A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 74


THE OUTBREAK OF WAR


agents. There was a certain number of outrages, particularly in government works, unexplainable except as the deliberate work of active enemies. Some of these—as, for example, the series of fires that took place in Portsmouth dockyard—were not allowed to be reported at the time. Cases that came before the courts increased the public uneasiness. Two of the most noted cases were that of Carl Hans Lody, a German naval lieutenant, who was shot after trial at the Tower of London for espionage, and of Karl Ernst, a naturalised British subject, a hairdresser in North London, who was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude for acting as distributor of letters for one of the German spy organizers.

Germans settled on the east coast, a number of them at possible invasion points. Some were found in possession of, wireless apparatus. It was quite evident after the war broke out that German agents were succeeding, by some means or another, in communicating valuable information to Britain's enemies. The authorities tried to check such leakages by making it more difficult for people to leave the country and by subjecting travellers to minute search and investigation. But every official step against the Germans themselves in Britain was taken with evident reluctance, and many of the aliens who were first interned were gradually released. Attacks on this leniency met with the reply that everything was done with the approval, if not at the direction of, the military authorities.

The country was very willing at this time to believe the most absurd rumours. The most remarkable was the one that a large Russian army had been seen passing through Great Britain on its way to the Western Front. Others concerned mysterious lights seen on the coast, bases and fuel for submarines, emplacements for heavy guns in private gardens, and there were many others.

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