Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31st, 1915

- Despite the order from the Kaiser on May 10th to avoid the targeting of neutral ships, steamers from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have been sunk by German submarines over the past few weeks.  Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg realizes that the navy has ignored the imperial instruction, and thus convenes a meeting with the kaiser and the military chiefs today to resolve the matter.  Here the chief of staff of the navy once again asserts that it is impossible to modify unrestricted submarine warfare, and again argued for its continuation.  The Kaiser, not wanting to appear weak before his military chiefs and the German public, now states that the prior order not to target neutral ships could only be published if it was endorsed personally by the chancellor, a qualification Bethmann-Hollweg accepts.

- This evening the French XXXIII Corps attack towards Souchez, and manages to seize the trenches on the northern and sourthern flanks of the sugar factory to the west of the village.

- After the fall of Pralowce yesterday at dusk, the Russians prepared an immediate counterattack.  A heavy artillery barrage opens at 3am, and waves of Russian infantry are able to overwhelm the Austro-Hungarian defenders by mid-morning.  On the northern flank of Przemysl, however, 11th Bavarian Division is able to occupy three important defensive positions after intensive bombardment by heavy mortars forced the Russian defenders to abandon their entrenchments and fall back.

Meanwhile, to the southeast of Przemysl the Austro-Hungarian 27th Division seizes the first Russian trench line on the heights at Gaj.  However, the Russians are able to fall back to prepared reserve positions, and in light of the strength of the enemy defences the commander of the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army postpones further attacks until June 2nd, to give time for the infantry to work their way closer to the Russian line.  Further to the southeast, Südarmee makes progress, capturing the city of Stryj and over nine thousand Russian prisoners.

The advance of Südarmee, May 31st to June 3rd, 1915.

- General Townshend's 6th Indian Division launches its attack on the Ottoman defensive positions north of Qurna at 5am this morning.  On the surface the Ottoman position is strong - seasonal floods has transformed much of the countryside into marsh, meaning the Indian infantry can only attack the enemy defences by front amphibious assaults.  However, in the event the attack is easier than Townshend expected, as the Ottoman defenders break under artillery fire from the British flotilla and surrender in large numbers.  By the end of the day, the landing force has seized their initial objectives and are advancing on the main Ottoman line around Bahran.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30th, 1915

- Early this morning a heavy artillery bombardment falls on the German line between Souchez and Roclincourt, the latter a village just north of Arras, which is followed at 5pm by an assault by several French divisions.  After heavy combat and hand-to-hand fighting, 1st Bavarian Reserve Division is able to fend off the French attacks.

- The German X Corps, holding the northern flank of 11th Army along the Lubaczowka River, comes under heavy Russian attack overnight and this morning, but are able to hold the line.  To the south, the Austro-Hungarian X Corps assaults the western face of the Przemysl defences at Pralkowce, and seize the position by sundown.

- Today General Cadorna, chief of staff of the Italian army, moves into the archbishop's palace at Udine, which he makes his permanent headquarters.  Here he receives reports from his commanders on the first operations of the war.  To this point, the Italian advance on Austria-Hungary has been marked mostly by hesitancy.  Along the northern front, a corps of 4th Army occupies the crest of Cortina d'Ampezzo yesterday after the enemy had evacuated it, but afterwards 4th Army commander Lieutenant-General Luigi Nava had halted the advance and asked his subordinates what they thought they could do without undue risk.  On the eastern front Lieutenant-General Luigi Zuccari, commanding 3rd Army, had refused Cadorna's orders to immediately occupy Monte Medea on the basis that his soldiers were not ready.  The Italian chief of staff had replied by firing Zuccari, as he did with Major-General Nicola Pirozzi, whose cavalry division had delayed in seizing bridges over the Isonzo River at Pieris, which allowed the Austro-Hungarians to destroy them.  In Cadorna's mind the dismissal of Zuccari and Pirozzi would, as he wrote his wife today, 'remove all hesitation and give everyone the necessary offensive spirit.'  He strongly believes that character and will are the most important qualities in a commander, and that those who show weakness must be made an example of and purged to encourage the others.  That other aspects of leadership are less important to Cadorna is evidenced in his appointment of Emanuele Filiberot, Duke of Aosta, as Zuccari's replacement; as the duke is ill, this effectively leaves 3rd Army without a commander.

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29th, 1915

- In continued fighting in Artois a French attack along the road near the village of Souchez along the road leading to Aix-Noulette is repulsed by the German 85th Reserve Brigade.

- In January 1915 the Belgian administration in the Congo had drawn up plans for a two-pronged attack on the western frontier of German East Africa: an advance overland to seize Ruanda and Urundi, and the concentration of a flotilla to seize control of Lake Tanganyika.  Word of this threat has reached German Colonel Lettow-Vorbeck, who has ordered the transfer of forces to Bismarckburg, and today he appoints as the commander of of the west Kurt Wahle, a retired major-general who happened to be in the colony on the outbreak of war.  Lettow-Vorbeck, however, is not content merely to parry a Belgian thrust; instead, his instructions to Wahle state that his task is 'not border protection or the pushing back of the enemy, but a decisive success.'

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 28th, 1915

- In Artois the French seizure of the cemetary at Ablain has imperilled the German hold on the village, and today the commander of the German XIV Corps orders its abandoned, the defenders falling back on a prepared defensive line on either side of the sugar factory just west of Souchez.

- In Galicia the noose continues to close on the Russian forces at and around Przemysl.  On the right wing of the German 11th Army, 11th Bavarian Division captures the heights south of Batycze, closing up to the northern defences of the fortress itself, while further east, 81st Reserve Division reaches Nakto.  Though a Russian counterattack by V Caucasian Corps near Natko is defeated today, Mackensen decides to call a halt to the German advance, lest the northern flank of 11th Army be left too exposed, and evidence is accumulating that Russian reinforcements are detraining to the east for a possible counteroffensive.  Moreover, the Germans are now close enough to the main road leading east from Przemysl to bombard it with heavy artillery, making daylight travel along its length hazardous.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27th, 1915

- In fierce hand-to-hand fighting, the French 70th Division seizes the cemetery at the village of Ablain, west of Souchez in Artois, and the connecting German trenches.

- Early in 1915 the French had decided to embark on a campaign of strategic bombing that aimed to impair German industrial production.  The first bomber group, GB1, was equipped with the reliable Voisin III aircraft, which was specially-equipped with bomb racks that carried 155mm artillery shells.  After training for several months, GB1 undertakes its first mission today.  Their target is the Badische Anilin Company of Ludwigshafen.  The raid is a moderate success, with all but one of the aircraft returning safely to base.  Unfortunately, it was the squadron commander's plane that crash-landed, and he will spend the rest of the war in a POW camp.

The French Voisin III bomber.

- Mackensen's orders for the ongoing German offensive in Galicia emphasize the importance of the advance of XXXXI Reserve Corps.  On the southern flank of 11th Army, the corps is to advance towards the Medyka-Mosciska road, the seizure of which would sever the main Russian communication and supply link to Przemsyl, while the objectives of the rest of the army are more limited.  The attacks of XXXXI Corps, however, encounter heavy Russian resistance; only in the afternoon is 81st Reserve Division able to capture the town of Stubno.

Meanwhile, as the German 11th Army has advanced eastward to and across the San River, its connection with the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army to the north has necessarily stretched, with the latter forced to hold a greater length of the line.  The result has been the commitment of most of 4th Army's reserves to the front line to maintain a cohesive front, leaving insufficient forces available in the event of a Russian counterattack.  Overnight, this is precisely what happens: the Russian III Caucasian Corps launches an attack east of Sieniawa.  The initial blow falls against the Austro-Hungarian 36th Infantry Regiment, which promptly disintegrates, and 10th Division falls back across the San River in disorder.  Because of a lack of Austro-Hungarian reserves, the Germans are forced to send 19th Division from the neighbouring 11th Army to the rescue.  Though the Russian attack soon bogs down and fails to cross the San, its initial success has succeeded in forcing the Germans to dispatch reinforcements that otherwise was to have contributed to Mackensen's ongoing offensive.

On the Russian side, General Ivanov of South-West Front has wavered over whether his armies should hold Przemysl, or retreat further to the east.  On three occasions since the 25th he has issued orders to abandon the fortress, only to countermand them within hours.  Today Russian army headquarters intervenes, instructing that Przemysl is to be held.  To facilitate this, the corps on the northern flank of Przemysl, formerly of 3rd Army, are transferred to 8th Army, so that one commander - General Brusilov - can direct all of the forces at and around the fortress.  In an effort to hold Przemysl, he begins shifting divisions from the southern flank of the fortress, where the Austro-Hungarian 3rd and 2nd Armies have been largely ineffective, to the northern flank to oppose the ongoing advance of the German 11th Army.

The Russian attack at Sieniawa, just north of the offensive of the German 11th Army, May 27th, 1915.

- The German submarine U21 claims a second victim off Gallipoli when it torpedoes the British pre-dreadnought Majestic at 640am this morning.  As it sinks it rolls over and comes to rest in shallow water near Sedd el Bahr.  Its keel remains visible above the surface, a stark reminder that the waters off the Dardanelles are now contested.

The British pre-dreadnought Majestic sinking off Gallipoli, May 27th, 1915.

