Saturday, September 12, 2015

September 12th, 1915

- As naval Zeppelins continue their bombing campaign of British targets, Falkenhayn cautions the navy to avoid hitting residential areas in London and other cities, lest the British and French launched reprisal raids on German cities.

- To prepare for the artillery bombardment that is to precede the French fall offensive, gunners in Artois have been firing what are known as ranging shots, firing single rounds and observing where they land, afterwards adjusting their aim to ensure that when the bombardment begins, their shells land precisely on target.  Such ranging of the artillery is standard practice before major operations, but the landing of single enemy shells also serves as an unmistakable sign that a major artillery bombardment is imminent.  Thus today the German VI and I Bavarian Reserve Corps, which cover the front at Arras and Vimy Ridge, report to 6th Army headquarters that the French have been firing ranging shots on them, signalling an enemy attack is likely imminent.  As a response, 6th Army headquarters orders elements of a Saxon brigade in reserve to reinforce the left flank of 5th Bavarian Reserve Division, deemed the weakest point on the army's front.

- Despite Conrad's orders of the 10th for an immediate attack by 4th and 1st Armies, the exhaustion of their infantry prevented the advance occurring until today, when infantry from multiple divisions advances against Russian positions along the Stubiel River and south towards Dubno.  The advancing infantry encounter heavy artillery fire, however, and suffer greatly, and by this evening the attacks have clearly failed to gain any significant advantage.  Today's defeat dashes the last hopes for Conrad's grand offensive - both Südarmee and 7th Army are in full retreat, which has already forced 2nd Army onto the defensive, and it was clear that only prolonged operations at great cost could accomplish anything of note on the northern end of the line.  Moreover, intelligence has reached Conrad that the Russian XXX Corps will arrive within the next couple of days to reinforce 8th Army, rendering the prospects of success even more unlikely.  With utmost reluctance, Conrad signals his army commanders to abandon the offensive, with both 4th and 1st Armies sending reinforcements southwards.

Unfortunately for Conrad, the Russians, having gained the upper hand, have every intention of pressing their advantage to the fullest.  At the southern end of the line, the Russian XXXIII Corps attacks the scratch Austro-Hungarian corps under General Henriquez.  Having lost seven thousand infantry already in September, Henriquez's corps collapses under the weight of the Russian advance, and falls back in disorder to the Dniester River.

The Russian advance vs. Südarmee and the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army, Sept. 12th to 15th, 1915.

Further, after several weeks of falling back before the Austro-Hungarian advance, General Brusilov of 8th Army intends to go over to the counterattack, which will begin tomorrow with a thrust by XXXIX Corps across the Stubiel River at Klewan northwest of Rovno.  Meanwhile, XXX Corps, detraining at Rovno today, is to march north behind the front and descend on the north wing of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army.  Brusilov's objective is to turn the enemy flank and recover Lutsk.

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