on the table. A vase of dead flowers graced the mantel. The floor was littered with bits of twine and brown paper, the débris of hasty packing. Another that had been empty was occupied by a newly-arrived family of refugees.

I came back to the fish market. Here two days before a German aviator had dropped three bombs, and I stood making careful study of the little damage done. Suddenly I heard the clatter of hoofs on stone, and turned to see a Belgian cavalryman galloping down the Digue shouting "The Germans are here! The Germans are here!" Beating his tired mount with the full length of his rifle he disappeared down the coast shouting the hoarse-voiced warning. Within five minutes a lieutenant and six Uhlans trotted into the square in front of the Hotel de Ville, and took possession of Ostend. These were followed by about twenty men of the Cyclist Corps, who rode up and down the streets exploring the town. As is usual in war, the horses of the cavalry had been used up and the cyclists made a very good substitute for horse soldiers. Nearly all the Germans smoked long black cigars. The few people left in Ostend watched in ill-concealed alarm as if expecting momentarily an outbreak of savagery. The startling feature of the performance was the absolute silence that reigned. The shouting of the exploring soldiers was the only sound in the streets.

It was evident from the first that these invaders had no intention of harming any of the inhabitants. One or two made friendly advances and the Belgians were soon clustering about them in questioning groups. After a time they even joked together. The whole attitude of the conquerors had changed. No longer did they want to plant fear in the hearts of the Belgians. Conciliation was in their very word and act. I later found out in a talk with one of the junior officers, that the order had come from head-quarters that stern measures were no longer to be used against the people of Belgium. That this was a policy dictated by the expectation of annexation there can be no doubt.


general curiosity wins out


Within half an hour General von der Goltz motored into Ostend and entered the Hotel de Ville. He is still straight after fifty odd years of soldiering. He held a conference with the Burgomaster, the Chief of Police and the American Consul. Very briefly he stated what he expected of the citizens of the town, and directed the Burgomaster and the Chief of Police to see that no German soldier was hindered in the performance of his duty. The American Consul was to serve the interests of the many neutrals and non-combatant enemies still in Ostend. In this difficult task Mr. Johnson acquitted himself admirably.

The first excitement of the occupation ended, I returned to my hotel for breakfast. The breakfast-room looks out on the sea, and while here I witnessed a thrilling drama in two acts.

A low mist, as fleecy as steam, hung over the water. German cyclist soldiers in soiled grey uniforms and helmets awry rode silently up and down the Digue, as the brick road on the seashore is called. After the confusion of the last three days the city was for the first time peaceful. Suddenly out of the mist appeared a vessel flying the French flag. As she came straight on towards the long pier I made her out to be a destroyer. Slowly she steamed into the unknown danger. She was well on the long pier before any of the German cyclists saw her. A crowd stood on the Digue watching tensely. Suddenly a man ran out to meet the destroyer. We could see him waving his arms. Now he is abreast of the French war vessel. But two grey-coated cyclists are pedalling after him. We can see the gallant citizen haranguing the captain of the destroyer. Slowly she comes to a stop. In a moment the water in her wake is churned to white foam and she is running full speed astern. The German soldiers pedal swiftly along the pier, but when they arrive at the end, the destroyer has put a hundred yards of green water between them. The soldiers waved and shouted, but the low hull of the French war vessel soon disappeared in the mist from which it had so mysteriously come. Here I expected to be an eye-witness of a “German atrocity." The citizen who had warned the captain of the destroyer was now walking calmly back the length of the pier. More German cyclists, with long guns slung across their backs, were approaching. As the man had openly aided an enemy, according to the German laws of war he should be shot. I expected to see him made to stand with his back to the sea on the edge of the pier, while a squad of soldiers fired at his breast, but to my surprise the Germans never noticed him. I think he must have had a thrilling moment when they passed. In my opinion this unknown citizen of Ostend deserves the highest rank of the Legion of Honour. He unquestionably saved the French destroyer and took his life in his hands in doing it. Under the circumstances I consider his act one of the "nerviest" I have ever witnessed. It will ever remain a mystery to me why he was not summarily executed.

Half an hour later a ship's launch appeared out of the mist, but this boat turned before it came within a thousand yards of the pier. (Watching German soldiers waved to it to come on, but as the invitation was declined they opened fire. After firing some fifty rounds they gave up hope of a naval victory.

