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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Daily Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 10, 1911, Lethbridge, Alberta m F R OI C W jjjl L IX W i V-r W w CRO3S "fiffiiGH'AEL" .SMOLKA, a General's Daughter, ST. G THE Donned Male Passed Through Many Thrilling 'Adventures in the Japanese War, but Never .Knew She Had Gained: the Cdvettd" Honor. TEE.author, of this article has, served as.a correspondent in vmr'. or t to- portaJnt revolution in tKe_" last', 'twenty years, and has witnessed countless acts of.dar- and While attached to ;the J- forces of news gatherers put into the field at of the Husso-Japaseso war th'c "facts' for the following thrilling and pathetic story, he believes t2ist in-human feeling and dra- Bistic interest it stands out above anything else In the -whols-connict. '-7" BY JAMES F. J. ARCHIBALD. iCpcrrfrtC 1S11. br Srw Tart nrriM Co. A1J T was on oire of those first dun days at Liao when the terrinc artillery battle was on and the devastating chant of the guns rolled un- ceasingly day and night. For the .foor 4ays ajid focr nights more than four hundred guns poured a rtofrn'-of shell? against''tne advancing Japanese host trxl -were answered is kind from the hills to the south. It was the moyt tarriUc-artlllery dnel in the world's btkbry. for would be as nzany as thirty shots A OBlzfme on 'tbe average from each gen. so that the rvrerberatlcas had no chance to die away, and any InJ! would hare coice as a shock to the raw nerves of those.-who had beta listening to the chorus. 3 stood before ch? headquarters of one of the corps Insr with ziosses the alow advance of the-Jap- in some hni his bond above water. He was sinking when she reached him. Stooping, sue lht beloru waa t forced her horse to breast the tide, beiup forced down stream in Mn> -swift current, and the Japanese marksmen were making the water boll around them wueu anotber ortker rode in to her aid. All gained the shelter of the rooks. It was a brave deed well performed, .and throughout the army her name was passed "with a soldier's sincere encomiums. gli the Japanese line the woman, te smiled, and "There are more men In Russia than I knew of." There are many stories told of this remarkable HtUrns. she found means to eet her services as a jmide hsvc spoken above. She messed with them, took her acd interpreter accepted, and. donning a sort of cloth- duties without asking- one fnvor on account of her Ing that rid her of skirts yet did not cloak herMentJty ser; no weather was too severe for her, no ride too as a wooian. she west tbroxnrh the little war with the Rnssian continceir. to her father's great dr-lfght and to the gratif cation the Itnssian commAuaers. wbo -saw to it that the Minister of War and the Tsar wcs-e duly Informed of her sacrifices, hardships, endurance and cleverness. Tb? result was that to her was offered an unheard of commission in active service on thc staffs sz duty la the East. The Coveted Cross. The day that she was tmistered in there wag a prettT little scene. Colonel was an old friend of "her father's aad when the oScers were drawn up In Ms headquarters to witness brief ceremony they sirw Helene Smolka step forth In the full uniform of her rank, ber wonderfully bea-atiful hair art short, received her commission and given the oath ?he knelt down aud while the others stood uncovered she hard or too Ion{ and no tax on her military knowl- edge funnel her wanting. She was "an .officer and a gentleman" at ail times and a good-nil-around soldier. In a taik which I had -wrth her early In our acquaint- ance" she salt tbat in all the time sae hncl spent in the army, either In garrison or In the Seid, she had never hart one unpleasant experience at the hands of the n body of troops supporting a reconnolsanco in force men about, nor had there occurred one that crosaing the river at a point lower down were ad- wonld have suggested such a thing even might be vancing en the town with the Inteuttoa of drawing looked for. thc Rre of }ts it had any, thus developing FrerloTis to the day I had seen .her riding across tne jap2Tlese position. Helene Smolka was one of the the p'.aln with its downpour of bullets, obeying the In- officers on the further bank with thc staff observers in Archibald Autographed Photograph of Helena Smolka They had ridden out as a fan before rearj dashing through them to headquarters to beg that she be the one chosen, urg- ing her knowledge of the country and of language! nml dialects as a qualification that was commanding. Aftor some dlm'culty she procured the assignment oJ taking in the second message, but In this she failed although she made a great effort. No possible cuy- could penetrate that line of Japanese attack. Her one great achievement was some scouting hat her mission was I do not knowj rated the Japanese line and spenl mouth In the most dnagerous kind ol he dramatic story of that scoulini known to -the soldiers of "Russia may have been exaggerated in .its re be difficult to exaggerate the danger that Irttle soidler passed In, a mouth 'oi s snld she spent n month" In which the Japanese captured from the which they arc holding to-day. Russia hnd ions upon millions of dollars to make thh wonderful port ot all the I-'ar East, hut hac accomplished it when It was wrested froa "them by the invading Oriental army. f It was undoubtedly necessary that they should certain what going on. and it was this sort ol that "Michael" Smollia; Time.. after time she was-suspscted and but her accu- rate knowledge the.laugriage and''. dialects of'thi country Never ;once resort to'-. dress of n wormi'n. She. played the'- game; out.' oh. tin line she had ahlioipfi'ted atul in the guise of n man, sht met men on their own ground.