Saturday, April 11, 2015

April 11th, 1915

- The Germans have completed the installation of chlorine gas cylinders between the villages of Poelcappelle and Steenstraat on the northeastern face of the Ypres salient, and now await a favourable wind make use of them for the first time.

- For the past week the French have launched regular attacks on the German lines at Vauquois in the Argonne, in order to draw German reserves away from the St.-Mihiel salient as the French offensive there continues.  However, the operations against Vauquois have not only failed to distract the Germans, but have not gained any significant ground whatsoever.

- At the end of March, General Ruzskii had finally been dismissed as commander of North-West Front.  His replacement was General Mikhail Alexeyev, formerly Ivanov's chief of staff for South-West Front.  Despite his former working relationship with Ivanov, he proves no more willing to co-operate than Ruzskii had been, jealously guarding the units assigned to North-West Front from perceived efforts to reassign them southwards.  Today Russian army headquarters warns Alexeyev that western Galicia, in the area of Gorlice and Tarnow, might be threatened with attack.  Alexeyev ignores the message, likely believing that it is simply another plot by Ivanov to steal more of his divisions.  Though this area is precisely that being examined by the Germans, the warning is premature, given that Falkenhayn has not even decided whether to send more forces to the Eastern Front.  Nevertheless, the irony of Alexeyev's non-response is telling of the muddle in the Russian command structure.

- General Nixon, the new commander of Indian forces in southern Mesopotamia, decides today to send the just-arrived 30th Brigade from Basra west to reinforce the defensive position at the village of Shaiba.  Unknown to Nixon, the commander of Ottoman forces in the region, Suleiman Askeri Bay, has assembled a force of 4000 regulars and 18 000 Arab-Kurdish irregulars to target Shaiba in the first significant counteroffensive since the British occupied Basra and the surrounding territory.  Their advance is observed by the Indian garrison today, and their British commander sends warning to Nixon that an enemy attack is imminent.

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