Of the Flying Corps the report says:
“Every day new methods of employing them, both strategically and tactically, are discovered and put into practice.”
Concerning the Territorials who have been employed, the Field Marshal says the conduct and bearing of these units under fire and the efficient manner in which they have carried out the duties assigned to them “has imbued me with the highest hope as to the value and the help of the Territorial troops generally.”
Story of the “Eye-Witness"
By Col. E.D. Swinton of the Intelligence Department of the British General Staff.
From the beginning of the war world-wide attention has been attracted to the reports issued from time to time as coming from “an eye-witness at British General Headquarters.” At first these reports were erroneously ascribed to Marshal French himself, and resulted in much admiring comment on his vivid and graphic way of reporting. Later it became known that they were the work of Col. Swinton, who was attached to Gen. French’s headquarters in the capacity of “official observer."
The Battle of the Aisne Begins
[By the “Official Observer,” Col. E.D. Swinton.]
Sept. 18, 1914.
Sept. 14, the Germans were making a determined resistance along the River Aisne. Opposition, which it was at first thought might possibly be of a rear-guard nature, not entailing material delay to our progress, has developed and has proved to be more serious than was anticipated.
The action, now being fought by the Germans along their line, may, it is true, have been undertaken in order to gain time for some strategic operation or move, and may not be their main stand. But, if this is so, the fighting is naturally on a scale which as to extent of ground covered and duration of resistance, makes it undistinguishable in its progress from what is known as a “pitched battle,” though the enemy certainly showed signs of considerable disorganization during the earlier days of their retirement phase.
Whether it was originally intended by them to defend the position they took up as strenuously as they have done, or whether the delay, gained for them during the 12th and 13th by their artillery, has enabled them to develop their resistance and force their line to an extent not originally contemplated cannot yet be said.
So far as we are concerned the action still being contested is the battle of the Aisne. The foe we are fighting is just across the river along the whole of our front to the east and west. The struggle is not confined to the valley of that river, though it will probably bear its name.
The progress of our operations and the French armies nearest us for the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th will now be described: