The Invasion of 1910 - William Le Queux, H.W. Wilson - ebook
Opis

The Invasion of 1910” is a novel written mainly by William Le Queux (along with H. W. Wilson providing the naval chapters). It is centered on an invasion by the Germans, who have managed to land a sizable invasion force on the East Coast of England. They reach London and occupy half the city. A junior Member of Parliament organizes a resistance movement, the „League of Defenders” and the Germans seem unable to combat this and tighten their control of London, and suddenly find themselves faced with a popular uprising. Finally a newly-formed British Army marches to liberate London. First published in 1906 this is one of the best-known examples of „invasion literature”, viewed by some as an example of pre-World War I Germanophobia but considered by others as prescient as it warned of the need to prepare for war with Germany.

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Contents

PREFACE

BOOK I. THE ATTACK

I. THE SURPRISE

II. EFFECT IN THE CITY

III. NEWS OF THE ENEMY

IV. A PROPHECY FULFILLED

V. OUR FLEET TAKEN UNAWARES

VI. FIERCE CRUISER BATTLE

VII. CONTINUATION OF THE STRUGGLE AT SEA

VIII. SITUATION IN THE NORTH

IX. STATE OF SIEGE DECLARED

X. HOW THE ENEMY DEALT THE BLOW

XI. GERMANS LANDING AT HULL AND GOOLE

XII. DESPERATE FIGHTING IN ESSEX

XIII. DEFENCE AT LAST

XIV. BRITISH SUCCESS AT ROYSTON

XV. BRITISH ABANDON COLCHESTER

XVI. FIERCE FIGHTING AT CHELMSFORD

XVII. IN THE ENEMY'S HANDS

XVIII. THE FEELING IN LONDON

BOOK II. THE SIEGE OF LONDON

I. THE LINES OF LONDON

II. REPULSE OF THE GERMANS

III. BATTLE OF EPPING

IV. BOMBARDMENT OF LONDON

V. THE RAIN OF DEATH

VI. FALL OF LONDON

VII. TWO PERSONAL NARRATIVES

VIII. GERMANS SACKING THE BANKS

IX. WHAT WAS HAPPENING AT SEA

X. SITUATION SOUTH OF THE THAMES

XI. DEFENCES OF SOUTH LONDON

XII. DAILY LIFE OF THE BELEAGUERED

XIII. REVOLTS IN SHOREDITCH AND ISLINGTON

BOOK III. THE REVENGE

I. A BLOW FOR FREEDOM

II. SCENES AT WATERLOO BRIDGE

III. GREAT BRITISH VICTORY

IV. MASSACRE OF GERMANS IN LONDON

V. HOW THE WAR ENDED

PREFACE

“I SOMETIMES despair of the country ever becoming alive to the danger of the unpreparedness of our present position until too late to prevent some fatal catastrophe.„

This was the keynote of a solemn warning made in the House of Lords on July 10th of the present year by Earl Roberts. His lordship, while drawing attention to our present inadequate forces, strongly urged that action should be taken in accordance with the recommendations of the Elgin Commission that “no military system could be considered satisfactory which did not contain powers of expansion outside the limit of the regular forces of the Crown.”

“The lessons of the late war appear to have been completely forgotten. The one prevailing idea seems to be,” said Earl Roberts, “to cut down our military expenditure without reference to our increased responsibilities and our largely augmented revenue. History tells us in the plainest terms that an Empire which cannot defend its own possessions must inevitably perish.” And with this view both Lord Milner and the Marquis of Lansdowne concurred. But surely this is not enough. If we are to retain our position as the first nation in the world we must be prepared to defend any raid made upon our shores.

The object of this book is to illustrate our utter unpreparedness for war, to show how, under certain conditions which may easily occur, England can be successfully invaded by Germany, and to present a picture of the ruin which must inevitably fall upon us on the evening of that not far-distant day.

Ever since Lord Roberts formulated his plans for the establishment of rifle-clubs I have been deeply interested in the movement; and after a conversation with that distinguished soldier the idea occurred to me to write a forecast, based upon all the available military and naval knowledge–which would bring home to the British public vividly and forcibly what really would occur were an enemy suddenly to appear in our midst. At the outset it was declared by the strategists I consulted to be impossible. No such book could ever be written, for, according to them, the mass of technical detail was far too great to digest and present in an intelligible manner to the public.

Lord Roberts, however, gave me encouragement. The skeleton scheme of the manner in which England could be invaded by Germany was submitted to a number of the highest authorities on strategy, whose names, however, I am not permitted to divulge, and after many consultations, much criticism, and considerable difference of opinion, the “general idea,” with amendment after amendment, was finally adopted.