- Her hardships journey througb, hart "a her. and when she returned she was far, frore the healthy, rosy faced youth who started out on that perilous journey. Six weeks later she cnme Into the Russian through an outpost near Anping in' time to in the great" eight days' Liao Tang. The fame of her eiplolt curried .-.round the "wo rid; in the days that wed. The persons who saw her noticed the had come over her young from the service she bad undergone. The pace of Tvar had told', but it was not because of her sex. for no could h.n.ve stood more. Jn the fighting that followed she was active at every.. point and refused to take any of the time to recuperate which was offered her. In one of those when the Russians were being driven buck from on ft 'of their best a position which -was ndvantageons to the retreating general. It is told that she took her stand at the bend, of the men and endeav- ored to mlly them around .hsr. She held the position. with this little body of soldiers for some, time, and-the adjoining wings were able to retreat in better order 5n consequence of her bravery. But when night came down "Michael" Smolka -was missing and the search was begun. i There wore plenty of men who wonld brave the ter- ror of search between, lines for the sake of officer, whom they all had learned to :ove. Men were found' who had seen her fall, and sconts searching for tha woundad found her at the foot of a hill, with a great wound in her little body and her pale, wan iace turned toward the stars, a mere shell of her former self. That night I met General Shadorfsky. a man who had been very kind to me during the entire campaign, returning from Field Marshal Kuropatkin's. head quar- ters. Ht told me with great pleasure that the Cross their own force, trying to hold some walled, cattle of George had been conferred upon this little wom- yurds-at the edge of the village. It was a move so an Bnl hcr reward came too late, and even then I and so quickly executed that got through toW n-lcl t-uc rumor of her death, although It had unscathed and. rallying the Russian's, succeeded la confirmed. Her great ambition had been "the other s'ide. driving the Japanese- from the tov.-n. Daylight would rcaiizftii. She never kccw of her great honor, but put them at the mercy of the little yellow men, uow- sonx.wnere jn one of those Kussian towns an old father was made proud and sad by the same despatch. Buried a.Soldier. Kigbt and left stretched rows and rows of heaps of fresh earth, the mute tokens of the thousands that had been sacrificed. Close at bond was a narrow trench somewhat apart from the others. On one side lav a rough hewn log of wood, with a piece of metal naV.ed to It, bearing the inscription that related who it was that lay in the grave It should mark. .With thc sobbing dirge and throbbing dmm. the men of her own command drew nigh, a little picked body. halted-by the gash In the earth. From the other direction appeared men of such distinction that a stranger would have wondered to be told that only a staff officer of no high rank was about to be buried, Slowly, they gathered about the spot, and a gray fog, the battle smoke stale in its bosom, came rolling slowly down, dimming the scene. Wrapped in her own crimson stclaed cloak she lay, the colors of the empire hiding the horror of her wonnds. and In her face was n womanliness, a sweet- a tenderness that belied thc tale of her deeds. At her head stood a grizzled general who hnd fought tcrestlng laws of trajectory and gravity, she had been of the reconnoitring movement, la thc heart of a number of engagements and In the report of trsry cse "Mlcfcnel" Smolka received credit for soTE5 act that characterized a brave soldier. Fc-r iiiauiiiCis a bcdy of cavalry was crossing a ford Just bc-icw n village set on a hill, and a body of Japsncs? doing Its host to cut "Michael" Orderly Phoio by Archibald young cavalrymen went down suddenly near '_ the bank. One was shot out of bis saddle, while the ever, and as quickly as possible they evacuaten, ;pflr- oilier had his horse shot under him and could sued by the Japanese. Invoked thc blessing: of God on her country, the great ,jown raler of It and on her at anza. Sho fRid that coulci rider? ns rapidly as possible bvfcro iaey" tbs shcitsr of the hummocks rockB on- to serve some special purpose, perhaps coanectlng t beads when nfto otfae: Oao of the oSJcers bad been vrouaded In the fight side by side with her father and after thc last passage of thc Ikon he began to speak and told thc simple story of her sacrifice. ,Whcn be bad announced the conferring of the Cross Of St. Gsorge upon her and ended by rcgrcttfng that; sho had not lived to receive the decoration stcppsc from the ranks behind hiiu tbe one TQSO In all the Uttlc fcroup who bore it, and taking his otvn order ;