Thursday, October 01, 2015

October 1st, 1915

- Overnight the portion of the British Guards Division still in the line digs a new trench east of Loos parallel to the Lens-La Bassée road, from which the planned renewal of the offensive is to be launched.  Having completed the trench, Guards Division is relieved by the French IX Corps this morning and joins 3rd Guards Brigade in reserve.  Haig intends to use the Guards Division to retake the ground lost at the Dump and Fosse 8 over the past several days of severe fighting, but feels this attack must occur before the main offensive is renewed; otherwise, German forces here will be able to fire into the northern flank of the advancing British infantry.  As the Guards will not be in position to attack before October 4th, Haig, with the support of Field Marshal French, insists that the Anglo-French offensive be postponed several more days.  Unable to compel the British to attack earlier, Foch has no choice but to delay the attack of the French 10th Army until October 6th.

- Given the clear intentions of Bulgaria to enter the war on the side of the Germans, the Russian ambassador presents an ultimatum to the Bulgarian government today, requiring the dismissal of German officers and a formal commitment to neutrality.

- The Russian Black Seas Fleet bombards the Ottoman ports of Kozlu, Zonguldak, and Eregli, an operation that sees the first sortie by the newly-completed dreadnought Imperatrista Maria II.  Armed with twelve 12-inch guns, protected by a 12-inch armor belt, and capable of 23 knots, it more than balances the presence of the German battlecruiser Goeben in the Black Sea, and allows the Russians to undertake more aggressive operations.

- At 4pm the lead elements of the Ottoman 35th Division, retreating after defeat at the First Battle of Kut-al-Amara on September 28th, reach the ruins of the ancient city of Ctesiphon, fifteen miles south of Baghdad.  It is here that Colonel Nur-ur-din intends to make the next stand against the British advance up the Tigris River, and 35th Division is ordered to begin construction of an elaborate trench system.

- After receiving approval from Kabul, the German mission to Afghanistan was permitted to depart Herat and today arrives at the capital after a journey taking over a year.  Here, too, however, the Germans are kept at arms' length - they are not permitted to enter Kabul and their movement is limited.  Afghanistan is been under the indirect control of Britain, after the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 assigned the country to the British sphere of influence.  The primary aim of Emir Habibullah is to lessen the influence of Britain in his country and restore a degree of independence, and it is through this lens that he views the German mission - they are seen as a potentially useful tool to win concessions from the British.  He has no interest in the Germans, or indeed the wider war, beyond the extent to which he can manipulate the situation to his own advantage.  This does not preclude throwing his lot in with the Germans, but it does require keeping them at arms length at present to avoid an excessive commitment.  Indeed, the British, having learned months before of the German mission, have already contacted Habibullah with assurances of friendship and protection.  The German mission thus finds themselves as just one piece in the Great Game for control of the Northwest Frontier of India, a game which began long before their arrival and will continue long after the present war has passed.

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