Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 30th, 1915

- Over the past two days, the German 11th Army has been able to advance northwards into southern Russian Poland without encountering significant resistance, given the retreat of Russian forces opposite.  By today, the greatest impediment to 11th Army's movement is the length of its eastern flank: the further north it goes, the longer the eastern flank becomes, which in turns requires greater forces to hold.  By today, of the six corps belonging to 11th Army in the line, only two are still advancing to the north, while the remaining four hold the flank to prevent a Russian counterattack hitting a gap between it and the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army to the south.  The result is that a greater portion of responsibility for the actual advance falls on the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army to the west, the entirety of which can be committed to the advance.

Meanwhile the Russian 3rd Army takes up new defensive positions along the Wyznica and Por River, the former falling on the Kraśnik battle from August of the year before.  It is clear to the Russians that the Germans intend to continue to advance between the Vistula and Bug Rivers, and reinforcements are ordered to assemble at Brest-Litovsk, including VI Siberian Corps and a division drawn from each of 5th and 10th Armies.

- After a week of artillery fire and probing attacks, the Italian 2nd and 3rd Armies along the Isonzo River begin their main attacks today, with the heaviest fighting undertaken by VII Corps moving against the Karst plateau.  The Italians outnumber the Austro-Hungarians by a margin of more than two to one, but otherwise all of the advantages lay with the latter, even beyond the usual enjoyed by defenders in the First World War.  The mountainous terrain of the region very much favours the defence; Italian infantry has to navigate barbed wire and shell holes while advancing (in some cases climbing) uphill.  The Italians also lack the equipment of modern warfare that combat on other fronts has shown to be essential - not only is there a shortage of wire-cutters, but the infantry lacks even steel helmets.  There was also no effort to co-ordinate or even plan the infantry advance; artillery bombardments would end minutes before assaults would begin, and soldiers were simply ordered to charge the enemy positions in tight formations that could hardly be more vulnerable to machine gune fire.  Italian officers go into battle in colourful peacetime uniforms and badges of rank that made them obvious targets for snipers, and carried with them swords that are ludicrously out of place on the modern battlefield.  These attacks have a predictable result, and Austro-Hungarian infantry report that the enemy infantry made easier targets of themselves than dummies on pre-war firing ranges.  It takes a special level of ineptitude to make the Austro-Hungarian army look proficient, but the Italians are just getting started at the effort.  Needless to say, today's attacks get nowhere while suffering heavy losses.

- The position of Romania has long been a concern of Prime Minister Tisza of Hungary, given that the Hungarian portion of the Dual Monarchy contains a significant Romanian neutrality.  Earlier in the war, he had been concerned that Italian entry, coupled with defeats in the Carpathians, might trigger Romanian intervention.  With Italian intervention being  shown to be of no great significance and with the Russians continuing to retreat on the Eastern Front, Tisza's attention has returned to Romania, but this time with the mindset of coercing Romania into adopting a pro-Austro-Hungarian line.  Today Tisza sends a memorandum to Conrad urging that after the completion of the campaign on the Eastern Front, forces earmarked for redeployment to the Western and Italian Fronts should first be concentrated on the Romanian frontier, at which point the Romanian government would be presented with an ultimatum to allow free transit of men and supplies to the Ottoman Empire or face invasion and annihilation.

- On Gallipoli the French undertake another small attack on the right flank of the line at Cape Helles.  After another concentrated artillery bombardment which destroys the Ottoman trenches, French infantry sweep over a defensive position known as the Quadrilateral while suffering minimal casualties, though efforts to advance further are stymied.  To the north, it is the Ottomans going on the attack, launching a surprise attack on the ANZAC lines just after midnight.  The preparations for the attack do not go unnoticed, however, and as soon as the Ottoman infantry leave their trenches they come under murderous fire by the Australian 8th (Victoria) Light Horse, and are slaughtered for no gain.

Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29th, 1915

- Joffre writes to the minister of war today calling for a conference between the leaders of the Entente to co-ordinate strategy next week at his headquarters at Chantilly, to coincide with a previously-scheduled visit of Lord Kitchener to France.  Particularly in light of Russian defeat, Serbian inactivity, Italian hesitancy, and an apparent British preference for Gallipoli, Joffre argues that such a meeting is essential to ensure continued offensive pressure against Germany, the primary enemy.

- General Pétain responds today to Joffre's inquiry regarding future operations against Germany by asserting that a decisive victory or breakthrough is no longer possible, given the military conditions prevalent on the Western Front.  As he explains to Joffre:
The war has become a war of attrition.  There will be no decisive battle as in other times.  Success will come eventually to the side that has the last man.  The only objective we should seek is to kill as many Germans as we can while suffering a minimum of losses.
Specifically Pétain argues for meticulously-planned and lavishly-supplied limited operations designed to wear out the Germans.  However much Pétain's views are a reasonable response to the experience of operations on the Western Front since the Battle of the Marne, they are unpalatable to Joffre.  From his perspective, adopting such a course would decrease pressure on the Germans and allow them to concentrate on crushing the Russians, to say nothing of condemning a significant portion of French territory to indefinite German occupation until the end of the war at some distant date.  The primary issue with Pétain's views is that they do not provide a path to the early end of the war desired by Joffre and the rest of the leadership of the French army; Pétain's time has not yet come.

- The northward advance of the German 11th Army from Rawa Ruska past Tomaszow has outflanked the Russian 3rd Army to the west, and today General Alexeiev, whose North-West Front has taken command of 3rd Army, issues orders overnight for it to fall back north from its lines along the San and Tanew Rivers.  Discovering that the Russians opposite have retired, the Austro-Hungarian 1st (on the left) and 4th (on the right) Armies undertake an energetic pursuit.

- For the past forty-eight hours engineers accompanying the British expedition sailing up the Euphrates River towards Nasiriyah have been dynamiting the barrage erected by the Ottomans across the river at Akaika. This afternoon a shallow gap is finally created, though the Euphrates promptly flows through with such force that the boats of the flotilla could not sail through it, and have to be dragged through the gap by hand before the expedition can proceed upriver.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June 28th, 1915

- Overnight the Russian forces north of the German 11th Army pull back again, allowing the Germans an uncontested advance that sees them reach their objectives for the day by noon.  The rapid march to the northwest, however, serves to further draw 11th Army away from the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army on its southern flank, and the German 119th Division has to be sent into the line between the Beskid Corps and 11th Bavarian Division to avoid a dangerous gap opening.

- In the Balkans, the First World War is in many ways merely an extensive of conflicts between the various states and ethnic groups of the region stretching back decades.  Thus the focus of Serbia and its neighbouring ally Montenegro is not simply on defeating Austria-Hungary, but their attention is also directed towards the south.  The state of Albania had only come into existence in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars, and has become a failed state 'governed' by various tribal groups.  Already both Italy and Greece have taken advantage of the distraction of the Great Powers to occupy portions of Albania, and both Serbia and Montenegro are loath to the let what they perceive to be their rightful share slip away.  As a result, even as Russia is begging Serbia to attack Austria-Hungary, both Serbia and Montenegro this month have sent forces to secure a portion of northern Albania, the latter occupying Scutari today.  The Balkan states have no intention of allowing the greatest conflict in the history of mankind to distract them from settling scores with their neighbours.

- After the minor French success on the 21st, today it is the turn of the British on Cape Helles to launch a small-scale attack with overwhelming artillery concentration.  Their objective are trenches along Gully Spur and the adjacent Gully Ravine, and by the time the main attack is launched at 11am just over 16 000 shells, constituting almost half the entire British supply on Cape Helles, have been fired at the Ottoman lines.  When the infantry goes in, 29th Indian Brigade is able to make progress up the coastal side of Gully Spur while 1st Dublin Fusiliers fights its way up a portion of Gully Ravine.  As with the French attack of a week prior, the British operation is a success, though not one of sufficient scope to be of great significance to the wider campaign on Gallipoli.  By nightfall, the Ottomans begin launching what will be a series of mass counterattacks to retake the lost positions.

- In German Kamerun the Anglo-French column that had attempted to advance on Jaunde from the west, only to retreat in the face of German pressure and casualties, returns to Ngwe today.  The two Nigerian battalions of the column have lost half their strength, and the sickness of many of the survivors combined with the scarcity of supplies, combined with the imminent rainy season, rules out any resumption of the offensive in the near future.  To the British and French, therefore, it appears that their effort to seize the heart of the German defense in Kamerun has failed.  In practice, of course, the attack was aimed in the wrong direction; Ngaundere to the north, not Jaunde in the south, has been the focal point for the Germans.

