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reason to doubt their authenticity. If an Armstrong gun of such calibre, firing steel shells at pointblank range, is unable to destroy that armour plate, there seems small chance that a shell, whatever its size, fired from a necessarily considerable distance by a ship's gun, will make any impression at all. The batteries of every fort of any importance both on the Baltic and the North Sea are protected by this armour-plate.
The cupolas contain mostly 8:2-inch guns, and the turrets the 10, 11 and larger calibres. In naval and other well-informed German circles they are convinced that there is no British Admiral living who would risk his ships against such batteries.
I was in Germany when the first attempt to force the Dardanelles was made. Naturally, the whole plan was dismissed as incapable of execution. Every naval or military officer, with whom I talked, was convinced that the Narrows could never be forced by a naval attack. I was told that, shortly after Turkey entered the war, one of the first things Germany saw to was that the batteries of the Narrows forts were strengthened and protected by Gruson armour-plates. Whether this assertion is true or not I have not been able to ascertain; but, if true, it partly explains the comparatively small damage caused by the bombarding fleets. The average German naval officer is an ardent admirer and student of the late Admiral Mahan's doctrines. His writings are frequently quoted, especially when the possibilities of a British attack on the German North Sea coast are discussed. On the strength of his conclusions they insist that no ship has any chance against a modern fort.
As an illustration of the advantages possessed by coast batteries over ships, I was shown a copy of an official report from the French Admiralty, concerning certain experiments made in 1914. For three days a number of French battleships, using their heaviest guns, fired on several shore batteries placed at different elevations. The result of the trial proved that, even under the most adverse conditions, only about 50 per cent. of the personnel serving the shore batteries would have been injured, while hardly 30 per cent. of the guns could have been placed out of action. And,' my informants added, the French have no armour-plate that can compare with Vol. 226.-No. 448.
our Gruson.' Inquiries as to why they did not use this kind of armour-plate to protect their ships brought forth the information that it is too heavy for that purpose.
At a luncheon given at the Hotel Esplanade in Berlin by an American acquaintance of mine, I met Herr Crass, Krupps' General Representative in Berlin. Herr Crass, who has his palatial offices in the Voss Strasse, occupies one of the most important posts in the Krupp organisation. He is the official intermediary between his firm and the German War Office. I had several long conversations with him, and found him one of the most pleasant and interesting Germans I met. Shortly after our meeting I dropped in at his office and found him much incensed over a report, published in some of the Allied papers, stating that a Krupp gun, sold to the Argentine Government, had burst. “It is a falsehood of the first order,' he protested. “Never in all the years that we have been building guns, has there been a case of a burst Krupp cannon. If the proper charges of explosives are used it is simply impossible.'
One of his chief arguments against the possibility of a burst Krupp gun seemed to be that the barrel is made of one solid piece of 'Crucible nickel steel.' 'Compare this with the British Woolwich-built guns,' he continued. • The barrels of these guns consist of several parts. First there is the rifling, which is fitted in an inner tube. Over this comes a wire covering, consisting of steel sheet ribbon wound round the inner tube at a very high pressure. Finally there comes the outer tube which covers the whole. Our guns of 12, 14 and 15-inch calibres have a life more than three times longer than the equivalent guns of the British Navy. These guns can deliver close on two hundred and thirty rounds, while British-built guns are hardly good for more than sixty rounds for the 12 and 13}-inch calibre, and eighty rounds for their 15-inch.'
The proviso of 'proper explosives' brought us to discuss the comparative merits of the powders used by Germany and England. Here too Herr Crass claimed superiority for the German product. The British powder, so he said, contained ingredients which are very hard on the guns, tending to destroy the rifling. The German powder; containing 25 per cent. nitro-glycerin (for their
heavy calibres), is supposed to be far preferable to the British cordite charges. Their powder (meaning the British) is in a large degree responsible for the comparatively short life of their big guns. Apart from the damage it does to the rifling, it causes cracks and abrasions in both the inner and the outer tubes, long before the allowed maximum is reached. Naturally this causes great inaccuracy of fire.' I thought of the 'inaecuracy of the British guns in the Falkland Islands battle, the Doggerbank affair, and other occasions when there was an opportunity of testing them, but I merely asked why, if the British powder had all those bad qualities, did the British stick to it? Ah! there were several reasons. In the first place it seems (according to my informant) less expensive to renew the guns than it would be to change all the British powder factories; in the second place the British powder is the safest and keeps best of any in the world; and finally, England, being firstly a Naval Power, calculates on quick results in a pitched battle. In other words, a decision would be reached long before the big guns had fired their maximum number of rounds. It is characteristic of every German to-day to place financial considerations always nearest to the British heart.
