Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January 28th, 1915

- A meeting of the War Council in London is scheduled for 1130am.  Beforehand, Churchill receives a letter of resignation from Fisher over the latter's opposition to the proposed Dardanelles campaign.  Unwilling to lose the First Sea Lord, Churchill drags Fisher to a private meeting with Asquith at 10 Downing Street.  There the two rehash their positions, and Asquith, forced to choose, decides that the operation should go forward, and when Fisher receives the decision in silence, Churchill assumes the First Sea Lord has been won over.  The trio then go to the War Council meeting in the Cabinet Room.  Fisher, however, believes that Asquith resolved that the final decision will not be taken today.  When Asquith instead states that a decision needs to be made today, Fisher silents stands and makes for the door.  Lord Kitchener, well understanding what Fisher meant to do, leaps to his feet, gets to the door before Fisher, and steers him aside.  The Secretary of State for War argued to Fisher that he was the only one opposed to the mission, and as the Prime Minister had made his decision, it was the First Sea Lord's responsibility to the country to implement the choice.  Reluctantly, Fisher returns to the table, sitting in petulant silence as the discussion on the operation continues.

At 2pm the meeting is adjourned, at which point Churchill corners Fisher and proceeds to place, as he would later write, 'great and continuous pressure' on the First Sea Lord.   Churchill, with his overbearing personality and absolute conviction in the rightness of his beliefs, finally wears down Fisher, and the latter finally agrees to consent to the operation.  Elated, Churchill announces when the War Council reconvenes later in the afternoon that the entire Admiralty is behind the Dardanelles plan, and the meeting gives its final authorization for the attack to begin, though it will take several more weeks until the naval force is prepared to commence the operation.  Fisher, however, has only momentarily yielded under the pressure of his associates; in his heart he still believes the Dardanelles operation is foolhardy and risks significant losses.  It will only take for his fears to become reality for his opposition to resurface again.

- General de Langle of the French 4th Army issues details to his corps commanders today regarding his plan for the resumption of the offensive in the Champagne.  For this next phase of the battle, 4th Army is to utilize five corps in the line, of which two - XVII and I - will undertake the initial penetration of the German front at Perthes.  Once they have reached their objective, located about 1500 metres behind the line, they are to turn left and right in order to attack the German defenses from the flank and enlarge the breach.  Following the breach IV Corps, 4th Army's reserve is to advance deep into the enemy position.  Notably, the tactics de Langle outlines are for successive waves of infantry in order to achieve the initial breakthrough.

- In France while the shortage of artillery shells has been a focus of economic concern, there has also been criticism of the government regarding the provision of rifles.  Production has been minimal, while 850 000 have been lost in the first six months of the war, leaving a shortfall of almost 700 000.  Today the director of artillery meets with representatives of private industry regarding their manufacturing rifles for the army.  While the firms represented are willing to take on government contracts, many are unable to fulfill the terms of the agreement - the precision required to produce rifles was far greater than such firms were accustomed to, and mobilization has reduced the available pool of skilled labour.

- As the Russian counterattack in the Carpathians continues, the east wing of the Russian 8th Army is able to advance against the centre of the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army.  Today, XVIII Corps of the latter is pushed back five miles by the Russians.

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