Saturday, December 06, 2014

December 6th, 1914

- Joffre sends a reply today to Grand Duke Nicholas' telegram of the 3rd, assuring the commander-in-chief of the Russian army that the French will shortly resume major offensive operations, once weapons appropriate to the new conditions resembling siege warfare are assembled.  At the same time he receives another report from the Operations Bureau recommending attacks in Artois and either Champagne or near Verdun.  This encapsulates the basic framework of the operation Joffre and his staff now begin to plan - a drive by the French 10th Army from the vicinity of Arras towards Cambrai, and an advance in Champagne east of Rheims by the French 4th Army from Suippes to Rethel.

- Overnight Russian forces at Lodz have abandoned the city and retreated eastward, and when wireless intercepts reveal the situation to the Germans, elements of 9th Army occupy the city.  The retreat, however, is not a precipitate withdrawal - the advance of the right wing of the German 9th Army and the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army had resulted in Lodz forming a bulge in the front, and by retreating the Russians can shorten their line and establish themselves on defensible positions on the Bzura and Rawka Rivers west of Warsaw.  Indeed, for the past several days the centre and left of the German 9th Army has been battering itself against the Russian positions on the lower Bzura to no avail.  Further, the Russian forces opposite the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army remain in place, frustrating the hope for a further advance.  By abandoning Lodz, the Russians are in a better position to defend the remainder of Poland.

German soldiers marching through Lodz, December 6th, 1914.

- Southeast of Krakow further Austro-Hungarians attacks by Roth's forces on the Russian defences fail to achieve a breakthrough or turn the enemy's southern flank.  However, the continued pressure convinces the commander of the Russian 3rd Army to pull back the two corps that still faced westward between Wisniowa and Wieliczka.  Meanwhile reconnaissance reports from elements of the 10th Cavalry Division report significant Russian forces in Neusandez, but General Roth's focus remains the attack northwards - he has been ordered to continue the offensive in this direct irregardless of the threat to his own flank.

Operations of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army during the Battle of
Limanowa-Lapanow, December 6th to 9th, 1914.

- To the southeast the commander of the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army is planning an operation aimed at recapturing Bartfeld, lost on the 1st.  Though his army is exhausted, the apparent redeployment of elements of the Russian 8th Army westwards has opened a window of opportunity to go over to the attack.  However, today Conrad orders the left wing of 3rd Army to advance on Neusandez to support the offensive of 4th Army.  The commander of 3rd Army knows his force is not capable of attacking Bartfeld and moving to Neusandez simultaneously, so he asks Conrad which operation he should undertake first.  In an evasion typical of Conrad, he replies that the choice is at 3rd Army's discretion.

- Romanian Prime Minister Bratianu refuses today an Entente request to guarantee the independence of Greece against Bulgarian aggression.

- A small Ottoman force of twenty-four Russian-speaking cavalrymen attempt a raid today near Odessa on the Black Sea coast.  Landing at Akkerman and dressed in Russian uniforms, their objective is to cut a key railway before escaping into neutral Romania.  The attempt is a complete failure as every Ottoman soldier is rounded up shortly after making landfall.

- Early today reinforcements reach the detachment of Indian Expeditionary Force D encamped just south of Qurna on the opposite bank.  Reconnaissance has revealed that Ottoman soldiers numbering over a thousand have reoccupied the trenches to the north that the British had captured and then evacuated on the 4th.  The local British commander decides that these Ottomans will need to be defeated to secure the west bank of the river, the necessary prerequisite to then crossing the river to seize the town of Qurna itself.

- Admiral Spee convenes a meeting of his captains as the German East Asiatic Squadron continues to anchor off Picton Island.  Believing that the Falklands Islands are unprotected, de proposes an attack on Port Stanley to destroy the wireless station, burn any stocks of coal (the bunkers of his ships now being full), and capture the British governor to balance the British seizure of the governor of German Samoa.  Only the captain of Nürnberg supports the plan - the other captains wish to avoid the Falklands and pursue Entente shipping off the River Platte.  Spee, however, overrules his captains and they sail this afternoon to attack Port Stanley on the morning of December 8th.  It is a fateful, and for many a fatal, decision.

1 comment:

  1. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.