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.

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