- Today the Ottoman cabinet approves The Provisional Law Concerning the Measures to be Taken by the Military Authorities Against Those Who Oppose the Operations of the Government During Wartime, which provides the legal basis for the ongoing deportation and mass murder of the Armenian population.  It gives army and local officials sweeping power to take whatever means they deem necessary to deal with any real or perceived opposition to the persecution of the war, and in particular authorized the forced relocation of entires towns and villages 'in response to military needs, or in response to any signs of treachery and betrayal.'  The ongoing paranoia of the Young Turk leadership combined with the catalogue of battlefield defeats ensures that Ottoman officials see 'signs' of resistance everywhere - indeed, if the Ottomans are doing poorly someone must be to blame, and that group must be purged from Ottoman society.  This is to be the fate of the Armenian population in particular, and though massacres predated the law, the pace of extermination will accelerate afterward its proclamation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26th, 1915

- In Artois the French IX and XXI Corps have repeatedly assaulted German positions on and north of the Lorette Spur.  Though small sections of the German trenches have been captured, a counterattack by elements of 85th Reserve Brigade, as well as 28th and 117th Divisions, regains the lost ground today.

- In Courland Army Group Lauenstein, which had been formed in April for the German offensive in the region, is replaced by the Army of the Niemen, more suited to commanding the size and scope of the German commitment here.  It is not, however, an independent command, as its commanding officer, General Otto von Below, is also head of 8th Army to the south.

- In Galicia the offensive of German 11th Army continues to gain ground.  On the southern flank, XXXXI Reserve Corps begins to shift its direction of advance from eastward to southeastward, attempting to move against the Russian lines of communication to Przemysl.  In the centre, the furthest advance is accomplished by VI Corps, a brigade of which seizes the heights at Horodysko.

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25th, 1915

- The formation of the new coalition government in Britain is completed, and the new cabinet formally takes office today.  Prime Minister Asquith retains office as Prime Minister, as there was never any serious discussion of replacing him at present, as no Liberal at this moment has the stature to supplant him.  Furtjer, Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law understands that the alternative to a Liberal-led coalition is not a Conservative-led coalition but a Conservative minority government which would be opposed by a partisan Liberal party that would block Conservative efforts to fight the war as they saw fight (i.e. such as on conscription).  Even though the Liberals and Conservatives have roughly the same number of MPs in the House of Commons, the Liberals also retain a majority of places in the cabinet and many of the key offices; Lloyd George in particular has worked in negotiations to limit Conservative ministers, and has succeeded in convincing Bonar Law to accept the relatively junior office of Colonial Secretary.  Nevertheless, there is no doubt that this is no longer a purely Liberal government, as Liberal ministers now find themselves sitting at the same time as such objects of long-time partisan hatred as Edward Carson.  In addition, the Labour party has joined the coalition, and for the first time in its history a Labour MP - its leader, Arthur Henderson - has a seat at the cabinet table (as President of the Board of Education).  Of the major parties only the Irish Nationalists are absent; though offered a place, and though the party leadership was tempted, they declined as it would mean serving alongside the hated Ulster Unionists.

Two particular changes warrant mention.  First, the press campaign against Lord Kitchener launched by The Times on May 14th has backfired spectacularly, as the public, oblivious to the administrative bumbling of the War Office, still see the Secretary of War as the great imperial hero.  As a result, removing Kitchener from office is not politically viable.  Instead, though he is left in office, Kitchener's powers are reduced by transferring responsibility for munitions production to a separate Ministery of Munitions.  Lloyd George becomes Minister of Munitions, and though giving up the Chancellorship of the Exchequer to do so would normally be seen as a demotion, he well understands that in wartime public focus is on the performance of the war ministries, and that if he can fix the 'shells crisis' he will become the man of the hour.

Second, today confirms Churchill's demotion from the Admiralty.  His replacement is Arthur Balfour, a senior Conservative (and ex-Prime Minister) whose steady and urbane personality is the absolute opposite of Churchill's, which is precisely the point.  No one would ever fear Balfour racing off to take up the defence of a threatened city, as Churchill did at Antwerp.  This morning Churchill cleans out his desk at the Admiralty building.  He is in the grib of severe depression, feeling that his political career is at an end.  At this moment he is visited by Kitchener, who commiserates with Churchill, and as it gets up to leave he remarks to his former colleague: 'Well, there is one thing at any rate they cannot take from you.  The Fleet was ready.'  Kitchener, in his typical imperious manner, is exactly right: whatever other failings Churchill may have demonstrated while First Lord of Admiralty from 1911 to today, it is indisputable that the Royal Navy was prepared for war when it came last August.  Moreover, of course, Churchill's hour is yet to come.

- As the French 10th Army inches forward in Artois, General d'Urbal has decided to launch an attack by XXI, XXXIII, and IX Corps simultaneously against several points.  After twenty-four hours' artillery bombardment, the infantry advance at midday, but fail to gain any significant ground.

- North of Przemysl the German advance continues today.  A Russian bridgehead west of the San held by XXI Corps at Zagrody is eliminated this afternoon, while to the north the German Guard Corps occupies Laszki.  The speed of the German advance is slower today; though Russian resistance continues, the crucial factor is that the farther east 11th Army goes, the more exposed its northern flank potentially becomes.  As a result, Guard Corps in particular finds itself shedding battalions as it advances to cover the line of the Lubaczowka River.

- Twelve days after the British pre-dreadnought Goliath was torpedoed by the Ottoman destroyer Muavenet, an even greater menance makes itself felt off the Dardanelles.  After weeks at sea and refuelling at Cattaro, the German submarine U21 enters action, torpedoing the British pre-dreadnought Triumph as it lay off Anzac Beach.  As it began to sink, a destroyer comes alongside and hundreds of sailors step from the stern of Triumph onto the deck of the smaller ship.  After twenty minutes the pre-dreadnought sinks, and fifty-three men drown.  The loss of the warship is bad enough, but the psychological impact is worse, as the sinking occurs in broad daylight in full view of both sides.  The Ottoman soldiers in their trenches cheer madly, their cries echoing down the hills into the Entente trenches, where British, French, and ANZAC infantry can only look on in shock.  Admiral de Robeck responds by immediately orders all of his large warships back to Mudros, which could hardly have had a positive impact on morale for the army still trapped in the Gallipoli beachheads.

- The diplomatic agreement between Japan and China, reflecting the latter's acceptance of the Twenty-One Demands.  As a result of the treaty, Japan's hold on southern Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia is enhanced, Japan receives Germany's economic rights in Shantung while the leasehold is to be settled after the war, the Japanese-controlled Hanyehping Company is established, and China pledges to lease no other power territory at Fukien, opposite Japanese-owned Taiwan.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 24th, 1915

- The ongoing German offensive in Galicia, and the continued inability of the Russian army to substantially halt the enemy advance, have led to increasingly strident requests from the Russian government to France, begging the latter to intensify their efforts on the Western Front to force the Germans to redeploy divisions from the east.  In response Joffre sends a message to Grand Duke Nicholas, stating that no significant German forces have moved from the west to the east in recent weeks.  That is the most Joffre can offer; the ongoing Artois offensive is the most the French can go, and the Russian pressure makes the continuation of efforts there of even greater importance.

- While the German 11th Army was securing its bridgehead across the San River, the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army confronted the former Austro-Hungarian fortress of Przemysl, now a key defensive point in the Russian line.  However, 3rd Army has been unable to make any substantial process against the Russian-held fortifications, nor has the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army to the east been able to break through to the north to outflank Przemysl from the south.  Thus for the offensive in Galicia to continue, the Germans will once again have to do the heavy work of breaking the Russian defence.

General Mackensen's plan is for VI, XXXXI Reserve, and Guard Corps to cross the Rada River (a tributary of the San) and capture Radymno before moving further east and southeast, cutting behind Przemysl.  X Corps, meanwhile, will guard the northern flank of the advance along the Lubaczowka River from Russian counterattacks.  After spending several days to bring up supplies and munitions, German artillery began a preliminary bombardment of the Russian line north of Przemysl, and at 8am today the infantry advance begins.

The first attack is against a bulge in the German line held by the Russian XXI Corps west of the San.  Under heavy pressure from VI Corps to the north and XXXXI Reserve Corps to the south, the Russians break and fall back in disorder.  Hundreds die attempting to retreat back across the San, while thousands surrender, and by noon XXXXI Corps captures Radymno.  To the north, 1st Guard Division breaks through the Russian line north of Wietlin and reaches Bobrowka.

The new commander of the Russian 3rd Army issues orders to III Caucasian, XXIV, and XXIX Corps to attack southwards into the flank of the advancing German 11th Army.  Before the orders can be executed, however, XXIX Corps is itself outflanked by the advancing German Guard Corps, and is forced to fall back northwards across the Lubaczowka.  Overall the renewal of the German assault has seen the Russian 3rd Army battered yet again, as the Germans take 21 000 prisoners today.

The advance of the German 11th Army north of Przemysl, May 24th to 28th, 1915.

- At midnight hostilities commence between Italy and Austria-Hungary, in line with the former's declaration of war yesterday.  This represents the failure of months of diplomatic efforts by both Germany and Austria-Hungary to keep their erstwhile ally neutral.  As their ambassadors depart Italy, Bernhard von Bülow observes to his Austro-Hungarian colleague today: 'We were just not meant to succeed.  But we can say to ourselves, as Bismark said to Prince Alexander of Battenberg when he was a candidate for the Bulgarian throne: "At least we shall have interesting memories."'

