Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30th, 1915

- Though the French offensive in Champagne was halted ten days ago, it is only today that the Germans conclude the battle is at an end, as aerial reconnaissance indicates the withdrawal of French corps from the front.

- The French offensive against the St.-Mihiel salient begins today when 73rd Division attacks along the Moselle River, near the eastern end of the southern face of the salient.  It is hoped that this attack, and subsequent ones planned to begin in the next several days in what will become the Battle of Woëvre, will draw German forces south before the primary French attack hits the western face of the salient.

- Colonel Seeckt, newly-appointed Chief of Staff of the German 11th Army, submits his proposal to OHL for an offensive on the Western Front by 11th Army, as per Falkenhayn's directive earlier this month.  After studying the line between La Bassée Canal and Roye, Seeckt concludes that the most advantageous sector for an offensive is a twenty-five kilometre stretch running from just south of Arras to just north of Albert, as it lays just sixty-five kilometres from the coast and is less-well defended than nearby sectors.  Further, the area to the west of the line is less developed, offering fewer possible points of resistance should the Germans break through, and the southern flank of a German advance would be in part shielded by the Somme River.

To achieve the initial breakthrough, Seeckt calls for the use of thirty heavy artillery batteries and 125 howitzer batteries, each of the latter covering two hundred yards of the front.  Five corps would be assigned responsibility for breaking the enemy line, and would be supported by a second wave of four corps designed to cover the flanks and maintain forward momentum.  A further army of five corps would then be necessary to carry the offensive to Doullens, the point at which he believed the Entente armies would be irretrievably split.  Overall Seeckt's plans calls for the employment of fourteen corps, of which eleven were to be newly-built.  This stands in contrast to the fourteen new divisions now available as a result of the reorganization of the German army; in other words, insufficient for Seeckt's operation.  Though Falkenhayn now has the outline of a plan for achieving the great victory he desires in the West, he is now confronted by the reality of insufficient forces to execute the operation.

- As the situation continues to deteriorate in the Carpathians, one officer describes the mood at Austro-Hungarian army headquarters as 'below zero', with Conrad constantly 'grumbling'.

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