Friday, October 09, 2015

October 9th, 1915

- Though the German attack at Loos yesterday has forced yet another postponement of the British offensive, Foch is unwilling to delay the attack of the French 10th Army any further, and insists that it go ahead as planned.  Now, however, the weather intervenes: the preliminary artillery bombardment scheduled to begin today is delayed by heavy fog which prevents accurate fire on German positions.  The infantry assault is thus put off until the 11th.

- With German forces approaching from the west and the Austro-Hungarian troops into the city fighting house-to-house, General Mihailo Živkovic, commanding the Serbian defenders at Belgrade, concludes that the city can no longer be held.  Shortly after midnight, he orders his exhausted battalions to abandon the city, retreating south to a line running approximately from Mirijevo east of Belgrade to Zarkova south of the city.  During the day, the German 43rd Reserve Divisions pushes into the city from the west, capturing the Konak, the official residence of King Peter I of Serbia, while 44th Reserve Division covers its southern flank and occupies the summit of Banovo Mountain.  The Austro-Hungarian 59th Division, meanwhile, fights its way through the streets of Belgrade and by this evening have captured the Kalemegdan.  For the second time in the war, Belgrade has fallen to the enemy; this time, however, there will be no miraculous reversal of fortune as there was in December of last year.

Kalemegdan castle after its capture by the Austro-Hungarian 59th Division, October 9th, 1915.

East of Belgrade, the German X Reserve Corps goes onto the attack today after its crossing of the Danube on the 7th, and make gradual progress in hilly terrain.  An attack by IV Reserve Corps, meanwhile, is delayed by morning fog, and when artillery fires prior to the attack, rescheduled for 230pm, a number of shells fall short and strike German positions.  The Serbs, taking advantage of the confusion, launch a counterattack along the entire front of IV Reserve Corps, taking advantage of cornfields to advance unseen.  In heavy fighting, the Serbs are finally driven off with the aid of artillery fire from the north bank and Temesziget Island.  A German counterattack makes slow progress, the Serbian trenches hidden by the same corn that had masked their earlier advance, but by this evening have captured Petka.  11th Bavarian Division has suffered 750 men over the past two days, but the Serbs defenders have lost approximately a thousand, and they are far less able to replace their casualties than the Germans.  Twenty miles to the west, the German III Corps makes its crossing of the Danube today, the last of 11th Army's three corps to do so.  6th Division secures a bridgehead opposite Kevevára, and corps commander General Ewald von Lochow decides to redeploy his other division - 25th Reserve - to follow the route of 6th Division, given the difficulties its lead regiment - 168th - has encountered attempting to cross at Semendria Island.

- As General Sarrail has yet to arrive at Salonika, General Maurice Bailloud, who had formerly commanded the French contingent on Gallipoli, has been in charge.  The orders he has received from his government since the landing show the extent to which the Entente, having committed to aiding the Serbs, had not worked out how precisely this was to be done.  On October 7th, Bailloud received instructions not to cross the border into Serbia.  Yesterday, this order was countered by another message ordering him to advance thirty kilometres into Serbia.  Today, Bailloud is again instructed not to enter Serbian territory.  Not surprising, the net result has been no advance beyond Salonika for the forces that have arrived since the 5th.

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