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.

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