Meanwhile, on the first day of fighting on the Italian Front, General Luigi Cadorna, chief of staff of the Italian army, begins to implement his plan for the invasion of Austria-Hungary.  His primary advance is to be undertaken by 2nd and 3rd Armies, moving east along the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea.  Their first objective is to secure the Isonzo River and vital mountains of the Julian Alps, before a further advance towards Trieste and beyond.  Along the northern portion of the Italian Front, the 1st and 4th Armies are aligned against Trentino and the Tyrol, and are to secure important high ground in order to better hold the line.  However, the lack of information from the government regarding when the war was to begin has impaired Cadorna's preparations, and the Italian army is hardly a model of effective organization to begin with.  By today less than half of the supplies necessary have actually reached the front.  Thus the first day of the war for Italy sees only halting movement towards the enemy frontier.

As for the Austro-Hungarians, Conrad, along with the Emperor and much of the government, are incensed at the supposed betrayal of their former ally.  Conrad for weeks has desired to launch a major offensive against Italy upon its entry into the war, largely as a punishment expedition that would shatter Italian morale; indeed, Conrad has argued for the suspension of operations in Galicia to ensure the transfer of sufficient forces to the Italian Front.  To Falkenhayn this is sheer madness, as nothing that can be effectively accomplished against Italy could compensate for the lost opportunity for a great victory over the Russians.  The German chief of staff has thus refused not only to send German divisions to the Italian Front, but also to replace Austro-Hungarian divisions on the Eastern Front sent to the Alps.  As a result of Falkenhayn's refusal, Conrad has begrudgingly abandoned plans to attack Italy.  Instead, those forces assembling on the Italian frontier, mainly augmented by divisions drawn from the Serbian Front, are ordered to adopt defensive positions, especially along the Isonzo River, a decision of monumental importance in the years to come.

The Italian Front, May 24th, 1915.

At sea, while the Italian navy shows as much initiative and foresight as the army does, the Austro-Hungarians are eager to get in the first strike.  At 8pm yesterday evening the fleet sailed from its anchorage at Pola, and at dawn bombardment Ancona and other points along the northern Italian coast, targeting port facilities, railway bridges, and other strategic objectives.  The Italian fleet is caught napping, and regardless its main fleet is far to the south.  The only naval combat sees the old Italian destroyer Turbine sunk by the light cruiser Helgoland and two destroyers off Pelagosa.  Simultaneously, several Austro-Hungarian aircraft arrive in the skies above Venice and drop a number of bombs.  By noon the Austro-Hungarian fleet is back in port, having struck the first blow at sea without loss.

- Word of the massacres of Armenians in eastern Anatolia has reached the outside world, and further details have come to light since the Russian occupation of Van on the 20th.  Confronting growing evidence of a systemic campaign of annihilation, the governments of the Entente powers issue a public statement today, stating that the leadership of the Ottoman Empire will be held to account after the war for their role in the mass murder of Armenians.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23rd, 1915

- Though Prime Minister Salandra has long desired Italian entry into the war on the side of the Entente, he has kept knowledge of the timing of a declaration of war a closely guarded secret; notably, the armed forces have not been informed when war is to commence.  Indeed, for several weeks the heads of the army and navy have been pleading with Salandra for information on when war is expected to begin, but to no avail.  Only at noon today does the naval general staff learn that hostilities will commence at midnight, and only through an informal telephone call from an official at the foreign ministry.  Meanwhile, at 430pm Salandra officially notifies the minister of war that the declaration of war is about to be handed to the Austro-Hungarian government.  Salandra's reasoning has been to avoid any preparatory measure that might allow Austria-Hungary to argue that Italy had committed an act of aggression prior to a declaration of war.  In practice, however, it leads to the astonishing situation where the Italian government has known for four weeks that Italy is going to enter the war, but the armed forces are actually unprepared to commence hostilities when the day comes.

Meanwhile, this morning Foreign Minister Sonnino learns that the Italian ambassador in Vienna never received yesterday's telegram containing the declaration of war, and confesses to his fellow ministers that it all likelihood it was intercepted and deciphered by the Austro-Hungarians.  A second telegram is thus dispatched at 2pm, and two hours later the ambassador formally presents it to the Austro-Hungarian government, informing it that hostilities will commence as of midnight.

Crucially, the Italian government very deliberately decides not to declare war on Germany today, in part at least to avoid Germany sending significant forces to fight on the Italian frontier.  Nor does Italy declare war on the Ottoman Empire; indeed, diplomatic relations remain intact and the Ottoman embassy in Rome remains open, providing a perfect base for espionage against Italy.  This means that Italy does not actually fulfill the requirement of the Treaty of London to go to war against all enemies of the Entente, a very great irony considering how much bluster will issue forth from Italian representatives later in the war and afterwards regarding faithful adherence to the agreement.

Notably, Germany does not declare war on Italy either.  It prefers to leave open the possibility of Italian goods entering Germany through neutral Switzerland, as occurred during the period of Italian neutrality, and thus leave open a path around the British naval blockade.  The Germans also feared that a declaration of war against Italy might trigger Romania to enter the war on the side of the Entente.  Unsurprisingly this decision is unpopular in Vienna, but it is equally unsurprising that Austro-Hungarian displeasure is of no great concern to the Germans.

- Enver Pasha dispatches a message to the German government today, requesting the arrival of German submarines in the eastern Mediterranean to attack the Entente fleet off the Dardanelles.  The appeal is unnecessary - German submarines are about to make their presence felt it dramatic fashion.

- For the past two weeks, the landing party of the German light cruiser Emden have been travelling along the Hedjaz railway.  At numerous stops they have been met by German and Ottoman officials, as well as cheering crowds.  They have obtained new clothing for the first time in six months, and during a stop at Aleppo received mail from home.  This afternoon their train pulls into the station at Haider Pasha, the Asiatic terminus of the Hedjaz railway across from Constantinople.  Now attired in dress uniforms, the sailors disembark and stand in formation before Admiral Souchon and his staff.  Their journey is complete when First Officer Mücke lowers his sword before Souchon and states: 'I report the landing squad from the Emden, five officers, seven petty officers, and thirty men strong.'

After a six month journey that has taken them from the Dutch East Indies through Arabia, punctuated by a series of adventures and near-mishaps that could hardly have been invented if they had not actually happened, the landing party has managed against all odds to evade capture and return to the fight.  Moreover, the saga of the landing party has captured the attention of the world: in the midst of the hellish stalemate and impersonal slaughter of the Western Front, their voyage has shown that scope for heroism and adventure remain even in the darkest war in human history.  Even beyond Germany, Mücke's leadership is celebrated, and the British press, ever willing to celebrate the underdog, applauds the exploits of the landing party.

Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22nd, 1915

- For the past several days, Churchill has been bombarding Asquith with letters begging to remain as First Lord of the Admiralty, using every rhetorical device in his considerable arsenal.  It is to no avail, for the price of coalition is Churchill's scalp.  Today Churchill meets with the Prime Minister, and the latter confirms his dismissal.  As inadequate compensation, Asquith offers the ministerial post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.  The most junior Cabinet position, and with no practical responsibilities, it is most often given to those without talent for anything more or to ease an elderly colleague into retirement.  It is far beneath Churchill's abilities, but as it is better than nothing and Asquith also promises a seat at the War Council, Churchill accepts.

As Churchill has his interview with Asquith, Admiral Fisher realizes that his hope to return to office with his powers greatly enhanced is nothing but a pipe dream.  He finally departs London by train, heading north to Scotland, and during a stopover at Crewe receives a letter from Asquith formally accepting his resignation as First Sea Lord.  The stormy relationship between the elderly admiral and the young politician ends in mutual destruction.

- At 830pm the German 15th Division at Neuville in Artois launches attacks the French line, hoping to disrupt the ongoing French offensive.  However, the preliminary artillery bombardment had been largely unsuccessful; in particular, poor weather prevented the assigned trench mortar battalion from accurately hitting its targets.  As a result, the German infantry are unable to penetrate the French trenches.

The failure of today's bombardment, however, masks the growing concentration of German artillery behind the line: over the past two weeks, the number of heavy guns in Artois have doubled.  The Germans have also been prodigious in their use, having fired over six hundred thousand shells in the first ten days of the French offensive.  Despite this expenditure, OHL has been able to maintain a steady supply of munitions to the front, such that the German batteries are not hampered by a shortage.

- The Italian cabinet approves a mobilization order for the army, and it is published immediately.  In practice, however, the Italian army has been slowly mobilizing for over two months; indeed, since before the Treaty of London had even been signed, indicating the extent to which Prime Minister Salandra and Foreign Minister Sonnino had always intended to have Italy join the Entente come what may.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sonnino wires the declaration of war against Austria-Hungary to the Italian ambassador at Vienna, with instructions to deliver it tomorrow.  However, through wiretapping and codebreaking the Austro-Hungarian government is able to identify the specific telegram containing the actual declaration of war, and are able to delay its delivery.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21st, 1915

- Over the past two days the British have attacked German lines near Festubert, but with the latter having received reinforcements, the British are unable to make gains comparable to those of a week earlier.

- Today the Entente powers sign a military convention with Italy, which details how the allied armies will cooperate once the latter enters the war.  The key aim of Italy has been to secure a guarantee of a Serbian offensive to draw off Austro-Hungarian forces from the Italian frontier.  In exchange, the Russian government had wanted Italy to transfer supplies to the Serbian army when they (hopefully) linked up.  This the Italians declined to do, and since the Entente want active Italian participation in the war the 'compromise' is that Russia will send supplies to Italy, which the Italians will then hand over to the Serbs if they two armies make contact.  It is another good deal for the Italians, and another setback for the Russians - not only have they been able to secure third-party assistance for their Serbian allies, but, given the continuing disaster in Galicia, the Russians are hardly in a position to be helping anyone out anyway.