I was treated to some interesting details regarding the efficiency of the German naval gunner. At a recent gun-practice of the Helgoland” (a battleship of 23,000 tons, mounting twelve 12-inch guns) one of these guns, firing a projectile of 981 lbs., struck a moving target, six miles distant, six times in 58 seconds! She also delivered six broadsides (eight guns) in one minute at a moving target some eight miles off and hardly visible with the
More than two-thirds (over 5,000 lbs.) of each broadside hit the target. Those amongst my readers who are not au courant with the many accomplishments of a 12-inch gun should ask one of their naval friends, and then they will learn what wonders these German gunners are.
It is usually understood that two, perhaps at the utmost three shots a minute from a 12-inch gun is the limit. Another record is said to be held by this ship. I was told that at a competition held in March 1915 she coaled 756 tons in one hour. But of course Germany is a surprising country!
I also learned of some marvellous performances of the coast-battery personnel. I noticed, at various points along the coast, fairly high observation towers, and managed to pay a visit to one of them. In each of them are stationed two naval officers, who, armed with powerful telescopes and with numerous charts and maps, watch day after day for any enemy vessels that may have eluded the three-fold line of guard-ships. As soon as an enemy ship is discovered, the observing officer, by means of his chart, ruled into many squares and angles, immediately calculates its position and the angle of fire for the respective batteries he serves. The result of the calculation is at once telephoned to the different commanders in charge; and, although the men at the guns are unable to see their target, they open fire.
Gunpractices held with this system of indirect fire showed that a target nine miles out at sea was struck seven times out of ten. Now we know-as they do in Germany -why the British fleet keeps at a safe distance from these gunnery experts !
(3) HELIGOLAND. The subject of Heligoland is one that to-day is very near to the heart of every German, but especially of those who in any way are connected with the Navy. The mere mention of the name will bring delight to his face. More likely than not, he'll slap you on the back and, with a grin of satisfaction and a confidential, knowing air-as if he were personally responsible for the fact that the island is German now—will assure you that • We certainly scored a point on old England that time.'
The transaction (1890) between the British and German Governments, through which the latter obtained Heligoland in exchange for Zanzibar, was by no means always as popular with the Germans as it is to-day. Heligoland appeared but a small compensation for what they abandoned in East Africa. But times and sentiments have changed very much since those early days. Heligoland has become the very apple of their eye, and I am certain the Germans would sooner return Alsace and Lorraine to-morrow, than give up that mile-long piece of rock. Heligoland must and shall always remain
German soil'—so everybody in Germany will assure you. All the money in the world, I believe, could not buy back Heligoland. As a prominent German naval authority expressed himself : If Heligoland belonged to England to-day, we should be like rats in a trap.'
Heligoland forms, with Wilhelmshaven and Kiel, the nucleus of the German coast-defence system. It is situated about forty miles from the main-land and equidistant from the Weser and Elbe mouths. It consists of two islands, the larger about a mile in length, with an upper and lower (Ober-' and 'Unterland'), and the unimportant and much smaller one (half a mile east), named Sand Island. At the beginning of hostilities, every inhabitant, man, woman and child, not in some way connected with the Navy and the defence of the Island, was packed off. Most of them were sent to Hamburg, where I met several of them. It is interesting to note that several native Heligolanders are interned as British aliens, yet none of them have ever set foot in England. They are the men who, after the cession in 1890, chose to retain their British nationality. Among the two thousand odd inhabitants were a large number of women who had never left the Island since they were born. There were many sad scenes on that Monday, Aug. 3, the day before England declared war. Very few of them-so several Heligolanders told me personally -ever expected to see their homes again. They doubt not, for one moment, that sooner or later the British will blow up the whole island.
It is futile to try to get anywhere near Heligoland. None but accredited German naval ships are allowed nearer than about ten miles. The nearest I got to Heligoland (in 1915) was about two miles-by air, about the only way, I think, to get that far. From the high altitude we were at, the little triangular piece of land seemed hardly more than a large rock. It was a clear day. The rays of the sun, thrown against the steep reddish cliffs, were reflected in the water and seemed to form a kind of halo along the south-western side of the island. It was a most fascinating sight.
It is curious that the only two occasions when I have set eyes on Heligoland are recorded in my mind as colourschemes of a harmonious and picturesque kind. The