Ironically, today a British column moving southward after the capture of Garua earlier this month occupies Ngaundere; without intending to, and without being aware of it, the Entente have actually won a significant success.  The Germans have been counting on the food and resources of the northern plateau of Kamerun to sustain their forces, and now that they have been deprived of the region the only alternative is to focus on the south and the trade link with the neutral Spanish colony of Muni.

- In German East Africa the force assembled in May under the retired major-general Kurt Wahle has crossed over the southwest frontier of the colony to enter British Rhodesia, and today attacks the post of Saisi, east-south-east of the town of Abercorn.  The defenders, consisting of Rhodesian police and Belgian soldiers, hold off the Germans, and the latter fall back.

The frontier between German East Africa and British Rhodesia.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 27th, 1915

- With the end of the 2nd Battle of Artois, Joffre has already begun to turn his attention towards the next major French offensive, in which he aims to take advantage of the German redeployment of forces to the Eastern Front to 'rupture' their defences and force the enemy to fight in the open.  Soliciting the opinions of his key subordinates, Joffre asks Foch today for his comments on a possible offensive undertaken by his Northern Army Group with thirty-five divisions and five hundred artillery pieces.  Similarly, the French commander-in-chief asks Castlenau for an assessment of an attack by thirty divisions and three to four hundred artillery in the sector of his Central Army Group.  Given his reputation as a rising star and the success of his corps on the first day of the most recent offensive in Artois, Joffre also asks Pétain for his views regarding the suggestion made to Foch.

- Overnight the Russian forces opposite the left wing of the German 11th Army withdraw to a new defensive line running through Ruda Rozaniecka and Plazow, but this evening the Austro-Hungarian 11th Division, on 11th Army's western flank, seizes the latter village this evening.

- After the capture of Amara on the Tigris River earlier this month, the Indian corps in lower Mesopotamia has turned its attention to the Euphrates, as 12th Indian Division has been ordered to advance upriver and seize Nasiriyeh.  Hammar Lake, en route to Nasiriyeh, is notoriously shallow, and to traverse it has required the assembly of a curious flotilla of shallow-draught stern-wheelers and tugs, and in a neat bit of imperial symmetry the former had been originally constructed in 1884 for service on the Nile with the Gordon relief expedition.  After numerous groundings the vessels reach the western exit of the lake at Akaika today, only to find it blocked by a barrier of vessels sunk by the Ottomans.  The expedition halts as dynamite is brought up from Basra to blast their way through.

The British advance towards Nasiriyeh, June and July, 1915.

- In German South-West Africa, the main German force falls back along the railway to the northeast to Otavi today, fearing that otherwise the South Africans will outflank them.  Here the Germans intend to make a stand, forcing the enemy to fight their way through and hopefully buying time to erect further defensive positions to the rear.

Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26th, 1915

- After elements of the French II and VI Corps attacked the German 9th Division on the western face of the St.-Mihiel salient six days ago and seized a stretch of the first trench line, the German 10th Division just to the north undertakes its own attack today to relieve the French pressure, and succeeds in occupying most of the high ground at Les Éparges, which had been one of the key positions seized by the French during the Battle of the Woevre in April.

- In Russia the disaster in Galicia has inevitably led to witch hunts for those deemed responsible, and the mantle has fallen on War Minister General Vladimir Sukhomlinov.  The generals at the front, unwilling to accept responsibility for their own mistakes, instead focus on the shortage of munitions, the production of which is the responsibility of the Sukhomlinov.  While the war minister has jealously guarded his powers, the problem of munitions is as much about distribution as it is about production, and stockpiles of hundreds of thousands of shells continue to sit in obsolete fortresses.  Moreover, Sukhomlinov has alienated many in the aristocratic officer corps, who have deeply resented some of his halting efforts to modernize the more antiquated aspects of the Russian army, and his long-standing personal rivals eagerly seize the moment to condemn him.  Sukhomlinov thus makes the perfect scapegoat and the Tsar is prevailed upon to dismiss him today, his replacement being General A. A. Polivanov.

- In Galicia the German 11th Army begins the next stage of its offensive, driving north from Rawa Ruska towards the pre-war frontier between Austria-Hungary and Russian Poland.  The advance of the left wing heavily contested, and only after hard fighting is it able to reach Miasteczko, its objective for today, by this evening.  To the east, however, the Russian XII and XXVIII Corps of 8th Army have already retreated, allowing the German XXII Reserve and Guard Corps, plus the Austro-Hungarian VI Corps, to advance uncontested.  On the right wing of 11th Army, XLI Reserve Corps plus the Beskid Corps (the latter reassigned from the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army) largely remain in place to preserve the connection between 11th Army and 2nd Army to the south.

The advance of the German 11th Army in southern Poland, June 26th to 30th, 1915.

- In the six months since the abject failure of the 3rd Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia, the front between the two countries has been generally inactive.  This has suited the Serbs, given that over the winter and spring the country has been ravaged by a typhus epidemic.  On the Austro-Hungarian side, however much Conrad might have wished to crush the Serbs, the crisis in Galicia meant that there was a steady transfer of units from the Serbian front to the Eastern Front.  Moreover, by the time German intervention at Gorlice-Tarnow saved the Austro-Hungarian position in Galicia, Italian entry into the war had become apparent, which necessitated a further drawdown of forces facing the Serbs to man the Italian Front.  The result has been that the Austro-Hungarian units in the Balkans are actually outnumbered, and moreover are composed primarily of reservists and Landsturm militia.

To deter the Serbs from undertaking an offensive, the Austro-Hungarians begin a campaign of deception today to convince the Serbs that a more powerful force opposes them than is actually the case.  Infantry march regularly between camps, rail traffic is increased, and artillery batteries maintain a steady barrage across the Danube River into Serbian territory, while the small number of German detachments sent to support the Austro-Hungarians in the Balkans make themselves particularly visible among the Serbian population of southern Hungary, knowing that word of their presence will inevitably travel across the border.  The expectation is that the Serbian army, while it may relish an opportunity to fight an Austro-Hungarian army it has already defeated three times, would certainly refrain from attacking if they believe a sizeable German contingent is present

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June 25th, 1915

- In Artois the French undertake another attempt to seize the village of Souchez today, but they are repulsed by the German 12th Division after bitter fighting.  The attack at Souchez is effectively the last gasp of the battle, as Joffre formally halts the offensive today.  Since the start of the French spring offensive on May 9th, they have managed to advance three kilometres along an eight kilometre stretch of the line.  However, the French failed utterly to either sustain a breakthrough of the German line or seize Vimy Ridge; indeed, the high water mark of the offensive came in its first hours when advance elements of XXXIII Corps actually surmounted Vimy Ridge, only to be pushed back before reinforcements could arrive.  The French failure came despite plastering the German lines with over 2 million shells, while in comparison German artillery fired approximately 1.9 million shells.  As would be shown again and again on the Western Front, an increase in the volume of shells did not inherently lead to any better results on the battlefield.  Moreover, the French suffered just over 100 000 thousand casualties in Artois, and when the diversionary attacks undertaken elsewhere are taken into account, the total climbs to over 140 000.  The spring offensive in Artois was the largest such operation yet undertaken by the French army on the Western Front but, despite the brief glimmer of hope on the first day, it was no more successful than prior offensives since the aftermath of the Battle of Marne.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24th, 1915

- Since the first weeks of the war, Joffre has struggled with the necessities of coalition warfare, whereby he can implore and plead but cannot order his allies, especially the British.  He feels that if the British and Belgians fighting alongside the French are to make the required contribution to victory, they need to coordinate their actions with the French.  In Joffre's mind, given that the vast majority of the Western Front is held by the French, this coordination of necessity means the British and Belgians need to follow his own instructions.  Joffre expresses his desire for the conduct of the war to be 'centralized' in his headquarters in a letter to the minister of war today.  Doing so will also ensure that France's allies remain focused on the main theatre of the war, and avoid distractions elsewhere.  It is also, perhaps, not a coincidence that Joffre makes the proposal in the immediate aftermath of the first instance of substantial political criticism of his management of the war; recalcitrant allies make for a useful excuse for failure, and places responsibility for securing the necessary coordination on the politicians.

- As a result of the abatement of French attacks in Artois, 3rd Bavarian Division is able to retake today the shattered trenches of the 'Labyrinth' south of Neuville, which the French had won at great expense over the prior weeks.

- After the evident failure of yesterday's artillery bombardment, Cadorna decides to postpone the main infantry attacks along the Isonzo River to give the artillery more time to have a decisive effect.  After a full day of shelling, small reconnaissance parties are again sent forward to observe the extent of the damage, and as yesterday discover the enemy defences largely still intact.

