“At the central railway station incidents of a similar kind were happening. There, as down by the river, immense throngs of people had assembled, and they were filled with dismay at the announcement that no trains were running. In their despair they prepared to leave the city on foot by crossing the pontoon bridge and marching towards the Dutch frontier. I should say the exodus of refugees from the city must have totaled 200,000 men, women and children of all ages, or very nearly that vast number, out of a population which in normal times is 321,800. “I now return to the events of Thursday, October 8th. At 12.30 in the afternoon, when the bombardment had already lasted over twelve hours, through the courtesy of a Belgian officer I was able to ascend to the roof of the cathedral, and from that point of vantage I looked down upon the scene in the city.
“All the southern portion of Antwerp appeared to be desolate ruin. Whole streets were ablaze, and the flames were rising to a height of twenty and thirty feet.
“From my elevated position I had an excellent view also of the great oil tanks on the opposite side of the Scheldt. They had been set on fire by four bombs from a German Taube aeroplane, and a huge thick volume of black smoke was ascending two hundred feet into the air. It was like a bit of Gustave Dore’s idea of the infernal regions.
CITY ALMOST DESERTED
“The city by this time was almost deserted, and no attempt was made to extinguish the fires that had broken out all over the southern district. Indeed there were no means of dealing with them. For ten days the water supply from the reservoir ten miles outside the city had been cut off, and this was the city’s main source of supply. The reservoir was just behind Fort Waelthen, and a German shell had struck it, doing great mischief. It left Antwerp without any regular inflow of water and the inhabitants had to do their best with the artesian wells. Great efforts were made by the Belgians from time to time to repair the reservoir, but it was always thwarted by the German shell fire.
KILLED BEFORE HIS WIFE’S EYES
“After leaving the cathedral, I made my way to the southern section of the city, where shells were bursting at the rate of five a minute. With great difficulty, and not without risk, I got as far as Rue Lamoiere. There I met a terror-stricken Belgian woman, the only other person in the streets besides myself. In hysterical gasps she told me that the Bank Nationale and Palais de Justice had been struck and were in flames, and that her husband had been killed just five minutes before I came upon the scene. His mangled remains were lying not one hundred yards away from where we were standing.