Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24th, 1914

- Three days after the first attempt to bombard England from the air, at 1045am a single German Friedrichshafen FF 29 seaplane appears over Dover, flying at fifty miles per hour.  At the limit of its fifty-mile range, it carries only four 2kg bombs, which it drops near Dover Castle.  Instead of striking the landmark, they fall nearby and destroy the vegetable garden of local auctioneer Tommy Terson, who suffers minor injuries.  For the first time enemy bombs have exploded on English soil.

A German Friedrichshafen FF 29 seaplane.

- At 5am this morning, Commodore Tyrwhitt's force, consisting of three seaplane carriers, three light cruisers, and eight destroyers, sails from Harwich, bound for Heligoland Bight.  To maintain the secrecy of the raid, no preliminary warning was given to the warships before they sailed, and some have left behind stewards who had gone ashore to purchase turkeys and geese for Christmas Day.

- For the past six days the German 9th Army has been assaulting the Russian line west of Warsaw between Sochaczew on the Bzura River and Bolimov on the Rawka River, in an effort to break through to Poland's largest city.  Wave after wave of German infantry have crossed the two rivers, often in frigid water up to their chests, to assault Russian lines on the far bank.  Though in a few cases certain section of the Russian trench line were seized, at no time were the Germans able to pierce the enemy front.  9th Army has suffered over 100 000 casualties in failing to break through, and at one point a tributary of the Rawka River stopped flowing, blocked by a dam of German dead.  It now being obvious that Warsaw will not be in German hands for Christmas, Ludendorff calls off the attacks.

- In the Caucasus the occupation of Bardiz today by the Ottoman 29th Division of IX Corps masks growing problems with Enver's offensive.  Moving through heavy snow and in frigid conditions, thousands are already being lost to the elements; 17th Division of IX Corps reports that as much as 40% of its soldiers have fallen behind, some undoubtedly disappearing into the drifts of snow.  X Corps to the north, meanwhile is exhausted, but two of its divisions are pushed northwards towards Ardahan before Enver orders it to redirect itself westwards to cover IX Corps left flank.  29th Division, meanwhile, is given no rest - Enver instructs it to march immediately on Sarikamish, not only to complete the envelopment of the Russian forces facing XI Corps but because the Ottoman units need to seize Russian supplies if they are not to run out of food and starve.

On the Russian side, I Caucasian and II Turkestan Corps are in the line facing XI Corps when Enver begins his offensive, the former to the south of the latter.  The first response of General Bergmann, commander of I Caucasian Corps, had been to order his force to advance westward in an attempt to threaten the rear of the Ottoman IX and X Corps.  General Nikolai Yudenich, Chief of Staff of the Russian Caucasus Army, is better able to understand the threat the Ottoman advance poses to Sarikamish, and orders I Caucasian Corps to instead withdraw today while moving reinforcements to concentrate at the threatened town.

The Battle of Sarikamish, December 24th, 1914.

No comments:

Post a Comment