Friday, January 02, 2015

January 2nd, 1915

- Early this morning a dispatch from the British attache at Russian army headquarters arrives at the Foreign Office, conveying Grand Duke Nicholas' request that the British undertake a diversionary operation to distract the Ottomans from the Caucasus.  Foreign Secretary Grey conveys the message to Lord Kitchener, who then discusses the possibilities with Churchill.  Kitchener is eager to assist the Russians to avoid their collapse and surrender, but is adamant that no forces can be spared from the Western Front.  Instead, Kitchener inquires whether the navy could make a demonstration against the Dardanelles, and the suggestion piques Churchill's interest.

- In Champagne five French regiments attack the centre of the German VIII Corps at 6pm, but fail to secure any ground.

- Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg has learned of Falkenhayn's intention to deploy the newly-raised four and a half reserve corps on the Western Front in order to undertake a major offensive.  The Chancellor, however, shares the views of Hindenburg and Ludendorff that these new formations should instead be assigned to the Eastern Front to secure a decisive victory that among other objects will influence neutrals like Italy and Romania.  Having already lost confidence in Falkenhayn as a result of the failure at Ypres, Bethmann-Hollweg recommends, in a meeting with the Kaiser, the removal of Falkenhayn and his replacement as Chief of Staff by Ludendorff.  Wilhelm II may be one of the few who still has confidence in Falkenhayn, but while he has no real influence over the operations of the German army, his is still the decisive voice regarding who will command it.  The Kaiser thus refuses the Chancellor's suggestion, and Falkenhayn remains Chief of Staff.

- The Ottoman offensive against Sarikamish has now completely fallen apart.  IX Corps is down to only a thousand men, and is under attack from the rear by Russian units at Bardiz.  Enver Pasha, who had been with IX Corps, slips away to join XI Corps, still fighting the main Russian force southwest of Sarikamish.  Meanwhile, the remnants of X Corps begin to pull back from north of Sarikamish before dawn this morning.

- In German Kamerun a British force advancing north from Duala occupies Dschang today, and destroy the fort located there.  From the British perspective, they have secured their immediate objectives in German Kamerun - they have seized the key port of Duala and cleared its hinterland of German forces that might have been able to undertake an effort to retake the town.

From the perspective of Colonel Karl Zimmerman, German commander in Kamerun, however, the situation is still manageable.  Though the west around Duala and the southeast have been lost to the British and French respectively, neither development is either a surprise - Duala could hardly have been held in the face of British naval power - nor decisive.  Zimmerman had planned to base the defence of Kamerun on the northern highlands, and as of yet no Entente forces have threatened this region.  Further, German units are still in contact with the Spanish colony at Muni, which means they can still use this neutral territory to import supplies.  Zimmerman now plans two operations to discourage the British from advancing further inland from Duala and the French from moving any further to the northwest.

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