Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19th, 1915

- In Champagne a German attack on the high ground north of Le Mesnil largely fails to make any progress, the German infantry getting no further than the barbed wire strung before the French trenches.  Only south of Ripont are the Germans able to seize a stretch of the first French trench, primarily through liberal use of grenades.

- OHL issues orders today to the Chief of the Military Railways regarding the assembly of units for the anticipated major offensive on the Western Front.  Beginning on March 23rd, the following are to be gradually assembled: Guard Corps in Schlettstadt-Colmar, XXXXI Reserve Corps near Aulnoye-Busogny-Hirson, Bavarian II Corps near Douai-Cambrai, and III Corps near Mons.

- At Przemysl the garrison attempts a sortie, hoping to break through the Russian lines and allow for escape.  The attack is largely recognized to be a forlorn hope, given the weakened state of the half-starved garrison, and indeed it has been impossible to hide from the Russians the preparations for the attempt.  When the Austro-Hungarians advance, they are decimated by Russian artillery, and the 23rd Honved Division suffers 68% casualties in being driven back into the defensive lines.  Within Przemysl itself, preliminary steps towards surrender begin with the burning of all paper money, worth approximately $125 000 US dollars.

A section of the Austro-Hungarian defensive lines around Przemysl.

- Grand Duke Nicholas, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army, decides today to call off Russian attacks against East Prussia, as while the Russians have recovered after defeat in the Winter Battle of Masurian Lakes, they have been unable to penetrate German defensive positions.  Instead, he decides that the Russians should concentrate on the Carpathians, given that Russian units covering Przemysl will be freed for future operations given the imminent fall of the fortress.

- This morning the weather has taken a turn for the worse at the Dardanelles, with high winds and lowered visibility.  The conditions make a resumption of the Entente attack of yesterday impossible.  As to whether the attack should be resumed, the view in London at least is to continue: the War Council sends a message to Admiral Robeck authorizing him to 'continue the naval operations against the Dardanelles if he thought fit.'  Though Churchill desires further attacks, and in fact is sending reinforcements for the lost warships, the decision is left in the hands of the senior commander on the spot.  Robeck, for his part, is conflicted: Keyes, his chief of staff, argues that the Ottomans are on the brink of collapse, but he can't shake the fear of losing more warships for reasons unknown.

No comments:

Post a Comment