October 1, 1914

Today’s headlines from the Thursday front page of the Capital Journal:

FIGHTING FOUR HUGE BATTLES
Six Million Men Fighting in Eastern Theatre of European War
RESULTS SO FAR ARE NOT DECISIVE
Russians Have 4,000,000 Against Austria and Germany’s 2,000,000

AUSTRIA WARNED BY ITALY TO STOP ITS MINE LAYING
This Announcement Caused Italians to Conclude War Was at Last Certain
POPULARITY OF MOVE IS BEYOND QUESTION
Italians Have Nothing Against Germans But Hate Austria Most Bitterly

ALLIES THINK THEY WILL WIN BATTLE SUNDAY OR MONDAY
French Reports All claim Material Gains and Germans Retiring
GERMAN REPORTS NO CHANGE IN LINES
Allies Attacks Are Fierce and Losses Enormous Especially On the German Side

The lead editorial spoke of strange weapons in “A Mystery Truly Dreadful:”

No information is at hand to explain, or to leave other than deeply mysterious, the effects ascribed in a dispatch sent from Dieppe, to the new French field gun. The correspondent told of groups of men numbering sixty who, after subjection to the sudden fire of these weapons, were found overwhelmed by sudden death and yet showing no wound.

We have long known of shells that on explosion diffused through several yards of space an asphyxiating gas, but except in inclosed places such shells are not capable of the wholesale slaughter described in the dispatch, and the discoloration of the victims who do not escape always makes clear the manner and cause of their death. The betraying yellow tint is not mentioned in this case.

Just a fortnight ago another correspondent in France hinted vaguely of a “surprise” that was in store for the Germans – of a military utensil or expedient so dreadfully effective that it would be used only in a desperate emergency and as a last resort. One was almost compelled to suspect that the “atomic bombs” of H. G. Well’s ingenious imagination had become a reality – suspicion that had something more than the shadow of foundation in the recent discoveries as to the enormous, the appalling, store of energy that lies imprisoned in every atom of so-called dead matter. But the bombs prophesied by Mr. Wells are to act in a way wholly different from that in which the French cannon are said to do their killing, so his picture of the “last war” does not help us to an understanding of how those unhappy Germans perished – if they did.

Atomic bombs? The editor, writing from 1914, could hardly imagine that in little more than thirty years, such a bomb would be a reality.

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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