Hardly more than a company of Germans occupied Ostend the first day. But as rooms were engaged for forty officers at the Hotel Royal Phare it was evident that a considerable force would enter on the morrow.


sightseeing on the Ostend sea-dike


In justice to the German officer and soldier against whom so many charges have been brought I must put down the fact that in Ostend I found him to be civil, courteous and even friendly. Most of the men—it was a reserve corps—looked like middle aged fathers of families. Sentries on post were often surrounded by children to whom they were showing all the delightful mysteries of their equipment. The officers were all willing to talk with me and never resented my questioning, which was sometimes rather direct. Of course they boasted of the prowess of Germany, and of what they were going to do to the English, but that was natural. On the whole they were just like the same class in any other land. Certainly there was nothing to stamp them as the monsters certain members of the press made them out to be. It was hard for me to believe that these were men of the army that had sown such desolation throughout Belgium.

In my conversation with some of the Hussar officers, I found out that heavy columns of troops were expected at Ostend. "We have a hundred thousand men on the way to open the road to Calais, and if they are not enough another hundred thousand will follow."

While I was not advertising the fact that I was a war correspondent, the statement of this officer was an indiscretion, even to a casual neutral. His companion remonstrated strongly. In view of the future developments of the campaign along the coast my protesting Hussar knew what he was talking about.


a German machine-gun emplacement on the North Sea coast


The next morning I watched the columns of the Third Reserve Corps march into the town. As has been always the case whenever I have seen the German army I was strongly impressed. These were undeniably efficient fighting men, and being a reserve corps most of the men were over thirty. My own experience has convinced me that the soldier between thirty and forty-five is more reliable on a long campaign than the younger man. As they marched across the canal bridge these bearded grizzled Germans impressed an onlooker as tried veterans.

The only point I could find to criticize with this corps was that it seemed not to have its complement of artillery. I saw only certain batteries of machine guns with the column of the main body. It is quite possible, however, that the field artillery did not enter the town.

The occupation of north-western Belgium by the Germans was a skilful political and military move. From the political point of view, holding practically the whole of the country gave Germany a splendid advantage in any trading that might take place during peace negotiations. For this reason the kingdom was to all intents and purposes annexed. I noticed, however, one significant fact, which only future developments can explain.

In almost every instance of German occupation there was no substitution of flags. The Belgian colours always floated from the official quarters, even though Germans were handling all the administrative machinery.

It was the German hope that they would be able to fortify this part of the coast without being molested. They hoped that as Ostend, Blankenberg and Zeebrugge were the towns of an ally, they would be immune from bombardment from the sea. As long as it was possible, England respected the property of her Belgian friends. But when stern military necessity compelled it, the British ships turned their batteries on these seaside towns.


German formations marching through Ostend


Through the Fighting Lines

In Ostend my wife had joined me and she shared my subsequent adventures. The seaside town had again taken on all the bustle of war preparations. The scene was much the same as it had been two days ago, except that German officers filled the hotels, German soldiers crowded the streets, and the musical note of the German automobile horn had taken the place of the raucous call of the English and Belgian cars.

Although Americans were popular with the Germans, I knew that according to their regulations I should not be allowed to remain long in the firing line. I knew that I could get a pass to Brussels without difficulty. What I wanted, however, was to rejoin the Belgian army. I determined to ask openly for a pass to Dunkirk. The idea was perhaps rather presumptuous.


a German military concert on the sea-dike at Ostend


When I came to make the request, I found some forty officers of the Staff enjoying a royal breakfast at my hotel. If there was any truth in the old adage that a man is more approachable after he has eaten, surely this was my opportunity. The best of fish and fowl that Ostend afforded was being served. Magnums of Irroy and quarts of Burgundy lined the centre of the long table. When I made my simple request to the German adjutant, he was certainly taken aback.

"Dunkirk is not yet in our lines. If you wish to go there, I shall have to ask the General.”

I had, of course, explained that I was an American seeking to escape from the battle area. I watched the adjutant as he interrupted General von Beseler just as he was drinking a toast. Without a moment's hesitation he replied:

"Ach! let them go."

While the adjutant was scribbling my pass, I noticed that every other one of the officers assembled wore the coveted iron cross.


German soldiers sightseeing on the Belgian coast


We lost no time in getting into the motor. Our baggage was already strapped on, and with a farewell blast of my horn we started on our dash through the lines.

My only worry at the time was gasoline. This precious fuel had become so scarce that it was impossible to purchase any. Every gallon had been commandeered by the military authorities. Only the generosity of a Belgian ambulance chauffeur made it possible for me to move the car I was running.

