Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 24th, 1915

- Joffre today informs General Dubail of the Provisional Group of the East that I, II, and XII Corps, along with a cavalry corps, will be transferred to his command to participate in the forthcoming offensive against the St.-Mihiel salient.

- In the Carpathians Conrad plans to shift forces from 2nd and 3rd Armies eastward to General Pflanzer-Baltin's command for a major offensive.  However, the Russians have plans of their own, and General Ivanov aims to break the Austro-Hungarian lines in the central Carpathians, attacking the inner wings of the Austro-Hungarian 2nd and 3rd Armies and advancing towards the rail junction of Homonna.  The Russians have ben the first off the mark, and in heavy fighting over the past few days have inflicted sharp defeats on the enemy, and in particular have secured a large bulge in the line by pushing back the Austro-Hungarian XVII Corps.  Far from transferring forces eastward, 2nd and 3rd Army have found themselves in desperate fighting to prevent a Russian breakthrough, and Conrad has to send reinforcements from southern Poland to prop up his sagging line in the Carpathians.  Undaunted, however, Conrad believes that the Russian attacks offer the opportunity to defeat the enemy outside of their strong defensive positions.  Despite his ongoing optimism, a more accurate assessment of the situation is reflected in his request to Falkenhayn today of two or three German divisions to aid in the Carpathian fighting.

- As the Entente mission at the Dardanelles shifts from a naval to an amphibious operation, the bombardment to date has also served to highlight to the Ottoman government the weaknesses of their defences along the straits, especially the Gallipoli peninsula which forms the northern shore.  In an effort to reorganize its defence, Enver Pasha today appoints General Otto Liman von Sanders, head of the German military mission to Constantinople, to command Ottoman forces on Gallipoli.  The task before Sanders is substantial - though 80 000 soldiers garrison Gallipoli, they lack sufficient guns, ammunition, and even clothing and footwear, and are strung out along the 150 mile coastline of the peninsula.

- After departing Coonfidah six days ago, Emden's landing party has had an uneventful voyage to Leet, at which they arrive today.  The town lays at the northern tip of the coral reefs of the Farisan Bank, and with clear water to the north English warships would be once again able to impose a close blockade.  To avoid potential capture, the party must now advance overland, and preparations begin to assemble a caravan.

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