Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 22nd, 1915

- Joffre sends a memorandum to his army group commanders today, assessing the strategic situation on the Western Front in the aftermath of the fall offensives in Champagne and Artois.  The French commander-in-chief casts the most favourable light on the recent operations, arguing that the French and British have achieved 'important tactical results', inflicted heavy losses on the Germans, and gained an 'undeniable moral superiority' over the enemy.  Only a lack of artillery had prevented the much-desired breakthrough and decisive victory.  In a more realistic appraisal, he recognizes the exhaustion of the French army, and states that the primary focus in the month ahead will be on resting the infantry and reconstituting units whose ranks have been decimated in the recent fighting.  However, local operations will be necessary to keep the Germans believing major offensives may be imminent, and thus keep them from redeploying units on the Western Front to other theatres.  Other than troops necessary for these minor attacks, the number of soldiers in the front line is to be reduced as low as possible, perhaps for the entire winter.  For the first time since the aftermath of the First Battle of Ypres in November 1914, Joffre is not planning an imminent major offensive designed to break the deadlock on the Western Front.

- Mackensen and Seeckt issue orders today for the next phase of the invasion of Serbia.  The German 11th Army is to advance south on both sides of the Morava River towards Kragujevać, establishing contact with the Bulgarian 1st Army.  The Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army would also push south towards Kraljevo, with the ultimate aim of preventing Serbian forces from retreating to the west.  To the south, elements of the Bulgarian 2nd Army seize Skopje today.

The advance of the German 11th and Austro-Hungarian 3rd Armies, Oct. 22nd to 29th, 1915.

Civilians gather around a Serbian soldier to hear news prior to the evacuation of Skopje, Oct. 22nd, 1915.

- North of Görz the Italian II Corps of 2nd Army launches heavy assaults near Plava, the third of which breaks into the Austro-Hungarian trenches at Zagora.  However, 4th Battalion of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Regiment counterattacks before the Italians can consolidate their gains, and retake the lost ground.  The rest of the day here consists of artillery duels, the Italians striking the enemy trenches and the Austro-Hungarians hitting the assembly areas for Italian infantry.

To the south of Görz the Italian 3rd Army continues its attacks, succeeding only in capturing and holding the first enemy trench line west of St. Martino just before noon.  Everywhere else the Austro-Hungarian VII and III Corps hold, and indeed an attack this morning retakes the ground lost yesterday at Heights #121 by 10am.  However, given the heavy enemy pressure most of the available Austro-Hungarian reserves are committed to the fight during the course of the day.

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