It was a damp, hazy day, and twice before I had reached the outskirts of the town, ghostly detachments in grey came out of the fog and halted me. The first time it was a cavalry patrol that examined my papers. Our second challengers were a platoon of infantry, carrying their rifles at the ready. The officer who stopped me had his revolver drawn. These men showed that they expected to meet their enemies at any moment.

Speeding along the road that runs parallel with the sea, we passed the last German outpost at Middlekirk. After scrutinizing our pass, they cheered us on our way. Two miles beyond, on the Ostend-Nieuport road, we were halted. My wife prepared confidently to present our pass.

"For God's sake, not that one," I whispered. "He's a Belgian!"

With skilful sleight of hand she got rid of the incriminating German paper, while I produced my tattered permit signed by M. de Broqueville, the Belgian Minister of War. The lone sentry nodded. He signalled me to pass.

"The Germans are coming," I told him.

"Let them come," he answered.

That is the spirit of the whole Belgian army. This soldier, who stood alone facing the might of Germany, typifies Belgium. Searching his eyes, I saw there that he had already determined upon his sacrifice. He made nothing dramatic out of this dogged devotion to duty. That he should give his life for his country was as inevitable as it was right. The shot that struck him would be the warning to his friends.

Two hundred yards farther down the road, at Westende, our way was blocked by a Belgian machine gun detachment. A trench had been dug across the macadam, out of which emerged the blue barrel and brass stock of the rapid fire gun. This was just an advance position held in defence of the road. I studied the faces of the men holding the post. Each soldier had that look of grim determination which told that they had looked on death and despised its terrors.

The pluck of the Belgian army must pass into proverb. For over three months they have borne the brunt of the German advance through their own country. Harried from point to point by an enemy infinitely stronger and better organized, they have given way only when it was not humanly possible to resist longer. It must be remembered that within their own boundaries heretofore the Belgians have received little or no support from the English or French. Few Belgians took part in the battles of Mons or Charleroi. At Liege, Namur, Louvain, Termonde, they have met the enemy single-handed.

In Nieuport the motor stopped. Mentally I pictured the neat little town after the German attack. I had seen so many of these villages in the wake of the Prussian. Nothing but blackened walls and rubble remained.

Leaving Nieuport, we found the road blocked by a stream of refugees. In this crowd there were those who had walked from distant Antwerp. Before arriving at Furnes, we met on the road a detachment of sappers returning from having blown up an innocent- looking villa with a concrete foundation. So elaborate was this foundation, that it would have served admirably as a gun emplacement for artillery attacking Dunkirk.

Arriving at Furnes, we found there the headquarters of the Belgian army. The little town was the scene of unceasing military activity. An unending stream of transports crossed the square diagonally. Every conceivable kind of motor, from the rakish armoured car to the runabout, had been pressed into service and now served the constant demands of the Belgian army. Smart town cars with elaborate limousines were filled with loads of bread. Trucks with the name of some well-known Brussels brewery carried consignments of ammunition to the trenches. All day and night without interruption this stream of supply ebbed and flowed. In the darkness I watched the unending procession of head-lights which made one think of fabulous, fiery-eyed monsters of fairy tales. Companies of infantry changing position marched in and out of the town.

Cavalrymen tended their sore backed mounts in every stable. In the centre of the square the transports of the Staff took part.

Among the confusion of Belgian uniforms I had noticed certain officers in khaki. Afterwards I met two officers who had been attached to Belgian head-quarters. They were at this time planning the attack which developed into the Battle of the Yser.

While in Ostend I had seen British warships, cruisers, destroyers and monitors hovering off the coast. With my glass I had studied the guns that poked out of the turrets of the monitors. Seconding these was a battery of bulldog howitzers. My thought at the time was that these ships were to be used in bombarding the coast if the Germans should take possession. I now found that my guess was only partly right. In Furnes the British officers I had noticed and a young, light-haired lieutenant from one of the destroyers, held several councils of war. I was fortunate to be there at the time. Here the plan of bringing the monitors and destroyers to the aid of the land troops was worked out.

King Albert was informed of the plan of attack, and he entered into it with enthusiasm. And when the word got about among the Belgian troops that they were to attack the enemy under the protection of the British naval guns, there was a sudden change in the atmosphere of Furnes. I was at Furnes only during what might be called the prelude to the Battle of the Yser. At this time I had been received in audience by King Albert, and it was imperative that I should get that interview back to the office of the Daily Telegraph in London. To do this I had to go myself.

