Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 15th, 1915

- Admiral Pohl receives another telegram from the Kaiser today: 'H.M. the Emperor has commanded that the U-boat campaign to destroy commerce . . . is not to begin on February 18, but only when orders to do so are received from the All Highest.'  Once again Wilhelm II wavers when faced with an important military decision, much to the dismay of his admirals.

- In Britain, meanwhile, Churchill, speaking in the House of Commons, seeks to assure the public regarding the threatened German submarine campaign:
. . . losses will no doubt be incurred - of that I give full warning.  But we believe that no vital injury can be done if our traders put to sea regularly . . . If they take the precautions which are proper and legitimate, we expect the losses will be confided within manageable limits, even at the outset when the enemy must be expected to make his greatest effort to produce an impression.
 - The 1st Canadian Division completes disembarkation at St. Nazaire today, and the soldiers immediately entrain for the journey to Flanders.  Their billeting area is just east of Hazebrouck, and they are to be attached to III Corps, 2nd Army of the BEF.  Prior to taking over a section of the front line in several weeks time, the headquarters staff and regimental personnel will be attached to the British 4th and 6th Divisions to learn first-hand about the nature of trench warfare.

- In Singapore, the 5th Light Infantry battalion of the Indian army is the only remaining regular force defending the colony, as other units have been transferred to more active theaters.  The battalion, however, has long seethed with discontent, and today many of its soldiers rise in mutiny.  The unit is entirely Muslim, and fears of being sent to fight the Ottomans may have played a role in the decision to mutiny.  Conversely, other than a couple of exceptions Indian nationalism does not appear to have been a major motivating force.  Indeed, most important are causes specific to the unit itself - the commanding officer is incompetent and the officers mistrust each other, allowing other issues, such as poor rations and promotion prospects, to fester.

Initially, the mutineers, some three hundred in total, outnumber the 231 European soldiers on the island.  They also attempt to augment their ranks by freeing German prisoners of war, but the latter were more afraid of the Indians than anything and the few that did act preferred to escape rather than fight.  Rampaging in several large groups, thirty-four Britons and Asians are killed in several hours.  In response a landing party from the sloop Cadmus is put ashore and uses a machine gun to check the mutineers' advance on Singapore itself.

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