Saturday, September 20, 2014

September 20th, 1914

- Along the Aisne River the Germans undertake a series of major attacks against the positions of the BEF and the French 5th and 6th armies.  In particular, the German VII Reserve Corps of 7th Army, having just arrived at the front, throws its full strength against the British.  After initial gains, the British are able to recover the lost ground by nightfall, though at a cost of 1800 casualties.  On both sides, the French armies are also able to hold their ground.

- The second part of Falkenhayn's planned assaults on the flanks of Verdun begins today when Army Detachment Strantz launches its attack south of the French fortifications.  Advancing across the Woëvre, a flat plain between the Moselle River to the east and the Meuse River to the west, the detachment's objectives are to reach the Meuse River, secure a position on the nearby hills, and cut one of the two railways that connect to Verdun that remain under French control.  Despite the importance of this stretch of the front line, it is poorly-defended, with only the 75th Reserve Division present.  The region was at the border between two French armies - 3rd to the north and 1st to the south - who both had higher priorities and had their attention focused elsewhere.  Finally, the ongoing redeployment of forces from the east to the northwest by Joffre had left areas such as this with insufficient defenders.  Thus the German attacks this morning are overwhelmingly successful - the forward defensive lines are all captured and the 75th Reserve Division is shattered beyond repair.  The Germans thus advance southwestward into the gap they have blown in the French line.

The German attacks on the flanks of Verdun, September 1914.
The large salient created by the attack towards St. Mihiel is
clearly visible, and in the northwest is the attack begun
yesterday by XVI Corps.

- As the diminished German 8th Army advances into Russia towards the Niemen River, the right wing reaches the fortifications at Ossowietz today, and begin to besiege them.

The region between East Prussia and the Niemen River in Russia, location
of the advance of the German 8th Army after the Battle of the Masurian

- The funeral of J. H. De La Rey is held today in Lichtenburg, South Africa.  Among the speakers is C. F. Beyers, who was beside De La Rey when he was shot.  The latter's death having derailed their plans, Beyers urges his fellow Boers in the crowd to obey the decision of Parliament regarding the invasion of German South-West Africa.  J. C. G. Kemp feels likewise - he attempted unsuccessfully to rescind his resignation from the army.  With Lt.-Col. Martiz of Force B unready at present to revolt with his men, it appears that the prospects of a rebellion against the government have fizzled out.

- The German light cruiser Königsberg, after several weeks in the Indian Ocean, launches a surprise raid on Zanzibar off the west African coast.  She fortuitously catches the British light cruiser Pegasus in the harbour repairing her boilers.  Unable to sail, Pegasus is rapidly destroyed by Königsberg.

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