Friday, February 06, 2015

February 6th, 1915

- The assembly in East Prussia of the German 10th Army, based on the four reserve corps reluctantly assigned to the Eastern Front by Falkenhayn in January, is completed today.  Commanded by General Hermann von Eichhorn, 10th Army is deployed to the north of 8th Army, the latter now commanded by General Otto von Below.  Ludendorff's plan is for the two armies to advance eastwards, marching over the same terrain that 8th Army moved through before and after the Battle of Augustow in September and October.  Their target is the Russian 10th Army, and the two German armies are to envelop it from the north and south, its destruction opening the way for a further advance.  This offensive is designed as the counterpart to Austro-Hungarian operations in Galicia, the success of both, it is envisioned, forcing the Russians to evacuate Poland.  While the plan is typically bold for one devised by Ludendorff, it also fails in the broader strategic sense - not only has the Austro-Hungarian offensive gotten nowhere, but the further eastward 10th and 8th Armies advance, the more exposed their southern flank will be to a Russian counterattack.  Whatever local success Ludendorff manages to achieve here, it will be difficult for him to translate it into strategic success.  Plus, there is the fact the battle will be launched in the middle of the Russian winter, with all that portends.

- In the Carpathians the fighting is bogging down into positional warfare, as the counterattacking Russians run into the same supply and weather problems that have bedevilled the Austro-Hungarian offensive.  Conrad, however, remains desperate to relieve Przemysl, knowing the fortress will not last past March and believing its fall will be crushing to Austro-Hungarian morale and likely to prompt the intervention of Italy and Romania.  He is thus unwilling to abandon the concept of offensive operations in the Carpathians, despite the appalling casualties and conditions experienced over the past two weeks.

Conrad has also concluded that the commander of 3rd Army has been too pessimistic and shown insufficient drive and enthusiasm for the attack. As a remedy, he takes half of 3rd Army's divisions away from it, assigning them instead to a 'new' 2nd Army - the HQ of the existing 2nd Army is brought from the Polish front to command in the Carpathians, along with additional reinforcements.  Once the additional forces arrive, the Austro-Hungarians will go over to the attack once more.

The Carpathian front, February 5th to 15th, 1915.

- A conference is held today in Brazzaville, capital of French Equatorial Africa, regarding operations against German Kamerun in the coming year.  Believing that Jaunde is the key to the German defence, it is decided that one column will advance towards Lomie and Dume to the east of Jaunde, while another will advance to the Ntem River to isolate the town from the southwest.  It is hoped that the simultaneous advances will coordinate with each other and keep the Germans off-balance.

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