Saturday, November 07, 2015

November 7th, 1915

- Elements of the German IV Reserve and X Reserve Corps seize the Serbian city of Kruševac.  Over the past two days, the Germans have captured six to seven thousand prisoners, as well as fifty locomotives and 1100 loaded railcars immobilized by the collapse of the Serbian rail network.

- Three days after sinking the French transport Calvados, the German submarine U38 strikes again today, and ignites a diplomatic firestorm.  Off Bizerte it intercepts the Italian passenger liner Ancona en route from Messina to New York.  Initially the liner attempts to escape, but shelling from U38 brings it to a halt.  The captain of U38 gives the crew and passengers of Ancona forty-five minutes to abandon ship, but when he sees smokes on the horizon he decides that Ancona may have summoned a warship to its rescue, and orders a torpedo fired into the liner.  Quickly sinking, over two hundred passengers are lost, several of whom are Americans.

The Italian passenger liner Ancona.

The loss of American life by itself is contentious, given the crises provoked by the sinking of Lusitania and Arabic in earlier this year.  Further complicating matters is that U38 flew the Austro-Hungarian while surfaced, standard practice for German submarines when attacking Italian-flagged ships, given that Germany and Italy are not at war.  This means, of course, that diplomatic protests by the Americans over the sinking of Ancona are directed at Austria-Hungary, not Germany, and the navies of the two allies have to ensure they have their stories straight to appease the Americans.

- As the Persian government of Mustaufi ul-Mamalik negotiates with the German ambassador for an alliance, Russian forces in northern Persia continue to cement their grip on the region.  Since the spring, a Russian detachment has been garrisoned at Kazvin, less than ninety miles northwest of Teheran, and in an effort to dissuade the Persian government from anti-Entente activity demonstrates towards the Persian capital today, sending the message that they could occupy Tehran if they desired to.

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