Friday, October 10, 2014

October 10th, 1914

- The orders for the British II Corps is to advance to cover Béthune, placing it on the left flank of the French 10th Army.  By today, II Corps is in the area Diéval-Pernes between St. Pol and Béthune, with 2nd Cavalry Division to its north and 1st Cavalry Division, having just arrived today, to its south.  To the east, two French cavalry corps have prevented the German I and II Cavalry Corps from advancing beyond a line Béthune-Armentières.

The advance of British units in Flanders to October 15th, 1914

- In Germany the four reserve corps destined to form the core of the new 4th Army begin to entrain for the front.

- This morning German forces begin to occupy Antwerp.  They are surprised by how few prisoners they take - all that remained of the Belgian defenders were the Military Governor, his staff officer, and a few stragglers in the surviving forts.  To the end of the siege the Germans had expected to capture the entire Belgian army at Antwerp, and so the realization that it has escaped mars the German victory.

In Britain the fall of Antwerp leads to sharp criticism being directed at Winston Churchill by the press.  Not only is he, by virtue of his 'trip' to Antwerp, the most prominent minister associated with the defeat at Antwerp, and in particular the loss of several thousand men from the Naval Brigades, but his judgement is questioned regarding his presence at Antwerp at all, seen as an amateur interfering with army operations in the field and that he had cast aside his responsibilities as First Lord of the Admiralty to do so.  There is an undertone of distrust regarding Churchill, whether he can sufficiently restrain his famous enthusiasm for whatever catches his fancy at the moment.

- A conference is held today at Ostend between King Albert, General Pau, the representative of Joffre, and General Rawlinson.  The conclusion is that the present position around Ghent cannot be held for long, considering that the nearest significant Entente force is the BEF beginning to arrive west of Lille, and that retreat is necessary.  Given the battered state of the Belgian army, King Albert wonders if they should not withdraw behind the front lines to southwest of Calais, to allow for rest and recovery.

By nightfall most of the Belgian army has pulled back towards Ostend while the British and French remain at Ghent to cover the withdrawal.  The Germans to the east, however, do not immediately move on Ghent, instead turning eastward in the belief that there is still a substantial Belgian force at Antwerp that needs to be contained.

- In Poland the initial plan regarding the Russian offensive was that the armies committed to the operation - the 2nd, 5th, 4th, and 9th, arrayed north to south from Warsaw to Sandomir - would be prepared to advance today.  Mud and supply shortages, however, have delayed their redeployment, and some units have yet to arrive along the east bank of the Vistula River.  General Ivanov, in command of the offensive, is concerned by the German and Austro-Hungarian advance, and does not wish to engage the enemy until his armies are at full strength.  Grand Duke Nicholas, however, is eager to attack, wanting the armies to cross the Vistula immediately.  However, he has no direct line of communication with Ivanov today, so cannot influence the latter's operations.

- King Carol I of Romania dies today, and is succeeded by his nephew Ferdinand I, who is more favourably inclined to the Entente, and who also is willing to give greater leeway to Prime Minister Ion Bratianu, whose primary foreign policy aim is the acquisition of Austro-Hungarian Transylvania.

- In Austria-Hungary a decree is published today authorizing the Austrian Board of Trade to direct the flow of raw materials and organize industrial production in support of the war effort.  While the decree is a step forward in mobilizing the economy for war, it also reflects a key hindrance to the Austro-Hungarian war effort - the decree applies only to the Austrian portion of the empire, as the Hungarian portion insists on controlling its own wartime economy.  The lack of co-ordination between the two halves of Austria-Hungary is demonstrative of the extent to which the divisions of peacetime persist into the war itself.

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