Capture of Les Eparges | 09 Apr 1915

The French achieve something they’ve been trying to do for about six months. A new British commander arrives in Mesopotamia. Sir Ian Hamilton continues worrying about Gallipoli.

Battle of Woevre

The French finally succeed in pushing the Germans off Les Eparges today, step by step, metre by metre. It’s not been possible to support the offensive with underground mines due to the extreme wetness of the ground under Les Eparges. With this news, General Dubail halts attacks at the St Mihiel salient to reorganise and change the focus of the battle. The fighting is far from over.

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Traitors?  In the Church???  Bluster!  Fulminate!  Harrumph!  Harrumph!
Traitors? In the Church??? Bluster! Fulminate! Harrumph! Harrumph!

Mesopotamia

General John Nixon is a career Indian Army man, first arriving in Bengal in 1878. He has extensive campaigning experience in Afghanistan, Waziristan, Chitral, and South Africa. It’s very important to note that he’s been appointed by the British Indian government in New Delhi. Indian Expeditionary Force “D” is accountable only to New Delhi. Nobody in London has any control or oversight over it. General Nixon will report only to New Delhi. There is clearly no way at all that this could go horribly wrong.

He’s arrived just in time to oversee the defence of Basra. The Ottoman forces are ready to march on Shaiba once more. We’ll see what thoughts General Nixon has about operations in Mesopotamia after they’re finished with the current problem.

Sir Ian Hamilton

Back to Sir Ian Hamilton and his ever-more-emo diary, as he takes ship again and speeds towards a Good Charlotte concert Mudros. He has two problems that are worrying him at present. The first is General Maxwell’s continued intransigence. Maxwell has refused to obey Lord Kitchener’s instruction of April 6th. He’s not told Hamilton about the telegram. Instead, he continues protesting in the strongest terms, telling mostly-fanciful stories of the vast Turkish horde that opposes him. Eventually Maxwell agrees, in exceptionally grudging terms, to hand over a brigade of Gurkhas to Hamilton. The struggle has taken up much of Hamilton’s time, time that could far more usefully have been deployed doing almost anything else.

Having vented his feelings on this matter, Hamilton tries to properly digest the opinions of his corps commanders. Generals Birdwood, Hunter-Weston, and Paris have all written him letters about the proposed landings. There’s a considerable diversity of opinion, but they agree on one thing. At best, the landings will be extremely difficult to carry out successfully, if not actually impossible. Hamilton summarises the thoughts of General Hunter-Weston:

If this landing at Cape Helles is successful, he considers the probable further course of the operations. Broadly, he thinks that we are so short of ammunition and particularly of high explosive shell that there is every prospect of our getting tied up on an extended line across the Peninsula in front of the Kilid Bahr trenches.

Hunter-Weston goes on to think and suggest the unthinkable. He says that withdrawing now and waiting for a better opportunity would be far preferable to conducting a campaign on Gallipoli and losing. Hamilton thinks it over, and responds to his diary.

The truth is, every one of these fellows agrees in his heart with old Von der Goltz, the Berlin experts, and the Sultan of Egypt that the landing is impossible. Well, we shall see, D.V., we shall see!! One thing is certain: we must work up our preparations to the nth degree of perfection: the impossible can only be overborne by the unprecedented; i.e., by an original method or idea.

“D.V.” is Latin: “Deo Volante”, or “God willing”. More to follow.

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Battle of Woevre

Further Reading

I have a Twitter account, @makersley, which you can follow to be notified of updates and get all my retweets of weird and wonderful First World War things.

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day. Worth a look. I’m reading the paper every day, and it’s where the content for Our Advertising Feature comes from.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

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