A British officer, who was captured by the Germans and has since escaped, reports that while a prisoner he saw men who had been fighting subsequently put on Red Cross brassards.
That irregular use of the protection afforded by the Geneva Convention is not uncommon is confirmed by the fact that on one occasion men in the uniform of combatant units have been captured wearing a Red Cross brassard hastily slipped over the arm. The excuse given has been that they had been detailed after the fight to look after the wounded.
It is reported by a cavalry officer that the driver of a motor car with a machine gun mounted on it, which was captured, was wearing a Red Cross.
Full details of the actual damage done to the cathedral at Rheims will doubtless have been cabled home, so that no description of it is necessary. The Germans bombarded the cathedral twice with their heavy artillery.
One reason it caught alight so quickly was that on one side of it was some scaffolding which had been erected for restoration work. Straw had also been laid on the floor for the reception of the German wounded. It is to the credit of the French that practically all the German wounded were successfully extricated from the burning building.
There was no justification on military grounds for this act of vandalism, which seems to have been caused by exasperation born of failure—a sign of impotence rather than strength. It is noteworthy that a well-known hotel not far from the cathedral, which was kept by a German, was not touched.
Two September Days.
[Made Public Sept. 28.]
For four days there has been a comparative lull all along our front. This has been accompanied [Transcriber: original ‘acompanied’] by a spell of fine weather, though the nights have been much colder. One cannot have everything, however, and one evil result of the sunshine has been the release of flies, which were torpid during the wet days.
Advantage has been taken of the arrival of reinforcements to relieve by fresh troops the men who have been on the firing line for some time. Several units, therefore, have received their baptism of fire during the week.
Since the last letter left headquarters evidence has been received which points to the fact that during the counter attacks on the night of Sept. 20 German detachments of infantry fired into each other. This was the result of an attempt to carry out the dangerous expedient of a converging advance in the dark. Opposite one portion of our position considerable massing of hostile forces was observed before dark. Some hours later a furious fusillade [Transcriber: original ‘fusilade’] was heard in front of our line, though no bullets came over our trenches.
This narrative begins with Sept. 21 and covers only two days. There was but little rain on Sept. 21 and the weather took a turn for the better, which has been maintained. The action has been practically confined to the artillery, our guns at one point shelling and driving the enemy, who endeavored to construct a redoubt.