Thursday, July 02, 2015

July 2nd, 1915

- In Britain the Munitions of War Act comes into effect today, providing the legislative machinery for government control of armaments production by the new Ministry of Munitions under David Lloyd George.  Under the legislation any business involved in war production can be designated a 'controlled establishment', in which case a series of government restrictions would be imposed in the name of productivity.  Critically, these restrictions were primarily directed not at employers, but at employees: strikes are prohibited, arbitration made compulsory, and restrictions on the ability to change jobs.  In exchange, workers in 'controlled establishments' are given badges that effectively exempted them from military service.

- Though yesterday Foch expressed a desire to conduct another offensive by the French 10th Army against Vimy Ridge, General d'Urbal reports today that the infantry of 10th Army are exhausted after fifty days of near-constant combat, and are in no condition to undertake major operations.  Joffre is sympathetic to d'Urbal's concerns, and orders 10th Army to focus on establishing strong defensive positions only.

- Falkenhayn meets with Hindenburg and Ludendorff today at Posen in the presence of the kaiser to discuss future operations on the Eastern Front.  When the German chief of staff had originally committed 11th Army to the east in April, he had envisioned its deployment lasting until the liberation of Austro-Hungarian Galicia.  Once this had been accomplished, Falkenhayn reasoned, the threat to Austria-Hungary from Rusia would be removed, and 11th Army could return to the Western Front for operations there.  Though the purpose of the Gorlice-Tarnow offensive have been achieved, Falkenhayn has reconsidered his views.  He had been concerned with Entente superiority on the Western Front, but the 2nd Battle of Artois has demonstrated the ability of the German army in the west to successfully stand on the defensive even when substantially outnumbered.  Further, Falkenhayn has concluded that more damage can yet be inflicted on the Russian army.  Crucially, however, he does not foresee a decisive, war-winning victory as possible, given the space in Russia and the ability of the Russians to retreat from any grand envelopment.  Instead, Falkenhayn's desires to inflict further hammer blows on the Russian army in the vein of Gorlice-Tarnow to wear the Russians out and convince them to agree to a peace amenable to Germany.  This is a logical extension of the views expressed by Falkenhayn since the fall; namely, that Germany must reduce the number of its enemies through negotiation in order to concentrate on the others.

Thus at today's meeting Falkenhayn rejects Ludendorff's proposal for a major offensive to be undertaken in Courland by the Army of the Niemen, which the latter proposes can advance through Kovno and Vilna to join with Mackensen's 11th Army in encircling the entire Russian army in Poland.  Falkenhayn views such an operation as widely optimistic, and that such sweeping envelopments are simply not possible in the conditions of modern warfare, which in particular limit the ability of cavalry to exploit breakthroughs and surround opposing forces.  Instead, Falkenhayn proposes to stick to the Gorlice-Tarnow formula in which the Russian army would be worn out through a series of step-by-step offensives relying on the power of artillery.  Wilhelm II sides with Falkenhayn, and his more moderate plans are approved.  In the north, the army under General Gallwitz, stretching from the Vistula River towards the Masurian Lakes, will undertake the primary attack, advancing towards Warsaw.  Further, the forces under General Worysch in central Poland will pin the Russians opposite to prevent reserves being redeployed from this stretch of the line.  Finally, 11th Army will undertake a major offensive northwards between the Vistula and Bug Rivers, and to allow for it to concentrate on its advance as opposed to flank protection, the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army is to be withdrawn from west of the Vistula in southwestern Poland and inserted into the line northeast of Lemberg between 11th Army to the north and the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army in the south.  To allow time for the redeployments to be completed and munitions stockpiled, the offensives are planned to begin July 13th.

The Eastern Front in early July, 1915.

- Meanwhile in southern Poland the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army wins several local successes, seizing several villages, but fails to secure a decisive breakthrough.

The 2nd Battle of Kraśnik, July 2nd to 10th, 1915.

- For the past two days the Italian 3rd Army has been concentrating its efforts against the Karst plateau southwest of Görz along the Isonzo River, but a series of infantry attacks have failed to secure any significant ground.

- The influence of German consul Wilhelm Wassmuss in southern Persia continues to grow, securing alliances with numerous tribes in the region that, as opposed to the central government, are the real power.  Through Wassmuss the interior of southern Persia is essentially under German control, and British influence has been confined to a few coastal enclaves - Wassmuss has even been able to erect a wireless station to communicate with Germany proper.  The growing German influence has attracted the attention of British officials in India, who fear losing control over the Northwest Frontier.  Today, the Indian viceroy tells British consuls in Persia to seek out tribal allies that can be used to directly confront German influence in the country.

- In German South-West Africa German forces holding the line east of Otavifontein defending Grootfontein fall back on Gaub today, given the appearance of South African forces before them and the retreat of the defenders at Otavi uncovering their western flank.

No comments:

Post a Comment