Thursday, September 10, 2015

September 10th, 1915

- On the Eastern Front, the corps of the Austro-Hungarian 4th and 1st Armies are ordered by Conrad to make 'an immediate, decisive attack' on the northern wing of the Russian 8th Army, in yet another attempt to turn the Russian flank and envelop the enemy line.  Given the deteriorating situation to the south, a successful assault here is imperative if the offensive is to be successful.  Conrad's demands, however, overlook the battered and exhausted state of 4th and 1st Army, both having suffered heavy losses in near-constant combat over the past two weeks.  Supplies have been drawn by horse-cart over poor roads from rail-heads that are two hundred kilometres to the west, and even food is running short.

To the south, the situation worsens for the Austro-Hungarian 7th Army.  After XIII Corps on its northern wing was forced back yesterday, the Russian 9th Army strikes at a scratch corps commanded by General Johann Henriquez, forcing its 15th Division back to the confluence of the Strypa and Dniester Rivers.  The Russians now threaten to drive over the Dniester between XIII Corps and Henriquez's command, with only half a cavalry division covering the growing gap between them.

- As part of the military convention with Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary had pledged to dispatch six divisions from the Eastern Front for operations against Serbia, the same number promised by Germany.  The rapidly deteriorating situation of the Austro-Hungarian armies participating in Conrad's ill-fated offensive makes it uncertain whether the Austro-Hungarian chief of staff can afford to pull six divisions out of the fight to transfer to the Balkans.  Falkenhayn recognizes the difficulty of his ally, and writes to Conrad today to offer German divisions to take the place of the Austro-Hungarians.  He cannot resist, however, commenting on the apparent necessity of the German army once again bailing out their ally after the latter botches yet another operation: 'Certainly such a change in plans won't make up for the political and military damage already inflicted.  However, it may avert even more unfavourable results, which to me seems all the more important because of the affect on the morale of the Russian army and on Romania.'  Conrad thus decides that VI Corps, which had been about to board trains for the Serbian front, will instead be dispatched to reinforce the faltering 7th Army.

- There is growing unease regarding the performance, or more accurately the lack thereof, of the Italian navy to date in the war.  Expecting dramatic victories over the Austro-Hungarian foe, instead the first months have been marked by hesitancy and embarrassment.  Today a leading article appears in the newspaper Giornale d'Italia penned by Enrico Arlotta, a Deputy in the Italian parliament.  Sharply critical of the navy, it questions the adequacy of pre-war preparations and questions whether those responsible for the navy have all the 'desirable mental agility'.  Given not only that the article was allowed to be published by government censors, but that it appeared in a newspaper associated with Prime Minister Salandra and Foreign Minister Sonnino, it suggests that dissatisfaction with the conduct of the war at sea has reached the highest political circles.

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