Sunday, December 07, 2014

December 7th, 1914

- With the occupation of Lodz, General Mackensen desires a pause in operations for his 9th Army, given that it has been in constant combat for a month in poor weather and with few supplies, and he also recognizes that the Russians have withdrawn to a strong defensive position along the Bzura and Rawka Rivers.  Ludendorff, however, insists that the advance continues, with the objective of seizing Warsaw by the end of the year.  He believes that warfare in the East is more mobile than the West, and while generally this is the case, it ignores the specific situation that 9th Army now faces, fighting a defensive line where the Russians have entrenched in strong positions.  Thus 9th Army continues to attack the Russian 1st, 2nd, and 5th Armies opposite, attempting to force river crossings and achieve the breakthrough Ludendorff still believes is possible.

- The Russian 3rd Army pulls its two exposed corps back eastward over the Stradomka River today, a maneouvre that removes the possibility of the southern wing of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army enveloping and annihilating these corps.  Though Conrad is funnelling reinforcements to Roth's group, General Ivanov of South-West Front is doing the same - in addition to the two corps drawn from 8th Army, two additional corps are coming from 9th Army.  Further, the Russian VIII Corps at Neusandez is already attacking westward towards Limanowa against the exposed flank of Roth's group, which remains orientated northwards.

Meanwhile, the Russian 8th Army in the Carpathians consists of little more than XII Corps, as General Brusilov has sent the remainder westward to support the beleaguered 3rd Army.  This means that when several divisions on the eastern wing of the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army attack today, the Russian defenders are pushed back.  However, poor weather and logistical challenges has delayed the planned Austro-Hungarian attack against Bartfeld, while no forces have been yet dispatched towards Neusandez.

- With the tide turning against Austria-Hungary, the Serbian parliament is emboldened today to issue a declaration on its war aims; namely, to liberate all Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenians (known collectively as the South Slavs) within Austria-Hungary and unite them into a single kingdom under Serbian leadership.

- In Lower Mesopotamia the detachment of Indian Expeditionary Force D sent against Qurna advances on the opposite river bank today, clearing Ottoman units out of several trench positions.  By late afternoon the British are on the river opposite Qurna, and spent the rest of the day exchanging fire with the Ottoman garrison of the town.

The Viceroy of India also telegrams London today, endorsing a proclamation at Basra that British occupation of the region will be permanent, and governed as a province of India.

- At 9am this morning the British squadron under the command of Admiral Sturdee sights the Falklands Islands, and his warships, led by Invincible and Inflexible, sail into Port Stanley.  Though the squadron needs coal, only two colliers are available, so the ships will take turns, while the armoured cruiser Cornwall and the light cruiser Bristol extinguish their fires to clean its boilers and repair an engine respectively.  The armed merchant cruiser Macedonia is assigned to patrol outside the harbour, while the armoured cruiser Kent is scheduled to relieve Macedonia at 8am tomorrow morning.

Admiral Sturdee summons his captains to Invincible, where he informs them that the squadron will sail in forty-eight hours - reports have German colliers assembling near Tierra del Fuego, and Sturdee wants to get around Cape Horn before the German East Asiatic Squadron.  Unbeknownst to Sturdee and his captains, fate is about to delivery the German warships right into their hands.

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