Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 16th, 1914

- In the early hours of this morning, the German VII Corps comes into the line north of La Bassée opposite the British II Corps, relieving I and II Cavalry Corps.  Though the British occupy Givenchy today, the advance has been painstakingly slow - the British II Corps is still short of La Bassée, let alone Lille.  To the north, the British III Corps crosses the Lys River, establishing positions several miles to the east.  Here, at least, the Germans appear to be offering little sustained resistance.  At Dixmude, however, the Germans deliver a sharp attack against the French marines defending the town, though the latter hold out.

The fighting here has not yet taken on the distinctive characteristics of later years - instead of a near-lunar landscape in No Man's Land, buildings still remained at least partially intact, and forests still contain most of their trees, giving plenty of opportunities to ambush advancing forces with machine gun fire, especially when firing from upper floors of houses and other structures.  Further, the villages the soldiers march through - both Gheluvelt and Ploegsteert are occupied by the British today - are mere places on a map; it is only in the months and years ahead that such locales take on their darker, more sinister meaning.

- In the face of the growing numerical superiority of the Russian forces at Warsaw, General Mackensen's XVII Corps pulls back from the city today.

- Antonio di San Giuliano, the Italian Foreign Minister, dies today.  Within the Italian government, he had been a voice of moderation, willing to keep open contacts with Germany and Austria-Hungary, and his death tilts the Italian cabinet towards the Entente.

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