Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11th, 1914

- At 4am, Moltke departs OHL to visit the headquarters of 3rd through 5th armies.  At 5th Army, its commander Crown Prince Wilhelm assures Moltke that the situation is satisfactory, and paints an overly-rosy picture of the previous days' assault.  At 11am he arrives at 3rd Army headquarters, where General Hausen argues that his force can hold its ground, despite several divisions being pushed back by Foch's 9th Army.  Moltke, however, is concerned that the overstretched 3rd Army is barely combat effective.  Just before 1pm Moltke arrives at 4th Army headquarters, where Duke Albrecht says he is confident he can hold his position and can loan units to 3rd Army to his west to shore up Hausen's line.  While there, however, a message from Bülow arrives, stating that indications are the French are driving on Vitry-le-François, which poses a grave threat to 3rd Army.  Moltke again gives in to his innate pessimism - fearing that 3rd Army is about to be shattered, he orders 3rd through 5th armies to retreat in conformity with 1st and 2nd Army.  Thus the retreat of German forces now encompasses all those west of Verdun.  Ground bitterly fought over and won in recent days is now yielded to the enemy and, his defeat now comprehensive, Moltke returns to the gloom of OHL.

The Germans are able to make good their retreat, as, despite a series of short, sharp fights between cavalry and German rearguards, the exhausted British and French forces remain unable to bring the bulk of the German armies to battle.  A sudden rainfall and cold snap further impedes the Entente advance, deep mud slows horse-drawn carts and artillery.  Clouds and mist, meanwhile, prevent aerial reconnaissance, leaving the Entente commanders in the dark as to German dispositions.  Crucially they are in the dark as to whether the Germans are in a disorganized rout or are conducting a well-managed retreat and likely to halt and fight in the next couple of days.  Overall, the British and French forces advance only fifteen kilometres.

- In Lorraine, under pressure from the counterattack of the French 2nd Army, the German 6th Army falls back from before Nancy.  Advancing French columns are able to reoccupy villages that the Germans had spent so much blood capturing in the previous week, and the Germans have left behind mountains of ammunition along with large numbers of wounded in their retreat.  However narrowly, the German threat to Nancy has been driven off, which allows Joffre to redeploy units as necessary from his right to his left.

- With the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army in full retreat, and the Russian 5th Army pouring around his northern flank unopposed, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army orders a retreat to the southwest today to avoid encirclement.  With two armies now retiring, even Conrad is able to realize that his armies in Galicia have suffered a decisive defeat, and understands that the continued advance in particular of the Russian 5th Army threatens their annihilation.  Facing the inevitable, Conrad orders all of his armies to retreat to the San River.  The retreat is chaotic and disorderly - no preparations had been made for a retreat, believing it would demoralize the soldiers, so roads are overcrowded and massive amounts of food and supplies have to be burnt as there is no transportation available to move them westwards.  Total casualties for both sides combined in the Battle of Rawa-Ruska are approximately 150 000.

The Austro-Hungarian retreat after the Battle of Rawa-Ruska, Sept. 11th to 26th, 1914.

- The Australian Squadron arrives this morning off Rabaul on the island of New Pommerania (modern New Britain), capital of the German colony of New Guinea (the colony also included Kaiser Wilhelmsland on the island of New Guinea itself, and other surrounding islands).  Naval reservists are sent ashore, and while Rabaul was undefended, a small force of German reservists and indigenous soldiers impeded the Australian advance to the wireless station at Bitapaka, the capture of which was a key reason for the invasion.  After several hours of fighting, the German force is defeated, and the wireless station occupied.

German New Guinea.

No comments:

Post a Comment