- Tsar Nicholas II meets today with his army commanders today at Baranowicze to discuss the deteriorating situation in Galicia.  Not only has almost all the ground gained in Austria-Hungary been lost over the past six weeks, but there seems to be little prospect of being able to hold the Germans in the near future.  Between them, North-West and South-West Fronts are five hundred thousand men under strength, and the replacements that have arrived have practically no training whatsoever.  There is also the continued difficulties with supply, thousands of infantry having to fight without rifles.  The best the Russians can hope for now is to stall for time and wait for autumn rains to turn the roads into mud and bring movement, especially of heavy artillery, to a halt.  Moreover, the German advance in Galicia has left Russian-occupied central Poland as a large bulge in the front line, and the Russians are not blind to the threat of simultaneous German attacks from the north and south cutting off the armies in the salient and winning a crushing victory.  To prevent this, the Tsar and his generals agree that a gradual retreat from central Poland will be necessary.  However, the Russians cannot simply retreat at full speed, as it would allow the Germans to pursue quickly and invade White Russia.  Instead, the overall plan is for a gradual withdrawal through a series of prepared defensive lines, slowing the Germans and making them work for every mile gained, while important pre-war forts such as Osowiec and Novogeorgievsk will act as anchors as the Russians fall back.  Orders are not immediately issued for the retreat to begin, however; instead, it will depend on the situation and the extent of German pressure.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 23rd, 1915

- Given the growing concerns in political circles regarding the management of the war effort, President Poincaré, Premier Viviani, and Minister of War Millerand attend a meeting today between Joffre and his army commanders.  When they criticize Joffre for failing to deliver the promised breakthrough in Artois, Joffre denies ever having made such a pledge in the first place, a statement that does not go over well with the politicians.  As the meeting progresses the government leaders observe that while there may be differences in the timing and location of future French offensives (Foch wants only a brief delay before attacking again, while Castlenau and Dubail argue for several months), all of the military chiefs accept the basic premise that France must continue offensive operations.  Standing on the defensive, it is suggested, would simply expose the French army to incessant German attacks, and it is a moral necessity to liberate the territories occupied by the enemy as quickly as possible.

- With the fall of Lemberg yesterday, General Mackensen issues orders for the next phase of the offensive.  With the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army on its left, the German 11th Army is to advance northwards in pursuit of the retreating Russians.  To allow time for adequate munitions and supplies to be stockpiled, the operation is scheduled to begin on the 26th.  Meanwhile, in an effort to lessen pressure on the Eastern Front, the Russian government today asks Serbia to undertake an invasion of Syrmia.

- The Italian army begins its first set-piece offensive operation today along the Isonzo River on the eastern edge of the Italian Front.  The Italian VII and X Corps of 3rd Army is to seize the plateau between Montafalcone and Sagrado, while II Corps of 2nd Army to the north is to seize Monte Kuk.  The plan, as devised by Cadorna, calls for a methodical artillery bombardment to precede the advance of the infantry, and accordingly the Italian artillery opens fire early this morning and fires throughout the day.  The Italian bombardment, however, suffers from several deficiencies.  First, there is a lack of medium and heavy artillery pieces, needed to destroy fixed defensive positions.  Second, the Italian army suffers from a distinct shortage of artillery shells, limiting the intensity of the bombardment.  Finally, the Italians have no concept of how to conduct a bombardment effectively; instead of concentrating their fire on particular positions, the Italians attempt to blanket the enemy areas with shells.  The result is that the artillery is nowhere near strong or effective enough to significantly disrupt the Austro-Hungarian defence.  This evening 3rd Army sends small parties forward to test the effectiveness of the bombardment, and discover that the enemy positions are completely intact.  The only ground the Italian army is able to seize today is that which is voluntarily abandoned by Austro-Hungarian advance guards as they pull back to their main defensive positions.  It is an inauspicious beginning entirely in line with how the war will progress for the Italians along the Isonzo River.

The Italian front along the Isonzo River, June 23rd, 1915.

- In German East Africa a British force crosses Lake Victoria and raids the village of Bukoba, on the western shore in the northwestern corner of the German colony.  As the village is undefended, the British are able to seize Bukoba and destroy its wireless station, the target of the raid.  The expedition was also undertaken to give the colonial force something constructive to do, given that the war to this point in eastern Africa has consisted of inaction interspersed with humiliating defeats.  Indeed, Bukoba becomes an outlet for the frustrations of the war to date, as looting and rape is both widespread and at least implicitly sanctioned.  As it turns out, by destroying the wireless station the British deny themselves the station's transmissions which had been regularly intercepted.  Overall, a thoroughly pointless 'victory'.

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22nd, 1915

- The French Council of Ministers meets today in Paris amidst widespread shock and dismay at the failed offensive in Artois.  For the first time in the war, Joffre comes in for sustained criticism, not only for raising expectations for the operation and subsequently not delivering, but also because the French failure stands in stark contrast to the dramatic German victory in Galicia, where they have advanced a hundred kilometres.  No longer are French politicians willing to automatically defer to the 'wisdom' of the generals.

- As elsewhere on the Western Front, French forces have been undertaking diversionary attacks in Lorraine and Alsace, in support of the main offensive in Artois.  In one attack launched today, the Army Detachment of Lorraine advances two kilometres along an eight kilometre stretch of the line, while in Alsace an advance by 7th Army forces the Germans to abandon the west bank of the Fecht River and the high ground at Metzeral.  While successful, these attacks are of no greater strategic significance; indeed, over the past month the Germans have moved several brigades from this sector to reinforce 6th Army in Artois.  Further, the French have suffered heavier losses; 7th Army has lost 6500 in its attacks, while German casualties number just over 3500.

- Overnight Russian forces evacuated the heights west of Zolkiew and abandoned the town in their retreat to the east, with the German XLI Reserve Corps and the Austro-Hungarian VI Corps in close pursuit.  With the defensive line north of Lemberg turned, General Brusilov of 8th Army orders the evacuation of Lemberg this morning, and hours later Austro-Hungarian cavalry sweep through the city.  Its liberation is an important victory for the Dual Monarchy, and in honour of the triumph Conrad is promoted to full general.  However, yet again an Austro-Hungarian achievement has only been accomplished due to the actions of the German army; Mackensen for his part is promoted to Field Marshal.

With Lemberg lost, General Ivanov of South-West Front orders 3rd and 4th Armies to retreat northwards to a line Lublin-Cholm-Vladimir Volynsky, in order to cover the roads leading to Brest-Litovsk.  8th and 11th Armies, meanwhile, are to fall back to the east and northeast towards the pre-war border and prepare new defences.

The Eastern Front after the fall of Lemberg, June 22nd, 1915.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 21st, 1915

- With French pressure slackening in Artois, Falkenhayn concludes that 6th Army has broken the enemy offensive.  Given that holding the line in Artois has required the deployment of all of OHL's reserves on the Western Front, Falkenhayn today orders that VIII Corps and three divisions prepare to withdraw from the front; after rest and reinforcement, they are to become the new OHL reserve in case the Entente attacks elsewhere on the Western Front.

- The 2nd Austro-Hungarian Army attacks the Russian defensive positions at Lemberg today, but are unable to make more than incremental gains.  To the north, the Beskid Corps and XLI Reserve Corps (the latter of the German 11th Army) attack the Russian line on the high ground west of Zolkiew, and after dark the Russians abandon their positions and retreat through Zolkiew to the east.

- After defeat in the 3rd Battle of Krithia, the British and French forces clinging to Cape Helles on Gallipoli have foresworn major operations, at least until furhter reinforcements arrive.  Nevertheless, the Entente commanders believe that pressure must be maintained on the Ottoman lines to prevent them from further fortifying their positions and keep enemy forces tied down.  To accomplish this, it has been decided to undertake small-scale assaults in which the infantry would seize a small chunk of the line, and then concentrated artillery fire would hold off Ottoman counterattacks.  The first operation is launched today by the French on the eastern end of the line, advancing along a 650-yard stretch of the front. It has been preceded by a massive artillery bombardment, over thirty thousand shells being expended over several days.  At 6am the French 176th and 6th Colonial Regiments attack, and the former is able to not only seize the strong Ottoman defensive position known as the Haricot redoubt but also hold it against determined counterattacks.  Though the French suffer 2500 casualties, the Ottomans have lost 6000 men, and thought there has been nothing like a breakthrough, the attack is a clear, if minor, success.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

June 20th, 1915

- Another diversionary attack is launched today by the French army, this time against the northern flank of the St.-Mihiel salient, where repeated attacks by II and VI Corps manage to seize the first trench line held by the German 9th Division.  The French, however, are not the only ones capable of such secondary operations: today 9th Landwehr and 27th Württemberg Division attack on the western edge of the Argonne, and with the aid of flamethrowers seize a strech of the French line.

