[This Document is the Property of His Britannic
Printed for the use of the Cabinet. March
A BRITISH EYE-WITNESS IN GALICIA.
My colleagues may be interested to see the accompanying
statement made to a member of my Department by a British subject
who has recently returned from Galicia.
March 26, 1915.
| Mr. L. M -, who lives at Torquay,
returned from Boryslaw, Galicia, via Petrograd on the 17th March,
| Just before war broke out he was in
England on leave after two years in Boryslaw, and got back to Boryslaw
just as war was declared between England and Germany.
| When war was declared between England
and Austria the British subjects in Boryslaw were registered, but
not interfered with.
| When the Austrians retired, an advance
guard of Cossacks and a force of 12,000 Russians advanced through
Boryslaw. The infantry of the Russian 33rd regiment pillaged all the
houses on their line of march, the officers co-operating with the
men. The English people complained to the officer in command, but
he said that the men were beyond his control.
| The English people then moved in a
body to a small village in the mountains, and stayed there for a month
whilst things quieted down. Stray bands of Russians visited them,
and helped themselves to blankets and clothes.
| Owing to the treachery of the Jews,
a punitive expedition was sent by the Russians to Boryslaw and Drohobyez.
The soldiers ransacked the shops, and the principal buildings were
burnt down in both towns. The English colony returned to a small village
named Dembrowa, and were little troubled; one of the Englishmen of
the party was married to a Russian, and she proved most useful in
explaining matters to the Russians, who went off after receiving gifts
| The oil wells, too, were undamaged.
The important ones belong to English. French, and German companies.
Before the Austrians retired, the banks were closed, and the money
sent to Vienna. The Jews "cornered" supplies of everything
eatable, and prices rose. Then, for three weeks, the Russians refused
to allow supplies to enter the town, and provisions reached famine
prices. When these punitive measures ceased, prices fell almost to
their usual level, flour, indeed, being under the usual price.
| The Russians opened soup kitchens
for the poor; they have granted allowances to the families whose breadwinners
are with the Austrian army, and supply provisions at cost price. They
also advanced money to work the wells, taking oil in payment.
| The Poles are not in the least grateful
for what the Russians have done for them; they think the Russians
are only doing their bare duty.
| The Germans and Hungarians broke through
the Lowoczne Pass, took Stanislaw, and advanced to Kalusz. They were
beaten back with heavy losses, principally to the Germans; in fact,
all the wounded and prisoners with whom Mr. M - spoke were Germans.
| At Boryslaw they could hear the guns
engaged in the fighting near the Turka Pass, where the Germans and
Austrians are trying to break through. The Russian positions dominate
the pass, and they could clear out the enemy at any time, but prefer
to continue the fighting in the mountains. The snow is breast deep
and frosts severe, and the Germans feel the cold acutely, whilst the
wretchedly-clad Austrians are quite unfitted for warfare under such
conditions; hence the Russian tactics of failing to press the advantage
they so often gain keeps the enemy in the mountains, where they suffer
| The Russians and Germans are splendidly
equipped, but the Austrians are in rags. Their long great-coats have
been torn away at the bottom in strips to bind round the legs and
feet. Generally they wear boards on their feet, their boots having
been worn out long ago.
| The Russian troops are magnificent
in physique and their fitness and bravery are beyond doubt; but when
fighting in open ground their leadership is so bad that they are no
match for the Germans - the Austrians they reckon as of no account
- and the only way they have of beating the Germans is to advance
in overwhelming numbers in close formation. In this way they defeated
the Germans and Hungarians at Stanislaw, but, of course, lost heavily
in the process. Even the German privates ridicule the Russian officers'
| The Russian Red Cross organisation
in Galicia is practically perfect. On the night following a battle
all the wounded are brought in and all the dead buried. The Austrian
Red Cross seems non-existent.
| All the Jews who could possibly do
so have cleared off into Hungary. Those that are left favour the Austrians,
for whom they act as spies. On several occasions Cossack outposts
have been captured by the Jews. The Jews have suffered severely in
consequence, though they were well treated at first.
| The Poles are almost indifferent to
the fighting; the only feeling they show is a dislike of the Germans.
| The country is settling down to the
ordinary round of work. The trains are largely used for the conveyance
of materials for the troops, but there are a few trains per day for
civilians. In Lemberg most of the shops are open; several Russian
shops have recently been started. Numbers of wives and families of
Russian officers have moved there. There is considerable trouble with
the labourer an hooligan elements in the towns. Owing to the free
feeding they won't work, and a rule has been made that anyone found
out of doors after 9 P.M. who has no pass showing that he is in employment,
is sent to dig trenches or repair the Lemberg forts, such as Mikalajow.
The pay is 1 rouble per day, but the rouble's value is fixed at 3
fr. 30 c., i.e., 2s. 9d.
| Mr. M - has no knowledge of the reported
carrying off to Russia of the Polish archives which were kept in Lemberg.
There would be such an outcry that he would certainly have heard of
it. He speaks Polish and German fluently, and the employees at the
oil wells where he was engaged were Poles.
| No one is allowed to leave Galicia
without a permit. He got away in order to join the army.
| There is still a considerable number
of English people at Boryslaw, and the consul at Moscow knows their