Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14th, 1915

- Overnight a German deserter makes his way across No Man's Land near Langemarck on the northeastern face of the Ypres salient.  He informs the French infantry who capture him that the Germans intend to use asphyxiating gases in an imminent attack, and shows the French a crude gas mask.  Sufficiently alarmed, the commander of the French division participates personally in the interrogation of the German deserter, and passes the information to his corps commander and a liaison officer from Joffre's headquarters.

- While Joffre agrees with General Dubail's request to continue the offensive against the St.-Mihiel salient, the French Commander-in-Chief today orders the removal of two infantry corps from the Provisional Group of the East, which has the practical consequence of ending large-scale French attacks.  This effectively brings to a close the main fighting of the Battle of the Woevre.

- For the past month, the German 11th Army has been planning for a major offensive operation on the Western Front.  However, given yesterday's decision to shift the next major offensive from the west to the east, today Falkenhayn orders 11th Army and its eight divisions to the east, where it will spearhead the forthcoming operation at the beginning of May.  As its commander Falkenhayn assigns General August von Mackensen, whose talents have been on display on the Eastern Front since the outbreak of the war.

- This evening, after a summons from Falkenhayn, Conrad arrives in Berlin to discuss the situation on the Eastern Front.  Only now, two weeks after examination began, does Falkenhayn inform Conrad that the Germans will be undertaking a major offensive operation in the Gorlice-Tarnow region of western Galicia.  Naturally Conrad is pleased, but there remains the thorny issue of the command structure.  As the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army will be co-operating with the German 11th Army in the operation, Falkenhayn insists that the former take orders from Mackensen.  In exchange, Mackensen himself will be under the direction of Conrad, though with the caveat that important decisions are to be taken in consultation with Falkenhayn.

- By dawn today the British defenders at Shaiba realize that the larger portion of the Ottoman force has begun to withdraw.  Unwilling to allow the enemy to retreat unmolested, at 930am most of the British force at Shaiba sorties in pursuit.  The Ottoman outposts are easily overrun, but by 1030 the British reach Barjisiyeh woods to find the Ottoman entrenched.  There follows several hours of bitter fighting, as repeated assaults on the enemy positions fail.  Only by late afternoon, as both water and ammunition run low, do the Dorsets carry the first line of the Ottoman trenches.  Exhausted, the British abandon their pursuit, and by sundown have returned to their initial lines at Shaiba.

No comments:

Post a Comment