Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12th, 1914

- Finding the town abandoned by Entente forces, Ghent is occupied early this morning by General Beseler's III Reserve Corps.  To the west, the Belgian army continues its retreat to the Yser, while the French Marine Brigade's objective is Dixmude.  The British 3rd Cavalry Division continues to cover the movement of 7th Division, the latter arriving at Thielt this evening, the two having been ordered to link up with the rest of the British Expeditionary Force at Ypres.

- East of Béthune, General Smith-Dorrien's II Corps moves through a thick early morning fog, finding clustered in farmyards and along hedgerows the French cavalrymen they are to relieve.  As the fog lifts late morning the British soldiers continue a cautious advance in the direction of La Bassée and Lille.  They are opposed by the German 1st and 2nd Cavalry Corps, who harass the British with sniper fire and inflict significant casualties.  The pace of the advance is slower than planned, and II Corps is also being pulled southward - a German attack last night forced French defenders back south of the line Béthune-La Bassée, forcing Smith-Dorrien to deploy a brigade south of the canal connecting the two towns and adjusted the line of march to be eastward instead of northeast in order to maintain contact with the French XIX Corps.

- To the north, the British III Corps spends the day assembling at Hazebrouck, but the transportation problems that have plagued its redeployment continue - buses ordered to assist in bringing up the last forces from St. Omer do not arrive until midday.  As a result, the corps is not able to begin its advance, intended to sweep north of Lille, today as originally ordered.

- At Lille, the German artillery bombardment continues until 445am, at which point XIX Corps attacks.  The French territorials offer spirited resistance, and it is only in the evening that 181st Regiment forces its way into the city itself.  The situation now hopeless, the French garrison surrenders, and 4500 soldiers march into German captivity.  The capture of Lille is a significant achievement, not only in advancing the front, but in subtracting the substantial manufacturing capacity of the city from the French war effort.

- In Poland, General Mackensen's XVII Corps, on the left of 9th Army, marches towards Warsaw in an effort to aggressively secure the army's flank.  The Russians fall back before Mackensen's advance, with the 2nd Army retreating to Warsaw itself.  This sparks talk of the Germans occupying Warsaw, which ignores the distinct numerical superiority of the Russians throughout Poland.

- In the early hours of the morning, the German light cruiser Dresden arrives at Easter Island, completing its voyage from the Atlantic.  Later in the day, the German East Asiatic Squadron arrives as well.  The island is nominally a possession of Chile, but in practice is governed by the British subject Percy Edmonds, manager of the island's sheep and cattle ranch.  The island has no wireless and its only contact with the outside world is a Chilean supply vessel that arrives only twice a year.  As a result, Edmonds has no idea that the greatest war in human history is raging across the world, and thus is happy to supply the Germans with fresh meat and vegetables.  He also gladly accepts payment in checks payable by a German bank in Valparaíso.

- In London a Cabinet Committee on Munitions has been formed and meets for the first time today, and include amongst its members Lord Kitchener, David Lloyd George, and Winston Churchill.  The purpose of the committee is to examine the supply of munitions for the army, on the assumption that the war will be lengthy.

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