Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16th, 1915

- As the British government discusses ongoing operations in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, the focus is not only on securing victory in the current war but also ensuring that the British Empire is in the best position for the post-war world.  As Kitchener writes in a memorandum submitted to the War Council today:
It must not be forgotten that, after the conclusion of peace, old enmities and jealousies which have been stilled by the existing crisis in Europe, may revive.  We have, in fact, to assume that, at some future date, we may find ourselves an enmity with Russia, or with France, or with both in combination, and we must bear this possibility in mind in deciding how, when the time for settlement comes and the question of the partition of Turkey in Asia arises, our interests can best be safeguarded.
- In Champagne a large number of French assaults are launched between 445am and 2pm, but with only minor exceptions are repulsed.  With XVI Corps failing to make further progress, Joffre finally concludes that the operation in Champagne cannot win a decisive victory and ought to be wound down.  He orders General de Langle to undertake the planned XVI Corps' attacks with the remaining fresh infantry, and then cease operations, form strong defensive positions, and pull all but three corps out of the line.

- Falkenhayn orders the formation of eight additional divisions today, of which four - 111th, 113th, 119th, and 121st - will be ready for service by April 1st, with 115th, 117th, 123rd, and 11th Bavarian ready one to two weeks later.  With the six new divisions whose creation has previously been ordered, these constitute the fourteen divisions (down from the initial projection of twenty-four) available as an OHL reserve, and which Falkenhayn intends to use on the Western Front.

The German Chief of Staff also issues a written directive to the commander of the newly-formed 11th Army:
The OHL plans to break through the enemy front in the West after making an adequate number of troops available. To this end, strong reserves will be placed in readiness in rear of that front along the several rail lines.  The concentration of these reserves and their subsequent forward movement by rail to the point where the breakthrough is to be effected, will be regulated by the OHL.  The tim for placing the reserves in readiness and the place for the breakthrough operation proper have not yet been fixed.  The Commander of the Eleventh Army will conduct the offensive in a zone of action that will be designed in due time.  The Eleventh Army Commander's next task will consist of reconnoitring the terrain between La Bassée Canal and the Avre near Roye for a breakthrough operation, with a view to piercing the hostile front north of the Somme on a width of from 25 to 30 kilometres and advancing thence to the sea.  In the zones of action to be selected, it is planned to allot first of all, in addition to the troops already in position, as many infantry divisions (each of three regiments) as will enable each division to occupy from two and a half to three kilometres of frontage.  The necessary heavy artillery will be made available.  With the aid of these forces the tactical breakthrough should be successful - including the piercing of the enemy's line.  In rear of the rupture, the OHL intends to place as many additional forces in readiness as will be required to exploit the tactical breakthrough for strategic purposes.  The reconnaissance must be initiated as early as possible . . . [and] the result will be submitted to the OHL in the form of a report no later than the end of March.
- Today a doctor serving on the hospital ship Soudan examines Admiral Carden, declaring that he has a dangerous ulcer and that he requires several weeks of rest to avoid a complete breakdown.  Though it means the end of his naval career, Carden feels he has no choice but to signal the Admiralty that he must resign as commander of the Dardanelles expedition.

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