That, however, was only a mere preliminary. Upon questions of tactics each tactician consulted held a different view, and each criticised adversely the other’s suggestions. With the invaluable assistance of my friend Mr. H. W. Wilson, we had decided upon the naval portion of the campaign; but when it came to the operations on land, I found a wide divergence of opinion everywhere.

One way alone remained open–namely, to take the facts exactly as they stood, add the additional strength of the opposing nations as they will be in 1910, and then draw logical conclusions. This, aided by experts, was done; and after many days of argument with the various authorities, we succeeded at last in getting them in accord as to the general practicability of an invasion.

Before putting pen to paper it was necessary to reconnoitre carefully the whole of England from the Thames to the Tyne. This I did by means of a motor-car, travelling 10,000 miles of all kinds of roads, and making a tour extending over four months. Each town, all the points of vantage, military positions, all the available landing-places on the coast, all railway connections, and telephone and telegraph communications, were carefully noted for future reference. With the assistance of certain well-known military experts, the battlefields were carefully gone over and the positions marked upon the Ordnance map. Thus, through four months we pushed on day by day collecting information and material, sometimes in the big cities, sometimes in the quietest and remotest hamlets, all of which was carefully tabulated for use.

Whatever critics may say, and however their opinions may differ, it can only be pointed out, first, that the “general idea” of the scheme is in accordance with the expressed and published opinions of the first strategists of to-day, and that, as far as the forecast of events is concerned, it has been written from a first-hand knowledge of the local colour of each of the scenes described. The enemy’s Proclamations reproduced are practically copies of those issued by the Germans during the war of 1870.

That the experts and myself will probably be condemned as alarmists and denounced for revealing information likely to be of assistance to an enemy goes without saying. Indeed, on March 15th last, an attempt was made in the House of Commons to suppress its publication altogether. Mr. R. C. Lehmann, who asked a question of the Prime Minister, declared that it was “calculated to prejudice our relations with the other Powers,” while Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, in a subsequent letter apologising to me for condemning in the House a work he had not read, repeated that it was likely to “produce irritation abroad and might conceivably alarm the more ignorant public at home.”

Such a reflection, cast by the Prime Minister upon the British nation, is, to say the least, curious, yet it only confirms the truth that the Government are strenuously seeking to conceal from our people the appalling military weakness and the consequent danger to which the country is constantly open.

Mr. Haldane’s new scheme has a number of points about it which, at first sight, will perhaps commend themselves to the general public, and in some cases to a proportion of military men. Foremost among these are the provision made for training the Militia Artillery in the use of comparatively modern field-guns, and the institution of the County Associations for the administration of the Volunteers and the encouragement of the local military spirit. Could an ideal Association of this kind be evolved there is little doubt that it would be capable of doing an immense amount of good, since administration by a central staff, ignorant of the widely differing local conditions which affect the several Volunteer corps, has already militated against getting the best work possible out of their members. But under our twentieth-century social system, which has unfortunately displaced so many influential and respected county families–every one of which had military or naval members, relations or ancestors–by wealthy tradesmen, speculators, and the like, any efficient County Association will be very hard to create. Mr. Haldane’s scheme is a bold and masterly sketch, but he will find it very hard to fill in the details satisfactorily. Unfortunately, the losses the Army must sustain by the reduction of so many fine battalions are very real and tangible, while the promised gains in efficiency would appear to be somewhat shadowy and uncertain.

To be weak is to invite war; to be strong is to prevent it.

To arouse our country to a sense of its own lamentable insecurity is the object of this volume, and that other nations besides ourselves are interested in England’s grave peril is proved by the fact that it has already been published in the German, French, Spanish, Danish, Russian, Italian, and even Japanese languages.

–William Le Queux. London, July 26, 1906.

BOOK I. THE ATTACK

I. THE SURPRISE

TWO of the myriad of London’s night-workers were walking down Fleet Street together soon after dawn on Sunday morning, 2nd September.

The sun had not yet risen. That main artery of London traffic, with its irregular rows of closed shops and newspaper offices, was quiet and pleasant in the calm, mystic light before the falling of the smoke-pall.

Only at early morning does the dear old City look its best; in that one quiet, sweet hour when the night’s toil has ended and the day’s has not yet begun. Only in that brief interval at the birth of day, when the rose tints of the sky glow slowly into gold, does the giant metropolis repose–at least, as far as its business streets are concerned–for at five o’clock the toiling millions begin to again pour in from all points of the compass, and the stress and storm of London life at once recommences.

And in that hour of silent charm the two grey-bearded sub- editors, though engaged in offices of rival newspapers, were making their way homeward to Dulwich to spend Sunday in a well-earned rest, and were chatting “shop” as Press men do.

“I suppose you had the same trouble to get that Yarmouth story through?” asked Fergusson, the news-editor of the Weekly Dispatch, as they crossed Whitefriars Street. “We got about half a column, and then the wire shut down.”

