German Bluff

Prospects of Western Offensive

Zeppelins and Street lamps

IN certain areas preparations for meeting a Zeppelin attack are based on the assumption that warning is certain to be forthcoming. This is a fallacy, and the sooner every municipality in the land realises this the better.

In portions of the midlands, more by sheer good luck than anything else, the intimation came buzzing along the telephones wires in time for lights to be extinguished, but, despite the early hour of the Raiders’ visit, the warning was not universal, and at certain places darkness was secured only simultaneously with the appearance of the airships.

In these cases bombs were dropped, but, as Mr Willis Bund reported to the Worcestershire County Council on Saturday, where the lights were already out “Zeppelins merely passed over... It seemed due to this that no more bombs were dropped or injury done and this seemed to emphasise the necessity for at once putting out lights and keeping them out.”

There is no surer guide to the size of a town than long lines of lighted street lamps, and no amount of “top dressing” entirely kills the radiance. Darkness is an inconvenience, but it is to be preferred to sudden death. Moreover, the public are willing to endure the inconvenience for the few weeks of short days that remain and if the public authorities of towns like Newport refuse to act, they may discover here long that the inhabitants are not so meek as apparently they imagine them to be.

Feeling in Newport is very strong on the question and the procrastination of the powers that he is not likely to be endured for long.

Evidently the authorities here are proceeding on the “too proud to be alarmed” principle and wish to make the necessary changes so slowly as scarcely to be perceptible.

If so, their folly is immeasurable for the full effect which would be secured by drastic stops is thus lost, and the foolish people who, like the poor, are always with us, will see no necessity to do their share in promoting the general safety.

The suggestion made here on Friday that Berlin would endeavour to make another “Baralong affair” out of the case of the L19 was justified, for that is precisely what they have done. They say “the attitude of the crew of the King Stephen was more cruel that that of the Baralong crew”, and that their fear of the Zeppelin men’s superior numbers was “simply and solely proof of base cowardice”.

In reality, it was an example of the wisdom the enemy has taught us. If the “trawlers” had taken the Germans on board, they would have deserved the fate designed for them – capture and removal to Germany, or a grave in the ocean bed.

The Germans on this occasion were “the victims of their own barbarity”. As the Bishop of London said on Saturday, “the chivalry of war has been killed by the Germans and their word cannot be trusted”. Had the skipper admitted these 22 Germans into his boat, they would have turned upon the crew, “and the whole German Press would have applauded their action as a clever bit of strategy”.