Page 3788

3788 UNIVERSAL HISTORYTHE MODERN WORLD.

old and trusted petty officer launched four

torpedoes at the floating monsters. Both

ships were struck. There was a great shout-

ing and stamping on the decks of the battle-

ships, searchlights flashed over the waters,

guns roared, and the sky was filled with burst-

ing shrapnel, for many Austrians believed

that the attack was being made from the air.

Meanwhile, Rizzo and his comrades were

making for the harbor mouth, with great

shells throwing up spouts of water about

them. But neither boat was hit, and before

they disappeared in the gloom they saw the

Wien sink. The Monarch, however, though

badly damaged remained afloat. The daring

exploit thrilled Italy and did much to help

arouse a spirit of heroism that turned back

the invaders at the Piave lines.

Partly as a diversion to prevent the Ger-

mans from sending more troops to the Italian

Front the British struck one of the most sen-

sational blows of the war. General Sir Julian

Byng, commander of the British Third Army,

secretly concentrated several hundred tanks

on a 30-mile front between St. Quentin and

the Scarpe River. The tanks were brought

up by night; by day the ungainly monsters

were hidden in woods and thickets from the

watchful eyes of German aviators.

The Hindenburg Line in front of Byng's

army was exceedingly strong, consisting of

wide belts of barbed wire, trenches, tunnels,

and redoubts. The Germans did not dream

of any serious offensive in this sector and had

withdrawn some of their troops and many

of their guns for use elsewhere, especially

against the British in Flanders.

After a two days' artillery firing farther

north, General Byng's army, on the early

morning of November 20, without any

preliminary artillery preparation, suddenly

went "over the top" against the German

lines. At the same time, the British guns

opened a terrific fire. The tanks went in

front under their own special commander,

who carried his own flag on his own tank

and who had sent round before the battle

this order of the day:

"The Tank Corps expects that every tank

this day will do its damnedest."

They did. They smashed through and

over the barbed wire entanglements, pouring

out a stream of shells and machine gun bul-

lets, crawling over trenches, and shooting

down or overriding the German infantry and

machine gunners. Behind the tanks followed

the British infantry, passing easily through

the great gaps torn in the wire entanglements

and overcoming any resistance that remained.

The surprise was complete. The first reali-

zation of the Germans that an attack was

upon them was when they saw the iron mon-

sters emerging from the mist. Many had not

time to dress, and thousands cowered in their

dugouts, surrendering with little resistance.

A comparative few resisted boldly. By far

the greatest number fled precipitately. A

captured German officer said that at first he

could not believe his eyes. "He seemed in

some horrible nightmare and thought he had

gone mad. After that, from his dugout he

watched all the tanks trampling about,

crunching down the wire, heaving themselves

across his trenches, and searching about for

machine-gun emplacements, while his men

ran about in terror, trying to avoid the bursts

of fire, and crying out in surrender."