“Telegraph or telephone?” inquired Baines, who was four or five years younger than his friend.

“We were using both–to make sure.”

“So were we. It was a rattling good story–the robbery was mysterious, to say the least–but we didn’t get more than half of it. Something’s wrong with the line, evidently,” Baines said. “If it were not such a perfect autumn morning, I should be inclined to think there’d been a storm somewhere.”

“Yes–funny, wasn’t it?” remarked the other. “A shame we haven’t the whole story, for it was a first-class one, and we wanted something. Did you put it on the contents-bill?”

“No, because we couldn’t get the finish. I tried in every way–rang up the Central News, P.A., Exchange Telegraph Company, tried to get through to Yarmouth on the trunk, and spent half an hour or so pottering about, but the reply from all the agencies, from everywhere in fact, was the same–the line was interrupted.”

“Just our case. I telephoned to the Post Office, but the reply came back that the lines were evidently down.”

“Well, it certainly looks as though there’d been a storm, but––” and Baines glanced at the bright, clear sky overhead, just flushed by the bursting sun–“there are certainly no traces of it.”

“There’s often a storm on the coast when it’s quite still in London, my dear fellow,” remarked his friend wisely.

“That’s all very well. But when all communication with a big place like Yarmouth is suddenly cut off, as it has been, I can’t help suspecting that something has happened which we ought to know.”

“You’re perhaps right after all,” Fergusson said. “I wonder if anything has happened. We don’t want to be called back to the office, either of us. My assistant, Henderson, whom I’ve left in charge, rings me up over any mare’s nest. The trunk telephones all come into the Post Office exchange up in Carter Lane. Why not look in there before we go home? It won’t take us a quarter of an hour, and we have several trains home from Ludgate Hill.”

Baines looked at his watch. Like his companion, he had no desire to be called back to his office after getting out to Dulwich, and yet he was in no mood to go making reporter’s inquiries.

“I don’t think I’ll go. It’s sure to be nothing, my dear fellow,” he said. “Besides, I have a beastly headache. I had a heavy night’s work. One of my men is away ill.”

“Well, at any rate, I think I’ll go,” Fergusson said. “Don’t blame me if you get called back for a special edition with a terrible storm, great loss of life, and all that sort of thing. So long.” And, smiling, he waved his hand and parted from his friend in the booking-office of Ludgate Hill Station.

Quickening his pace, he hurried through the office and, passing out by the back, ascended the steep, narrow street until he reached the Post Office telephone exchange in Carter Lane, where, presenting his card, he asked to see the superintendent-in-charge.

Without much delay he was shown upstairs into a small private office, into which came a short, dapper, fair- moustached man with the bustle of a person in a great hurry.

“I’ve called,” the sub-editor explained, “to know whether you can tell me anything regarding the cause of the interruption of the line to Yarmouth a short time ago. We had some important news coming through, but were cut off just in the midst of it, and then we received information that all the telephone and telegraph lines to Yarmouth were interrupted.”

“Well, that’s just the very point which is puzzling us at this moment,” was the night-superintendent’s reply. “It is quite unaccountable. Our trunk going to Yarmouth seems to be down, as well as the telegraphs. Yarmouth, Lowestoft, and beyond Beccles seem all to have been suddenly cut off. About eighteen minutes to four the operators noticed something wrong, switched the trunks through to the testers, and the latter reported to me in due course.”

“That’s strange! Did they all break down together?”

“No. The first that failed was the one that runs through Chelmsford, Colchester, and Ipswich up to Lowestoft and Yarmouth. The operator found that he could get through to Ipswich and Beccles. Ipswich knew nothing, except that something was wrong. They could still ring up Beccles, but not beyond.”

As they were speaking, there was a tap at the door, and the assistant night-superintendent entered, saying–

“The Norwich line through Scole and Long Stratton has now failed, sir. About half-past four Norwich reported a fault somewhere north, between there and Cromer. But the operator now says that the line is apparently broken, and so are all the telegraphs from there to Cromer, Sheringham, and Holt.”

“Another line has gone, then!” exclaimed the superintendent- in-charge, utterly astounded. “Have you tried to get on to Cromer by the other routes–through Nottingham and King’s Lynn, or through Cambridge?”

“The testers have tried every route, but there’s no response.”

“You could get through to some of the places–Yarmouth, for instance–by telegraphing to the Continent, I suppose?” asked Fergusson.

“We are already trying,” responded the assistant superintendent.

“What cables run out from the east coast in that neighbourhood?” inquired the sub-editor quickly.

