Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28th, 1915

- Falkenhayn today issues new orders for the Eastern Front which emphasize that once ongoing operations have been completed - especially the offensive towards Vilna undertaken by Hindenburg's army group - German forces will halt and construct a long-term defensive position stretching roughly from the upper Bug River to the Baltic Sea in Courland.  In the centre this means that the army groups under Mackensen and Prince Leopold will halt roughly along the line Ratno-Szereszowo, as Falkenhayn sees no strategic purpose in pursuing the retreating Russians into the Pripat Marshes, which would only stretch German logistics even farther than they already are.  Falkenhayn also warns Hindenburg and Ludendorff that once German forces have taken up their new defensive positions, between ten and twelve divisions will be transferred for service on other fronts.  Though Russia has not been knocked out of the war, Falkenhayn believes, with some justification, that both the ability and willingness of the Russian army to undertake offensive operations has been shattered for the foreseeable future, and thus wishes to take advantage of the opportunity to strike against other foes.  Hindenburg and Ludendorff, not surprisingly, disagree, seeing in the weakened Russian foe an opportunity to strike the knockout blow that the German chief of staff believes impossible.

Given his conclusion, Falkenhayn has been issuing orders for the redeployment of some of the German forces on the Eastern Front.  In addition to dispatching forces to the Balkans for an offensive against Serbia, the German chief of staff wishes to send some divisions back to the Western Front, where they can act as reserves while they rest and receive replacements for losses suffered during the campaign in Russia.  Today, orders go out to the Guard Corps, which is detached from Mackensen's army group and instructed to march from Brest-Litovsk to Warsaw, where it will entrain for the west.

- To the south, overnight the Russian 8th Army pulls back from the Bug River eastwards.  Conrad emphasizes to the commander of the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army the importance of quickly seizing Lutsk, and elements of the army are across the Styr River north of the city by noon.

- Despite the recent arrival of U34 and U35 in the eastern Mediterranean, Admiral Souchon has pleaded with his superiors in Berlin to send more submarines, in light of the British landing at Sulva Bay earlier this month.  It is decided to dispatch two submarines, not only for the military impact they may have, but also to given the impression of German strength to the neutral states in the Balkans.  Yesterday U39 departed Germany for the Mediterranean, followed today by U33.

- After the capture of Amara in early June General Townshend of 6th Indian Division had become ill, and departed for India to convalesce,  His soldiers, meanwhile, had endured the summer heat of Mesopotamia, with a number also becoming sick.  The summer low of the Tigris also impaired the resupply of the division, and shortages of all kinds were being felt.  Today, however, Townshend returns to Amara and reassumes command of 6th Indian Division which its soldiers take, correctly, as a sign of a return to action., as accompanying him are orders from General Nixon to advance up the Tigris River and seize Kut.  Townshend himself has concerns over the advance: reinforcements are needed, and advancing another 120 miles up the Tigris will further extend the already tenuous supply line back to Basra.  Nevertheless, he has been reassured by the commander-in-chief of the Indian army that he will not be ordered to advance beyond Kut without additional reinforcements.

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