It’s another very important day in the East. Yet another major battle opens, as the Austro-Hungarians attempt to capitalise on a Russian mishap. And it’s time for the Serbians to show the invaders that they’re not beaten yet.
Battle of Limanowa
As mentioned yesterday, the Russians have attempted to shuffle their dispositions near Krakow, and made a bit of a bollocks of it. They’re trying to bring their 3rd Army into a position to threaten Krakow from the east. Doing that requires them to shuffle a couple of other armies over to make space for 3rd Army. Unfortunately, they’ve shuffled too early, and now there’s a big gap in their line.
Today the Austro-Hungarians are going to take advantage of it, marching in force into the gap, and threatening to flank both the Russian 8th and 4th Armies at the same time. It’s not entirely unlike what was achieved at the Battle of the Marne, and it will come to have a similar tactical impact. This is all going off near the sleepy Polish town of Limanowa, from which the battle takes its name.
Battle of Kolubara
Meanwhile, in Belgrade, the Austro-Hungarians are holding their victory parade. Even as that triumphal procession goes on, their opponents are launching a massive kick in the teeth. The Austro-Hungarian right wing has been considerably weakened to provide garrison troops to consolidate the left, and that’s exactly where the counter-attack hits them.
Even worse, their heavy artillery has mostly stopped dead since the order to consolidate came out. There is almost no artillery of any kind to break up the Serbian advances. By the end of the day, they’ve advanced several miles and recaptured innumerable pieces of high ground. Their morale is spiking, and the invaders are on the run. To the Austro-Hungarian high command, it’s an entirely staggering reverse. And this is far from the end of it.
The British Mesopotamian train set swings into action again today. This time the Ottomans are intent on a good scrap. Qurna is a much more defensible location than Basra was, and they’ve had plenty of time to dig in. However, they’ve reckoned without the firepower from the large number of Royal Navy gunboats that have sailed up the Shatt-al-Arab and then taken up relatively safe positions in the Tigris and the Euphrates.
When the ground troops go in (two Indian battalions and two slightly out-of-place companies of Norfolks), they quickly succeed in crossing the Tigris. However, they now have to advance across open ground, in full view of the defenders, to assault their advance positions and gain passage over the Euphrates. Sensibly, they soon retire with minimal casualties so that their officers can have a think.
Actions in Progress
The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day. In today’s paper: Our Military Correspondent describes the Western Front trenches as a “dramatic novelty” on Page 8, and the Germans are apparently “fighting for existence” on Page 9. Yeah, not so much.
William Maxwell indulges in some platitudes about the German national character on Page 10, and Page 14 has an interesting little piece about the use of bicycles in the war. The story of the Cyclist Corps and other bicycle-equipped soldiers is a lot more interesting than it sounds, and it could do with some more modern attention.
(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to read, have a look at this reading guide.)