Saturday, March 07, 2015

March 7th, 1915

- Having failed to convince the British to relieve IX Corps in the Ypres salient, Joffre today decides to cancel the offensive planned in Artois that would have been conducted by 10th Army.

- In the Champagne the French launch a major attack near Souain, though after initial advances they are repulsed by the Germans.  Writing to his corps commanders today, General de Langle, 4th Army Commander, calls on his forces to 'flee forward'; namely, that once a unit has seized terrain, it will sustain fewer casualties holding the newly-won ground as opposed to retreating back to the start line.

- After their victory at Prasnysz, Russian forces had advanced northwards towards East Prussia, but in heavy fighting over the past few days have been held at the line Mlawa-Chorshele, and today the Russians abandon further attacks.

- The offensive of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army, forced on its reluctant commander by Conrad, is launched this evening after sundown.  The southern wing of 4th Army is able to gain some ground - 8th Division takes Sekowa and 12th Division advances some way to Gorlice.  However, once again the Austro-Hungarians are fighting the weather as much as the Russians, and frostbite is a constant companion for the infantry.  Further east, Sudarmee undertakes an offensive of its own, but the advance of XXIV Reserve Corps is stopped cold, literally and figuratively.

- The German mission to Afghanistan has been slowly making its way across the Ottoman Empire, with its members bickering about who exactly was in overall command, and the Ottomans themselves suspicious of German intentions (they do not wish their imperial interests to be negated by Germany's).  After arriving in Baghdad in January, Wilhelm Wassmuss, a Persian speaker experienced with tribes in the region, split off from the mission to become German consul in the south Persian city of Shiraz.  The remainder of the mission, now led by army officer Oskar von Niedermayer, has crossed into Persia in an effort to cross the country and reach Afghanistan.

Wassmuss, for his part, had served as a German consul in southern Persia prior to the war as well, and has used these contacts to win allies among the various tribes of the region.  Given the weakness of the Persian government, Wassmuss is able to operate largely unhindered by central authorities, but the same conditions that allow Wassmuss to operate also encourage Entente intervention regardless of the formal 'neutrality' of Persia.  Today, Wassmuss' caravan is ambushed by British Indian troops and pro-British tribesmen near Bandar Rig, on the Persian Gulf coast about a hundred miles southeast from the Shatt al-Arab.  Wassmuss loses his maps and codebooks, but manages to escape himself.  He had thought that the British would respect Persian neutrality; realizing his mistake, he now resolves to leverage his relationship with Persian tribes in the region to drive out British enclaves and threaten British interests in the region.

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