- As the remaining German forces in German South-West Africa fall back towards Kalkfeld along the rail line leading to the north-eastern interior, Theodor Seitz, the German governor, sends a proposal to South African Prime Minister Louis Botha for an armistice.  The terms proposed by Seitz are for a territorial division of the colony based on the status quo, with the fate of the colony to be decided after the war.  Though the South Africans have fulfilled the objectives that Britain had emphasized - the occupation of the coast and the destruction of the main wireless tower at Windhoek - Botha has no intention of calling off the South African campaign in the colony until it has been fully occupied.  Botha's objectives in German South-West Africa are imperial, but as defined by South Africa: they wish to control all of German South-West Africa so they can claim it as a colony of their own after the war.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 20th, 1915

- In Britain the events of the past few months - the use of gas at Ypres, the sinking of Lusitania, and the bombing raids of Zeppelins - have nurtured an anti-German hysteria that needed little encouragement in the first place.  Today the magazine Flight argues that Germans in Britain must be rounded up and interned, as otherwise they may light fires to direct Zeppelin bombing raids at night.

- After a three day delay caused by poor weather, the first of the new methodical attacks, as ordered by General Foch, are launched today in Artois by the French 10th Army.  Preceded by a heavy artillery bombardment, French infantry advance several hundred yards, and the newly-won ground is to serve as a jumping off point for further attacks.

Meanwhile Joffre, for his part, issues instructions to his subordinates instructing them that it is vital to place reserves as close to the front lines as possible.  He hopes in future to avoid a repetition of the fighting on May 9th, when infantry of Pétain's XXXIII Corps managed to reach Vimy Ridge but were pushed back due to reserves being deployed too far behind the front line, allowing the Germans to push the successful infantry back off the high ground.

- The German threat to the inner flanks of the Russian XXIV and III Caucasian Corps diminishes today when 56th Division, acting in accordance with Mackensen's orders to consolidate control of the bridgehead over the San River, pulls back behind the Lubaczowka River.

On the Russian side, General Dimitriev of 3rd Army, who has had to watch his command crumble under two and a half weeks of near-constant German pressure, is dismissed today, replaced by the commander of XII Corps.

- Owing to exhaustion, the fighting between the western wings of the Russian 9th and Austro-Hungarian 7th Armies in the eastern Carpathians dies out today.  Neither side has accomplished its objectives, though in the larger picture this favours the Austro-Hungarians, in that the Russian attacks here have not forced them to pull additional forces away from the San River fighting to hold on to the Bukovina.

- As scheduled, at 2pm this afternoon the Italian Chamber of Deputies is called to order.  Prime Minister Salandra introduces the bill by which parliament will cede full financial powers to the government in the event of war; in practical terms, parliament is being asked to give the government the authority to go to war.  Salandra also gives a brief address, emphasizing the perceived violations of the Triple Alliance by Austria-Hungary, both by going to war without consultation in July 1914 and by failing to provide territorial compensation for aggrandizement in the Balkans.  Foreign Minister Sonnino then presents diplomatic telegrams outlining the course of negotiations with Austria-Hungary up to the denunciation of the alliance on May 4th; to Sonnino's credit, the telegrams are only heavily edited, as opposed to being outright forgeries.  After brief discussion, the bill is passed by a margin of 407 to 74; most of the opposition comes from the Revolutionary Socialists and deputies from the rural south, where neutralist opinion is strongest.  At 7pm Salandra adjourns Chamber, and the deputies depart singing the Garibaldi hymn.  This outburst of enthusiasm for war is the last echo of the 'Radiant Days of May'.

- For the past four weeks, the Ottoman city of Van has been the scene of bitter fighting between Armenian insurgents and the Ottoman garrison.  The Armenian population has been besieged, but have been able to hold off efforts of the Ottomans to crush the rising.  In response, the local governor pushed tens of thousands of Armenian refugees into the city in the hopes of causing starvation, while thousands of Armenian prisoners have been murdered.  This takes place, of course, while wholesale massacres have been taking place in the countryside.

As the desperate clash at Van has been ongoing, however, the Russian army has been approaching from the east.  Three days ago, the Ottoman forces lifted their siege of Van, and today elements of the Russian army arrive at the city.  The Armenian population is jubilant at the arrival of their saviours, and the Armenian elders of Van offer the Russian commanding general the keys to the city, and in return the Russians appoint the leader of the Armenian defence committee, Aram Manoukian, governor of the region.  Freed from the yoke of Ottoman oppression and the threat of massacre, the Armenians take violent revenge.  Now that they have the upper hand, it is the turn of Ottoman prisoners to be murdered.  Armenians also torch many of the important buildings of Van, seen as symbols of Ottoman tyranny.

The fall of Van, moreover, serves to reinforce the paranoia of the leadership of the Ottoman Empire regarding the Armenian population.  It is all the easier now to see the Armenians as a mortal internal threat to the survival of the empire, given their apparent cooperation with the Russians.  It accelerates efforts to deport and exterminate the Armenian population throughout eastern Anatolia.

- At the height of the Battle of Sarikamish in December, Russian forces had evacuated Persian Azerbaijan, but after the crushing victory achieved in the battle had returned, reoccupying Tabriz at the end of January.  According to the terms of the Anglo-Russian Convention, northern Persia was within the Russian sphere of influence, and considering its proximity to the Ottoman Empire it is seen as a southern extension of the Caucasus front and the Russian government is eager to secure effective control of the region.  Two days ago, a Russian banker was murdered in Isfahan, in the centre of Persia, and the Russian government uses the episode to justify the dispatch of additional troops to protect Persian interests in northern Persia, the detachment landing at Enzeli today.  However, the proximity of Enzeli to Teheran - just over a hundred and fifty miles separates the two - raises fears among German diplomats that the Russians may attempt to seize control of the government and the country as a whole.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 19th, 1915

- Continuing his desperate bid to remain First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill contacts Fisher through an intermediary and offers to meet whatever demands the latter has for rescinding his resignation.  Fisher's response is to forward the letter to Bonar Law, having added his own note: 'I rejected the 30 pieces of silver to betray my country.'  Churchill also writes Bonar Law directly today, forwarding documents that he argues prove his tenure as First Lord has been a success and should be continued.  The Conservative leader's reply is that Churchill's removal from office is 'inevitable.'

Fisher, meanwhile, believes that with Churchill doomed his hour has come, and gives full vent to his megalomania in a letter to Asquith laying out the conditions under which he would remain as First Sea Lord: Churchill must be excluded from the cabinet and the First Lord limited to parliamentary matters, while he would have unlimited and sole authority over the disposition of warships, the appointment of officers, and decisions regarding naval instruction.  It hardly needs saying that Asquith declines Fisher's 'offer'.  Indeed, as Fisher has not yet had his resignation accepted by the Prime Minister (pending a decision on his replacement), Fisher has for all practical purposes abandoned his post for the past four days, and his actions have won him no friends.  Arthur Balfour, a former Conservative Prime Minister, writes that Fisher 'is really a little mad,' while Asquith himself confides to Maurice Hankey 'that Fisher, strictly speaking, ought to be shot for leaving his post.'

- With the pressure of the Russian 4th Army now being brought to bear on the south wing of Woyrsch's army group in central Poland, the Russians opposite the Austro-Hungarian 25th Division disengages this afternoon and pull back towards Iwaniska.  The gap between 1st Army and Woyrsch's army group is also covered today when the Austro-Hungarian 84th Regiment makes contact with German Landwehr under the command of General Anatol von Bredow.

- By dawn this morning the Russian counterattack by the Combined Corps against the southeastern face of the German bridgehead across the San River has completely collapsed, and diversionary attacks elsewhere against the German 11th Army have similarly failed to make any progress.  The losses of the past two and a half weeks of both men and material have practically eliminated the offensive capability of the Russian formations opposing 11th Army - it is reported today that some of the Russian infantry attacking the German XXXXI Reserve Corps are armed with only grenades or even clubs.

Meanwhile, on the northeastern face of the German bridgehead the advance of the German X Corps creates a gap between the Russian XXIV and III Caucasian Corps.  Fearing a German breakout, General Dimitriev of the Russian 3rd Army orders several cavalry divisions into the gap, but also requests permission from General Ivanov of South-West Front for a further withdrawal.  This request is denied.

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18th, 1915

- After yesterday's shocking news regarding the end of his tenure at the Admiralty, Churchill casts about today for any means of remaining in office.  Dining with the Conservative politicians F. E. Smith and Max Aitken (the future Lord Beaverbrook), Churchill talks of winning support among the Tories, but Aitken informs him that there is no hope of that.  Churchill even goes so far as to talk about making amends with Fisher if it would keep him as First Lord.

- In Artois German reserves continue to arrive at the front to replace the formations battered by French attacks since the 9th; today 2nd Reserve Guard Division is inserted into the line between 13th and 14th Divisions.  The ability to rotate out depleted units and replace them with fresh divisions is crucial to the ability of the Germans to hold off the French offensive.

- In central Poland the Russian counterattack by 4th Army shifts direction today; instead of maintaining pressure on the left wing of the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army, the attacking forces move to the northwest in an attempt to hit the flank of Woyrsch's Corps.  The Germans here find themselves under heavy pressure and take significant losses, but the shift gives time for 1st Army to regain its equilibrium.

- This evening Mackensen orders the portion of 11th Army on the east bank of the San River to hold their current positions.  The pace of the German advance has outrun their supplies, as despite efforts to repaired the rail lines in the region the nearest railhead to 11th Army is sixty-two miles to the west.  In particular, great difficulties are being encountered in hauling artillery shells to the front, and the shortage of munitions is critical.  A pause in operations is necessary to replenish and resupply before further offensive operations can be undertaken.

