Page 3662

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

change.

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

engines.

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