Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 23rd, 1915

- In Artois French aircraft bomb railways running between Lille, Valenciennes, Douai, and Cambrai in an effort to disrupt the movement of German supplies and reinforcements once the offensive begins in two days' time.

- The aviation subcommittee of the French Chamber of Deputies issues a scathing report condemning the state of French military aviation.  Describing the situation as 'grave,' the report highlights what its authors perceive to be the lack of close cooperation between the French army at the government's aviation directorate, and the inability of the latter to coordinate the expansion of the aviation industry and the deployment of labour.  Deputy Pierre Etienne Flandin in particular calls for massive production program of bombers and bomber escorts equipped with new, powerful engines to strike German industrial production.

- The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian 24th Division north of Lutsk yesterday evening forces the evacuation of Lutsk itself, which the Russians occupy this morning.  The remnants of the Austro-Hungarian XIV Corps pull back from the west bank of the Styr to the line Zaborol-Polonnaja Gorka, which permits the Russians to establish a bridgehead over the river.

The collapse and retreat of XIV Corps threatens the northern flank of the Austro-Hungarian forces to the south holding along the Ikwa River.  However, General Linsingen, commanding both the reinforcements moving south from the Army of the Bug as well as the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army itself, believes that the situation can be rescued not by a direct counterattack against the Russians at Lutsk, but rather by having the relief force, centred on the German XXIV Reserve Corps, drive southeast against the northern flank of the advancing Russian 8th Army, and the enemy to retreat to avoid envelopment.

The intervention of German forces under General Linsingen to rescue the faltering Austro-Hungarian 4th Army,
Sept. 23rd to 30th, 1915.
- Over the past two weeks German units assigned to the Serbian campaign have been arriving in Hungary; the German 105th Division, for example, completes its transfer to the Balkans today.  To preserve secrecy, the seventy trains needed to transport each division have been forbidden from moving south of Budapest in daylight.  After arrival near the Serbian frontier, the movement to staging areas is also conducted at night, German soldiers moving through unfamiliar terrain and surrounded by a civilian population that did not speak any German whatsoever if they got lost.

- In Paris the Council of Ministers convenes to debate the deployment of a French expedition to Greece to aid the Serbs, and the broader implications such an operation would have on grand strategy and the overall direction of the war effort.  Preserving Serbian independence, it is felt, is essential to the Entente war effort, in order to tie down significant enemy forces in the Balkans and prevent the opening of an overland route for German munitions and supplies to the Ottoman Empire.  However, a significant commitment of force to the Balkans potentially implies a lessening of emphasis on the Western Front, problematic due to the ongoing German occupation of French soil and the opposition of Joffre to any diminuation of forces under his command.

- Despite his pro-German sympathies, Greek King Constantine succumbs to his Prime Minister's arguments regarding the provision of 150 000 soldiers by the French and British instead of the Serbs, and agrees to issue a decree for mobilization.  Nevertheless, Constantine remains deeply uneasy about the course of events.

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