The United States in the World War

By John Bach McMaster | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
GERMAN INTRIGUE

WITH our entrance into the war events in Europe, military and political, acquired for us a new interest and concern. From onlookers we had become allies. The war was now our war, and every victory gained, every check met with along the hundreds of miles of battle front was felt by us as never before. In the West the progress of the ruthless submarine war alone gave cause for deep anxiety. During February and March, if German reports may be trusted, 803 enemy and neutral ships had been sunk by submarines, causing a loss of 1,642,500 tons of shipping. On land all went well. The British and French in February and March drove back the German front between Arras and Soissons, for a depth of twelve miles, capturing Bapaume, Péronne, Noyon, and some sixty villages. The country over which the Germans retreated they turned into a desert. Wherever possible, said the German account, houses were burned down before evacuation. Walls that would not fall were blown down when the artillery fire of the Allies drowned the noise. Whole villages disappeared over night, the people having gathered in a few designated towns where they would be safe. Not a tree nor a bush--nothing was left lest it might give shelter to the Allies. Orchards were destroyed, fields ruined, farmsteads burned, every tree sawed off close to the ground. Church organs were pulled to pieces for the copper, brass rails were torn from the altars and crucifixes pulled from the walls and broken. Tombs and chapels were blown to pieces, and young girls carried away.

On Easter Monday, April 9, the British began another drive along a forty-five mile front from Arras to St. Quentin. By the end of the first day they had driven back the Germans along twelve miles of the line and captured the famous Vimy Ridge,

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