- With the German breakthrough of the Russian position at Horodysko and the subsequent advance to the Rawa Ruska-Lemberg road yesterday, General Brusilov of 8th Army realizes that the rest of the Russian line running south along the Wereszyca is now in danger of being outflanked from the north.  As a result, he issues orders this morning for 8th Army to fall back on Lemberg to the east, occupying the trenches protecting the city.  On the German side, General Mackensen directs the bulk of 11th Army to pivot to the north; while the advance eastward has lengthened the northern flank of 11th Army, it has also stretched the Russian 3rd Army opposite, and opened an opportunity to strike against the exposed flank of the Russian armies holding central Poland.  The Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army, meanwhile, was assigned responsibility for the recapture of Lemberg.

As the Russian corps south of Zotkiew pull back this morning, the southern wing of the German 11th Army and the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army spend today in pursuit, and by evening IV, XIX, and XVIII Corps of the latter had closed up to the Russian defences at Lemberg.  To the north, while the German Guard Corps holds its position along the Rawa Ruska-Lemberg road, advance elements of XXII Reserve Corps enter Rawa Ruska itself.

- At the beginning of the month, the Russian government had appointed a special commission to supervise the supply of the war, mainly to head off criticism of their management of the war.  Reflective of the administrative chaos endemic within the Russian government, today that commission is replaced by a new council that does essentially the same thing, and has the authority to compel private industry to accept government orders for munitions.  The primary purpose of this new council, however, remains to counter political criticism; hence the inclusion among its membership the president and four other members of the Duma.

Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19th, 1915

- After a heavy two-hour artillery bombardment, at 7am this morning the German 11th Army launches its attack on the Russian defence line running south from Rawa Ruska.  The most important fighting is in the centre, where the Guard Corps seizes the high ground at the village of Horodysko and forces the Russian XVIII Corps to retreat, the latter leaving behind 2500 prisoners.  The Guard divisions exploit the breakthrough and advance to seize Dobrosin on the road between Lemberg and Rawa Ruska.  To the north, XXII Reserve Corps reaches Lipnik, just south of Rawa Ruska, while to the south XLI Reserve Corps is held up by stiff Russian resistance near Majdan.  The 2nd Austro-Hungarian Army also has a difficult day of fighting, though XVIII Corps is able to complete the capture of Grodek and 14th Division is able to cross the Weresyca River where it enters the Dniester.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18th, 1915

- In line with Joffre's instructions of yesterday, Foch orders d'Urbal of 10th Army to halt major attacks along the front in Artois, and concentrate solely on capturing the village of Souchez.

- In Galicia the German 11th Army spends the day preparing to assault the Russian line south of Rawa Ruska.  Mackensen's orders call for a breakthrough along a twenty kilometre length of the front west of Magierow, followed by a drive to the northeast towards the Lemberg-Rawa Ruska road.  This would disrupt the Russian defence of Lemberg, allowing the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army to seize the city.  The attack is to be launched tomorrow, and today German artillery bombards the Russian lines while the infantry work their way forward to establish jumping-off points as close as possible to the enemy trenches.

Meanwhile, on the southern flank of 11th Army, the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army continues to assault the Russian line along the Wereszyca River.  Though a number of attacks fail, elements of 33rd division are able to cross at Komarno and cover the construction of a military bridge over the river.  To the north, this afternoon a Russian counterattack led by 3rd Guard Division hits the junction between 11th Army and the 4th Austro-Hungarian Army to the west.  Here a new formation under General Hermann von Stein, commanding 8th Bavarian Reserve and 56th Divisions, had been created to maintain a link between the two armies.  With the assistance of the Austro-Hungarian XVII Corps, the Russian advance is checked after hand-to-hand fighting, and the area north of the village of Horyniec is secured by Stein's forces this evening.

- A joint meeting is held today by the cabinets of the Austrian and Hungarian portions of the Dual Monarchy to discuss the economic burdens of the war.  In the face of the demands of Conrad for vastly increased munitions production, Prime Minister Tisza of Hungary can only reply that while he is sympathetic, even military output at the current rate will cause growing financial difficulties, and he estimates that, economically, Austria-Hungary can continue the war with present levels of production for eight months.

- Given that Italian hopes for a rapid advance after entering the war have been dashed by both the realities of modern combat and the mountainous terrain, Cadorna and his subordinates are planning the first major deliberate Italian offensive along the Isonzo River, to be undertaken by 2nd and 3rd Army.  The preparations, however, are not concerned with minimizing casualties; indeed, the extent to which Italian generals actually care about the welfare of the soldiers under their command is illustrated today when the commander of 2nd Army issues a circular ordering that units must continue to fight and not be withdrawn from the front until they have suffered 75% casualties.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June 17th, 1915

- The Dardanelles Committee, the supreme decision-making body of the new coalition government, meets in London today, and in light of the continued deterioration of the Russian position on the Eastern Front decides to offer two further divisions to General Hamilton, hoping that success on Gallipoli will repair Entente prestige in the Balkans and bolster their Russian ally.

- French attacks continue in Artois this morning, but are no more successful than those of yesterday, and only along the road running from Aix-Noulette to Souchez are the French able to gain and hold any ground.  Joffre visits Foch's headquarters this morning, and in light of the high casualty total and the continued failure to break through the German line, the French commander-in-chief orders that future attacks be limited to those sectors where progress has already been made.

Though the French have suffered greatly, German formations committed to the battle have also suffered heavy casualties.  The battle has been a constant draw on German reserves, as divisions are rotated into the line, only to themselves need relief in a matter of weeks.  The headquarters of I Bavarian Reserve Corps reports today that its 58th Division is incapable of further fighting, while 16th Division, which is considered to be in an even weaker state, is pulled out and replaced by 11th Division.  Further reinforcements are also dispatched to Artois, including two brigades from Lorraine, a division from 4th Army, and thirteen heavy artillery batteries.

- This morning the German 11th Army continues its advance eastward in Galicia, and by afternoon has closed up to the new Russian defence line running south from Rawa-Ruska.  Concluding that the enemy position cannot be taken by a coup de main, the corps commanders of 11th Army each decide that the assault on the Russian line should only follow a preliminary artillery bombardment.  After yesterday's rapid advance, the field artillery spends today catching up with the infantry, and preparations are made to open fire tomorrow.  Further south, the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army closes up to the Russian line along the Wereszyca River, but are unable to force their way across today.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16th, 1915

- After several weeks of small-scale attacks, the French 10th Army undertakes a major assault today in Artois, moving against the German line from Liévin in the north through Souchez and Neuville almost to Arras in the south.  In addition to placing additional reserves at General d'Urbal's disposal, Joffre has insisted that the lessons learnt from the failures of prior operations be implemented.  Not only will these reserves be placed much closer to the front line than was the case on May 9th, but the preliminary artillery bombardment is to be more nuanced.  Realizing that simply pounding the German line for several days gave the Germans too much warning of an impending attack, for this assault the artillery is to target a sufficiently diverse range of German targets to avoid giving away the French plan.  Instead, the first German trench line is to be targeted by a massive bombardment the moment the French infantry leave their own trenches, so as to not only destroy the German defences but leave them insufficient time to respond.  For this bombardment, over a thousand artillery pieces have been assigned to 10th Army, and together they fire almost five hundred thousand shells prior to and during the attack, almost double the number fired prior to and on May 9th.

Despite the concentration of firepower, the preliminary bombardment is deemed to be insufficient this morning, and the infantry attack is postponed from 9am to 1215pm to allow for additional artillery fire.  When the French infantry go over the top, they run into a storm of German fire, and are limited to incremental gains: between Liévin and Angers XXI Corps seizes the first trench line formerly held by the German 7th Division, another trench is seized at Lorette Spur, XXXIII Corps reaches the edge of Souchez, and elements of XX, X, and XVII Corps fight their way into the mess of trenches and defensive positions in the Labyrinth.  The greatest French success is achieved by the Moroccan Division south of Souchez, which advances up to a kilometre along a front of four hundred metres.  Nowhere, however, had the French achieved anything like the breakthrough of May 9th, when elements of Pétain's XXXIII Corps had advanced six kilometres and reached the summit of Vimy Ridge.  Instead, today's attacks have failed to break through the German line at any point - indeed, German counterattacks this evening retake the trench lost earlier in the day between Liévin and Angers - and what little ground has been taken and held has been purchased at the cost of 19 000 casualties.  Today's assault has been a dismal failure.

