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Subject: 1915 - 97 Years of Hindsight rss

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Robert Lloyd
United Kingdom
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This is the second part of my AAR of a recent game covering the year 1915. 1916 tomorrow.

7 January - February 1915 - VPs 7 - AP Gain: Boulogne; Ahwaz.

Boulogne is untenable for the Germans and their Guards Cavalry Division abandons it to the French. The British are trying to breakthrough to Belgian territory in Flanders but German Reserve Divisions hold them up. The Russians are checked in the East in the Carpathians and on the Lower Vistula. A German concentration at Thorn inflicts a sharp reverse on the Russians massed in Prussia. The Turks in the Caucasus gain Erivan and Imishli. Nevertheless, the Persian Cossacks block a Turkish advance towards Tabriz and Armenian massacres lead to problems for the Turks in that region. The British recover Ahwaz and occupy Qurna in Iraq.

The Allied offensive in the West has recovered one of the Channel Ports.

8 March 1915 - VPs 6 - AP Gain: Calais.

The Germans begin to create devastated zones in Flanders to try and control the Allied advance which is presently assisted by an early Allied superiority in the air. The French take Calais despite these measures and bad weather. The Western Front is now drawing close to German held Lille and the French are also advancing further south in the Sambre sector. The continuing French resistance at Mauberge helps prevent the Germans concentrating their full strength at the Front. In the East, the Russians are thrown on the defensive as the Germans launch a major attack on both banks of the Vistula towards Warsaw and Lodz and the Austrians recapture Gorlice and temporarily restore communication with Przmysl. The Austrians begin attacks in Serbia south west of Belgrade.

Calais is recovered before the Western Front is stabilized. The CP is moving forward in the East but the CP cannot shift the initiative yet as the situation in the West is too fragile.

9 April 1915 - VPs 5 - AP Gain: German Emergency Replacements.

The Germans continue their policy of devastating areas in front of their lines while making tactical withdrawals. The French suspend their attacks but the British have a success capturing the ridge north of Arras thanks to good air reconnaissance. The British also advance onto Belgian soil south of Ypres. In the East, the Russians counter-attack in Galicia taking Przmysl and Gorlice (for a second time). The Germans are advancing in Prussia and northern Poland. Bulgaria declares war, increasing the danger now facing Serbia. The British make landings at Gallipoli but their initial attacks are met with determined defences. The Russians capture Vitse while the Turks concentrate on crushing the Armenian revolt at Bitlis.

The Russian success at Vitse was due to Turks neglecting their supply line and failing to capture Batum. This is the first significant out of supply ("OOS") loss in the game, but it only cost two or three Divisions.

10 May 1915 - VPs 5

The French attack Dunkirk and the British attack Lens in a major effort to capture key locations. Despite the use of chlorine gas and hurricane bombardments these efforts fail as the German line has consolidated and is well manned. The Belgians are evacuating Antwerp with tacit German complicity. The British reinforce their Gallipoli bridgehead. The Germans continue their twin offensives in Prussia and on the Vistula and are aiming to relieve Konigsberg. The Austrians are finding it harder to drive back the Russians who are trying to draw the Hapsburgs out of the mountains. The Bulgarians capture Nis as the Serbians are forced to face two enemies. The Turks recapture Vitse and restore their position on the Black Sea coast.

The Western Allies start to experience frustration as they attempt to help the Russians by maintaining pressure in the West.

11 June 1915 - VPs 6 - CP Gain: Lodz.

The French and British keep up their attacks in Flanders without gaining any more ground. Other French attacks in Picardy and Lorraine are more successful and the German line is stretched to breaking point between Sarrebourg and Morhagne. In Poland, the Germans occupy Lodz after the Russians withdrew. A bigger success of the Germans is in East Prussia where the Russian North West Front is destroyed between Lotzen and Insterberg opening up the road into Russian territory. In the Balkans, the Austrians reinforced with German units have surrounded Belgrade. The Turks continue to push forward in the Caucasus and have captured Kars. There is also a Turkish advance developing in southern Iraq where Indian cavalry are driven out of An Nasiriyah.

The smashing of the Russians in East Prussia by OberOst is a decisive moment in the East. The Russians lost 44 units in the three spring turns and the initiative is about to switch.

12 July 1915 - VPs 8 - CP Gain: Warsaw; Antwerp.

Italy declares war on the Austrians. The Czar takes command of his retreating armies. In fact, a rout is in progress on the Eastern Front. The Germans capture Olita and Osowiec while the Russians form a strong position covering Kovno and Vilna. In Poland, a strong German concentration captures Warsaw and another Russian force is isolated at Lomza. The Austrians are moving forward in Galicia and retake Przmysl. The Western Allies intensify their offensives. The French capture Sarrebourg, but the Germans are able to seal the Front shortly after. On the Sambre-Somme sector, St Quentin is liberated. Attacks on Dunkirk and Arras however have no success and the Germans occupy Antwerp after the Belgian evacuation was completed. Mauberge is still holding out. The Turks make slow progress towards Batum in the Caucasus and take back Qurna in southern Iraq.

