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Italian general staff confident of occupying Aduwa

By WEBB MILLER, United Press Staff Correspondent

WITH THE ITALIAN ARMY IN ETHIOPIA, via Asmara, Oct. 5, 1935 (UP) -- The general staff expects that Aduwa will be occupied before nightfall. Objectives of the armies in the north have been attained almost without incident. All columns are on the advance. On Ethiopian soil with the army, I have watched the thousands of men poring into Ethiopia eager to take the town at which an Italian army was slaughtered 39 years ago. Hundreds of miles of Ethiopian territory are in Italian hands.

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The columns are pushing ahead under a burning sun and in clouds of dust. Nearly as fast as they go laborers follow and start building roads into the Ethiopian interior.

The penetration into Ethiopia on the road toward Aduwa is proceeding under difficulties. Fresh Blackshirt troops and Askari recruits move up in columns that stretch out for miles and miles under the blazing sun. The going is arduous along the narrow donkey and camel trail studded with stones.

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We made ground over these trails but they were impassable for the motor transport we had and we had to go on foot. Thousands of Italian engineers and laborers are frantically rolling the stones away and cutting down the thorny trees which line the roads in a Herculean effort to widen the trail and open it to trucks. The road is being made at a rate of six miles a day.

The engineers are building stone passageways across the rivers. Several hundred were working at high pressure all night to make one such crossing over the Belesa River. This morning a truck was driven across it, marking the successful completion of the night's work.

Five-inch artillery already has been moved up to the Belesa River and I saw the Askaris' camel corps make the crossing.

In some places along the crowded trails, the powdered dust was six inches thick. About mid-morning I saw a Caproni bomber fly overhead in the direction of Aduwa.

A thousand men of the Black Shirt infantry, stained with dust, were winding through the defiles in two single files. At their sides came a long column of mules, laden with machine guns, and the animals were slipping and falling along the rough trail.

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Large herds of cattle are being driven along with the troops for food.

At the Belesa River, engineers heaved stones from hand to hand in a line stretching out for a hundred yards to make a firm crossing for the on-rolling army. The river is shallow and about 30 yards wide. We crossed it by car along a ford and continued along the other side into the broad Assamo plain inhabited for the most part by hyenas, snakes and jackals.

After the expected capture of Aduwa, it is believed the columns will make a halt to consolidate their position and to make roads for commencing the second stage of the advance, counter resistance and sniping is expected to begin.

I neither heard or saw any resistance nor any casualties except for a dead camel beside the trail.

By nightfall probably another thousand square miles will be under Italian occupation. Ethiopian civilians are accepting the situation stolidly and the only emotion visible is wide-eyed curiosity. White-clad Ethiopian girls were tranquilly getting water out of the Belesa River, when I passed, within a few yards of the sweating Italian engineers.

Before I left headquarters this morning, Italian aviators returning from a reconnaissance flight reported that Ethiopian troops are concentrating near Aduwa and that another column of several thousand was near Edagahumus, nine miles southeast of Adigrat. In the region of Bircutan other Ethiopian soldiers were bombed and Daratacle, 10 miles north of Aduwa, was bombarded with scores of small bombs.

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Dispatches received here from Rome and Addis Ababa, disclosed that the big drive of the Italian armies in the east has begun, with their objective in the Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway and Harar, the great eastern center.

The United Press correspondent with the Ethiopian army at Diredawa on the railway 30 miles from Harar disclosed that Emperor Haile Selassie warned all foreigners in the area to flee or remain at their own peril, believing that airplane bombing attacks were imminent.

As Italians converged on Aduwa, in the north, from east, north and northeast a picked Ethiopian force under the veteran Ras Sayyoum, one of the finest tacticians in the Ethiopian army, awaited the Italians.

Confident of the early fall of Aduwa -- psychologically the major objective of the entire drive -- Gen. Emillo De Bono, Italian commander-in-chief, is spreading his army westward and one strong Italian force is approaching the broad Takkaze River valley which will take it far south of Aduwa and onto the central plateau of the country east of Lake Tana, heart of the Nile irrigation project. The first phase of the Aduwa drive was completed according to fast tanks and the Askaris moving ahead, the infantry columns were taking position rapidly for the definite assault on Aduwa.

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The army to the west has almost reached the mountain passes which command the Takkaze River valley.

The left wing of the Aduwa force is marching rapidly westward, and probably would be able to reach the hills surrounding the city early tomorrow if not today.

It appeared that the central column commanded by Gen. Alessandro Pirizio-Biroli, commanding the assaulting army, was in position to strike when the word was given.

The left wing was but a few miles from Aduwa-so near that its advance seemed slowed up in order that it would not reach the town too soon.

Italian airplanes and Askari scouts report large bodies of Ethiopian regulars in strong defensive positions ready to put up a finish fight. They are reported to have a number of guns and machine guns in addition to their assorted rifles.

Twelve thousand Ethiopians were moving toward Aduwa, Italian scouts reported. The Italians, however, hoped to take Aduwa before they arrived, and it was indicated that if the Italian plans fructified, the defending force, perhaps including the reinforcements, would be cut off from Ethiopian proper.

If the reinforcements were not cut off, they would be in position to cause considerable trouble and to slow up any Italian advance after Aduwa was taken.

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Reports agreed that the Ethiopians who resisted the Italian advance yesterday were courageous and tenacious but offered little real opposition to the smashing Italian army, equipped with every modern weapon and having every advantage of initiative.

Italian sources reported that the men who occupied Adigrat did so almost without bloodshed because the Ethiopians withdrew without offering strong resistance. This was in line with orders, as Ethiopian strategists know their men can oppose the Italians only with guerrilla tactics.

Italian sources said also that they found Adigrat scarred by the aerial bombardment to which it had been subjected and that they found deep holes, pitted by exploding bombs, where the Ethiopian defending forces had been.

It appeared also that the marksmanship of the Italian bombers had been expert, for the statements said that the civilian dwellings were intact.

The fiercest fighting yesterday appeared to have been in the hills, north of Aduwa, through which the column drove southward.

Italian planes swept over those defenders, it was said, at extremely low altitudes, raining bombs and sweeping the ground with machine gun fire. The Ethiopians, Italian reports said, were brave and stubborn and fired, however ineffectively, at the airplanes.

It was indicated that the movement of the Italian force in the west might assume great importance within the next few days.

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