Meanwhile, another attack intended to divert German attention from Artois had been launched on June 6th ten kilometres south of Noyon, and when it is halted today the French 6th Army has managed to advance only five hundred yards while suffering 7905 casualties.

- In Galicia the realization gradually dawns on the German and Austro-Hungarian commanders this morning that the Russians have retreated overnight, and a vigorous pursuit is ordered.  The German 11th Army advances rapidly eastward, with fighting limited to skirmishes with Russian rearguards.  To the south the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army is also able to advance now that the Russians have fallen back, and by this evening are approaching the lower Wereszyca River, on the east bank of which the Russians have entrenched.

Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15th, 1915

- The French have expanded their aerial bombardment of German industrial targets, creating additional squadrons to undertake these operations, and today twenty-three bombers attack the German city of Karlsruhe.

- In Galicia the German 11th Army endures another day of hard fighting as it continues its advance to the east.  Once again it is the Guard Corps making the greatest headway, with 2nd Guard Division pushing into the woods south of the village of Hruszow.  Both flanks also make progress, though to a lesser degree than Guard Corps.  Notably, on the northern wing X Corps is increasingly stretched as it seeks to remain in contact with the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army to the northwest and the rest of 11th Army moving further eastward.  To avoid a gap opening between the two armies, 8th Bavarian Reserve Division is taken from army reserve and inserted into the line alongside X Corps.  Over the past three days the right wing of 4th Army itself has managed to push northeastwards from Sieniawa, and by this evening the Austro-Hungarian XVII Corps moves through Dobra.  On the other flank of 11th Army the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army continues to encounter stubborn Russian resistance, and it is only with the greatest of difficulty that they are able to advance.

General Brusilov's 8th Army, along with the left flank of 3rd Army, has put up greater resistance than the Germans and Austro-Hungarians had expected, and the attacking armies are now behind schedule.  The Russians, however, have also suffered greatly: 34 000 were taken prisoner on the 13th alone, and several divisions have been reduced to only several thousand effectives.  Moreover, the German Guard Corps has punched a clear hole through the second defensive line and pushed the Russian defenders into the open.  To continue holding their present positions would require the Russians to fight a battle of maneuver in the clear, a prospect that held little prospect of success.  Brusilov instead concludes that his army must withdraw to the next prepared defensive line, running south from Rawa Ruska through Magierow and Grodek to the east bank of the Wereszyca River, and orders for the retreat go out this evening.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14th, 1915

- Overnight the Russian 8th Army pulls back eastward in Galicia, retreating to a second defensive line that had been prepared prior to the resumption of the German offensive yesterday.  When the German 11th Army comes up against the new Russian entrenchments, hard fighting ensues; despite the heavy casualties already suffered by the Russians, they retain the ability to fight tenaciously on the defensive.  Only the Guard Corps and XXII Reserve Corps in the centre are able to push through this new line by evening, and everywhere 11th Army fails to reach the objectives for today set by Mackensen.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June 13th, 1915

- While the main French offensive has been grinding forward in Artois, secondary attacks have been undertaken at other points along the Western Front to distract the Germans and draw reserves away from the main theatre.  On June 7th the French 2nd Army attacked thirty kilometres south of Souchez, and when the operation is called off today it has managed to advance nine hundred metres on a front of two kilometres, at a cost of 10 351 casualties.

- In Galicia the main offensive of the German 11th Army begins at 4am this morning when almost a thousand artillery pieces open fire on the Russian front between the town of Mosciska in the south to the Lubaczowka River in the north.  For ninety minutes, the Russian defenses come under a massive bombardment, after which 120 000 German infantry surge forward from their trenches and attack.  At several places the Russian line is pierced, and by midday they are falling back all along the line.  The greatest success is achieved in the centre by the Guard Corps and the newly-arrived XXII Reserve Corps in the centre, while on the left X Corps crosses the Lubaczowka and on the right XLI Reserve Corps pushes across the swamps of the Wisznia River valley.  While hard fighting occurs at certain points, overall 11th Army has secured all of its initial objectives by the end of the day.  The only discordant note comes unexpectedly from the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army to the south, whose attack in co-ordination with the Germans breaks against fortified Russian positions at Hadynie.  This delay, however, is of no great importance to the larger plan, which so far is unfolding as Mackensen had envisioned.

The Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive, June 12th to 21st, 1915.

- In Greek elections held today the supporters of Eleutherios Venizelos, who had been dismissed as Prime Minister in March, win an overall majority.  However, due to the ongoing severe illness of King Constantine I - since April he has had pneumonia and pleurisy, had an operation to remove two ribs, and suffered a blood infection - coupled with the rivalry between the monarch and Venizelos, the latter will have to wait to be reappointed Prime Minister.

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 12th, 1915

- When the Canadian Division went into battle this spring, its infantry was equipped with the Mark III Ross rifle.  Manufactured in Canada, the Ross rifle was the end result of a prewar effort by the Canadian government to create a domestic armaments industry, lest in wartime it be cut off from British supplies, and it has the very public support of the high-profile Minister of Militia, Sam Hughes.  After many iterations to work out various problems, the Ross rifle became the standard-issue weapon for Canadian infantrymen.  It was an excellent hunting rifle, and provided it was used sparingly and in pristine condition it is capable of high-accuracy shots at great distance.  The core issue with the Ross rifle, however, was that these were not the conditions under which it was used in the trenches, and it has proven to be one of the worst rifles in the war.  When soldiers fire rapidly, as they often must, the Ross rifle is prone to jamming, a condition made more common by dirt fouling the firing mechanism.  So useless has the Ross rifle proved to be that, during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, thousands of Canadian soldiers threw their jammed rifles away and picked up Lee-Enfields off of dead British infantry.  Facing reality, the order is issued today to rearm the Canadian division with the Lee-Enfield, the standard rifle of the British army.  Though the Ross rifle will continue to be used by snipers, who can pace their shots and keep their rifles clean, its deployment in the trenches has been an undoubted debacle.

- Though the German 11th Army is to resume its offensive in Galicia tomorrow, an important preliminary attack is undertaken taken today at the town of Sieniawa, where 11th Army's northern flank and the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army meet.  Here a Russian counterattack on May 27th had carved out a salient in the Austro-Hungarian line, and before 11th Army can launch its main advance eastwards the salient must be eliminated.  This morning the German 22nd and 119th Divisions, attacking from the south, quickly collapse the Russian line.  On the western face, the Austro-Hungarian 26th Landwehr Division has more trouble initially, though by evening it has secured Sieniawa itself.  The Russian salient has been wiped out, and two bridges erected over the San to assist in the forward movement of supplies and reinforcements for the main operation.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 11th, 1915

- Over the past six days the fighting at the village of Neuville has been constant, and the French infantry have managed to literally inch their way forward, advancing their line by five hundred metres on a three hundred metre stretch of the line.  Needless to say, French casualties have been horrendous.  The Germans too, however, have suffered: XIV Corps around Neuville has been completed exhausted, and has had to be replaced by IV Corps.  Crucially, the latter had been designated to undertake a counterattack on the French, which in consequence has been called off.  Futher reinforcements have come from 1st Army (5th Division) and the GHQ reserve (5th Prussian Division), the latter replaced the completely worn out 15th Division today.  Though the French have utterly failed to break through, they are not the only ones being ground down by the fighting.

- At the outbreak of the war, General Cadorna and the leadership of the Italian army had envisioned large-scale advances into Austro-Hungarian territory, insisting for example on Serbian co-operation in the Balkans and what the two armies should do when they link.  The reality of war has sharply narrowed Cadorna's vision, as he discovers that the Italian Front is not immune to the type of positional warfare that has typified the war on other fronts.  Indeed, the mountainous terrain along the frontier between Italy and Austria-Hungary renders offensive operations even more difficult.  Coupled to this has been the hesitancy and incompetence shown by Italian generals, and the result has been minimal gains.  On the key front along the Isonzo River, the Italians have secured two crossings, but these have been contained and elsewhere the Austro-Hungarian defences have proven too strong.  In a communication to his commanders today Cadorna admits that the war of maneouvre they anticipated has not come to pass.  Instead, successful operations will necessitate the concentration of men and artillery, and the use of 'the method suggested by the experience of combat in the other allied theatres of operations, avoiding improvised attacks which although they show the valour of our troops do not allow [us] to achieve results proportional to [our] losses.'

- Once the presence of German submarines off of Gallipoli was apparent, the Russians concluded that their appearance in the Black Sea could not be ruled out.  As such, raids by large warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which had been ongoing for several months to interrupt coastal trade, were suspended, but operations by fast destroyers continued.  Today the Russian destroyers Gnyevni and Derski are intercepted during one such raid by the German light cruiser Breslau.  In the ensuing gun battle Gnyevni is crippled, but Breslau breaks off the action without going in for the kill and returns to the Bosphorus.  This enables Derski to take the damaged Gnyevni in tow back to safety, and the incident does not deter the Russians from planning further such raids.

