Friday, February 27, 2015

February 27th, 1915

- French attacks in Champagne force the Germans today to abandon the key defensive position at Ferme de Beauséjour.  However, the Germans remain in control of the Mesnil Knob position overlooking Ferme de Beauséjour, which allows them to pour continuous fire into the French infantry.

- The arrival of Russian reinforcements north of the Narew River has forced the German units under Gallwitz onto the defensive, and for the past several days a series of increasingly desperate Russian attacks have threatened to overwhelm the Germans.  Due to rifle and ammunition shortages, it was standard practice in the Russian army for reserve forces to not have rifles of their own, instead being expected to be armed either before being sent into battle or to pick up rifles on the battlefield left by the fallen.  In the pitched fighting around Prasnysz, there was no time to arm the Russian reserves before they were thrown into battle, which meant they attacked armed only with bayonets and handheld bombs.  In the face of German infantry fire, the Russians had to close to the range at which they could throw their bombs, and then charge for hand-to-hand combat.  It was fighting more appropriate to medieval Europe than the 20th-century, but the Russian numerical superiority gave these attacks a weight they lacked in firepower.  Gradually the Germans have fallen back in the face of repeated almost-suicidal enemy charges, and to avoid being overrun Gallwitz orders a retreat from Prasnysz today.  Five thousand German soldiers are made prisoner, and the German retreat ends any hope of reaching the Narew and achieving a great strategic success.  Gallwitz's forces retreat to the lines from which they had advanced five days earlier, restoring the status quo in the line between the German 8th and 9th Armies.

- In thick fog and heavy snow, the Austro-Hungarian offensive in the Carpathians begins.  The first phase of the operation is an attack today by XIX Corps, on 2nd Army's left, towards Baligrod.  Subsequently, X Corps of 3rd Army to the west, and XVIII and V Corps of 2nd Army to the east, are to join the advance, in expectation that the initial fighting of XIX Corps will break the Russian line.  However, though XIX corps has been reinforced and has a numerical superiority in infantry over the Russians opposite, its attack suffers from the almost complete absence of artillery support, the result of bad weather hindering both the deployment of artillery pieces and the accurate spotting of shellfire.  When combined with the effect the terrible weather has on the infantry themselves, XIX Corps makes little headway.

- The German government continues to believe that Austria-Hungary should offer territorial concessions to Italy to induce it maintain its neutrality in the war, and the ongoing failure to break the Russian lines in the Carpathians and relieve Przemysl has heightened anxiety in Berlin.  In an effort to persuade the Austro-Hungarian government, the Prussian council of ministers agrees today that border adjustments in Silesia can be made as compensation for territory surrendered to the Italians.

No comments:

Post a Comment