The Russians, meanwhile, are not content to give the Germans the necessary breathing space.  General Dimitriev of 3rd Army has assembled a new Combined Corps, comprised of 77th Division and 3rd Caucasian Rifle Division drawn from elsewhere on the Eastern Front, and intends this formation to attack the southeastern front of the German bridgehead across the San and roll up the enemy line.  This evening the Russian counterattack begins as the Combined Corps hits the German 1st Guard Division and VI Corps between Makowisko and the San.

- Today the British submarine E14 passes through the Dardanelles and arrives back in the eastern Mediterranean after a three-week sortie in the Sea of Marmara.  During this time it sank four Ottoman vessels, including a large transport, which disturbed but did not stop, Ottoman reinforcements to Gallipoli.  For this success Lieutenant-Commander E. C. Boyle is awarded the Victoria Cross.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 17th, 1915

- This morning a letter reaches Andrew Bonar Law, the Canadian-born leader of the British Conservative Party, from Admiral Fisher, in which the latter announces his resignation as First Sea Lord.  In his typical manner, Fisher holds nothing back: 'W.C. MUST god at all costs!  AT ONCE . . . because a very great disaster is very near us in the Dardanelles . . . W.C. is a bigger danger than the Germans by a long way.'

Even without the hyperbole, Bonar Law recognizes the significance of this information.  For the past three days he has been struggling to maintain control of his backbenchers, the latter enraged over the report of the 14th in The Times regarding a shortage of shells during the Battle of Aubers Ridge.  Bonar Law wants to maintain the electoral truce, but he may not be able to control his own party.  With this morning's letter he realizes that the resignation of Fisher will be the final straw for many Conservative MPs, who have long despised Churchill for abandoning the party in 1904 over Tariff Reform.  Further, in their eyes Churchill's a administration of the Admiralty in wartime has been a failure: not only has there not been a decisive victory over the High Seas Fleet, but the Antwerp diversion was a debacle and the Dardanelles operation appears to be going nowhere.

After receiving Fisher's letter Bonar Law calls on Lloyd George and asks for confirmation of Fisher's resignation.  When Lloyd George provides this, Bonar Law replies that 'the situation is impossible.'  Lloyd George agrees, and the pair visit 10 Downing Street where they inform Asquith of the situation.  The Prime Minister recoils at the prospect of heated parliamentary debates and denunciations of the management of the war.  Further, the Liberal government is a minority, and the possibility exists that it might not survive under effective Conservative criticism.  Lloyd George recommends the formation of a coalition government between the parties, in order to head off opposition in the House of Commons.  Asquith does not hesitate in accepting this, his willingness to fight for his government perhaps fatally undermined by the news of the 14th regarding Venetia Stanley.  It is certainly the case that Asquith never seriously appears to have contemplated fighting the Conservatives, and is perfectly willing to jettison Liberal colleagues to find cabinet places for Conservatives.  Most prominent of Bonar Law's conditions for a coalition government is that Churchill must be removed as First Lord of the Admiralty.  Neither Asquith nor Lloyd George flinch at the prospect of dismissing their colleague, perhaps realizing it may be the price of keeping their own positions.

Churchill, for his part, has no idea what has transpired when he arrives at 10 Downing Street later this morning to report that he has a new First Sea Lord and is ready to defend his record in the House of Commons.  Asquith instead replies that there will be no debate in the House; instead, a coalition government will be formed and, turning to Churchill, asks 'what are we to do with you?'  It is at this moment that Churchill realizes that his time at the Admiralty may be at an end.  Later this evening, after digesting the news, Churchill writes to Asquith that he would only accept office in the new government if it is directly related to the war effort; otherwise, he would prefer to take up a command in France.

- Overnight the German zeppelin LZ39 was intercepted by several aircraft of the Royal Naval Air Service.  They attack the airship by dropping bombs on it, and though it remains in the air LZ39 is sufficiently damaged to force a return to base.

- The first of the new attacks by the French 10th Army in Artois was scheduled to be launched today, but is postponed due to poor weather.  Meanwhile the Germans have been attempting to retake the ground lost to the French on Lorette Spur.  These attacks, however, have failed, and have worn out the regiments of 117th Division.

- After an intensive bombardment the British launch another attack near Festubert today, and succeed in pushing back the German lines.  Indeed, there are indications of a crisis of morale in German ranks, as a number of prisoners are taken before the British infantry had even begun their advance.  To reinforce the line 6th Army brings in several battalions of Bavarians and Saxons, as well as 38th Landwehr Brigade.  Crucially, they are drawn not from 6th Army's reserve, but rather from the north; the brigade is taken from 4th Army.  Thus even though the British have achieved some tactical success at Festubert, they have failed in drawing away German forces from the French offensive to the south, which was the primary reason for the operation.

- The German 11th Army secures a third crossing of the San River today at Nielepkowice north of Jaroslau.  Meanwhile Mackensen orders those forces already across the river to consolidate their bridgeheads.

- Just after midnight elements of the Russian 9th Army attempt to storm the town of Delatyn in Bukovina, in the centre of the line held by the Austro-Hungarian 7th Army.  In bitter fighting the latter are forced back from the outer defences, but the Russians are unable to break into the town itself.  Just as with the Austro-Hungarian attacks to the west, initial advances quickly degenerate into static fighting.

- The reappointed cabinet of Prime Minister Salandra meets today to discuss Italian entry into the war, and agrees to submit a bill to parliament when it reconvenes on the 20th to vest full financial powers in the government in case of war.  Also, ex-premier Giovanni Giolitti departs Rome for Piedmont today, knowing full well that attempting to fight for peace when parliament meets in three days would be a lost cause.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 16th, 1915

- Realizing that Admiral Fisher is serious about resignation, Churchill visits the Prime Minister today.  He offers his own resignation, hoping for a vote of confidence from Asquith that will allow him to replace Fisher and continue as First Lord of the Admiralty.  This is exactly what Asquith gives him today, saying that he had not even thought of Churchill resigning.  Buoyed, the First Lord secures the agreement of Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson to replace Fisher as the First Sea Lord, and the other Sea Lords consent to remaining in office.  Churchill then prepares a parliamentary address for tomorrow's session to announce Fisher's resignation and defend his own conduct.  It is a speech, however, he will never get to deliver.

- General d'Urbal issues new orders for his 10th Army today, incorporating the revised instructions from General Foch.  He envisions a series of methodical attacks, each designed to seize a particular objective from which the next assaut would be launched, culminating with the seizure of Vimy Ridge.  In the centre, XXXIII Corps was to capture five points before launching its main attack on the village of Souchez, while XXI Corps had three positions of its own to occupy before assisting XXXIII Corps to seize Souchez.  The first of these attacks is scheduled to begin tomorrow.  On the German side, the units holding the line have gotten hopelessly mixed up over the past week, as companies and battalions have been sent haphazardly to plug gaps in the line and confront the main French assaults.  As such, most of the day is devoted to reorganizing the defence, and in particular to straightening out the chain of command for the artillery batteries so that each stretch of the front line had dedicated artillery support.  The battered 58th Division is also pulled out of the line, replaced by 16th Division.

To the north, the British 2nd Division launches an attack at dawn near Festubert, and a small amount of progress is made.  For the rest of the day British artillery pound the German lines, in preparation for another effort tomorrow.

- As a result of the success of the German offensive at Gorlice-Tarnow, the Russian line in central Poland has been pulled back, to avoid a gap opening between the Russian 4th Army, mostly north of the Vistula River, and 3rd Army to the south.  Following the Russians are the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army and an army group under German General Remus von Woyrsch composed of both German and Austro-Hungarian units.  As the two forces pursue the retreating Russians, Woyrsch's group is pulled to the northeast, while 1st Army moves to the east, opening a small gap between them.  Here, near Opatow, the Russian 4th Army counterattacks today, and the Austro-Hungarian 25th Division is thrown back several kilometres and suffers heavy casualties.  The sudden Russian riposte brings Woyrsch's group and 1st Army to halt as they move to contain the unexpected enemy advance.

The Battle of Opatow, May 16th to 20th, 1915.

- Along the San River the German 11th Army attempt several crossings.  The main action is at Jaroslau, which is occupied today by the German 2nd Guard Division.  Here the town's Jewish population warns the Germans that the Russians have mined the bridge over the San, and shortly thereafter the bridge explodes and falls into the river.  The Elisabeth Regiment of 2nd Guard Division then crosses the San at 530pm under the protection of heavy artillery and machine gun fire, and by evening a Russian counterattack has been driven off and the bridgehead is secure.  To the north, 92nd Regiment of 20th Division is able to cross the San west of Miazownica, giving X Corps a shallow bridgehead.  Thus by the end of the day, 11th Army has breached the river line at two places.

The advance of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies at Jaroslau and Przemysl, May 16th to 20th, 1915.

- In Italy the 'Radiant Days of May' are already passing; though a large pro-war demonstration grips the capital today, elsewhere the number and size of such gatherings are in decline.  Despite its ephemeral nature, the 'Radiant Days' have completely altered the balance of interventionist vs neutralist opinion among the political classes in favour of the former.  After Salandra's resignation on the 13th, Victor Emmanuel had canvassed several other parliamentary leaders, including Giolitti, about their ability to form a government.  All had declined, seeing the shift of opinion towards intervention as decisive.  This afternoon the king summons Salandra to Villa Savoia, and meets the politician at the gate with a simple declaration: 'It is necessary that you withdraw your declaration.'  Salandra agrees, and his cabinet formally returns to office, and Italian entry into the war is now a certainty.

