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Fighting in Flanders   By: (1879-1957)

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Fighting In Flanders

By E. Alexander Powell

Special Correspondent Of The New York World With The Belgian Forces In The Field

Author of "The Last Frontier" "Gentlemen Ravers," "The End of the Trail," "The Road to Glory," etc.

With Illustrations From Photographs By Mr. Donald Thompson

To My Friends The Belgians

"I have eaten your bread and salt; I have drunk your water and wine; The deaths you died I have sat beside And the lives that you led were mine."




I. The War Correspondents

II. The City Of Gloom

III. The Death In The Air

IV. Under The German Eagle

V. With The Spiked Helmets

VI. On The Belgian Battle Line

VII. The Coming Of The British

VIII. The Fall Of Antwerp



Nothing is more unwise, on general principles, than to attempt to write about a war before that war is finished and before history has given it the justice of perspective. The campaign which began with the flight of the Belgian Government from Brussels and which culminated in the fall of Antwerp formed, however, a separate and distinct phase of the Greatest of Wars, and I feel that I should write of that campaign while its events are still sharp and clear in my memory and before the impressions it produced have begun to fade. I hope that those in search of a detailed or technical account of the campaign in Flanders will not read this book, because they are certain to be disappointed. It contains nothing about strategy or tactics and few military lessons can be drawn from it. It is merely the story, in simple words, of what I, a professional onlooker, who was accorded rather exceptional facilities for observation, saw in Belgium during that nation's hour of trial.

An American, I went to Belgium at the beginning of the war with an open mind. I had few, if any, prejudices. I knew the English, the French, the Belgians, the Germans equally well. I had friends in all four countries and many happy recollections of days I had spent in each. When I left Antwerp after the German occupation I was as pro Belgian as though I had been born under the red black and yellow banner. I had seen a country, one of the loveliest and most peaceable in Europe, invaded by a ruthless and brutal soldiery; I had seen its towns and cities blackened by fire and broken by shell; I had seen its churches and its historic monuments destroyed; I had seen its highways crowded with hunted, homeless fugitives; I had seen its fertile fields strewn with the corpses of what had once been the manhood of the nation; I had seen its women left husbandless and its children left fatherless; I had seen what was once a Garden of the Lord turned into a land of desolation; and I had seen its people a people whom I, like the rest of the world, had always thought of as pleasure loving, inefficient, easy going I had seen this people, I say, aroused, resourceful, unafraid, and fighting, fighting, fighting. Do you wonder that they captured my imagination, that they won my admiration? I am pro Belgian; I admit it frankly. I should be ashamed to be anything else.

E. Alexander Powell

London, November 1, 1914.

I. The War Correspondents

War correspondents regard war very much as a doctor regards sickness. I don't suppose that a doctor is actually glad that people are sick, but so long as sickness exists in the world he feels that he might as well get the benefit of it. It is the same with war correspondents. They do not wish anyone to be killed on their account, but so long as men are going to be killed anyway, they want to be on hand to witness the killing and, through the newspapers, to tell the world about it. The moment that the war broke out, therefore, a veritable army of British and American correspondents descended upon the Continent. Some of them were men of experience and discretion who had seen many wars and had a right to wear on their jackets more campaign ribbons than most generals. These men took the war seriously... Continue reading book >>

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