Wednesday, July 08, 2015

July 8th, 1915

- While Joffre was asking for and receiving recommendations regarding future operations from his commanders in the field, his staff at French army headquarters has been preparing its own assessment, and submits its conclusions to the commander-in-chief today.  They identify Champage as the preferred region in which to launch the next major offensive, and that it should take place along at least a thirty kilometre stretch of the front, to ensure any push into the German line is sufficiently broad to be sustainable.  In selecting Champagne, they argue that its terrain is the most suitable for such an effort and that a successful advance to Mézières would sever German lateral rail connections and greatly impair their ability to counter future attacks.  Further, the concentration of German infantry and artillery in north of Arras, a legacy of the 1st Battle of Artois, makes another advance on Vimy Ridge problematic.  They do call, however, for preliminary attacks to be undertaken in Artois by the French and to the north by the British to draw German reserves away from Champagne before the major attack is launched.

- In southern Poland the Russian VI Siberian Corps drives south, colliding with the Austro-Hungarian 106th and 8th Divisions of IX Corps.  Though the former holds, the Russians break through the latter, aided by a number of Czech soldiers in 21st Infantry Regiment deserting instead of fighting.  By mid-day 8th Division, straddling the Bystrzyca River, has fallen back three miles, and in the afternoon a second Russian attack drives back their eastern neighbours as well.  The Austro-Hungarian formations suffer heavy losses, and 4th Army has no reserves remaining to reinforce the line.  An appeal to the German 11th Army is turned down, however; Mackensen does not wish to dilute his army's strength on the eve of its next major offensive, scheduled for the 13th, and the success of this offensive ought to remedy any setback on his left.

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