Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29th, 1915

- In Britain there has been a movement to reduce alcohol consumption among the working-class in the belief that drunkeness reduces productivety, and Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George has proposed doubling the duty on spirits and addition twelve shillings per barrel to the duty on beer.  These proposals, however, have an adverse effect on the political position of the minority Liberal government in the House of Commons.  It is no great surprise to see the Conservatives oppose the measure, given as they have always been the primary backer of the drink interest.  However, Irish Nationalist M.P.s also oppose raising the duty on one of the few industries in southern Ireland, while the Labour party resents the insult to the loyalty and productivity of the working-class.  In the face of united political opposition, the Liberals back down and today withdraw the proposed duty increases.

- Today the German 11th Army completes its deployment near Gorlice, with the German Guards, VI, XXXXI Reserve, and X Corps arranged north to south from Ciezkowice to Ropica Ruska.  To the north, the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army west of Tarnow deploys a further six infantry divisions and is to be under the operational command of General Mackensen.  Elaborate measures have been taken to maintain secrecy about the German deployment.  The trains carrying the corps eastward were routed through rail lines in northern Germany, to give the appearance they were destined for East Prussia.  Further, German formations took over their parts of the line only at night, to avoid Russian observation, and German staff officers surveying the front even wore Austro-Hungarian uniforms, lest the Russians notice and become suspicious.

The final attack orders are issued today by Mackensen to his corps commanders, with the attack scheduled to begin May 2nd.  While giving each corps freedom of action regarding particular targets, Mackensen stipulates the number of batteries each corps is to assign to the front, and emphasizes the importance of close infantry-artillery co-operation.  The artillery is to keep up with the pace of the infantry advance, and artillery observers are to be with the infantry to co-ordinate fire on enemy strongpoints.  Mackensen also issues a separate order for the artillery directly under army control, which is to be commanded by one officer only.  The army-level artillery was tasked with the preliminary bombardment the night before the attack, and is to prevent the arrival of Russian reserves and keep those at the front off-balance.  Further, the preliminary bombardment will briefly cease at two points overnight to allow pioneer patrols to make their way into No Man's Land to cut wire and observe the extent of the damage.  Once the initial infantry attack has been launched, continual pressure is to be maintained, the infantry advancing in deep columns protected by friendly artillery fire.  Crucially, if a unit finds itself ahead of their neighbours, instead of halting and waiting they are to keep advancing, keeping the Russians off balance.  These orders incorporate the lessons learned by Chief of Staff Seeckt and others on the Western Front over the past five months.

German soldiers arriving at a Carpathian railway station, April 1915.

- This evening Emden's landing party arrives at El Wegh after an uneventful overland journey from Sherm Munnaiburra.  Here they are able to bathe and wash clothing as they assemble the camels necessary for the next phase of their journey.

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