- Oblivious to the signifance of the fall of Garua in northern Kamerun (indeed, ignorant of the very fact of its fall, given the complete absence of adequate communications), the French and British have been concentrating their columns in southern Kamerun, aiming at Jaunde.  Even beyond the fact that these columns are directed at the wrong target, they are proving to be failures.  From Edea in the west two columns - the British to the north and the French to the south - have been struggling along a track through the jungle and swamp.  Despite numbering less than six hundred, the German defenders have made use of the difficult terrain to ambush and delay the Franco-British force, which has been further weakened by disease.  Having suffered 25% casualties since departing Wum Biagas on May 25th, the column has been able to advance at a rate of only 1.5 kilometres per day.  At this snail's pace they will not reach Jaundre before the rainy season renders movement impossible.  The commander of the column has requested permission to abandon the advance, which General Charles Dobell, the senior British commander in German Kamerun, approves today.  A failure to understand the strategic basis of the German defence of the colony is now coupled with operational defeat.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June 10th, 1915

- In an effort to expand aircraft production, the French government orders that skilled workers from aircraft factories who had enlisted or been conscripted into the army after August 1st be allowed to return ti civilian life and reenter their prior occupation.  This is a recognition that while this is a war of mass armies, some men, given their skills, are more valuable out of uniform, given that the effectiveness of these mass armies are not only dependent on their size but also on the amount of material available for them to use.

- For several months Frederick Lugard, the British governor of Nigeria, has desired an attack against the fort at Garua in northwestern German Kamerun, especially after the German thrust of April to the Benue River undermined British prestige in northern Nigeria.  A combined Franco-British force of fourteen companies, accompanied by two heavy artillery pieces, has advanced to Garua, and by yesterday had closed to within a kilometre of the German positions.  The goal of the operation was not only to seize Garua but also cut off the garrison's line of retreat and force their surrender.  The first rounds fired by the artillery, however, panicked the askaris of the garrison, half of whom promptly fled by swimming down the Benue River towards Banyo.  Greatly weakened, the three hundred men remaining in Garua surrender the fort today before the British and French can launch an attack on the German line.

For the British and the French, the operation against Garua has been a subsidiary one, designed to restore British prestige and preempt further incursions into Nigeria.  They believe that the Germans are focusing their defensive efforts in the south of the colony, in the region surrounding Jaunde, which is where the British and French have directed their main attacks.  In fact, the Germans have based their defense of Kamerun on the broad northern uplands around Ngaundere, and Garua was the key to holding this territory.  Thus the Germans are greatly concerned about the fall of Garua, which calls into question their entire focus on the north, while the British and French have no idea of the significance of what they have actually managed to accomplish.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

June 9th, 1915

- For the past several days corps from the German 11th and the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Armies have been attacking the Russians lines south of  Mosciska and east of Przemysl, aiming to straighten out the front and seize the ground from which the resumption of the offensive will begin on the 13th.  Despite some successes, however, the Russians have held their positions tenaciously, and after minor successes Mackensen orders a halt to the attacks today, it being more desirable to conserve the strength of the armies for the major operation ahead.

To the southeast, the Russian VI Corps continues its counterattack against the left wing of Südarmee, forcing General Linsingen to redeploy a division and brigade of Austro-Hungarian infantry from his right wing to the left, and pull back those forces in the centre that had already crossed the Dniester.  Though Südarmee is able to contain the Russian advance, Linsingen is forced to postpone assembling a strong force on the north bank of the Dniester to roll up the Russian defensive positions along the river.

- Upon Italy's entry into the war, Britain and France dispatched warships to reinforce the Italian fleet in the Adriatic, as per the naval convention signed between the three powers on May 10th.  Since that time, the combined fleet has been conducting naval exercises, so as to acquaint themselves with each other and learn to be able to operate (in theory at least) as a single cohesive force.  The warships, however, do not make a particularly impressive sight: the French capital ships are poorly handled, the Italian ones emit sufficient smoke as to obscure each other and any potential target, and the British ones are very much the dregs of the Royal Navy, with all the first-rate warships in the North Sea and the second-rate off Gallipoli.  The most modern and effective of the British contingent is the light cruiser Dublin, so naturally during exercises today it is torpedoed by the Austro-Hungarian submarine U4.  Dublin manages to return to the port of Brindisi under its own power, but it will be out of commission for some time.  Hardly the start the Entente had hoped for in the Adriatic, but it has the 'benefit' of being no more successful than the start of the Italian campaign on land.

- Today the second American note on the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania is formally dispatched to the German government.

Monday, June 08, 2015

June 8th, 1915

- On the right wing of Südarmee, the German 48th Reserve Division captures the city of Kalusz overnight, and after a further advance today occupies the city of Stanislau without a fight.  On Südarmee's left wing, however, the Russian VI Corps launches a counterattack today at Zydaczow and Mikolajow, disrupting the Austro-Hungarian 7th Division as it was preparing to advance across the Dniester River.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

June 7th, 1915

- After the formation of the coalition government in Britain, the existing War Council was renamed the Dardanelles Committee, but otherwise retained the same functions and membership; indeed, for now Churchill even remains a members.  Today it meets for the first time in three weeks, and given the name change it is not surprising that the ongoing campaign on Gallipoli is the focus of discussion.  The early enthusiasm of February and March for the operation has dissipated, replaced by bewilderment at the lack of success and uncertainty as to the best course of action.  Should Gallipoli be reinforced, which by definition means taking units from elsewhere, or should it be evacuated, thus giving the Ottomans a great morale victory and damaging British prestige throughout the Balkans and the Muslim world.  After discussion today, including a memo from Churchill, it is agreed to send out a further three divisions to Gallipoli, constituting the reinforcements General Hamilton had requested after the failure of the Second Battle of Krithia.  No one as of yet is willing to countenance the embarrassment of defeat by advocating evacuation.

- Overnight three Zeppelins attempted bombing raids on England, with varying degrees of success.  The naval Zeppelin L9 drops ten explosive and fifty incendiary bombs on Hull, causing the most extensive damage inflicted on England by a Zeppelin to date.  Indeed, during the day there are anti-German riots in Hull, mobs attacking businesses supposedly owned by Germans.  The two army Zeppelins sent against England - LZ38 and LZ39 - suffer a much different fate.  The former develops engine trouble and returns to its base near Brussels, only to have its shed bombed by two British aircraft based at Dunkirk after daybreak.  LZ39, meanwhile, earns the dubious distinction of being the first Zeppelin shot down by enemy fire.  Near Ghent it was attacked by several British aircraft, and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Warneford manages to drop a bomb that detonates on the airship, causing it to burst into flames and plummet to the earth.  The victory earns Warneford acclaim and the Victoria Cross, while the German army concludes the Zeppelins under its direction would be more profitably used in reconnaissance and bombing roles on the Eastern Front.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

June 6th, 1915

- Since the failure of most of the British and French attacks on the 4th, the Ottomans have had the upper hand, as exhaustion and casualties have impaired the ability of the Entente infantry to hold what little ground they managed to seize.  For the past two days, the Ottomans have launched attack after attack on the British and French lines, and at times have come close to breaking through themselves.  In the dire circumstances, Entente artillery fired constantly, slaughtering the enemy infantry as they advanced.  On the front line, extreme measures have to be taken to hold off the Ottomans.  At one point on the line held by 42nd Division, an attack this morning led to a panicked retreat by British soldiers who abandoned two trench lines to the enemy.  A greater disaster is averted only when Second Lieutenant Dallas Moor, who at only eighteen years of age finds himself the senior officer left alive in 2nd Battalion of the Hampshires, confronts the fleeing soldiers and stops the rout by shooting several of them.  The importance of Moor's action is reflected in the award of a Victoria Cross for his actions.  By this evening the Ottoman pressure has slackened, and indeed the Ottomans have suffered greater casualties (9000) than the British (4500) or French (2000) in the Third Battle of Krithia.  Nevertheless, the battle is undoubtedly an Ottoman victory; the British have managed to hold only the most minimal of gains, and these are largely irrelevant given that they have been unable to break the stalemate that is very much to the Ottoman's advantage to maintain.

Friday, June 05, 2015

June 5th, 1915

- After three days of artillery bombardment French infantry attack the remnants of the village of Neuville in Artois.  In hard fighting they are able to seize the main road through the village, but heavy fire from Germans remaining in the cellars and rubble that have survived the shelling prevent consolidation of French control over Neuville.

