Page 3531


Fighting in East Africa was attended by

many interesting incidents, owing to the

character of the country and its inhabitants,

both human and animal. Most of the people, of course, are negroes, many of them

naked savages; and, in the matter of animals, the region is a vast zoo. Soldiers on

campaigns saw thousands of antelopes of

many species, besides zebras, giraffes,

ostriches, rhinoceroses, hippopotami, elephants, buffaloes, and lions. A British officer wounded in one of the petty engagements awoke from the swoon into which the

bullet had thrown him to find a hyena

industriously engaged in chewing his leg.

The heat, lack of water in places, diseases

of many kinds, the ravages of the tsetse fly,

the bite of which is fatal to horses, mules,

and donkeys, combined to make the task of

campaigning unusually great. In many

districts the only feasible method of transporting ammunition and supplies was to

have them carried on the backs of men porters such as made up the safaris of

Colonel Roosevelt and other African hunters and explorers.

For more than a year the British depended for the most part upon African

and Indian troops, commanded by British

officers; but, toward the end of 1915, they

began to make serious preparations for the

conquest of the last of the German colonies. A large force was gathered, chiefly

composed of Boers and other South Africans, and the command was given to General

Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, one of the British corps commanders in the retreat from

Mons. In February, 1916, General Smith-Dorrien resigned on account of ill health

and was succeeded by General Smuts, one

of the conquerors of German Southwest

Africa. General Smuts was soon able to announce a number of victories, and the overrunning of the country continued rapidly.

Fifteen months after the war began,

the work of the British fleet was thus set

forth by an Englishman, the Right Hon.

C. F. G. Masterman:

"A map of the world to-day exhibits

a world at war. Four continents would

be colored black as supplying combatants

or in jeopardy. In Europe-Cette vieille

Europe, as Napoleon called it-the conflict

is so desperate, and along so many lines

of furious violence, that, listening, you

can almost hear from anywhere the boom

of the guns, the tramp of armed men, the

cries of the wounded, the answering silence

of the dead. Millions of men have gone

down into darkness. Millions more may

be destined to follow them. The lines

sway, now backwards, now forwards,

and he would be a bold man who would

definitely declare what would be the ultimate result of this world battle. 'Somewhere in the British Islands,' or its surrounding seas, there is a place which in

the largest scale map of the arena of war

would not occupy more than a minute

fraction of a pin's head. A few thousand

men-less in total numbers than the

casualties of a normal land attack-there

rest quietly on strange machines wrought

of steel and iron, all of which could be

packed into a few square miles. But

these men and machines are the Grand

Fleet of the British Empire. And the

contents of this fraction of a pin's head

will decide the war, with the end coming

perhaps to-day, perhaps to-morrow; but

with the end assured.

"If our enemies could only obtain, as

a gift of the gods they worship, some

earthquake or volcanic or frightful natural

upheaval, how inevitable would be their

choice. Not London, the heart of Empire;

not the millions who hold the line from

East to West; but just this tiny spot in

the ocean where a commander, always

watchful, controls machines the fear of

which keeps the German fleet in hiding

behind booms and protective mines, and

whose existence gives the freedom of the

ocean, not only to the armed forces of

ourselves and our Allies, but to the peaceful plying of the commerce of all the

merchantmen of the world-except those

of our enemies. The German flag flies

nowhere in the seven seas. The German

merchantmen and great liners have been

banished from them like a dream when

one awaketh. The whole gigantic oversea

trade which Germany has built up with

so much care and pride-trade which is