The Russians lose another 19 units and are in deep trouble. The Italian intervention will draw off some Austrian troops from the Eastern Front, hopefully, for the AP.

13 August 1915 - VPs 10 - CP Gain: Belgrade; Lemberg.

The Central Powers sweep forward in the East taking Grodno, Lomza and Ivangorod by assault. Between Minsk and Brest-Litovsk is a void into which the Germans advance reaching Moldechny. The Russians also lose Szawli while counter-attacking to stabilise the important position at Kovno-Vilna. The Austrians recover Eastern Galicia despite a Russian defensive success at Rava Ruska. Belgrade falls to the Sud Armee and Skopje to the Bulgarians. The Turks reach Alexandrapol and Erivan in the Caucasus while the British reinforce Iraq to prevent any further Turkish advance there. The British and ANZAC forces at Gallipoli make a last major effort to breakout of the bridgehead and fail. The Italians begin their war with successes crossing the Ausa and in capturing Caporetto. On the Western Front, French attacks on Dunkirk are failures. The British concentrate against Arras which is at the apex of a significant German salient, but they are unable to advance despite the support of French attacks further south.

It is hard to find any good news for the AP at the moment. The Germans have lost 18 units in the last two turns, but it is not enough to slow the Central Powers’ advance in the East.

14 September 1915 - VPs 10.

The Germans in the East reach Libau and Baranovichi and they capture Brest-Litovsk by assault. Dubno and Lutsk, in contrast, resist the Austrians. Nevertheless, the Hapsburgs score a striking victory making a deep advance to capture Berdichev and Rowno. This unhinges the whole Russian defence in the western Ukraine and makes Kiev indefensible. The British abandon the Gallipoli bridgehead. In Iraq the British use a naval flotilla to help take back An Nasiriyah. In the Balkans, the Serbians are steadily losing ground in the Vardar valley and the Italians have sent two divisions to Valona to support the deteriorating position of the Allies. The Italians have a further notable success in crossing the Isonzo and capturing Tolmino. On the Western Front, the British attack against the Arras salient continues. The French change tactics and try and attrition the Germans with small scale attacks on a wide front mainly in the Somme-Sambre sector. Mauberge finally capitulates after a siege lasting a year.

The loss of Berdichev was a second devastating blow against the Russians. A German HQ strategically redeployed there with cavalry meant that any defence of Kiev could be surrounded. Another 39 Russian units were lost this quarter.

15 October 1915 - VPs 12 - CP Gain: Kiev; Minsk.

The Austrians take Kiev without a fight. A new Russian front forms to protect Odessa and Vinnitsa. In Belorussia, OberOst concentrates the German 8th and 11th Armies, including the Alpenkorps and the German Guard Divisions, to attack Minsk which was well defended but lost in another Russian fiasco. In Serbia, the typhus epidemic saves the Allied front. A landing of French and British units at Salonika is under way. The Italians are consolidating their modest gains around Tolmino as the Austrian defences are growing stronger. The British attempt to cut off the Arras salient in a pincer movement but a partial breakthrough is reversed by a strong German counter-attack. The French make better gains in the Sambre-Somme sector where with artillery support they got three divisions over the Sambre and held off a German counter-attack. In peripheral theatres the Allies have some gains. The Turks abandoned Qurna in Iraq and the Russians are moving forward in the Azar valley retaking Erivan.

Four Russian cities have now been lost and, with the Czar in Command, the Russian Revolution table will not be kind to the AP.

16 November - December 1915 - VPs 12.

Both sides are trying to recover equilibrium in the East. The Russians are forming new lines based on the Vitebsk - Orsha - Mogilev - Gomel line. The Germans are redeploying to concentrate against the strong Russian forces around Kovno and Vilna. The Austrians are cautiously advancing towards the Russians defending Vinnitsa. The Balkan, Italian and Near East Fronts are quiet as winter approaches. Only on the Western front is there much offensive action. The French keep up the pressure in the Sambre battle. Having failed to cut it off, the British frontally assault the Arras salient and this results in a horrible slaughter and no gains. The British are embarassed by a local German attack between the Lys and the Yser which forced the British to rely on French troops in reserve to prevent a breakthrough.

Allied losses on the Western Front are mounting because of German counter-attacks. Overall, attrition in 1915 favoured the CP (123 lost units) over the AP (203 lost units. The CP also has only 22 unreplaced units (18 German) at the end of the year, whereas the AP has 88 (France 11, Russia 74).The big story of 1915 is the Central Powers’ very impressive gains against Russia all of which was achieved without any major encirclement (Berdichev excepted). The Germans did concentrate most of their elite 4-5-4s and 4-4 Divisions in the East.

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