- In the Mediterranean the Austro-Hungarian destroyer Triglav successfully tows the German coastal submarine UB7 through the Straits of Otranto, evading the Entente blockade, and the latter then makes its way eastward towards the Dardanelles.

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15th, 1915

- At 5am this morning Admiral Fisher arrives at his desk in the Admiralty building, where he comes across Churchill's revision to the reinforcements to be sent to the Dardanelles.  Though the change was only to add two submarines, something in Fisher breaks.  It reinforces his belief that Churchill will always want to force the Dardanelles, and will always seek to send more and more reinforcements there, a policy he does not and feels he cannot support.  These two submarines become the straw that breaks the camel's back, and Fisher decides then and there that he must resign.  Though he has threatened resignation several times before, this time he is determined to follow through.  Knowing how persuasive Churchill can be, Fisher concludes that he can only maintain his resolve to resign if he stays out of reach of the First Lord.  Thus Fisher leaves a letter of resignation with Churchill's secretary, and then promptly disappears.

Several hours later Churchill arrives at the Admiralty to discover Fisher's letter of resignation.  Believing it to be just another idle threat, he seeks him out.  To his consternation, however, Fisher is nowhere to be found anywhere in the Admiralty building.  Churchill then rushes to 10 Downing Street to inform the Prime Minister of what has occurred.  Asquith promptly writes a curt note to Fisher: 'In the King's name, I order you to return to your post.'  By disappearing before his resignation could be accepted, Fisher has technically abandoned his post in wartime.  Whatever sympathy there may have existed in political circles for Fisher and his struggles against Churchill (and the latter has more than his share of critics), the manner of his resignation is seen, quite properly, as disgraceful.

After several hours Fisher is discovered in a room at the Charing Cross Hotel.  Responding to Asquith's summons, he goes to the Prime Minister's residence where both Asquith and Lloyd George attempt to change Fisher's mind, but to no avail.  Churchill also writes several letters to Fisher, each pleading for an interview, but the latter remains adamant that he will resign and will not allow himself to be talked out of it.

- Today the American diplomatic note regarding the sinking of Lusitania arrives in Berlin.  The German government now begins to prepare a response, one which Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg hopes will mollify the Americans.

- This evening Foch, as commander of Provisional Group of the North, arrives at the headquarters of General d'Urbal of 10th Army.  Foch states that a week of attacks have not achieved the desired result, and that another attack should only be launched after thorough preparation.  By switching to a more methodical approach, Foch hopes to be able to advance steadily towards Vimy Ridge, which he hopes can be seized within eight to ten days.  General d'Urbal thus cancels orders for an attack tomorrow, and begins to plan for further operations that fit within Foch's framework.

- To the north, the British Expeditionary Force is active once more in attempting to support the French offensive in Artois.  Overnight, a British division replaced a French division south of La Bassée, allowing the latter to redeploy south.  At 1130pm, the British 2nd Division of Haig's 1st Army attacks the German line near Festubert.  Of the three brigades in the operation, one achieves complete surprise and overruns the first German trench line.  The other two, however, are spotted beforehand and, illuminated by star shells and searchlights, suffer heavy casualties.

- The second phase of the Gorlice-Tarnow offensive opens today when the German 11th Army assaults the Russian line at and north of Jaroslau.  Attacks by 1st and 2nd Guard Divisions seize the Russian defensive positions protecting Jaroslau, and by the end of the day the Russians are streaming back through the town towards the east bank of the San River.  To the north, the German X Corps drives to the river, though at seventy yards wide it is too broad to cross without adequate preparations.  For his part Mackensen this afternoon orders X, Guard, and XXXXI Reserve Corps to undertake precisely these preparations, including bringing up substantial amounts of artillery shells, to attack across the San and established bridgeheads tomorrow.

- In east Galicia General Pflanzer-Baltin of the Austro-Hungarian 7th Army orders a counteroffensive by his western wing; here the Russians opposite have been forced to pull back to remain in contact with the Russian 11th Army (in turn having retreated due to the collapse of 3rd Army), and Pflanzer-Baltin hopes to catch the Russians off-guard and force a further withdrawal.  Though several Austro-Hungarian divisions are able to advance initially, Russian counterattacks soon throw them back, and the fighting quickly degenerates into a stalemate.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 14th, 1915

- This morning the fuse lit by Sir John French five days earlier explodes on the pages of The Times newspaper, which runs an extensive report and editorial on the recent failure at Aubers Ridge.  Given the close relationship between French and the newspaper's military correspondent, it is no surprise that the coverage praises the plan for and management of the battle itself.  Instead, the paper is harshly critical of the supply of both artillery shells and heavy artillery pieces, and lays blame for this failure directly on the War Office and the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener.  The proprietor of The Times, Lord Northcliffe, has come to see Kitchener not as the imperial hero, but as the stubborn incompetent whose mismanagement is damaging the British war effort.  Northcliffe is not alone in this view; some within the Conservative party, as well as the Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George, have become exasperated with Lord Kitchener, and feel he must go if Britain is to fully mobilize its industry in support of the war.

The political impact of The Times' report can hardly be underestimated.  Just several weeks earlier Prime Minister Asquith had assured the British public at Newcastle that the supply of munitions was more than sufficient, words that now appear hollow at best and deceitful at worst.  In particular, the report crystalizes concerns among many Conservative backbenchers that the Liberal government is mismanaging the war effort.  This places the leadership of the Conservative party in a quandary: since the beginning of the war all of the major parties have observed a political truce, but it is increasingly difficult to restrain the backbenches from attacking the government over perceived incompetence, and The Times report pours gasoline on the simmering fire.

This afternoon, meanwhile, the first meeting of the War Council is held in London since April 6th.  With the allegations from The Times hanging in the air, Kitchener is in a foul mood, and complains bitterly about the navy abandoning the army at Gallipoli.  Fisher has finally had enough, and for the first time speaks of his constant opposition to the Dardanelles operation, a position that is news to most of those in the room.  Churchill, annoyed by Fisher's outburst, attempts to defend his own position afterwards in a letter to Asquith, arguing that Fisher has signed off on every order touching on the Dardanelles operation.

Later this evening Churchill and Fisher meet at the latter's office to discuss possible reinforcements for the Dardanelles now that Queen Elizabeth is being withdrawn.  Once again Churchill overawes the older Fisher, and the latter agrees to send several monitors to the Mediterranean to allow for the recall of several battleships.  After Fisher departs for the night, Churchill adds two submarines, as requested by Admiral de Robeck, to the list of proposed warships to be sent to the Dardanelles.  It is a fateful decision.

As the political turmoil swirls in London, Prime Minister Asquith is suffering from a much different kind of angst.  For several years he has been desperately in love with Venetia Stanley, a close friend of his daugher Violet.  He has shared all manner of state secrets with her, and relies on her utterly for moral support.  Today, however, Venetia informs Asquith that their relationship is at an end, and that she is to marry Edwin Montagu, a fellow Liberal politician.  Asquith is utterly shattered; he writes to Venetia today that 'this is too terrible; no hell could be so bad.'  The gravest crisis the Liberal government has ever faced is at hand, and the Prime Minister is a broken man.

- Today repeated French attacks secure most of Notre-Dame de Lorette in Artois, but the Germans stubbornly remain entrenched on the eastern edge, and from this position they are able to fire into the northern flank of the French XXXIII Corps and prevent a further advance towards Souchez.  On the German side additional reinforcements come forward, and 5th Bavarian Division, which has lost two-thirds of its strength since the 9th, is pulled out of the line today.  However, when 6th Army commander Crown Prince Rupprecht requests further reinforcements from Falkenhayn, the latter instead replies with a sharp rebuke: most of the reserves on the Western Front have already been sent to 6th Army, and that the forces now available in Artois ought to be more than sufficient to hold the line.  In part this reflects Falkenhayn's irritation at Rupprecht's constant demands, but also that the shift to the east in April has meant that the Western Front must defend itself with what it has, and few reserves remain.

- Today the German 11th Army approaches the Russian positions at Przemysl and the San River, and prepares to attack the enemy line at Jaroslau tomorrow.

- When the Austro-Hungarian 7th Army retreated to the Pruth River it left a bridgehead on the north side at Kolomea, and this is the target of an attack by the Russian XXXIII Corps after midday.  Despite heavy Russian pressure, the Austro-Hungarians are able to hold on, in part due to the arrival of the first reinforcements from III Corps.

- The resignation of the cabinet of Prime Minister Salandra yesterday evening is a shock to the Italian public.  In particular, those who favour intervention in the war on the side of the Entente are shocked, and fear that they will be denied their war at the last moment.  What happens next, however, will transform the political situation.  Starting today, significant numbers of the urban middle class gather in major cities and towns throughout Italy to call for war against Austria-Hungary.  This is the same social group that were the predominant presence in the crowds that in other countries celebrated the outbreak of war last August.  These demonstrations appear spontaneously with no organization and little support from the upper classes or political elites other than a few wealthy northern landowners and the owners of industrial concerns such as Fiat.  Indeed, the sudden outbreak of pro-war protests comes as a shock to Salandra, Sonnino, and their allies; the old cabinet, in its capacity as a caretaker government until the king appoints a replacement, authorizes local prefects to call in the army if necessary to maintain public order.  In practice, the gatherings are generally peaceful, as befitting crowds of the 'respectable' middle-class.

