Monday, October 13, 2014

October 13th, 1914

- As the Belgians continue their retreat to the Yser River, tonight the British 7th Division is at Roulers, with the British 3rd Cavalry Division to the south covering its movement towards Ypres.  Meanwhile, this morning the British III Corps completes its assembly at Hazebrouck, and begins its advance at 1030am.  Though its objective is a line running north from Armentières, the corps encounters serious German opposition by elements of two cavalry divisions at the village of Meteren.  It is not until nightfall that the village is captured, the Germans retreating in good order while inflicting 708 casualties on the British.  Just to the north, the British Cavalry Corps clears German defenders off of Mont Noir.

On the German side, XIX Corps marches through Lille today on its way to the front, while the four reserve corps of 4th Army are detraining at Brussels.

- The offensive by General Mudra's XVI Corps in the Argonne west of Verdun has made only painfully slow progress.  Despite the use of new weaponry such as Minenwerfers and hand grenades, it is only today that the first line of French trenches has been taken.  The inability of new technology to immediately transform the battlefield is a theme that will recur in the years to come.

- In an effort to prod General Ivanov to attack, Grand Duke Nicholas reassigns 2nd and 5th armies to General Ruzski of North-West Front.  All this accomplishes in practice is to divide command of the operation, and over the prior two months the Russians have shown themselves singularly incapable of co-ordinating the efforts of separate commanders.

- In South Africa, in response to Maritz's declaration of rebellion, Christian de Wet, C. F. Beyers, and J. C. G. Kemp renew contact with each other, and discuss joining Maritz's revolt.

- At the Admiralty, First Lord Churchill discusses the continued pursuit of the German East Asiatic Squadron with the First Sea Lord, Prince Louis of Battenberg.  Their understanding is that Craddock will concentrate his ships at the Falklands Islands, and approve the formation of a second squadron.  They also conclude that Craddock understands that if his squadron is not strong enough to engage the German East Asiatic Squadron by itself, he will endeavour to shadow them until reinforcements arrive.  This is a crucial misunderstanding by the First Lord and First Sea Lord.  Craddock had been given orders on September 14th to destroy the German cruisers, a directive that had never been countermanded and which Craddock felt bound to obey regardless of the strength of the warships under his command.

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