29 DECEMBER 1917, Page 14



IN the flood of war books, of which it is impossible for the most voracious reader to keep abreast, three main streams are now discernible, apart from the slender rivulet of official despatches and the veritable Amazon of sheer fiction. There are the accounts, more or less fragmentary, of war correspondents and other civilians who have been admitted into the fighting zones ; there are the compilations, more or less ambitious, which pass as "histories of the war " ; and there are the personal narratives of soldiers and sailors who have actually taken part in the operations in some corner of the globe. These autobiographical books, which are now rapidly increasing in number, are the moat instructive contributions to the subject that we can hope to have until peace returns and the true story can be told. A good example of the kind is Major-General Lord Edward Gleichen's The Doings of the Fifteenth Infantry Brigade (W. Blackwood and Sons, 5s. net), told from the diary which, as commander of the brigade, he kept during the first seven months of the war in France. No other book that we have seen brings out quite so well as this the sense of the fog of war into whisk our little Expeditionary Force plunged gallantly in August, 1914. The commander of the Fifteenth Brigade, forming part of the Fifth Division, found himself on Augus: 22nd west of Mons, in a densely populated mining district where it was impossible to form tenable position or to obtain a clear field of fire. He knew nothing about the strength of the enemy, though he was soon able to conjecture its vast superiority. The retirement, after a short and confused action, to Le Coteau was orderly, though the Fifth Division had lost tone; with the Third. The Staff innocently advised the villagers to stay in their homes, little realizing how the Germans meant to wage war. The author's account o Le Cateau as he saw it is a characteristic soldier's narrative, with few adjectives and with no attempt to describe the battle a: a whole. His brigade got off lightly, and were annoyed at having to retire. The enemy had been as heavily punished that they did not pursue at once. But our retreat through the night of the 26th reduced the Army temporarily to a state of chaos ; "the whole thing had the appear- ance of a vast debacle," and the formations were not restored till the brigade approached St. Quentin. There, the author says, " we were now outside the region of our maps," and "what had happened or where we were going to was a complete mystery." The brigade marched thirty-five miles in twenty-four hours after this, and very few men fell out. But the continuous retirement became by September god" morally rather bad for our men and the stragglers inrressed in numbers." The men regained their spirits directly the retreat ceased and the advance to the Marne began three days later. The author describes the obscure fighting on the Aisne, east- of Soissons, and the early trench warfare at Featubert and at Ypres, but he left the brigade, on hie promotion, just before the battle at St. Eloi its which it fought so well and suffered so heavily.—Another good book of the kind, though of somewhat lighter texture, is Twenty-two Months tauter Fire, by Brigadier- General Henry Page Croft (J. Murray, 5s. net),'who went out with the Hertfordshire Territorials in November, 1914, and was attached to the Second Division in the closing stages of the First Battle cf Ypres. His battalion were engaged, though not heavily, at Riche- bourg, Festubert, and Loos. He was then given a brigade of the New Army in time for Soothes. At the battle of the Somme his *brigade of North-Countrymen helped to take Contalrnaison and made a superb advance to the outskirts of Poziares, preparing the way for the Australians. General Page Croft's enthusiastic tribute to the men of the Old and New Armies is touchingly sincere.— The late Major Redmond's Trench Pictures from Prance (A. Melrose, 3e. 6d. net) consists of articles, reprinted from the Daily Chronicle, on various aspects of life at the front, as viewed by a devout and patriotic Irishman. One article describes the taking of Ginehy. Another gives his reasons for thinking that the war "has led to the revival of religion in O most remarkable way." If all Irish

Nationalists had acted like Major Redmond and his colleague Mr. Kettle, the outlook for 'Island would be bright.

The Adventures of an Ensign, by " Vedette " (W. Blackwood and Sons, 5s. net), it the autobiography, thinly disguised as fiction and very cleverly written, of a subaltern who joined the Guards in France just before the battle of the-Somme. in which hews. wounded. The ordinary routine of an officer's life in the trenches is excallently described, and the account of the author's experiences in the midst of a great battle illustrates most vividly the bewildering tumult and confusion that prevail' especially at night, when friend and foe often lose direction and go wandering into each other's trenches. The best chapters recount the magnificent advance of the Guards towards Lesbceufe on September 15th, 1910, the first day on which the tanks were used.—Mr. John Masefield in The Old Front Line (W. Hoinemarm, 2s. 6d. net) describes with imagination and pre- cision—qualities that are more nearly allied than the Philistine supposes—the opposing lines of the armies before the battle of the Somme, as they may now be seen. Mr. Masefleld refrains from writing the story of the seven months' conflict, but he lightens his description with a few anecdotes. He shows that the enemy's positions were immensely strong, by nature as well as by art, and he explains carefully the lie of the ground in which they were placed. With its well-chosen photographs and trench map, this admirable little book will be of permanent value for the under- standing of the greatest battle that British troops have fought and won.--The French soldier narrating his experiences, as in the late M. Paul Lintier's very remarkable book, translated under the title of My •76 (same publisher, 38. 6d. net), is a much sterner and graver person than his British comrade. M. Lintier, who was a young gunner, wrote of the first French advance south of Metz, of the reverse and retreat, and of the victory of the Marne, in a grimly realistic fashion that reminds us of Tolstoy's War and Peace. War to him was a terribly 'serious business, with no touch of comedy or farce. The contrast between H. Lintier and "Vedette," for example, is profound and illuminating.—A glorious episode of the battle of Verdun is well tald by M. Henry Bordeaux in The Last Days of Fort Vaux, March 9—June 7, 1916 (T. Nelson and Sons, Is. Od. net), For three whole months the enemy were within three hundred yards of the fort and yet could not reach it. Though its capture was proclaimed by the German High Command on March 9th, it did not fall till June 7th. The final struggle in the casemates recalls the underground fighting in the Port Arthur forts for bitter determination on both sides. In the end, the small French garrison, being isolated, was overwhelmed, but the delay had saved Verdun.

