Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 31st, 1915

- General Sarrail, commander of the French 3rd Army in the Argonne, reports to Joffre today on the recent fighting.  He notes how the French line has been pushed back, yielding a portion of the heights overlooking the Verdun railway to the Germans.  Six separate counterattacks have failed to dislodge the enemy, while the French have suffered 2400 casualties.  Sarrail complains that the effect of the recent fighting has had a negative impact on the morale of the infantry, which can only be restored by a major offensive.  While Joffre is sympathetic, he remains focused primarily on operations in the Champagne.

- In central Poland the German 9th Army launch a minor attack today near Bolimów, southwest of Warsaw.  The battle is notable for being the first time the Germans attempt to use gas in combat, but it is a thorough failure.  The only way to use gas on the battlefield is to open canisters and have the wind blow it towards the enemy; however, the wind shifts and the gas clouds pass back over the German infantry.  Luckily for the Germans, the extremely cold weather renders the gas ineffective.  Indeed, such is the extent of the failure that the Russians did not even realize that the Germans were attempting to gas them, an oversight that will come to haunt their allies on the Western Front in several months time.

- In Galicia, though the mixed Austro-Hungarian units under General Szurmay have taken Uszok Pass itself, the heights to the north remain in Russian hands, threatening their control over the vital transit point through the Carpathians.  In an effort to restart the general offensive by 3rd and push onwards towards Przemysl, Szurmay today orders his forces to seize the heights.

Austro-Hungarian infantry in the Uszok Pass.

- After evacuating northern Persia a month ago when the crisis in the Caucasus was at its most acute, the crushing triumph at Sarikamish has allowed the Russians to return, pushing out the weak and poorly-organized Ottoman forces and retaking Tabriz today.

- A small German force attacks South African forces at Kakamas near the border today, in an effort to support Boer rebels.  Not only does the attack fail, but it had already been rendered pointless given Kemp's surrender of yesterday.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:04 pm

    Thanks for your blog posts. Am I missing something or did you not post your sources? I am writing a new book on WW1 German Chemical Warfare and am curious about the source of this Bolimow posting for Jan 31, 1915 as well as the article on Neuve Chapelle, Oct 26, 1914.


    David Carlson