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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 ноя 1874 - 24 янв 1965) The World Crisis Part II 1915

To All Who Tried

CHAPTER III

THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR

January, 1915

Lastly, Admiral von Pohl recommended ‘sending airships to attack England in the months of January and February, when the weather is suitably calm and cool.’ The first objectives were to be ‘those parts of London which are of military importance and the military establishments on the lower reaches of the Thames…. Buildings of historical interest and private property should be spared as much as possible.’

The imperial decision was:— ‘London itself is not to be bombed at present; attacks are to be confined to the dockyards, arsenals, docks (those near London also) and military establishments of a general nature (also Aldershot Camp if there are no German prisoners there).’

The Naval Staff interpreted this to mean that the docks in the east of London were to be attacked.

This situation preyed on the mind of the First Sea Lord. He believed that a catastrophe was impending and that he would be held partly responsible. He proposed to me that we should take a large number of hostages from the German population in our hands and should declare our intention of executing one of them for every civilian killed by bombs from aircraft. I, on the other hand, felt sympathy for these helpless people—‘puppets of fate’ as one of them mournfully described himself—and had from the very beginning of the war urged publicly a merciful attitude towards them. Shooting them in droves or threatening to do so would not make the slightest difference to the German action, and would only stain our reputation.

Meanwhile other events had been occurring, and other prospects had come into view, destined to spring from words into action, and thereafter, as they developed, to devour every other alternative plan.

CHAPTER IV

THE ORIGIN OF TANKS AND SMOKE

I sent for Admiral Bacon again. I told him his prediction had come true, and I asked whether he could make some big howitzers for the British Army, and how long it would take. He replied he could make a 15-inch howitzer in five months and thereafter deliver one every fortnight. I thereupon proposed to the War Office to order ten.

Mr. Churchill to Mr. Asquith.

January 5, 1915.

I entirely agree with Colonel Hankey’s remarks on the subject of special mechanical devices for taking trenches. It is extraordinary that the Army in the Field and the War Office should have allowed nearly three months of trench warfare to progress without addressing their minds to its special problems.

The present war has revolutionized all military theories about the field of fire. The power of the rifle is so great that 100 yards is held sufficient to stop any rush, and in order to avoid the severity of the artillery fire, trenches are often dug on the reverse slope of positions, or a short distance in the rear of villages, woods or other obstacles. The consequence is that the war has become a short range instead of a longe range war as was expected, and opposing trenches get ever closer together for mutual safety from each other’s artillery fire. The question to be solved is not therefore the long attack over a carefully prepared glacis of former times, but the actual getting across of 100 or 200 yards of open space and wire entanglements.

So here are three quite separate efforts to procure the manufacture and adoption of the kind of vehicles afterwards called ‘Tanks,’ all of which had been brought to failure either by mechanical defects or by official obstruction. This deadlock might well have continued for an indefinite period of time. No demand for such weapons had come, or for many months came, from the military authorities in France: every suggestion from civilian or other quarters had been turned down by the War Office.

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