Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 24th, 1915

- Elements of the German IV Reserve Corps and the Bulgarian 9th Division capture the city of Priština today, and though they take a large number of prisoners, the Serbian army itself is already gone, moving towards Prizren en route to the Albanian coast. Moreover, Mackensen realizes that a large-scale pursuit was simply no longer possible.  The terrible conditions inhibited supply and had already forced some formations to go on half rations, while others found their way blocked by a combination of weather and terrain: the Austro-Hungarian 10th Mountain Brigade finds its way blocked by a 4921-foot mountain with the only track around completely iced over, and thirty men had already frozen to death.  Reluctantly, Mackensen declares an end to the Serbian campaign today.  Bulgarian forces in the area will follow the Serbs towards Prizren, but this effort is half-hearted.

The Germans under Mackensen and Seeckt have accomplished in less than two months what the Austro-Hungarians failed to do in three attempts last year under General Potiorek.  Serbia has been occupied at a cost of approximately 67 000 casualties, a mere pittance compared to the losses endured to gain a mile or two on the Western Front.  Moreover, a solid land link had been opened with the Ottoman Empire, allowing the movement of much-needed supplies in particular to the latter.  The only blemish to the effort has been the escape of the Serbian army itself.  Though barely a viable military force at this point, it still exists, and once the current trial of reaching the Adriatic Sea has past it may yet have the opportunity to recover and return to the fight.

- The Italian 3rd Army continues its efforts to capture Mt. San Michele today, and manages to seize a stretch of the enemy line on the northern slope, while to the south there is back and forth fighting near St. Martino that ultimately results in no ground gained by either side.

- Falkenhayn meets today with Enver Pasha in the Austro-Hungarian city of Orsova, where the Ottoman minister of war offers to provide forces to aid a German offensive either in France or Russia.  While Falkenhayn is impressed with Enver's generosity, he declines the suggestion, believing that the Ottoman army would not be suited to operations in the climate of northern and central Europe.  Falkenhayn's decision may also have been influenced by any Ottoman detachment needing to pass through Bulgaria to reach the Western or Eastern Fronts, a movement that would be problematic at best considering the longstanding enmity between Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire - as recently as three years ago the two countries had been at war.

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