These demonstrations become known as the 'Radiant Days of May' and, precisely because they were so unexpected and spontaneous, they have an impact on the political class far outweighing the actual size of the crowds.  Dozens of parliamentary representatives who previously had opposed war now declare in favour of intervention, wanting to stay in step with public opinion.  The demonstrations also influence Victor Emmanuel, believing they will sway the votes of a sufficient number of parliamentary representatives as to make the formation of an anti-war cabinet impossible, and thus making the recall of Salandra to the premiership palatable.

- Today Admiral de Robeck receives the Admiralty reply to his message of the 10th regarding a further naval attack on the Dardanelles.  In line with Fisher's views, Churchill writes that 'the moment for an independent naval attempt to force the Narrows has passed . . . your role is therefore to support the army in its costly but sure advance and to reserve your strength to deal with the situation which will arise when the army has succeeded.'  The fleet is to remain in a subordinate position to the army, and success will depend on the army securing Gallipoli.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May 13th, 1915

- Yesterday the British 28th Division, having suffered greatly in the recent fighting, was withdrawn from the eastern face of the Ypres salient, replaced by 1st and 3rd Cavalry Division fighting as dismounted infantry.  They gain a rapid initiation to the fighting at Ypres, coming under a heavy artillery bombardment early this morning that precedes another German attack.  Most of the British line holds, but 7th Cavalry Brigade is forced back hundreds of yards, and a subsequent counterattack by 8th and 10th Cavalry Brigades is unable to fully restore the position.

The front line at Ypres, May 13th, 1915.

Though desultory fighting will continue around the Ypres salient for several weeks, the 2nd Battle of Ypres has effectively drawn to a close.  In the context of major operations on the Western Front, the battle has undoubtedly been a German victory.  Not only were they able to advance several miles towards Ypres, but were also able to force the British to voluntarily yield ground, something virtually unheardof.  Moreover, while German casualties numbered 35 000, Entente casualties were in excess of 60 000, and the Germans accomplish this favourable casualty ratio while attacking, inverting the normal situation whereby attackers suffer more than defenders.  In a larger sense, however, the 2nd Battle of Ypres was a missed opportunity.  Because the operation had never been intended to be a major offensive, the Germans were not prepared when the initial gas attack proved more successful than anyone could have imagined.  The shock effect of gas literally blew a hole in the Entente line larger than any seen to date in the war, and with sufficient reserves the Germans might have been able to drive on Ypres and beyond.  In a familiar refrain, by the time the Germans realized the opportunity that existed, the moment to exploit it had already passed, and subsequent fighting was comparable to the static fighting seen in other major engagements - the vast majority of the ground captured by the Germans was achieved in the first hours after the gas attack.  The lost opportunity, however, is even greater than the specific context of the 2nd Battle of Ypres.  The most potent effect of gas is psychological: when it strikes soldiers who are unprepared, their willingness to stand and fight vanishes and resistance becomes impossible.  By definition this can only happen the first time gas is used; within twenty-four hours crude countermeasures were being developed, and in future soldiers who are gassed will have gas masks at hand.  This ensures that while gas still kills and has an impact on the battlefield, never again can it have the same psychological effect.  The most effective use of gas was always going to be the first time, and the Germans threw away this opportunity by not being prepared to exploit the situation.  The Germans have also earned the opprobrium of being the first combatant to use asphyxiating gas on the battlefield.  Though all countries will soon make extensive use of gas, and work to develop ever more lethal chemicals, 2nd Ypres becomes, in the eyes of many, yet another example of German 'barbarism', in line with the Rape of Belgium and the sinking of Lusitania.  For many in both Entente countries and neutrals such as the United States, it is yet another reason why Germany and 'Prussian militarism' must be crushed; one cannot compromise with barbarism.  Finally, the battle has been the baptism of fire for 1st Canadian Division.  The resiliency (if not sheer stubbornness) of the Canadians in the first days of the German offensive, holding their lines despite gas and overwhelming attacks until British and French reserves could arrive, was vital to preventing a greater German breakthrough, and becomes a celebrated feat of arms.  It is the first of many such accomplishments for the Canadians on the Western Front.

- In Artois French pressure forces the Germans to abandon most of the village of Ablain, but otherwise French attacks are unsuccessful today.  Nevertheless, Crown Prince Rupprecht, commander of the German 6th Army, believes that three of his front-line divisions are completely worn out and must be replaced, and requests further reinforcements from Falkenhayn.  The German Chief of Staff agrees, transferring 2nd Guard Reserve Division and two brigades from OHL control to 6th Army's sector.

- The battered Russian 3rd Army completes its retreat to the San River, taking up positions north of the fortification of Przemysl.  Its northern wing is entrenched on the east bank from Jaroslau almost to the junction with the Vistula River, where 4th Army covers both sides of the Vistula itself.  The southern wing of 3rd Army, between Jaroslau and Przemysl, is actually deployed on the west bank; because the west bank is much higher than the east, holding the river line itself here is not possible.  South and east of Przemysl sit 8th and 11th Armies, the latter connecting with 9th Army still conducting its offensive in the Bukovina.  Reinforcements are also en route; General Alexeyev has begrudgingly allowed XV Corps, formerly part of Northwest Front, to redeploy southwards, and it is to come into the line between 4th and 3rd Armies.

The German and Austro-Hungarian advance towards Jaroslau and Przemysl, May 13th to 16th, 1915.

- In east Galicia the Austro-Hungarian 7th Army continues its retreat to the Pruth River, and by nightfall most of its elements are across.  The west and centre wings were able to pull back relatively unmolested, but the east wing came under heavy attack, especially by the Russian XXXIII Corps, as it did so.  Here at least the Russians are having some success in the Carpathians, and the offensive has forced the Austro-Hungarians to divert III Corps, initially intended to garrison the frontier with Italy, to Bukovina.  Beyond this, however, it has had no impact on the larger strategic picture; Falkenhayn for one knows that if Mackensen and 11th Army continues to achieve success, and in particular force the San River line, the Russian position in the Bukovina will be outflanked and nothing that happens there will matter.

The Battle of Dniester, May 13th, 1915.

- At 5pm the Italian cabinet reconvenes, and since yesterday's meeting Salandra has met with party leaders over the question of peace or war.  He reports to the cabinet that only one - Leonida Bissolati of the moderate Socialists - supported intervention.  The cabinet then spends the next four hours debate the issue back and forth.  One concern is that if the cabinet, and by convention the king, endorses war, but then is repudiated by parliament, a constitutional crisis may ensue.  To clear the air and force the issue, Salandra proposes the government's resignation; his hope is that efforts to cobble together an alternative anti-war government will fail, and thus by default committing Italy to war.  At 9pm the cabinet agrees, and Salandra immediately drives to the royal palace at Villa Savoia to offer their resignations.  At 1030pm news of the resignation becomes public; the moment of decision is at hand.

- Today the German submarine U21 arrives at the Austro-Hungarian naval base of Cattaro, after several weeks at sea.  Due to its lengthy journey from Germany it had only barely made it to port, with only 1.8 tons out of the original 56.5 tons of fuel remaining.  Once refueled and resupplied, the Germans will have their first active ocean-going submarine in the Mediterrean (UB-8 is a much smaller coastal submarine).

- For weeks Entente warships have pounded Ottoman positions on Gallipoli with impunity, as none of the shore batteries could fire shells capable of penetrating the armour of the old pre-dreadnoughts.  Given their numbers, the Entente fleet has also shown no real concern with naval opposition, and largely assume they may sail and anchor as they please.  Overnight, the Ottomans do their best to disabuse the British and French admirals of their misplaced faith in their invulnerability.  With a full moon and heavy mist reducing visibility, the Ottoman destroy Muavenet, captained by a German, snuck through the straits and moved up the European coast of Gallipoli.  In Morto Bay, not a hundred yards offshore, the destroyer comes across the British pre-dreadnought Goliath at anchor, where it is waiting to continue its shore bombardment at dawn.  Surging forward, Muavenet fires three torpedoes and disappears back into the night and through the straits before anyone can react.  The torpedoes strike home, and within minutes rolls over and sinks.  Because the current here is four to five knots and moving away from shore, none of the British sailors in the water can swim ashore.  Five hundred and seventy drown, and only one hundred and eight survive.  It is a striking accomplishment for the Ottomans: the Sultan awards each sailor on Muavenet a gold watch and a purse filled with gold.

The sinking of Goliath shows that the waters off the Dardanelles are now contested, and the aftershocks of the loss of the pre-dreadnought reach London this afternoon, where news of the sinking prompts a passionate outburst from Admiral Fisher.  For months he has worried over the potential loss of warships during the Dardanelles campaign, and in particular is concerned about Queen Elizabeth, Britain's newest and most advanced battleship.  The loss of Goliath stokes these fears to a fever pitch, and Fisher insists that Queen Elizabeth be ordered to return to home waters immediately.  Churchill accedes to the First Sea Lord's demand, but later this evening the argument is joined by Kitchener when he visits the Admiralty on a different matter.  When the Secretary of War learns of Queen Elizabeth's recall, he goes into a rage, accusing the navy of abandoning the army after the army had come to the aid of the navy after the latter's failure to force the Dardanelles.  Fisher, never one to back down from a fight, fires right back at Kitchener, declaring that Queen Elizabeth will sail for home this instant or he would resign on the spot.  Kitchener returns to the War Office and pens an aggressive note to Asquith, but for now Fisher has won the argument: the orders for Queen Elizabeth's recall stand.  The crisis over the Dardanelles, however, is just beginning.

