Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 20th, 1914

- Reconnaissance today gives to French and British commanders in Flanders the first indications of German units transferring from the Western Front eastwards.

- In the North Sea the armoured cruisers of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron have been suffering as they continued the work of enforcing the naval blockade of Germany.  In many respects these warships are unsuited for the task - outdated, they are prone to breakdown and could not hope to catch a fast modern vessel should one try to break the blockade line.  Today the Admiralty decides to replace these armoured cruisers with merchant ships pressed into government service and armed with light guns.  These vessels are better-suited to the poor weather of the North Sea, and their numbers can be more easily augmented as compared to armoured cruisers.

- The day prior to the fighting at Sahil, the British cabinet had designated the capture of the Ottoman city of Basra as the main objective of Indian Expeditionary Force D, though Lord Crewe, Secretary of State for India, had clarified the instructions such that a move against Basra ought to be undertaken only if doing so was practical under the circumstances.  Today the commander of IEF D reports that continuing problems and delays with the landing of horses, ammunition, and supplies rendered an immediate advance unlikely.  However, the Ottoman commander of 38th Division, tasked with the defence of Basra and the surrounding region, decides today to make the situation much easier for his British counterpart by hastily and precipitously abandoning Basra and withdrawing northwards along the Shatt al-Arab.

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