Wednesday, December 03, 2014

December 3rd, 1914

- Today Joffre receives a message from Grand Duke Nicholas, Commander in Chief of the Russian Army.  The latter complains that inadequate pressure by the French on the Western Front has allowed the Germans to transfer significant forces to the Eastern Front, and that if further redeployments occurred the Russian army would have to cease offensive operations and dig entrenchments similar to those in the West.

- In central Poland the Russian III Caucasian Corps begins to move northwards towards Belchatow, occupied today by Austro-Hungarian cavalry, in order to strike the southern flank of the advance of the right wing of the German 9th Army and the left wing of the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army.  Radio messages indicating the planned counterattack are intercepted, however, which allows the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army to plan an attack of its own to pre-empt the Russian operation.  As the front north of Krakow has settled into trench warfare, the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army is able to order the redeployment of its 27th Division northwards to assist 4th Army.

- South of Krakow today the right wing of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army, under the overall command of General Joseph Roth and consisting of XIV Corps and Nagy's cavalry divisions, push eastward today after defeating the Russians at Dobra yesterday, and capture Limanowa.  However, though the southern flank of the Russian 3rd Army has given way, its centre stymies further Austro-Hungarian attacks today.

The Battle of Limanowa-Lapanow, December 1914.

- When the Serbian counteroffensive is launched this morning, it strikes the Austro-Hungarian armies at a particularly opportune moment.  The occupation of Belgrade has stretched it to the northeast, leaving 6th Army with a longer front to cover.  Moreover, the Austro-Hungarian supply situation is dire, as both food and ammunition are scarce, and the infantry are tired from the constant advance of the past month.  The destruction of bridges and roads by the retreating Serbs has also held up heavy artillery, and thus most of the line cannot count on artillery fire for support.

Thus when the infantry of the Serbian 1st Army attack out of the morning mist at 7am, they are able to immediately shatter the lines.  By nightfall all three corps of the Austro-Hungarian 6th Army are on the retreat.  The response of General Potiorek is sluggish, as information is scarce and he believes only one corps of 6th Army has been seriously engaged.

The Serbian counteroffensive, December 3rd to 12th, 1914.

- Today the troop convoy from Australia and New Zealand arrives at Alexandria.  The soldiers begin to disembarck, and the first move by train to Cairo where their encampment is located.

Australian soldiers arriving at Alexandria, December 3rd, 1914.

- Having rounded Cape Horn, yesterday the German East Asiatic Squadron came across and seized an English sailing vessel with 2800 tons of coal, and this morning the squadron anchors off Picton Island.  Admiral Spee, cognizant of the uncertainty of access to coal in the Atlantic, decides to take the time to parcel out the seized coal among his five ships.

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