- In German South-West Africa the advance of South African forces from Swakopmund on the coast and from the south has been slow and irregular, disrupted by supply difficulties more than German opposition.  After several months, however, today the northern detachment, under the direct command of Prime Minister Botha, enters Windhoek, the capital of the German colony.  In doing so the South Africans also seize the main wireless station, disrupting communications between the remaining German forces in the colony, now retreating northeast along the lone railway, and the outside world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 12th, 1915

- In December 1914 the British government had appointed a committee to investigate allegations of German atrocities during their occupation of Belgium, the so-called 'Rape of Belgium'.  To head the investigation, the government appointed Lord Bryce, a highly respected former ambassador to the United States and prominent author on government and democracy.  Bryce's appointment is an inspired choice: he has a deserved reputation for fairness and impartiality, and none can say he succumbed to jingoism in August 1914 - indeed, he worked to keep Britain out of the war in the crucial last days of peace.  Bryce also has a sterling reputation in the United States, which is crucial considering the potential propaganda impact the investigation may have on neutral opinion there.

Today, after several months of testimony and discussion, the committee publishes its findings in what is known as the Bryce Report, which consists of commentary on the overall nature of the German occupation and then appendixes with eyewitness testimony.  The report as a whole is a damning indictment, and rightly so - by any reasonable definition the German army did commit what we would consider war crimes in Belgium in August 1914.  The devil, however, is in the details.  Most of the evidence used by the committee consisted of eyewitness testimony from Belgian refugees who had fled to Britain after the fall of Belgium.  Not only was there no way to verify the accuracy of their testimony, given the enemy occupation of their country, but the committee also was not keen to investigate too closely, lest the evidence they needed be undermined.  All on the committee, Bryce included, considering the German invasion of Belgium a crime, and thus they wished to avoid a report that in any way 'whitewashed' German occupation.  In doing so they have certainly produced a compelling and devastating report, but have also included a number of stories that later investigation will show to have been partial or complete fabrications - there were no bayoneted babies, contrary to popular belief.  In essence, the committee decided that they would not quibble about specifics, lest it might undermine the general case the report was to make.

The public perception of the Bryce Report, however, is that is has been a rigorous investigation of the evidence, and that details were only included if they were deemed reliable.  In this the reputation of Bryce for even-handedness contributes to the sense that the report is balanced and fair.  This makes the Report's impact all the more devastating precisely because it is largely not seen as propaganda.  The German report of the 10th disappears from the public mind, and the Bryce Report holds the field, not only in the Entente but in neutrals as well.

- This morning General d'Urbal of the French 10th Army meets with his corps commanders to refocus the ongoing offensive in Artois.  He decides to focus on seizing the ruined villages of Souchez and Neuville, and instructs XXXIII Corps to clear Carency before advancing on Souchez, with XX Corps to the south moving on Neuville and XXI Corps to the north clearing Notre-Dame de Lorette.  A series of French attacks this afternoon, however, fail to make noticeable progress, though a German counterattack in the early evening south of Souchez also fails.  As night falls, however, elements of XXXIII Corps occupy what remains of Carency as the Germans fall back towards Souchez.  Feeling the situation perilous, the commander of the German XIV Corps orders the construction of a new trench line running from the Lorette spur to the church at Ablain and south to Souchez as a fallback position.

The German line north of Arras, May 12th, 1915.  Note Carency to the west of Souchez,
captured today by Pétain's XXXIII Corps.

Meanwhile Joffre and Foch meet today with Sir John French, and the French generals complain about the decision to call off the British offensive at Aubers Ridge just a day after it had begun.  From Joffre's perspective the British decision has placed the French offensive in Artois in jeopardy, as since the 10th two German divisions have moved south to contest the French advance.  Joffre and Foch manage to extract from the BEF commander a promise to take measures to more actively support the French, either by relieving French divisions or by attacking German positions.

- With the Russian armies retreating to the San River in Galicia, the advancing German and Austro-Hungarian armies are able to reach today's objectives with minimal fighting.  The leadership of the two armies, meanwhile, meet today at Pless in Silesia, where the Kaiser has made his headquarters, to discuss the next phase of the operation.  It is agreed that once again the German 11th Army will undertake the primary offensive, attacking on both sides of the town of Jaroslau and securing a bridgehead over the San River north of Przemysl.  To the south the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army will cover Przemysl itself, which, despite damage in the spring, may yet constitute a strongpoint in the Russian line.  Further south the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army and Südarmee will pursue the Russians as they fall back from the Carpathians, while the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army will cover the northern flank of the Germany 11th Army up to the Vistula River.

Also today, south of Dukla a small group of officers from the former Russian 48th Division, including its commander General Kornilov, are captured today.

- This morning in east Galicia elements of the Russian XXXIII Corps occupy the town of Horodenka, which had just hours before been abandoned by Austro-Hungarian units that had been battered after three days of constant fighting and reduced to less than half strength.  The loss of Horodenka unhinges the Austro-Hungarian defence, and effectively turns the flank of the right wing of 7th still holding the Dniester River to the east.  Reluctantly General Pflanzer-Baltin orders these forces to retreat south to the next river line along the Pruth.

- Today the Italian cabinet meets in Rome for a decisive session.  As Prime Minister Salandra declares, the time has come to decide between peace and war, and he drops any pretence of 'choosing' between two offers and instead openly advocates for war against Austria-Hungary.  Not everyone in Cabinet is fully convinced, however, and there remains the issue of parliamentary support.  Salandra pledges to consult party leaders about intervention, though he believes the responses will tend towards neutrality.

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11th, 1915

- For months the First Sea Lord, Admiral Fisher, has held deep misgivings about the Dardanelles operation, fearing heavy losses for negligible gain.  When Admiral de Robeck's signal arrives at the Admiralty suggesting another naval attempt to force the straits, Fisher erupts in anger, writing to Churchill: 'I cannot under any circumstances be a party to any order to Admiral de Robeck to make any attempt to pass the Dardanelles until the shores have been effectively occupied.'  Churchill, in contrast, is willing to at least allow a limited attack to clear the minefield off Kephez.  The vast divergence of opinion between the two over the Dardanelles operation is now in the open, and Fisher has laid down the gauntlet: if the naval operation proceeds he will no longer serve as First Sea Lord.  Another fuse is lit . . .

- General d'Urbal orders further attacks today in Artois, and sends additional divisions to XXXIII and XX Corps as reinforcements.  After a two hour artillery bombardment, the infantry advance, but are repeatedly repulsed by strong German defences; Pétain reports his attacks are broken up by heavy machine gun fire on his flanks and increased enemy artillery fire.  On the German side OHL releases 117th Division as a further reinforcement to 6th Army, and it arrives southwest of Lens.  With additional reinforcements it is hoped to be able to hold the threatened villages of Carency and Ablain.

- Today President Wilson presents to his cabinet the draft of a note he intends to send to the German government regarding the sinking of Lusitania.  While he states that he does not believe the German government directly ordered the sinking, he sees it as the natural consequence of conducting unrestricted submarine warfare:
The government of the United States desires to call the attention of the Imperial German Government . . . to . . . the practical impossibility of employing submarines in the destruction of commerce without disregarding those rules of fairness, reason, justice, and humanity which all modern opinion regards as imperative.  It is practically impossible for the officers of a submarine at sea to visit a merchantman at sea and examine her papers and cargo.  It is practically impossible for them to make a prize of her; and if they cannot put a prize crew on board her, they cannot sink her without leaving her crew and all aboard to the mercy of the sea in her small boats.  . . . Manifestly, submarines cannot be used against merchantmen . . . without an inevitable violation of many sacred principles of justice and humanity.
Within cabinet, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan sees the note as too pro-British; have not the British also violated international law in their conduct of their naval blockade of Germany?  Bryan also opposes Americans travelling on ships belonging to combatants.  His views are opposed by State Department Counselor Robert Lansing, who argues that the American government, having permitted American citizens to sail on British steamships to date, cannot now disavow such activity, and must insist on a German pledge to never conduct such an attack again.  Bryan's objections are overruled, and Wilson's original note will be conveyed to the German government as is.

- In Galicia the Russian 3rd and 8th Armies begin their retreat eastward towards the San River, pursued by (from northwest to southeast) the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army, the German 11th Army, the Austro-Hungarian 3rd and 2nd Armies, and Südarmee.  In places the battered Russians are able to disengage entirely, while in others their retreat is hastened by yet further fighting.

- Only in far eastern Galicia are the Russian still on the advance, continuing their offensive into the Bukovina.  Today the Russian XXXIII Corps enlarged its bridgehead across the Dniester River yesterday, and today an attack to the west against the right wing of the Austro-Hungarian 15th Division forces the latter back.  This retreat threatens the flank of the forces bottling up XXXIII Corps, and as a result the Austro-Hungarians are forced to withdraw to a new defensive line to the south, running through Horodenka and Obertyn.

- In Italy King Victor Emmanuel meets with Prime Minister Salandra this afternoon.  The monarch is in a better mood than in prior days; yesterday's meeting with Giolitti has reassured him that the former prime minister will not attempt to return to power and provoke a grave constitutional crisis.  Salandra, however, is still concerned about the extent of Giolitti's support in parliament, as the latter has voiced the belief that a vote of four-fifths against intervention would be sufficient to annul any otherwise binding commitment made to the Entente.

- In Mesopotamia General Nixon, commanding the Indian forces at and around Basra, formally instructs General Townshend of 6th Indian Division to clear the positions held by the Ottomans around Qurna, advance upriver, and occupy Amara.