Saturday, October 03, 2015

October 3rd, 1915

- Joffre writes a long memorandum to the war minister today in response to General Sarrail's dispatch on operations in the Balkans.  Not surprisingly, the French commander in chief strongly objects to the suggestion of transferring three or four corps to Salonika.  Britain. he suggests, should assume primary responsibility for aiding their allies in the Balkans, and while France should contribute to any such support, it should be kept to a bare minimum.  A larger commitment, he fears, would be a fruitless dispersal of strength and involve a weakening of the Western Front.  Joffre also acknowledges has failed to break through the second German defense line.  He prepares his civilian master for the suspension of the offensive in the near future, given the need for fresh infantry and additional ammunition before another operation of similar scope can be undertaken.  This does not preclude, however, the assault Joffre ordered yesterday, hoping to secure additional ground through one final effort.  Moreover, he insists that the initial success in Champagne 'gives us confidence in the final victory' and that 'all our efforts should seek to achieve a large strategic rupture that will have as its first consequence the liberation of national territory.'  A significant commitment to the Balkans, however, would constitute an unacceptable and unnecessary diversion from this effort.

- At Loos the French IX Corps has taken over the British line up to the ruins of the Puit 14 factory, including responsibility for the village of Loos itself.  This has allowed the entire Guards Division to be pulled out of the line for rest before the planned resumption of the offensive.  To the north, following the recapture of a stretch of Gun Trench on the 30th, German forces launched a series of attacks over the past few days against the northern side of the salient carved out by the initial British attack on the 25th.  After heavy fighting, early this morning German infantry manage to recapture the Hohenzollern Redoubt, a significant loss for the British as it exposes any future British attack towards Hulloch to flanking fire from the north.

- As the French prepare for one last push in Champagne, Falkenhayn asks Lieutenant-General Konstantin Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, chief of staff to Crown Prince Wilhelm, whether it would be possible to undertake a major offensive in Alsace, the plans for which Knobelsdorf had examined during the summer.  Though the conclusion is that, with significant forces committed to the Serbian offensive, such an operation is not practical at present, Falkenhayn's inquiry speaks to the extent to which the great crisis of September 25th, when it appeared that both the British and French had broken through at Loos and in Champagne respectively, has passed.

- The Greek government lodges a formal diplomatic complaint of the imminent violation of its neutrality by British and French forces landing at Salonika.  Having fulfilled the requirements of international law to preserve the facade of diplomacy, no interference is offered when British and French officers land at Salonika today to begin planning for the arrival of the lead French brigades on the 5th.

The Anglo-French landing at Salonika, Greece, October 1915.

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