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RAIDING ENGLAND FROM THE SKY
inflicting enormous damage if he attack in suffi- Not long after leaving Namur I crossed cient numerical force and is prepared to act the electric and barbed-wire barricade which with determination in spite of any losses he holds the Holland frontier, Aung my Kaisermay sustain; no reasonable superiority in the
lich passport at the last of the sentinels, and defending aircraft, either individually or nu
set sail for England again. merically, can be entirely effective. Neither
I arrived in London in the wake of the can we pin our faith to counter-aircrait artillery ; under the conditions in question it may
Zepp raids which ruined the roof of the prove to be almost useless.
Belgian Relief Office at 3 London Wall, The lieutenant ended our conversation at
wrecked the houses out Finsbury way, and the Flandre that afternoon with the prediction opened up the great holes in the pavements that we would probably see the aeroplanes of
in Russell Square and along Kingsway.
After a short visit in the city I journeyed the Allies over Namur soon, now that the local sheds boasted one of the very newest
out to spend a week in the little town of
Hertford. As it had been my custom to go super-Zeppelins. “ But if they do come, they will not all go
there during the Oxford vacations and to put back, I fear," he concluded.
up at the Salisbury Arms for study, I had
most homelike desire to renew my acquaintIt was towards the end of September, a ance with the ancient place and its friendly little over a month later, that I said good-by inhabitants. to Namur. Motoring out by Fort Emines, I Hertford is the typical old, unspoiled Engpassed the air-ship camp for the last time. lish country town, with its High Street, its
It stood in a large field which was moder- quiet churchyard, and its bustling inns. ately well protected by mitrailleuses, anti- Located just twenty-six miles north of London aircraft guns, barbed-wire entanglements, and on a twist of the little river Lea, it lies in the a high wire fence, not to mention a serious- midst of a countryside which seems the very looking band of tall sailor sentinels ; and it symbolization of unthrobbing peacefulness, consisted of three huge hangars. These were
with its slow-footed cattle and its far-away parallel to each other and about one hundred sheep in their pleasant pastures and deep yards apart. They were all steel frameworks; hedgeways. the outer two covered with wood, the middle In this same atmosphere and just over the one with yellow canvas. The roofs of the hills from Hertford is Cuffley, where that wooden ones were painted a brownish green, Zeppelin came crashing down like a Lolt from like the surrounding fields; the canvas one the blue a short time ago. from its natural color was supposed to re- The boast of the Salisbury Arms is that semble a plowed plot; and the doors of its doors have never been closed since Cromall three had landscape effects sketched in a well's time; and certainly the old walls, the free and futuristic spirit to blend them with pewters, the furniture, the raftered ceilings, the surrounding country. But, in spite of and the huge fireplaces seem to bear it out. these efforts to gloss over the mere fact of In the evenings an assemblage which their existence, these Zeppelin hangars re- seemed to my imagination quite in keeping mained about the most prominent landmarks with the character of the ancient place was for miles around.
accustomed to gather before the sea-coal fire My last impression of Namur was of the of the tap-room. Regular habitués always faithful old “ Landstormers” as they were appeared. Mr. Bones, tailor and local pracseated on their wooden observation towers tical joker, would burst in, slamming the door sweeping the heavens for hostile aircraft, behind him, and threaten the orderly ranks their tobacco pipes rivaling in length their of glasses and bottles with his stick to the long telescopes.
perennial consternation of the barmaid. It was not until the middle of August, 1916, Mr. Ames, saddler and misanthrope in genjust a year after our conversation at the eral, would follow and take the chair closest Flandre, that the Allies did raid Namur. So to the fire. Mr. Burrows, bookseller and the lieutenant's prediction was late in com- controversialist, would arrive last, as a rule, ing true. However, he was right in part : and throw a little fuel on the evening's attack the communiqués have reported that one of the on the Government, which would usually be Allies' aeros never returned. Evidently the at the “ curtain fire” stage about that time. aged watchers of the hills were not caught Every one who has ever visited an English napping.
tap-room knows that the grilling of the Gov.
ernment forms an inevitable part of the eve- but it'll give the Germans something to think ning's entertainment. And the Salisbury about.” Arms, in addition to being no exception to He had scarcely finished when the door this rule, was a Tory inn.
