Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 14th, 1915

- Preparations for the imminent French attack in Champagne have not gone unnoticed by the Germans, and today a report arrives at the headquarters of the German 3rd Army from OHL warning that a significant French offensive will begin within days.

- In the Vosges elements of the 51st Landwehr Brigade have advanced to secure a line running from the mountain of Le Hilsenfirst in the north to the village of Sengern to the south, paving the way for the offensive west of Munster scheduled to begin in several days time.

- Aboard his flagship Admiral Pohl receives a telegram from the Kaiser: 'For urgent political reasons, send orders by wireless to U-boats already dispatched for the present not to attack ships flying a neutral flag, unless recognized with certainty to be enemies.'  Wilhelm II is having second thoughts as the significance of the order he signed so frivolously on February 4th becomes apparent.  For his part Pohl is upset by the note; central to the whole campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare is scaring neutral merchants away from Britain, which would be nullified if such a pledge as the Kaiser suggests is given.  In response Pohl sends a telegram to the Naval Staff outlining his views and insisting that they be placed before Wilhelm II.

- This morning elements of the German 8th Army enter the town of Lyck, a vital rail junction in East Prussia near the German-Russian frontier, while the infantry columns of the German 10th Army have reached the northern edge of the Augustow Forest at Suwalki.

Only today do the Russian commanders realize that it is 10th Army that is the target of the German offensive, and that three corps - from north to south, III, XX, and XXVI Corps - are in danger of encirclement.  With only two roads open to retreat, III Corps takes the northern one while XXVI takes the southern, leaving XX Corps to stand and fight to cover their withdrawal.

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