Tuesday, December 09, 2014

December 9th, 1914

- The French government returned to Paris today from Bordeaux, to which it had fled in the dark days before the Battle of the Marne.

- While there are no significant gains by either side in the fighting between the Russians and the Austro-Hungarians north of Limanowa, the lead elements of General Szurmay's group from the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army, marching northwest, come within twenty kilometres of Neusandez while Bartfeld, largely abandoned by the Russians, is occupied today.  The indecision over whether to prioritize Bartfeld or Neusandez has cost Szurmay's group about a day.  Conrad typically blames 3rd Army commander, though it was his own refusal to make a decision that created the delay.

- This afternoon General Potiorek admits to Vienna and Army High Command that 6th Army is beaten and must withdraw from Serbia, two of its corps sufficiently shattered as to require two to three weeks of rest to recover.  He still hopes, however, that 5th Army, which has not yet been the target of major Serbian assaults, may yet be able to hold Belgrade and a bridgehead south of the Danube and Sava.

- At 130pm this afternoon a formal surrender ceremony is held at Qurna, with 45 Ottoman officers and 989 Ottoman soldiers marching into captivity.  The newest conquest of Indian Expeditionary D is not much of a town - surrounded by marshes, its British garrison will find itself spending as much time building flood defenses as military defences.  As for the Ottomans, the defenders of Qurna that withdrew yesterday have retreated northwards along the Tigris to Amara, while the remnants of the 38th Division that had fled Basra are now at Nasiriya on the Euphrates.  The British now have firm control over the Shatt al-Arab region, which brings a close to the first phase of the war in Mesopotamia.

- In western German Kamerun, the French column that occupied Nola on October 29th today occupies Baturi.  The force has continued to advance over the past month, primarily because it needs to eat off the land and thus cannot stay in any one place for long.  However, the further it moves into German territory the more difficult communications become - there is no wireless or telegraph links, nor railways messengers can travel over.  Thus a message from Baturi will take over a month, making effective co-ordination of the different Entente columns moving against German Kamerun impossible.

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