3662 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
would leap swiftly backward from the
trenches, but the hazard from the incessant
rain of steel fragments was too great, and
gradually there grew a line of motionless
bodies among the brushwood. I counted
thirty-seven after three-quarters of an hour.
"After eighty minutes I signaled, trench
demolished,' and the bombardment ceased.
I would have defied any one to point out
where the trench had been. There was
nothing but a line of hollows, hillocks, and
shell holes. As the smoke cleared, I saw
how excellent had been the aim on the
communication trenches. Two open roads,
each twenty feet wide, had been blasted
through the wood. It was only the bodies,
lying thick along both, that showed they
had indeed been communication trenches.
"I continued to watch. Here and there
a wounded wretch dragged himself painfully amid the tree stumps. Perhaps
a few survived in the deepest dugouts,
but as a practical unit the half battalion
had ceased to exist. And, remember,
that was a tiny sector. Add the total
of such cases along the whole front, and
you will realize why our victory is certain."
By furious attacks on the 14th and 15th
of July, the British captured numerous
German prisoners and many guns and
pushed their line forward in places. The
French also continued to move forward.
Trench after trench and strong point
after strong point were wrested from the
Germans, while the advantages in the kind
of ground held became less and less in
their favor. On both sides new organizations were being constantly sent in to
relieve battered and worn out forces.
As time passed, it was noticed that the
old German enthusiasm for fighting was
visibly abating. In the early phases of
the war, when they had enjoyed great
Superiority in artillery and shells they
found much joy in battering their enemies
to pulp from comparatively safe distances.
Now the shoe was on the other foot, now
it was the Allies who were superior in
artillery, and Fritz did not enjoy the
The 15th of September was a great day
for the Allied forces. A big attack was
set for this day, and it was planned that
the British should try a new engine of war.
This was the famous "tank," of which
more and more was to be heard in the
later phases of the war.
The history of the invention of the
tanks is one of much interest. After the
conflict in the west had settled down to
one of trench warfare, it became clear
to the British and French that some
method of parrying the danger of rifle
and machine-gun fire from the German
trenches must be discovered before the
infantry could carry out assaults with
much success. The bitter experience in
early Allied offensives showed that artillery
fire was not enough, and the idea of a
self-propelled armored car which could
move forward over rough ground, tear
down wire entanglements, and carry guns
with crews to work them, occurred to a
number of people in both the British
army and navy. In October, 1914, Colonel
Swinton suggested that armored cars
should be built on caterpillar tractors.
A similar suggestion was put forward
by officers of the Royal Naval Air Service.
Ultimately the idea was taken up. Those
having the enterprise in charge decided
that the cars must be able to climb a five foot parapet and cross a ten-foot ditch,
must conform to the measurements of
standard war office bridges and railway
transportation requirements, must not
be too high lest they be too large a mark
for the enemy's artillery, must be heavily
enough armored to afford protection
against close-range rifle and machinegun fire, and must be able to destroy
machine-gun emplacements. The caterpillar tractors selected for this work were
an Ameerican invention and were constructed at Peoria, Illinois. These caterpillars can best be described as a sort of
belt and endless self-laid track on which
internal driving wheels are propelled by
Construction of the new weapon of
warfare was necessarily a slow task, for
plans were changed from time to time
and improvements were adopted. Every
effort was made to keep their construction