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  The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Psychological Moment

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On the morning of Tuesday, the 9th of March 1904, the Times published the following telegram at the head of its Foreign Intelligence:--

    Destruction of Kronstadt by an unknown Air-Ship.

    (From our own Correspondent.)

    St. Petersburg, March 8th, 4 P.M.

    Between six and seven this morning, the fortress of Kronstadt was
    partially destroyed by an unknown air-ship, which was first sighted
    approaching from the westward at a tremendous speed.

    Four shots in all were fired upon the fortress, and produced the most
    appalling destruction. There was no smoke or flame visible from the guns
    of the air-ship, and the explosives with which the missiles were charged
    must have been far more powerful than anything hitherto used in warfare,
    as in the focus of the explosion masses of iron and steel and solid
    masonry were instantly reduced to powder

    Two shots were fired as the strange vessel approached, and two as she
    left the fortress. The two latter exploded over one of the powder
    magazines, dissolved the steel roof to dust, and ignited the whole
    contents of the magazine, blowing that portion of the fortification
    bodily into the sea. At least half the garrison has disappeared, most of
    the unfortunate men having been practically annihilated by the terrific
    force of the explosions.

    The air-ship was not of the navigable balloon type, and is described by
    the survivors as looking more like a flying torpedo-boat than anything
    else. She flew no flag, and there is no clue to her origin.

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    After destroying the fortress, she ascended several thousand feet, and
    continued her eastward course at such a prodigious speed, that in less
    than five minutes she was lost to sight.

    The excitement in St. Petersburg almost reaches the point of panic. All
    efforts to keep the news of the disaster secret have completely failed,
    and I have therefore received permission to send this telegram, which
    has been revised by the Censorship, and may therefore be accepted as

Within an hour of the appearance of this telegram, which appeared only in the Times, the Russian Censorship having refused to allow any more to be despatched, the astounding news was flying over the wires to every corner of the world.

The Times had a lengthy and very able article on the subject, which, although by no means alarmist in tone, told the world, in grave and weighty sentences, that there could now be no doubt but that the problem of aerial navigation had been completely solved, and that therefore mankind stood confronted by a power that was practically irresistible, and which changed the whole aspect of warfare by land and sea.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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