One soon grew
opened from the street and Kelson, one of fond of it all.
Hertford's new special constables, poked in The evening of my arrival I was given a his head to announce, cheerfully : “ Harwich royal welcome and put in my old place with has just telephoned a raid on to-night. a speech by Mr. Bones. He insisted that Haven't seen anything yet, though." the bench had been kept sacred to my mem- Top hole chap that, one of Hertford's ory all the time I was “in the 'ands of the brightest and best," was Bones's only com'Uns in poor little Belgium.” Then the regu- ment as the door slammed after Kelson. lar attack on the Government began, this Half an hour later the bustle of running time upon its air policy in particular. In the feet could be heard in the street, and far recent German raids Zeppelins had passed away the Panshanger hounds began howling. . very close to Heriford in their attempts at Again Kelson poked his head in, this time Enfield and the London district. Indeed, the to order in an excited whisper : “ Put out people at Bayfordbury, just outside the town, that light ; lcok sharp! There's one comhad seen the air-ships themselves in the ing!” distance. So Hertford was beginning to Out went the light, and we all groped our consider its position in a Zeppelin-haunted way hurriedly but quietly to the street. Outregion.
side we flattened ourselves against the build" But why aren't you more strict with your ing and waited. lights, then ?” I asked. “ In Oxford, which At first nothing could be heard but the thinks itself well away from the danger zone, distant howling of the hounds; the bustling the authorities would never allow anything in the street had ceased. Gradually, howlike the windows of this room with nothing ever, a faint humming became audible, like but yellow shades to dim them."
the far-away roar of a tremendous electric Oh, putting out the street lights is fan. It awakened memories in me of Brusenough, and bad enough, too ; the Zepps sels and Namur. A Zeppelin was coming. won't bother us," grumbled Burrows. “What It was about nine o'clock, very dark and they are after—the beastly brutes--is Ware cloudy, with a bit of fog in the air, but and Enfield, where the munition stores and calm--ideal conditions for a raid. mills are.”
Louder and louder grew the humming, till “No, they don't want us,” added Ames ; it almost approximated a roar. This was
haven't even a searchlight, to say certainly no “LZ 74 " coming, but one of nothing of a gun; nothing but a few slackers the older models. Still nothing could be like Burrows here.” And he
seen. At last, however, there was a sudden individual in question a playful prod with his awestruck whisper, “ There she is !” and the stick.
dim outline of the cigar-shaped monster That was the sentiment of the Salisbury appeared. Arms, and was quite typical of Hertford and It was just over the church spire. Flying many other English country towns at that surprisingly low, and at about a twenty-five time
or thirty mile pace, it passed over the village. Three evenings later-to be exact, the Straight it went, Hatfield way. Disappearing evening of October 13, 1915.--the same one moment and reappearing the next in assemblage was gathered, each member in shadowy outline in the clouds and fog, it his accustomed place. Bones was just back looked for all the world the picture of the from a day's trip to London, where he had modern Flying Dutchman. met a friend belonging to the “ A. A.," who Long after we had caught our last sight had converted him to the adequacy of Lon- of it, and long after its peculiar humming don's aerial defense. So the talk was running sound had died away in the distance, we all unusually high.
stood by the wall of the inn, awestruck and I arrived just in time to hear the end of silent. his description of his friend's pet “ Archie," Finally Bones announced that he needed or anti-aircraft gun—“... in a field just at something very badly, and we returned to the bottom of his garden, you know; expect the tap-room. Lights were turned on again, it will bust all the windows when it is fired, but this time not before rugs had been care