Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 12th, 1915

- Having received feedback from his subordinates and staff, and with the Chantilly conference at an end, Joffre issues an order today sketching in broad terms the autumn offensive the French army will undertake.  In line with Castlenau's views, the primary attack will occur in Champagne by twenty-seven infantry divisions and two cavalry corps, which will attack along a front of forty-kilometres, far greater than prior operations.  A secondary attack will be undertaken in Artois by twelve infantry and two cavalry divisions, directed towards Vimy Ridge.  The objective is to 'rupture' the German line and squeeze off the Noyon salient by collapsing its flanks and forcing the Germans to retire eastward.

- After the successful assaults on both flanks of the front line on Cape Helles in late June, the British and French have decided to launch an attack in the centre using the same tactics of a concentrated artillery barrage coupled with modest objectives for the infantry.  The British 52nd Division, as well as the French on its right, attack this morning and gain the first two Ottoman trench lines, followed by intense counterattacks that see the British and French barely holding on to their gains.

- One of the few locations in southern Persia still under British influence is Bushire, and today German consul Wilhelm Wassmuss with several hundred tribal allies approaches the port city.  A British detachment advances to meet them, and in the resulting skirmish two British officers are killed.

- Since the fall the German light cruiser Königsberg has been blockaded in the Rufiji River in German East Africa, though the uncharted channels at the river estuary and the dense foliage has prevented the British from attacking it.  After attempts to bombard by air and by the old pre-dreadnought Goliath failed, the shallow-draught monitors Mersey and Severn had been dispatched from Britain.  Capable of sailing up the delta of the Rufiji, they are able to get within range of Königsberg today and in an exchange of fire sinks the German warship.  It is the last German warship still active outside of European waters, and marks the end of the surface threat to Entente shipping overseas.  In practice Königsberg had made little contribution to this campaign, its exploits paling in comparison to the far more successful Emden.  However, simply by existing in an inaccessible location it has tied down disproportionate British resources for months, and even after its sinking its contribution to the war effort is not at an end; its crew is able to salvage the main guns from the light cruiser and transform them into artillery pieces for the defence of the colony.

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