Enemy movements

Blows designed at main fronts?

Resources of friend and foe: Hungarians and peace

MR HILAIR BELLOC has frequently been quoted in this column, and approvingly - because he, of all the military students, is the most painstaking, bases no conclusions upon insubstantial data, and offers no evidence that he has not previously examined with the minutest care.

In this week’s “Land and Water” he elaborates an argument with which readers of this column are not unfamiliar, that the great main forces of the enemy stand, and must necessarily stand, in Poland and France, or, as he puts it “upon the Eastern and Western lines of the great siege.”

If the end of the war finds them still so standing, well and good for the enemy. If the enemy achieves upon one of those two lines in real decision, well and better for him. If he really defeats - puts out of action - the Western or the Russian forces opposed to him, he can concentrate upon the other, and perhaps defeat that in its turn.

On the other hand, the two great lines, the Eastern and Western, equally offer an opportunity for his foes. Let him suffer a decisive defeat upon either and he is immediately lost. He cannot, after such a defeat, light a prolonged losing campaign, any more than a man who has kept two doors shut with his outstretched hands can fail to collapse if one of the two doors is forced.

The enemy cannot hold, still less win through, unless he keeps upon those lines quite four-fifths of his present available forces, and quite four-fifths of anything he could possibly gather by the adhesion of forces hitherto neutral.

The two Central Empires (continues Mr Belloc) must keep upon the Western Line (counting the Italian front) close upon two and a half million men. They must keep something more than this upon their Eastern Front and they must allow, a million and a half men for their combined communications and auxiliary services.

With the end of 1915 they will have exhausted their efficient reserves. They are beginning to call upon their first categories of inefficients and they keep in reserve what remains of their younger class of 1916, while preparing to call up at any moment the still younger class of 1917. These two between them yield at a maximum 800,000 of new material, at a minimum of 600,000.

Mr Belloc thinks Germany is gambling upon the power to hold out with a gradually increasing proportion of inefficients until accident shall give them the use of armies hitherto neutral, or until they can use their younger classes. Such an effort as a whole is one which permits of no indefinite prolongation. But it is a situation which the addition of Greece and much more the addition of Romania would temporarily relieve.

Mr Belloc, later on, turns to an examination of the Forces and shows how the situation of the Allies is one permitting an indefinite prolongation of hostilities.

He confirms the statement already offered here that the reserve of man power in France is, in proportion to its population, not very much greater than the reserve of man power of the enemy “it is a little greater because the French have been more economical of men.”