Tuesday, September 08, 2015

September 8th, 1915

- Overnight the German army Zeppelins LZ74 and SL2 undertake a bombing raid on London.  The latter drops its bombload over the docks east of the City, while the former manages to reach the City itself, and though it has only a single incendiary left, LZ74 becomes the first German Zeppelin to strike the heart of London.

- As the British 1st Army continues planning for the attack scheduled for later this month to coincide with the great French fall offensive, the command staff of the corps and divisions work long hours to prepare the necessary orders and instructions.  As the BEF rapidly expands, officers find themselves in positions far above their prior experience, and not all prove up to the task: today Major General H. J. S. Landon breaks down and has to be invalided back to Britain sick, and is replaced as commander of 9th Division by Major General G. H. Thesiger.

- After several days of preparation, the Austro-Hungarian X and XIV Corps launch furious attacks against the Russian XXXIX Corps along the Putilowka River covering Rovno.  Fog, however, reduces the effectiveness of the preliminary bombardment, and heavy rain has turned the low ground along the river into a swamp.  Thus when the Austro-Hungarian infantry advances, they find themselves bogged down in mud and under intense Russian defensive fire, and the attack soon collapses.  Conrad had expected this attack to be the decisive moment of the offensive, which would lead to the much-desired envelopment of the Russian 8th Army from the north.  On its failure, Conrad vents his anger at the commander of 4th Army, noting that he has a superiority of almost 3-to-1 on the northern end of the front and that the rest of the line had been thinned to provide this advantage.

- Despite Joffre's opposition, he has been ordered by the minister of war to identify four divisions for deployment to the Near East, forcing the French commander-in-chief to shift to stalling; he writes today that ongoing preparations for the fall offensive in Champagne and Artois prevent him from pinpointing the required divisions.

- After receiving instructions from London to fully cooperate with the military, Kenyan Governor Sir Charles Belfield formed a War Council to direct the colony's war effort.  Its membership consists of four civil officials, two military representatives, and six representatives of the settler community.  The latter thus hold the balance of power on the council, and use their position not only to aid the army but also protect their own interests.  Their priorities are reflected in the Native Followers Recruitment Ordinance, which is proclaimed today.  To operate in the interior of Africa requires vast numbers of porters to carry all of the required supplies and food, and the ordinance provides for the enlistment of three thousand Africans per month into the Carrier Corps.  In addition, it lowers the pay of porters from the ten to fifteen rupees per month now prevalent to five to six, and exempts Africans working on the farms of European settlers.  The ordinance ensures not only the adequate provision of porters for the army, but also that manpower on European farms will remain plentiful: lower pay for porters ensures that Africans already employed on plantations will not be tempted to join the Carrier Corps for higher pay, while Africans who wish to avoid the Carrier Corps can do so by working on European-owned land.  The settler community in Kenya has thus used the pretext of military requirements to ensure the continued supply of cheap African labour for their farms.

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