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.

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