from 'the War Budget', May 17th 1917
'Baby Silences a Battery'

"A Little Child Shall Lead Them"


Edgar von Schmidt-Pauli, a Prussian cavalry officer, who is on the Western front, has written for the German newspapers the following remarkable incident which he and his men witnessed recently:

"Donnerwetter-what a hellish noise! Above me shells are bursting and all around me is the rat-tat-tat of machine guns.

"It is just before dawn and the fog is so thick that one can scarcely see a yard ahead. All we know is that our troops during the night stormed and captured the French village over yonder. I want to see how our left wing is situated, and therefore ride to the village, where the enemy's bullets are falling as thick as hailstones during a heavy thunderstorm. The fog continues thick, but it is not cold. I find a shelter where other cavalrymen are taking a little rest and at once proceed to get some needed sleep myself, ordering the lieutenant to rouse me in case of necessity.

"Suddenly I am awakened by a peculiar, uncomfortable stillness - as is the case often where a sleeper is awakened either by a sudden noise or the cessation of noise. As I emerge from the dug-out, the lieutenant winks at me somewhat mischievously and points directly in front of him. Carefully I raise my head over the top of the trench to get a view of things.

Child Fallen from Heaven

"The sun has risen and the fog has disappeared. In front of us is a meadow, and there, midway between our trenches and those of the enemy, is God, it is impossible, it must be a delusion - a Fata Morgana; but no - there in the middle of the field, crawling on hands and knees, is a little child, a baby. It appears perfectly happy and contented, and seems to be enjoying itself. Not a sound is to be heard, not a shot is fired. Every man has become dumb from amazement.

"'A child has fallen from heaven!' cries a soldier near me.

"Before my weary brain can summon up any convincing reasons how that child got out there whether some poor mother lost it in the panic due to the battle of the night before a German soldier jumps out of the trench and runs to where the child is crawling about. Absolute stillness prevails in the trenches, and only to our right, from which this extraordinary sight is hidden by a clump of trees, is the sound of gunfire heard. And this spot, which all through the night has been a veritable inferno of shot and shell, is now like some peaceful island or a cool friendly oasis in a burning desert.

Volleys of Applause

"Over there in the enemy's trenches we can see the helmets of the Frenchmen as they peer over the edges. No one is any longer thinking of the enemy or the war or of danger. All eyes are on the tall soldier and the child which he is approaching. And as he picks up that little, frightened, helpless piece of humanity and fondly takes it in his arms, a laugh, a low, friendly laugh, passes along our entire column. The laugh is infectious, and we can feel how it is going along the ranks over yonder. And suddenly - what, are they going to shoot? - no, on the contrary, a great wave of applause with shouts of 'Bravo!' from thousands of French throats breaks the stillness. Then, as the soldier jumps back into our trench with the child safely in his arms, our ranks too burst into a triumphant shout which passes all along the line.

"Even for some time after not a shot is fired. It is as if we felt ashamed of ourselves, and no one touched a gun while that child was in our midst. When the firing did start again it was rather desultory and indifferent, and there was nothing dangerous about it. That little child had worked a wonderful change in the hearts of both friend and foe that morning."


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