Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 17th, 1915

- After the failure of the attack on the 13th, Field Marshal Sir John French had called off the British offensive at Loos, limiting further operations to seizing ground deemed essential to repulsing any potential German counterattack.  Haig's conclusion is that several key positions on the northern flank of the Loos salient, including The Quarries, Fosse 8, and The Dump, will need to be captured.  Today the first attack is undertaken by the Guards Division, aiming to capture German trenches on either flank of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, isolating the position and allowing for a further attack to seize Fosse 8.  The Guards had only come into the line yesterday to replace the battered 46th Division, and its readiness to attack at 5am this morning is a testimony to the experience and skill of the staff officers.  The attack itself, however, is over ground that has been fought over for the past month, and thus is covered with the dead as well as the debris of battle, severely impeding the advance of the infantry.  Moreover, only a short artillery bombardment precedes the attack, which does little more than alert the German defenders that the British are coming.  The broken terrain and heavy German fire conspire to prevent any Guards infantry from reaching their objectives, and Lord Cavan, commander of the division, calls off the attack at 8am, the Guards having suffered 101 dead for no gain.

- Only today does the Kossava abate in Serbia, allowing the flow of men and supplies across the Save and Danube Rivers to resume.  South of Belgrade, with the Germans and Austro-Hungarians pushing across the Avala Hills, General Živojin Mišić, commanding the Serbian 1st Army, orders a retreat southwards to a new line of hills centred on Kosmaj Mountain, covering the Kolubara River and the town of Valjevo.  During the day, the Serbian divisions under his command disengage and pull back seven miles to the new line by nightfall.  The pursuit by the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army is slowed by the poor state of the roads in the aftermath of the Kossava and the destruction of several viaducts cutting the only railway south of Belgrade.  To the east on the front of the German 11th Army, after two days of fighting German forces push through a new Serbian defensive line on the Sapina Hills running through Smoljinac and Makci, with 107th Division seizing the former and X Reserve Corps capturing the latter.

The advance of the German 11th and Austro-Hungarian 3rd Armies, Oct. 17th to 22nd, 1915.

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