- Just as the fall of Przemysl has been the occasion for debate between the German and Austro-Hungarian army leadership regarding future operations in Galicia, General Ivanov of South-West Front has also been reflecting on the state of his command.  Since the opening of the Gorlice-Tarnow offensive on May 2nd, the armies under his direction have suffered 412 000 casualties and are also short 300 000 rifles; many new recruits having to be sent to the front without weapons, with instructions to pick up the rifles of their fallen comrades.  Despite this, Ivanov sees some grounds for optimism.  He believes that the Germans have been using ammunition, especially artillery shells, at unsustainable rates, and that if the Russians can simply hold on the Germans will soon have to curtail operations due to munitions shortages.  On this basis he issues orders today for his armies to hold their present ground, while six corps are pulled out of the line to create reserves sufficient, it is hoped, to deal with future German offensives.

- In Washington today Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan has an emotional interview with President Woodrow Wilson.  The former objects not merely to the tone of the response to the sinking of the liner Lusitania, but more generally to what he perceives to be the harder line taken by the American government towards German unrestricted submarine warfare as opposed to the British naval blockade.  To Wilson, however, the issue is clear: the killing of civilians by sinking passenger ships without warning is reprehensible, and cannot be allowed to continue without objection.  While neither Wilson nor the American public have any appetite at present to enter the war, the president feels that it is a moral necessity to object as strongly as possible to the German conduct of the war at sea.  Bryan, himself no stranger to moralizing, understands that he cannot alter Wilson's view, and thus tenders his resignation.  The president accepts, and will appoint as Bryan's replacement Robert Lansing, currently an advisor at the State Department and a supporter of a harder line against Germany.  With the departure of Bryan, the cabinet has lost the strongest voice in favour of strict American neutrality in the ongoing war.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

June 4th, 1915

- After being pushed back across the San River and losing Rudnik on the 1st, the Austro-Hungarian XIV Corps of 4th Army once again finds itself under heavy attack today.  Though the Russians are held, the commander of 4th Army requests further aid from the German 11th Army, and Mackensen finds himself once again sending reinforcements - this time the recently-arrived 22nd Division - to bail out his allies.

- Since the failure at the beginning of May to break through the Ottoman line in the 2nd Battle of Krithia, the British and French forces on Cape Helles have received replacements for losses suffered by the British 29th Division, as well as the Royal Naval Brigade (from the ANZAC beachhead) and 126th Brigade as reinforcements.  Though the British 52nd Division is also en route to the eastern Mediterranean, General Hamilton, at the insistence of General Hunter-Watson, has decided to launch another assault before the Ottomans themselves can be further reinforced.  The plan calls for a general assault along the entire front line, with the advance undertaken (from left to right) the British 29th and 42nd Divisions, the Royal Naval Division, and the French 1st and 2nd Divisions.  By attacking everywhere simultaneously, the hope is to overwhelm the Ottoman reserves and break the enemy line, seizing Krithia and advancing towards the high ground at Achi Baba.

The Third Battle of Krithia, June 4th, 1915.

Within the limits of supply and munitions, the British and French have put together a reasonable plan: for several nights sappers have dug trenches towards the Ottoman line, to minimize the time it takes the infantry to cross No Mans' Land, and the heavry artillery bombardment will momentarily pause at 1130am, to lure the Ottomans back to their trenches before resuming the shelling.  However, nothing the Entente attacks can do can negate two fundamental realities: (1) the Ottomans have numerical equality, with easier access to their reserves; and (2) the terrain very much favours the defence, as at several points the attacking infantry will have to advance up gullies under enemy fire from the high ground on both sides.

A French 75mm artillery gun fires during the Third Battle of Krithia, June 4th, 1915.

Major-General Sir William Douglas, commander of 42nd Division, using a tree as an observation post during the Third Battle of Krithia,
June 4th, 1915.

At 12pm, the four-hour preliminary bombardment ceases, and the infantry go over the top.  In the centre of the line, 42nd Division, led by the Manchesters of 127th Brigade, manage to break through the Ottoman defences, advancing 1200 yards and capturing not only the main trench line but the reserve trenches as well.  The retreating Ottomans are pushed into the open, and no prepared defensive position exists between the Manchesters and Krithia itself.  The success in the centre, however, has not been matched on the flanks: 88th Brigade (on the left) and the Royal Naval Division (on the right) have also managed to seize several trenches, but have suffered heavy losses that leave them ill-prepared to defend against counterattacks.  Along both coasts, the attack has been an absolute debacle, and in particular infantry of the two French divisions are shot down in droves before they can even reach the first enemy trench.  Hunter-Weston sends his available reserves to either flanks in an attempt to restart the advance, but they accomplish nothing but add to the casualty rolls.  The failure on the French flank in particular is of decisive importance.  From this position the Ottomans are able to fire into the flank of the Royal Naval Division, and after suffering heavy lossses falls back this afternoon, yielding much of the ground captured in the initial attack.  This then exposes the right flank of 42nd Division, and Ottoman fire prevents any reinforcements from reaching the Manchesters in their advanced position.  By sundown the momentum of the offensive has been completely broken - not only are the British and French no longer advancing, but they are hard-pressed to hold on to the few gains that remain in their hands.

Men of 6th Battalion, Manchester Regiment advance over open ground at the start of the Third Battle of Krithia,
June 4th, 1915.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

June 3rd, 1915

- The tiny state of San Marino, falling in line with its far larger Italian neighbour, today declares war on Austria-Hungary.

- Overnight the Russian army has abandoned the fortress at Przemysl, and at 3am the first unit from the Central Powers - a battalion of Prussian Guards - enters the city.  Though the Russian had blown the bridges over the San during their retreat, they thoughtfully left behind a considerable cache of bridging equipment, which the Germans use to construct an emergency bridge by 11am.  This afternoon General Mackensen enters Przemsyl, and from here writes a letter to Franz Joseph, announcing the return of the famed city and its defences to Austria-Hungary.  The moment is bittersweet for the leadership of the Dual Monarchy: though one of its greatest losses of the war has been recovered, it has clearly only occured through the intervention of the German army.

The fall of Przemysl also frees up the Austro-Hungarian X Corps, and orders are issued for its redeployment from its present position west of the fortress to 4th Army to north, where it is to help restore the line near Rudnik.

As Przemysl falls, Falkenhayn and Conrad meet at Pless to discuss the next stage of the campaign in Galicia.  With the capture of Przemysl, the original objective of the offensive - to push the Russians east of the San and Dniester Rivers have been largely, though not entirely, achieved: while the German 11th Army is substantially east of the San, on the left the northern wing of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army is still west of the river, while on the right the Austro-Hungarian 7th Army remains on the Pruth River, where it was pushed to in early May.  Falkenhayn's opinion is that if the current German commitment on the Eastern Front was reduced, Austria-Hungary could easily find itself in dire straits again.  Conversely, Mackensen reports that the Russian corps opposite his 11th Army have suffered heavy losses, and further attacks may achieve additional substantial victories.  For his part, while Conrad is still obsessed with punishing Italy for its betrayal, he understands that it would be desirable to drive the Russians further eastwards, and in particular liberate Lemberg.

Thus the two chiefs of staff agree today to continue the offensive in Galicia.  Falkenhayn orders the redeployment of XXII Reserve Corps, 22nd, 10th, and 8th Bavarian Reserve Divisions (equally drawn from the Western Front and elsewhere on the Eastern Front) to Galicia provide an injection of fresh infantry, and with these reinforcements Mackensen's 11th Army is to once again undertake the main advance.  Squeezed out of the line by the capture of Przemysl, the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army is broken up, some units assigned to the neighbouring 2nd Army, some to 4th Army along the Vistula, and some to the Italian Front.  Further, Mackensen will have operational control over 2nd Army on his southern flank in addition to 4th Army to his north.  The offensive is to begin on June 13th, allowing for ten days to bring up supplies and munitions and provide rest for the infantry.  The only advance scheduled for this period is to be by the adjacent wings of the German 11th and Austro-Hungarian 2nd Armies, pushing eastward from Przemysl to straighten up the line prior to the 13th.

- With the arrival of German submarines off the Dardanelles, and the sinking of the pre-dreadnoughts Majestic and Triumph, the Entente fleet has been trying to counter the threat from beneath the waves, and countermeasures have included anti-torpedo nets and booms, as well as the more judicious deployment of heavy warships for shore bombardment.  Nevertheless, as Admiral de Robeck writes today, 'these submarines are the devil & cramping one's style very much.'  Indeed.