It was a clear Sunday morning when ammunition motors, loaded with their deadly missiles, one by one left the square for the front. The men on the armoured, motors which looked so formidable, began polishing up their cars with that care and affection supposed to be the exclusive characteristic of sailors. Shortly these motor-cruisers lumbered out on the road marked "To Ostend." After these followed the cavalry. They rode as jauntily as if bound for their first engagement. Hardly had the clatter of the hoofs of the cavalry died out across the bridge, when the field artillery rumbled through the town. The horses, a bit tired and jaded, moved slowly. But the men seated on the caissons looked fit and fresh.

The heart of all the Belgian soldiers in the trenches thrilled when they received the order that they were to take the offensive. They knew that beyond them, scarce two kilometres distant, they should meet the grey-coated enemy. It was a clear, sunshiny day. Suddenly a deep boom sounded across the water. Then a ball of white smoke rose and hovered a moment above the decks of one of the monitors. The whistle of a shell cut through the air. Another boom came as an echo of the first, and a shell burst right among the enemy. Lovie and Slype were the targets of the gunners. There is a sort of blockhouse near the first village that the enemy occupied. This point received special attention.

After the ships' batteries had searched the country south of Middlekerk for some time, the order was given for the Belgian infantry to move forward. As with one impulse the men sprang from the trenches and crept forward on the invader. The rattle of the machine gun supplemented the noise of the naval Long Toms. Then the field artillery added to the chorus. But all this noise could not drown the irregular rat-tat-tat of the infantry.

The country here is flat and criss-crossed by a most complicated system of canals. The river itself is a magnified canal. The Belgians of course knew every foot of the country and were seen moving in a long line straight on the enemy's position. The news had arrived early in the morning, telling of a splendid British fight on the right ; it was known that they had forced the Germans back far east of Dixmude. With this in mind it seemed to be the ambition of the Belgians to outdo the achievements of their ally. It was plain to be seen that the Germans did hot relish the shells of the warships dropping in their rear. Now actually caught between two fires, their line began to waver. As the determined Belgian infantry pressed onward, slowly the enemy gave way. It became apparent that they were not present in as great numbers as had been first reported. The cannonading from the sea increased, the infantry fire redoubled. The whole German line resting on the sea was now in full retreat. The Belgians pressed home their advantage, and when night fell they found themselves well in advance of the positions they had occupied in the morning.

The Battle of the Yser marked a crisis in the war. As the Battle of the Marne proved the turning-point of German success in the first stage of the campaign, so this contest for the canal through the north of Belgium signalled the failure of the second German offensive plan. The figures are not yet available, but I think when the cost is counted, it will be found to have been the bloodiest battle of the war. Perhaps in the Russian theatre of operations there will be battles in which the losses are greater, but up to the present I think the Battle of the Yser holds the record. The credit of holding the Germans back at this most vital point belongs in the first place to the remnant of the Belgian army. I have followed that army from Ghent to Bruges, from Bruges to Ostend, from Ostend to Nieuport. Though they were retiring from Antwerp, there was nothing about them to suggest a defeated army. I must again record my admiration of the rank and file of this valiant little force. I have been fortunate in having unusual opportunities of observing it on the march and in the field of battle. Against the heaviest odds it has fought with extraordinary tenacity, but nowhere did it show more spirited courage than when defending this last angle of Belgium. There is no higher degree of courage than that shown by the army of the Yser.

On the right of the Belgians, along this line of defence, was the famous British Expeditionary Force. I did not have the chance of seeing the splendid fighting they put up at Dixmude. But in Furnes I heard many details of the struggles going on in that district. And it must be said that the example of the Allies spurred the Belgians to the limits of bravery. The two almost unconsidered armies held back the might of Prussia.

It was imperative that I should return with my copy of the interview with the King of the Belgians to London. My paper, the Daily Telegraph, had been collecting funds for the relief of the needy in Belgium, and this fund was to be placed at the disposal of the King. The plan had greatly pleased His Majesty. He had sent his thanks for this work to the proprietors of the Daily Telegraph through me. It was with the greatest reluctance that I left Furnes.

Hardly had I crossed the French frontier, than I was again arrested as a spy. Twenty- nine of them, by actual count, surrounded me, presenting their bayonets at my chest.

How I was released after a short arrest, which was shared by my wife, is a matter of detail. A complete apology was offered by the French officials.


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