Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 23rd, 1915

- Bouyed by the success achieved at Ypres yesterday, the German 4th Army orders further attacks today towards new objectives in an attempt to exploit their breakthrough.  Meanwhile, this morning the first British reinforcements, drawn from reserve companies and battalions of 28th Division, arrive in the gap in the line northeast of Ypres, where they join the two Canadian battalions fighting since last night.  Further reinforcements, including the Indian and Cavalry Corps, are en route.

Along the Yser Canal, French survivors launch several counterattacks that, while not regaining lost ground, prevent the Germans from exploiting the bridgeheads won yesterday over the canal.  The Canadian 3rd Brigade, with its left bent back ninety degrees, is attacked on three sides.  It has already suffered heavy casualties and is still feeling the effects of yesterday's gas attack.  German forces continue to work their way forward, especially against the exposed flank of the Canadians, and in bitter fighting the latter is slowly driven back to a new line northeast of St. Julien.  In the gap itself, the mixed British and Canadian battalions fight desperate engagements with the Germans, and at 630pm attempt a counterattack.  Again no lost ground is regained, but the forward momentum of the German XXVI Reserve Corps is broken.  Still, the British and Canadians have been unable to restore a continuous front line, and gaps remain.

The line at Ypres at midnight, April 23rd, 1915. 

- German forces in the St.-Mihiel salient launch a surprise counterattack today against Les Éparges, though the French are able to initially hold the line.

- Among the soldiers of the Royal Naval Division assembled to participated in the planned landings at Gallipoli was the 27-year-old poet Lieutenant Rupert Brooke.  Perhaps more than most Brooke had been enamoured with the romance of the British operation in the eastern Mediterranean, seeing in it a grand adventure among the battlefields and ruins of ancient Greece.  He had come down with severe blood poisoning three days ago, however, and today dies.  His friends bury him in an olive grove high on the island of Skyros, where the Royal Naval Division has been undergoing final training.  The romantic and poetic Brooke thus passes almost on the eve of the landings which themselves will be a bitter and disillusioning experience for so many.  The symbolism can hardly be understated.

- Today a new commanding officer arrives at Basra for 6th Indian Division: General Charles Townshend, equally ambitious and self-assured.  General Nixon, commander of Indian forces in lower Mesopotamia, issues orders for Townshend to take his division upriver, clear the Ottomans from their position near Qurna, and advance northwards to seize Amarah.

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