Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17th, 1914

- At Ypres the German 4th Division launch a heavy infantry attack against the British 3rd Division today, but they are repulsed with heavy losses.  With this failure, and considering the deteriorating weather and exhaustion of his soldiers, Duke Albrecht, commander of the German 4th Army, concludes that further attacks would be futile and suspends offensive operations.  Instead he orders 4th Army to focus on the construction of trenches and defensive positions, and begin to rotate units out of the line to provide for rest.

- Today sees the first serious fighting near Krakow as a result of the Austro-Hungarian offensive.  The entirety of both 1st and 4th Armies are committed to the attack today, but make very little progress, the Russians having had sufficient time to construct defensive positions.  By the end of the day the conditions of trench warfare prevailed along the entire front of the two Austro-Hungarian armies.

- Yesterday the Austro-Hungarian 5th and 6th Armies reached the Kolubara River, and today assault the Serbian defensive positions on the east bank.  The two sides fight in appalling weather, with heavy rain and snowfall - visibility is reduced and significant numbers of soldiers dying of frostbite and exposure.

- In an effort to secure its support in the war, the British government offers Bulgaria the entirety of Macedonia, part of which currently belongs to Serbia.  Though the British pledge to compensate Serbia with territory elsewhere, Russia objects to forcing its Balkan ally to hand over territory.

- At 515am this morning the two brigades of Indian Expeditionary Force D begin an advance upriver from its base camp at Saihan, and by 830am encounter an Ottoman force of several thousand who seek to block their way.  The initial attack of the Indian brigades accomplishes little - a sudden rainstorm turns the battlefield into mud, and their artillery rather unhelpfully fires on mirages.  Fortunately for the British, the Ottomans opposite are in even worse shape.  Mesopotamia is an isolated backwater of the Ottoman Empire, starved of supplies and soldiers - most of the Ottoman infantry here are composed of Arab levies who desert at an alarmingly high rate.  When several British gunboats move up the Shatt al-Arab and begin to fire into the Ottoman positions, the Ottoman forces break and retreat, handing victory to IEF D.

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