Saturday, November 14, 2015

November 14th, 1915

- N-Abt, the intelligence department of OHL, produces a report today on the Entente armies on the Western Front.  They estimate that the current size of the French army, including the class of 1916, to be approximately three million, which was four hundred thousand less than the size of the army at the outbreak of war.  N-Abt further estimates that under normal conditions the French are losing seventy thousand men per month.  At this rate, they estimate that the French will be experiencing severe shortages by September 1916 and will be forced to call up younger classes earlier and earlier to meet shortfalls in manpower - for instance, they anticipate the Class of 1918 being called up in June 1916.

The strength of the British army, however, is more difficult for N-Abt to assess.  They estimate that the British currently deploys approximately forty-two divisions consisting of 1 057 000 men, including 270 000 regulars, 170 000 Territorials, 400 000 in the 'New Armies', 60 000 Indians, and 47 000 Canadians.  However, though it is understood that the British army will grow to about seventy divisions, N-Abt is not able to conclude when this would occur.

Overall, N-Abt's report demonstrates that the Entente are numerically superior to the Germans on the Western Front, and that manpower shortages in the French army will in time be compensated by the growth of the British army.  This assessment of the balance of strength on the Western Front will be at the forefront of Falkenhayn's thoughts as they turn to planning operations on the Western Front in 1916.

- Today the commander of the Italian 2nd Army, Lieutenant-General Pietro Frugoni, orders VI Corps to continue the offensive west of Görz.  Seeing the setback yesterday at Oslavija as emblematic of the exhaustion of his soldiers, Lieutenant-General Luigi Capello, commander of VI Corps, objects to the order, writing to Cadorna that in the miserable conditions his men are little more than walking clumps of mud, and that further attacks would be pointless.  Cadorna sides with Capello, and suspends operations at Görz.  To the south, however, the Italian 3rd army continues its attempt to capture Mt. San Michelle.  In the heaviest fighting of the 4th Battle of the Isonzo to date, attacks are launched from both flanks towards the summit, but by the end of the day all the Italians have gained is a small stretch of the first enemy trench southwest of St. Martino.  Here the Austro-Hungarians simply establish a new trench line two hundred yards east of their old position, and otherwise nothing changes.  However, repulsing the enemy assaults costs the Austro-Hungarian VII Corps over 1700 casualties today, and 5th Army sends forward three battalions from reserves.

- Meeting in Rome, the Italian cabinet discusses the evolving situation in the Balkans.  Their French allies have requested the deployment of an Italian contingent to Salonika, which Cadorna supports (on the basis that tying down enemy forces here keeps them from the Italian Front).  His political masters, however, have their eyes focused on Albania, both closer and seen by the government as within Italy's sphere of influence.  Cadorna's advice is ignored, and the formation of an expedition to deploy to Albania is agreed upon.

- The German battlecruiser Goeben is attacked by the Russian submarine Morzh off the Bosphorus while escorting transports.  The German warship only narrowly avoids Russian torpedoes, and the decision is made that despite the marked inferiority of the Ottoman navy, Goeben cannot be risked as a mere escort for steamers.

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