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.

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