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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

German Invasion

Arnold Bennett's War Diary - Monday, June 5th 1915 – A brigade staff captain, speaking of invasion last night, said the Germans were expected to try for it in August and not before. He said they were waiting for a chance all last year. 3 Army corps had been practiced in landings for a very long time. The finest troops. But lately, one corps, or part of it, had been taken for Verdun. Asked how he knew all these things, he said, ‘Intelligence.’ He spoke of a marvellous intelligence man named ----, now at Harwich, with whom he had talked, and who had recently penetrated the German lines, disguised as a woman, etc. He said the German plan was to land 40,000 men in one mile of coast. Lighters containing 1000 men each, to be towed over by destroyers. Gas shells. Monitors with 15-in. guns to destroy our coast positions first. He said we had done an enormous lot within the last few months, but that six months ago there was nothing and the original British plan had been to let the Germans penetrate 20 miles or so before tackling them. Now the plan was to stop them from landing, and he thought we should do it. He said they would probably try two different places at once – here, and near Newcastle-on-Tyne. Nothing he said altered my view that they couldn’t reach the coast at all. I told him this, and he said he was glad, but that all precautions had to be taken.

   The captain said the district was full of spies, which I thought exaggerated. He said tennis lawns were inspected as gun positions prepared, but they had never yet, in digging up a lawn, found any trace of preparation. I should imagine not. The buried gun and the prepared emplacement stories show the inability of staffs to distinguish between rumours  probable and rumours grotesque.

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