The Gallipoli campaign is described from the naval standpoint in an interesting book, suggestively entitled The Immortal Gamble, by Commander A. T. Stewart, and Naval Chaplain the Rev. C. J. E. Peshall (A. and (I. Black, 65. net). The authors were in H.M.S. ' Cornwallis,' which took part in all the operations from the first bombardment of Sedd-ul-Bahr to the evacuation of &whs. The Captain of the 'Cornwallis' adds an instructive note on his semi- official co-operation in the successful landing of the South Wales Borderers at De Tott's Battery on April 25th, 1915, from which It may be inferred that the Navy did not think much of the military plans for disembarking the troops. The authors say incidentally that "towards the chase of operations the Turks employed poison. gas, though not very successfully "—a statement that is new to us. They comment freely on the military reverses, ascribing the Suvla failure to the delay in moving up supports for the victorious front line. They declare that the Navy's difficulties—the enemy's forts and minefields—were virtually insuperable long before the German submarines arrived.—A spirited account of the Suvla affair is to be found in The Tenth (Irish) Division in Gallipoli, by Major Bryan Cooper (H. Jenkins, 6s. net), who was there with his battalion. Sir Bryan Mahon, the divisional commander, testifies in a Preface to the amazing gallantry and fortitude of the rank-and-file, who, though they were raw troops, suffered dreadful losses without ever yielding to panic. Major Cooper's story of the ordeal of the Dublins, Munsters, and Irish Fusiliers on the ridge north of Suvla—where they were bombed for a whole night and a day without being able to reply, for want of grenades—is most thrilling, though such a sacrifice of brave men's lives should never have been made.— Full details of the part played by D Compimy (" The Pala ") of the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, which tried to drive the Turks from the fatal ridge, are given in Mr. Henry Hanna's admirably compiled record, The Pale at Simla Bay (Dublin : Ponsonby). The " Pals " were volunteers recruited from the Irish Rugby Union Volunteer Corps, and represented the cream of the educated youth of Dublin. Photographs and brief biographies of most of these gallant volunteers are given at the close of Mr. Hanna's narrative, which is a worthy memorial of loyal Dublin's effort. The founder of the Volunteer Corps, Mr. F. H. Browning, was murdered by the Sinn Feinms on Easter Monday, 1916, because he was returning in his uniform from a parade.

As a piece of literature, Captain F. Brett Young's Marching on Tanga (W. Collins, Sons, and Co., 6s. net) has few rivals, save Mr. Masefield'a Gallipoli, in the whole range of British war books.

It is a narrative of General Smuts's advance into German East Africa and down the Pangani Valley, giving a most vivid impression of the bush country and the people as well as of the fighting, and reflecting the personal sensations of a civilian and a poet plunged suddenly into the chtos of war in an unknown land. Captain Brett Young's poems written on this march were admirable, but his prose is still more captivating.—Conunander W. Whittall's With Botha and Smuts in Africa (Cassell and Co., as. net) deals with both the South-West African and the East African campaigns lucidly and humorously. His account of the troubles of the military motorist on a so-called road through an East African swamp will help readers to understand the incredible difficulties of campaigning in that country.--Mr. Harold Lake's In SaIonic° with Our Army (A. Melrose, es. ad. net) is a candid and depressing book, in which the author, as a member of our Macedonian force, frankly declares that it can do nothing. Macedonia is a desert, because it has been neglected for ages; the barren mountains to the north are impassable now that the Bulgars have fortified them, except at an unduly great price in men's lives ; the army is too large for the mere garri- soning of Salonika, and too small to undertake a resolute offensive. Such are the author's views in brief. He thinks that the Allied Cabinets knew far too little about Macedonia when they sent the armies there. Yet Mr. Lake does not face the alternative. What would have happened had the armies not been sent ? General Mine's recent despatch, which has received too little attention, throws a very different light on the problem.

We may commend Besieged in Kut—and After, by Major C. H. Barber, of the Indian Medical Service (W. Blackwood and Suns. 5s. net), as a straightforward account of the memorable siege and of the author's detention at Baghdad until he and other medical officers were exchanged. He thought that the Turks were on bad terms with their allies, as well as with the native population. A German warned him that not ten per cent, of the British prisoners in Turkish hands would over return—a grim prediction which must not be fulfilled, but which shows how the Germans regarded their vassals.—Sir Arthur Lawley's A Message from Mesopotamia (Hodder and Stoughton, 2s. Od. net) is the outcome of his tour of inspection of the hospitals, mainly established by the Order of St. John and the Red Cross Society, and shows that last spring everything possible was being done for the sick and wounded on the Tigris. Sir Arthur saw the beginning of the final attack on the Es Sims positions, and was invited to accompany the British Army on its entry into Baghdad. His book is both readable and reassuring.