The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview
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By the Editor

An interesting document, somewhat damaged by fire, lies on my study table.

It is a copy (in cipher) of a confidential memorandum to the German Government embodying a scheme for the invasion of England by Germany. It is unsigned, but internal evidence, and the fact that it was taken by Mr ' Carruthers' from the stove of the villa at Norderney, leave no doubt as to its authorship. For many reasons it is out of the question to print the textual translation of it, as deciphered; but I propose to give an outline of its contents.

Even this must strain discretion to its uttermost limits, and had I only to consider the instructed few who follow the trend of professional opinion on such subjects, I should leave the foregoing narrative to speak for itself. But, as was stated in the preface, our primary purpose is to reach everyone; and there may be many who, in spite of able and authoritative warnings frequently uttered since these events occurred, are still prone to treat the German danger as an idle 'bogey', and may be disposed, in this case, to imagine that a baseless romance has been foisted on them.

A few persons (English as well as German) hold that Germany is strong enough now to meet us single-handed, and throw an army on our shores. The memorandum rejects this view, deferring isolated action for at least a decade; and supposing, for present purposes, a coalition of three Powers against Great Britain. And subsequent researches through the usual channels place it beyond dispute that this condition was relied on by the German Government in adopting the scheme. They realized that even if, owing to our widely scattered forces, they gained that temporary command of the North Sea which would be essential for a successful landing, they would inevitably lose it when our standing fleets were concentrated and our reserve ships mobilized. With its sea-communications cut, the prospects of the invading army would be too dubious. I state it in that mild way, for it

For this chapter see Map A.


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