“There are five between Southwold and Cromer–three run to Germany, and two to Holland,” replied the assistant. “There’s the cable from Yarmouth to Barkum, in the Frisian Islands; from Happisburg, near Mundesley, to Barkum; from Yarmouth to Emden; from Lowestoft to Haarlem, and from Kessingland, near Southwold, to Zandyport.”

“And you are trying all the routes?” asked his superior.

“I spoke to Paris myself an hour ago and asked them to cable by all five routes to Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Kessingland, and Happisburg,” was the assistant’s reply. “I also asked Liverpool Street Station and King’s Cross to wire down to some of their stations on the coast, but the reply was that they were in the same predicament as ourselves–their lines were down north of Beccles, Wymondham, East Dereham, and also south of Lynn. I’ll just run along and see if there’s any reply from Paris. They ought to be through by this time, as it’s Sunday morning, and no traffic.” And he went out hurriedly.

“There’s certainly something very peculiar,” remarked the superintendent-in-charge to the sub-editor. “If there’s been an earthquake or an electrical disturbance, then it is a most extraordinary one. Every single line reaching to the coast seems interrupted.”

“Yes. It’s uncommonly funny,” Fergusson remarked. “I wonder what could have happened. You’ve never had a complete breakdown like this before?”

“Never. But I think––”

The sentence remained unfinished, for his assistant returned with a slip of paper in his hand, saying–

“This message has just come in from Paris. I’ll read it. ‘Superintendent Telephones, Paris, to Superintendent Telephones, London.–Have obtained direct telegraphic communication with operators of all five cables to England. Haarlem, Zandyport, Barkum, and Emden all report that cables are interrupted. They can get no reply from England, and tests show that cables are damaged somewhere near English shore.’”

“Is that all?” asked Fergusson.

“That’s all. Paris knows no more than we do,” was the assistant’s response.

“Then the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts are completely isolated–cut off from post office, railways, telephones, and cables!” exclaimed the superintendent. “It’s mysterious- -most mysterious!” And, taking up the instrument upon his table, he placed a plug in one of the holes down the front of the table itself, and a moment later was in conversation with the official in charge of the traffic at Liverpool Street, repeating the report from Paris, and urging him to send light engines north from Wymondham or Beccles into the zone of mystery.

The reply came back that he had already done so, but a telegram had reached him from Wymondham to the effect that the road-bridges between Kimberley and Hardingham had apparently fallen in, and the line was blocked by débris. Interruption was also reported beyond Swaffham, at a place called Little Dunham.

“Then even the railways themselves are broken!” cried Fergusson. “Is it possible that there’s been a great earthquake?”

“An earthquake couldn’t very well destroy all five cables from the Continent,” remarked the superintendent gravely.

The latter had scarcely placed the receiver upon the hook when a third man entered–an operator who, addressing him, said–

“Will you please come to the switchboard, sir? There’s a man in the Ipswich call office who has just told me a most extraordinary story. He says that he started in his motor- car alone from Lowestoft to London at half-past three this morning, and just as it was getting light he was passing along the edge of Henham Park, between Wangford village and Blythburgh, when he saw three men apparently repairing the telegraph wires. One was up the pole, and the other two were standing below. As he passed he saw a flash, for, to his surprise, one of the men fired point-blank at him with a revolver. Fortunately, the shot went wide, and he at once put on a move and got down into Blythburgh village, even though one of his tyres went down. It had probably been pierced by the bullet fired at him, as the puncture was unlike any he had ever had before. At Blythburgh he informed the police of the outrage, and the constable, in turn, woke up the postmaster, who tried to telegraph back to the police at Wrentham, but found that the line was interrupted. Was it possible that the men were cutting the wires, instead of repairing them? He says that after repairing the puncture he took the village constable and three other men on his car and went back to the spot, where, although the trio had escaped, they saw that wholesale havoc had been wrought with the telegraphs. The lines had been severed in four or five places, and whole lengths tangled up into great masses. A number of poles had been sawn down, and were lying about the roadside. Seeing that nothing could be done, the gentleman remounted his car, came on to Ipswich, and reported the damage at our call office.”

“And is he still there?” exclaimed the superintendent quickly, amazed at the motorist’s statement.

“Yes. I asked him to wait for a few moments in order to speak to you, sir.”

“Good. I’ll go at once. Perhaps you’d like to come also, Mr. Fergusson?”

And all four ran up to the gallery, where the huge switchboards were ranged around, and where the night operators, with the receivers attached to one ear, were still at work.

In a moment the superintendent had taken the operator’s seat, adjusted the ear-piece, and was in conversation with Ipswich. A second later he was speaking with the man who had actually witnessed the cutting of the trunk line.

While he was thus engaged an operator at the farther end of the switchboard suddenly gave vent to a cry of surprise and disbelief.

“What do you say, Beccles? Repeat it,” he asked excitedly.

Then a moment later he shouted aloud–

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