- Along the Tigris River the main body of 6th Indian Division has advanced to Ezra's Tomb, just less than halfway from Qurna to Amara.  On the river itself, meanwhile, the British naval flotilla, with divisional commander General Townshend aboard, has made more substantial progress.  Though three larger sloops had to turn back lest they run aground on the shallow waters, the rest of the flotilla has pushed on, with the small tugboat Shaitan sent to reconnoitre ahead.  This tiny vessel, crewed by nine and armed with a 12-pounder gun, encounters no enemy fire whatsoever as it makes its way north towards Amara.  More than a thousand Ottoman soldiers are present in the town, but after the defeat at Qurna and a demoralizing and disorganized retreat they are in no condition to resist, even if they had wanted to.  Thus the Ottoman garrison makes no attempt to halt Shaitan, and when the vessels arrives at Amara the Ottoman response is to surrender in the hundreds.  Thus Lieutenant Mark Singleton, captain of Shaitan, and his crew capture Amara entirely on their own, despite being ridiculously outnumbered.

The rest of the flotilla cautiously approaches from the south, assuming at some point they will encounter Shaitan returning from the north with a report on the defences at or near Amara.  Its failure to appear, coupled with the absence of signs of gunfire, indicate to the British that the tiny tugboat has gotten all the way to Amara itself.  The flotilla continues north until it arrives at the town at 2pm, where Townshend receives the surrender of several impressively-decorated Ottoman officers, and a detachment raises the Union Jack over the Customs Office.

The capture of Amara could hardly have been easier, despite the completely ad hoc nature of the operation.  A single unremarkable tugboat received the town's surrender, and the only reinforcements that arrive later today are the other small vessels of the river flotilla.  Not only are there no infantry from 6th Indian Division present, Townshend doesn't even know where they are - the best guess is somewhere south - and the maps of the region are so poor that if it wasn't for the Tigris itself the British wouldn't have the slightest idea where they were.  This stunning success, however, is very much a blessing in disguise - it helps to convince the British that they don't need things like maps, or logistics, or even a plan to succeed against the Ottomans.  All that is needed is one swift kick (as at Qurna on the 31st) and all that remains afterwards is a mere matter of collecting the spoils.  It is a dangerous lesson, the consequences of which will culminate at another nondescript (and similarily-named) town further up the Tigris.

The British advance to and capture of Amara, June 3rd, 1915.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

June 2nd, 1915

- General d'Urbal has decided that the next major French assault in Artois will be against the German defenders in the village of Neuville.  To prepare the way for the infantry, scheduled to attack in three days, the French 10th Army begins a massive artillery bombardment, aiming to flatten the village and render it the German position there untenable.

- Further Russian attacks against the German 11th Army today again fail to make any progress, and the surviving Russians fall back in disorder.  Aong the front held by the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army, attempts by the Russians to cross the San River to the north of yesterday's advance are repulsed.  However, they are able to inflict another defeat on the Austro-Hungarian 8th Division and further expand the bridgehead won yesterday, forcing the entire Austro-Hungarian XIV Corps responsible for this stretch of the front to fall back to a new line running through Jezowe and east of Stany this evening.  This retreat also compels the German 47th Reserve Division on its left to pull back its right wing.  The commander of 4th Army also sends a request to General Mackensen of 11th Army for the transfer of an Austro-Hungarian cavalry division that had been operating under the direction of the latter.  While Mackensen agrees, he also takes the opportunity to criticize the conduct of the Austro-Hungarian XIV Corps, noting that its retreat potentially threatens the vital railway linking Jaroslau and Krakow, and while the Austro-Hungarians naturally defend their conduct of the fighting of the last couple of days, the contrast between the Russian failure against 11th Army and success against 4th Army is striking.

Meanwhile at Przemysl itself 11th Bavarian and 82 Reserve Divisions continue to advance against the northern line of fortifications, and by this evening most of the defences to the northwest of Przemysl itself, as well as the village of Zurawice, are in German hands.  Given the relentless German progress, coupled with the threat to the main line of communications posed by 11th Army's swing towards the Przemysl-Mosciska road, General Brusilov of 8th Army decides that the fortress can no longer be held, and its defenders are instructed to fall back to a new line at Medyka and Bucow.

Monday, June 01, 2015

June 1st, 1915

- Earlier this month the leadership of the German armed forces prevailed on the Kaiser to loosen his restrictions regarding the bombing of London; henceforth, it is permissible to target the city east of the Tower of London.  Overnight the first bombing raid on the British capital is undertaken by the zeppelin LZ-38, which drops several bombs and killing thirteen people.  No targets of any real strategic significance are hit, but the experience of being under fire is new to the city's inhabitants, and the raid also highlights the current inability of the Royal Flying Corps to stop such attacks.  Of fifteen aircraft scrambled to intercept the zeppelin, only one so much as makes a visual sighting, while anti-aircraft fire is negligible; LZ-38 is never in any real danger.

- In Artois elements of the German XIV Corps retakes the trenches north of the sugar factory west of Souchez, but the trenches on the factory's other flank remain in French hands.  To the south, the French 5th Division of III Corps attacks between Neuville and a confused network of trenches to the north of Roclincourt known as the Labyrinth.  In bitter fighting they are repulsed near Neuville, but are able to seize and hold the first trench line of the Labyrinth.

- Overnight the Russians launch counterattacks all along the front of the German 11th and the Austro-Hungarian 4th Armies in Galicia.  Those that fall on the Germans, and in particular X and Guard Corps, are particularly heavy, but fail to make any headway whatsoever.  To the north, however, the Russians have more success.  Attacking at 2am, elements of the Russian XIV Corps break through the southern wing of the Austro-Hungarian 8th Division, capturing the town of Rudnik and establishing a bridgehead three kilometres wide on the west bank of the San River.  In response the commander of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army pulls five battalions from VIII Corps to the northwest and sends them to south in an effort to hold the line.

The advance of the Russian XIV Corps at Rudnik, June 1st, 1915.

- In the context of the ongoing disaster in Galicia the Russian government is increasingly sensitive to criticism of its management of the war effort, and one perceived shortfall of the government has been the supply (or lack thereof) of munitions.  To head off this line of attack, the government today appoints a special commission to supervise the supply of the army, implicitly diminishing the role of army headquarters in dictating the production of munitions.

- North of Qurna on the Tigris River elements of 6th Indian Division hit the main Ottoman defensive line at Bahran, only to encounter token resistance; most of the defenders have already broken and fled to the north.  General Nixon, arriving from Qurna, convinces a reluctant General Townshend to order a pursuit to take advantage of the success.  By necessity the advance will be led by the naval flotilla assembled for the operation, and several gunboats lead the way up the river.

- In Washington today President Wilson meets with his cabinet to discuss the reply of the German government, received on May 28th, to the first American note regarding Lusitania.  The German communication had avoided dealing with the American request to halt unrestricted submarine warfare; instead, it had stated that Lusitania was an armed merchant cruiser with guns on its deck, and had often flown the American flag illegally to avoid German attacks.  The Americans should investigate this situation, and until this was done Germany would postpone any decision on unrestricted submarine warfare.  Wilson sees the German statement as a diversion from the central issue of the impossibility of conducting unrestricted submarine warfare without risking the lives of neutral, especially American, lives, and he has come to the meeting with a draft for a second American note:
Whatever may be the facts regarding the Lusitania, the principal fact is that a great steamer, primarily and chiefly a conveyance for passengers and carrying more than a thousand souls who had no part or lot in the conduct of the war, was torpedoed and sunk without so much as a challenge or a warning and that men, women, and children were sent to their death in circumstances unparalleled in modern warfare. . . . The United States cannot admit that the proclamation of a war zone . . . may be made to operate as in any degree an abbreviation of the rights . . . of American citizens bound on lawful errands as passengers on ships of belligerent neutrality.'
Wilson is thus staking his position on the right of American citizens to travel as they see fit, without risk of death due to a war in which they are not involved.  As the cabinet discusses the note, the Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, is increasingly restless.  He feels that the American government is not being equally critical of the British, given that their blockade manifestly interferes with the ability of American citizens to trade as they saw fit.  Moreover, he felt that if American citizens chose to sail on the liners of belligerents, they assumed responsibility for the consequences.  Bryan's core argument is that the United States must treat Germany and Britain equally, and fears Wilson's note deviates from that position.  As the discussion continues, Bryan snaps and interjects: 'You people are not neutral.  You are taking sides.'  President Wilson responds coldly to the accusation: 'Mr. Bryan, you are not warranted in making such an assertion.  We all doubtless have our opinions in this matter but there are none of us who can justly be accused of being unfair.' His resolve unshaken, Wilson ensures the meeting endorses his note, even as the gulf between himself and his secretary of state grows.