Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 22nd, 1915

- A centrepiece of Entente propaganda since the spring had been the German use of chlorine gas at the First Battle of Ypres, both as a violation of the rules of war and an affront to Western civilization, and had materially contributed to diminished reputation of Germany in neutral states in particular.  What was undeniable, however, had been the impact of the first use of gas on the Western Front, given the hole it 'blew' in the Entente line at Ypres and the ground subsequently captured.  Given the success the Entente powers have also been strongly tempted since April to make use of chemmical warfare themselves, and while some voices were raised in the British government opposing the use of chlorine gas on both a moral and a technical level (doubts were raised whether British industry could produce sufficient amounts of chlorine gas), the Cabinet had ultimately decided that they could not set aside a weapon that had the apparent potential to break the stalemate on the Western Front.  For several months special detachments of Royal Engineers had been training on the handling and use of chlorine gas, and today demonstrate their capabilities before General Haig and his corps commanders.  Suitably impressed, Haig adds the release of chlorine gas to his planning for the impending attack of his 1st Army south of La Bassée Canal.

- On the Eastern Front the German 8th Army seizes the Russian fortress at Ossoviets today, while a subsequent advance also captures the town of Tykocin on the Narew River.  To the south Prince Leopold's army group launches attacks to drive the Russian defenders opposite into the Bielowiese Forest further east, and though progress is made among the swamps a decisive success eludes the Germans.  On the other side of Brest-Litovsk, the German 1st and 22nd Divisions of the Army of the Bug have reached Oltusz and Radez respectively today, and their advance has forced the Russian II Caucasian Corps to pull back from the Bug River between Wlodawa and Slawatyzce, with 11th Bavarian Division crossing in pursuit.

- After several months convalescence, King Constantine I of Greece has sufficiently recovered to resume his political responsibilities, and today appoints Eleutherios Venizelos, who had emerged victorious in the June elections, Prime Minister.

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