Furthermore, the German artillery lacks and has lacked for a very long time munitions. It has been obliged to reduce its consumption of shells in a notable degree. No doubt is possible in this respect. The statements of prisoners since the battle of the Marne, and still more since the battle of the Yser, make it clear that the number of shots allowed to the batteries for each action is strictly limited. We have found on officers killed or taken prisoner the actual orders prescribing positively a strict economy of munitions.
For the last three months, too, we notice that the quality of the projectiles is mediocre. Many of them do not burst. On Jan. 7, in the course of a bombardment of Laventie, scarcely any of the German shells burst. The proportion of non-bursts was estimated at two-fifths by the British on Dec. 14, two-thirds by ourselves in the same month. On Jan. 3 at Bourg-et-Comin, and at other places since then, shrapnel fell the explosion of which scarcely broke the envelope and the bullets were projected without any force. About the same time our Fourteenth Army Corps was fired at with shrapnel loaded with fragments of glass, and on several points of our front shell casings of very bad quality have been found, denoting hasty manufacture and the use of materials taken at hazard.
From numerous indications it appears that the Germans are beginning to run short of their 1898 pattern rifle. A certain number of the last reinforcements (January) are armed with carbines or rifles of a poor sort without bayonets. Others have not even rifles. Prisoners taken at Woevre had old-pattern weapons.
The upshot of these observations is that Germany, despite her large stores at the beginning, and the great resources of her industrial production, presents manifest signs of wear, and that the official optimism which she displays does not correspond with the reality of the facts.
Under the caption “Moral Wastage of the German Army,” the review continues:
The material losses of the German Army have corresponded with a moral wastage which it is interesting and possible to follow, both from the interrogation of prisoners and the pocketbooks and letters seized upon them or on the killed.
At the beginning of the war the entire German Army, as was natural, was animated by an unshakable faith in the military superiority of the empire. It lived on the recollections of 1870, and on those of the long years of peace, during which all the powers which had to do with Germany displayed toward her a spirit of conciliation and patience which might pass for weakness.
The first prisoners we took in August showed themselves wholly indifferent to the reverses of the German Army. They were sincerely and profoundly convinced that, if the German Army retired, it was in virtue of a preconceived plan, and that our successes would lead to nothing. The events at the end of August were calculated to strengthen this contention in the minds of the German soldiers.