Thursday, January 08, 2015

January 8th, 1915

- In London the War Council meets today to discuss British strategy for the coming year.  When discussion turns to theatres outside France, Lloyd George remarks that he supports an operation in the Balkans to provide direct aid to Serbia.  Lord Kitchener then intervenes, commenting that if an operation were to be undertaken outside the Western Front, the Dardanelles would be the most promising.  However, while he asserts that 150 000 soldiers would ensure that the fleet could force the Dardanelles and occupy Constantinople, he informs the Council that he has no units that he can spare.  The key takeaway from the meeting is that forcing the Dardanelles is possible, not that it requires army support to succeed.

- Falkenhayn agrees today to the formation of Südarmee, which is to be deployed in Galicia and will consist of two German infantry divisions and one German cavalry division, drawn from 9th Army as per Ludendorff's earlier offer, and an Austro-Hungarian corps.  The army is to be commanded by General Alexander von Linsingen, who had previously held command during the 1st Battle of Ypres.  Interestingly, as its Chief of Staff Falkenhayn appoints none other than Ludendorff; his reasoning is that, given the repeated claims by Conrad that the fighting in Galicia is of vital importance, it is logical for Ludendorff to 'work his magic' there.  In reality, Falkenhayn is attempting to divide Hindenburg and Ludendorff, in order to weaken their influence over the direction of the German war effort and tone down demands for the next major German offensive to be in the East.

- The German 1st Army currently holds seventy kilometres of the front line on both sides of the city of Soissons just north of the Aisne River.  Since December 27th III Corps has been planning an operation to attack the French defenders near Soissons in order to prevent the enemy from redeploying its forces to assist its ongoing offensives elsewhere.  At 10am this morning, however, the French launch a preemptive attack of their own on the German line at Clamecy, just north of Soissons, leading to bitter fighting in the sector.

- Units of the French 4th Army are able to secure the village of Perthes today, and though this represents a gain of only a few hundred metres, it is one of the most substantial of the 1st Battle of Champagne.

- Following the Russian evacuation of northern Persia a week ago in response to the crisis at Sarikamish, Ottoman and Kurdish forces have advanced into the resulting vacuum and today occupy Tabriz.

- The German steamer Choising passes through the Straits of Perim overnight, despite lacking any detailed chart of the waters and having its lights extinguished to evade two patrolling British warships.  During the day it hugs the Arabian coast, to avoid the shipping lane in the centre of the Red Sea, and by nightfall is approaching the port of Hodeida.

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