By EDWARD W. BEATTIE, United Press Staff Correspondent
ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 4, 1935 (UP) -- Italy's legions and Ethiopia's warriors are locked in a desperate pitched battle on the Aduwa front, it was announced officially today.
Italian infantry, machine guns, tanks and airplanes are attacking Maibaria, on the northern front between Aduwa, the main objective, and Aksum, 42 miles to the west.
It was reported here that the fall of Aduwa is imminent. Italian troops hold the Shire Hills dominating the Aduwa plain about 10 miles from the threatened city. The Ethiopians were said to have admitted a heavy reverse on the northern front.
The Italians occupied Mt. Ramant this morning and fighting started at Maibaria, behind the 30-kilometer (18.63 mile) neutral zone to which Emperor Haile Selassie I withdrew his soldiers, so that there could be no doubt who was responsible for any attack.
Ethiopia's warriors are facing the Italians on three fronts, north, east and south in expectation of a drive on Harar, the great strategic center in the east, after the occupation of Aduwa.
Ethiopia is preparing for a finish fight. Men mobilized by the war drums are concentrating at three points - men from the south at Harar, men from the north at Dessye, men from the central country at Addis Ababa. It will take 18 days to complete the mobilization.
The warriors are moving with astonishing speed and hordes of men with motley assortments of arms are arriving here on their way to the front.
Air raids were feared at any hour on the capital, defended by nine anti-aircraft guns, and on half a dozen towns in the interior, including Harar, Diredawa, Jigjigga and Awash--almost all completely undefended.
Blatten Getta Herouy, foreign minister, in an angry note to the League of Nations, protested that Italy for months had been making ready for "open massacre of women and children," and denounced Italian bombardment of undefended towns.
Fragmentary reports from the frontier districts indicated that the comparatively few Ethiopians scattered along the fronts before overwhelmingly superior Fascist forces were defending themselves manfully.
The government pinned its hope on its carefully worked out plan of guerilla warfare under which its men, scattered loosely over the rough terrain leading up to the inner plateau, would retire before the Italians and seek to oppose them only by sniping, raiding at night and harassing communications.
Addis Ababa expected a savage attack from the air at any time. Many people spent last night in the open. Cornelius Van H. Engert, American charge d'affairs, provided a large American flag to be stretched out on the flat roof of the largest hotel where Americans live.
A special train with steam up waited at the station to evacuate members of the Italian legation staff who awaited the arrival of consular agents from Debra Markos, in the Lake Tana area. Prince Ruffo of the legation told United Press that arrangements have been made with she emperor for evacuation of all the staff as soon as the Debra Markos contingent arrived
A heavy force of the Ethiopian imperial guard protected the legation.
Reports from the fronts indicated the following situation:
North: Italian columns converging on Aduwa and Adigrat following up yesterday's bloody aerial bombardment in which women and children were victims.
Northeast: Ninety-five Italian tanks and many airplanes concentrated on Assab front around Mt. Mussa Ali, down in the corner where Eritrea, French Somaliland and Ethiopia meet, ready for a drive straight southwest toward Harar.
Southeast: Italians beginning to move up Webbe Shibeli River bed northwestward from Ualual area to join with forces from north, to occupy French-owned Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway and thus cut Addis Ababa off from the sea.
Most serious fighting was reported from the Aussa area and eastward of Aduwa.
But these reports were fragmentary and uncertain. Some of them indicated that the Italians have advanced from the Mt. Mussa Ali area inland and there met Ethiopians in pitched battle.
All reports emphasized the hopeless odds which the Ethiopians face and the indomitable courage with which men, women and children were prepared to fight and die.
The greatest fear was of Italian air raids.
The towns menaced are unfortified; they have no defense at all against the Italian bombs. All the population can do is await the hum of distant planes and the terrific explosion of the bombs.
The foreign diplomats who privately called yesterday's air raid on Aduwa "unbelievable brutality" waited with Ethiopians for the expected attack on the capital. Some suggested that if a raid did come, it would not be until the Italian legation staff had been evacuated.
There are seven anti-aircraft guns stationed at Adama, half an hour's ride down the railway from Addis Ababa and two here. These are the capital's defenses.
Pitifully small expeditions were leaving the capital with ammunition for the fronts. Six truckloads were sent early today from the northern front.
Reports from Aduwa continued to tell of slaughter in the undefended town in two Italian air raids yesterday, led by Count Galeazzo Ciano, Premier Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. It was charged directly still that the Italians made the Red Cross Hospital their target and that 15 houses were destroyed at Aduwa and 100 at Adigrat to the east.
Two notes of protest were cabled to the League of Nations at Geneva.
Following yesterday's mobilization call, the emperor released all convicts for army service. They had clamored for a chance to show their love of country.
Tribal groups from the southwest and west were marching to join those who have passed through and around the capital for the fronts, called from their farms by the war drums that took up the mobilization call from the old palace.