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Subject: 1916 - 96 Years of Hindsight rss

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Robert Lloyd
United Kingdom
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A continuation of my "Hindsight" AAR. This is 1916. Often a critical year in GWiE.

17 January - February 1916 - VPs 12.

Both sides up the ante on the Western Front. The Germans sieze the initiative with attacks east of the Meuse directed at the defenders of Verdun. The French strengthen their defences here but keep up a high rate of attrition on the Western Front while the British make attacks in Flanders, on the Yser and at Lens, which town they fail to capture due to rigid planning. Even though it is winter, the Italians play their part by attacking south west of Plezzo, without success. Despite this, the German 11th Army continues the run of Central Powers success in the East by capturing Vilna. The Austrians also take Vinnitsa as they begin a slow advance which ultimately they hope will reach Odessa. Both sides are building up force in Sinai where two German divisions help the Turks hold the line. In the Caucasus, Enver orders a winter offensive which coincides with a similar Russian effort. The Russians have the better of it, recovering Kars.

The initiative switched by the CP back to the West as the AP tries to raise the rate of attrition to intolerable levels for the Germans.

18 March 1916 - VPs 12.

The battle around Verdun intensifies and the Germans widen the front on which they attack. The French, however, are capable of holding their lines and it is unlikely the Germans will gain much ground. The British maintain an active front but make no further efforts to take ground for the moment. The Italians wait for better weather. In the Balkans, the Austrians attack the Serbians in the Dinaric Mountains and further French forces are sent to Salonika. On the Eastern Front, the Germans are trying to squeeze the Russian salient protecting Kovno while a Russian offensive in Belorussia is started with the aim of relieving the pressure on Kovno. The Turks order withdrawals in the Caucasus as the Russian offensive there gains momentum. The British make attacks in Sinai and in Iraq. In both cases the Turks stand firm at the Pipeline Station and at Al Amarah.

The tempo of the war increases and the Central Powers are more embattled. The Germans lost 35 units in this quarter and the French 19.

19 April 1916 - VPs 12.

The Czar has fallen but the new Provisional Government keeps Russia fighting with new drafts of troops reaching the front. Briefly, the Russians fight on with new spirit against the Central Powers offensives in the Lithuania and in southern Russia. However, none of this is able to prevent the Germans isolating Kovno putting another vital military centre at risk. The Russians do advance in the Caucasus recapturing Kars after Turkish retreats. The Turks also abandon Al Amarah in Iraq falling back to Kut. The British and ANZACs are still held up at the Pipeline Station in Sinai. On the Balkan Front, the Sud Armee is attacking Montenegro while the Central Powers also attack in the Vardar valley and on Greek soil north of Salonika. An Italian offensive towards Plezzo makes no discerable progress. The Western Front sees further heavy fighting in the sector between Verdun and Metz where the Germans experiment with phosgene gas attacks. The British and Belgians begin new operations on the Yser - Lys sector where it is hoped they can force a German withdrawal from Dunkirk.

The Fall of the Tsar a year ahead of schedule is a great success for the Central Powers. The AP response is to keep attacking with everyone including the Russians. This results in 22 eliminated German units in one turn. The French also lose 16 so it may be asked who can bear this most?

20 May 1916 - VPs 13 - CP Gain: Scutari.

The two great battles in the West at Verdun and on the Lys continue. The Germans use flamethrowers in an attempt to close in on Verdun in a sustained offensive blocked by a strong French defence. The British are slowly squeezing the Germans towards the coast, but all efforts to capture Dunkirk fail. With the siege of Kovno continuing, the Eastern Front falls into a quiet phase as paralysis in the Russian command sets in. Only in the Caucasus is there heavy fighting involving the Russians and it is they who blunt a premature Turkish offensive on the border west of Kars. Austria goes on the offensive on the Italian Front as Conrad's influence tells. The Italians defeat an Austrian crossing of the Isonzo south of Tolmino but they lose their position in the mountains north of the town. The Montenegrins succumb to the Central Powers invasion and the French in Greece have been forced out of the mountains by a Bulgarian offensive. The British are advancing in Iraq and southern Persia but experiencing growing frustration at their inability to seize the Pipeline Station from the Turkish-German defenders of Sinai.

The pressure on the Germans eases significantly once the Russians cease to attack.

21 June 1916 - VPs 13.

The German effort at Verdun begins to stall as it becomes clear the French will not give ground. Employing their new "system", the French instead gain tactical successes which reverse some earlier German gains. The British, capture Ypres in the Yser - Lys offensive, but this advance in a new direction seems to recognise they will not reach the sea behind Dunkirk. The Austrian offensive in the Julian Alps is crowned with the recapture of Tolmino and the clearing of all Italian footholds on the east bank of the Isonzo. The Italians also suffer setbacks in Albania as the Central Powers advance south from Montenegro. The French are forced to send four more divisions to the Balkans as the Bulgarians threaten Salonika. In the Caucasus, the Turks reorganise and press their attack to Kars which the Russians are forced to give up. Due to the summer, the Iraq and Sinai fronts are static.

The Germans lost 40 units this quarter but the rate of attrition has dropped on a per turn basis, mainly because the Russians are no longer fighting. The Western Allies cannot do it all.

22 July 1916 - VPs 14 - CP Gain: Tabriz.

The Bolshevik Revolution has caused a collapse in Russian military capacity and the Central Powers resume their attack in the East to take advantage. The main advances are towards the Dvina and Riga and down the Pruth and Dneistr towards Odessa. While the Russians still have some powers of resistance on the main fronts, in the Caucasus they are soon in headlong retreat and the Turks are able to occupy Tabriz. To protect their position in Persia, the British have occupied Khoramabad with a strong column including the South Persian Rifles. The Central Powers continue to make progress in the Balkans as Austrian troops capture Durazzo from the Italians. The French, however, blunt the Bulgarian attack on Greece with a strong counter-attack north of Salonika. The Italians make a new offensive on the Isonzo and capture Montefalcone while the Austrian offensives peter out. The last phase of Conrad's offensive programme is an attack to gain ground in the Trentino and drive the Italians back from the Trent fortified line. This fails. Both sides remain very active on the Western Front but the British end the Yser - Lys operations after the Germans prevented any possibility of further gains. The Verdun fighting is also winding down, with the French and Germans launching minor operations to improve their positions on the Aisne and in southern Alsace respectively.

The AP would have been lucky to avoid the Bolshevik Revolution. The situation in the East gets worse and worse. The Initiative was switched to the East by the CP.

23 August 1916 - VPs 14.

The Russians defending in Bessarabia concentrate to counter-attack the Austrian advance down the Dneistr and succeed in slowing the enemy movement. The Germans advancing in Latvia are not to be stopped so easily and the Alpenkorps gains a bridgehead over the Dvina placing Riga in danger. The Russian position in the Caucasus is collapsing fast. The Turks are already in Tiflis, Batum and Imishli, though Yudenitch's belated intervention helped prevent a swift advance to Poti. The British in Persia have now secured Kermanshah but a general offensive in Iraq and Sinai is postponed until after the summer. The Libyan revolt adds to British woes. The Italians follow up their success at Montfalcone with a major effort to capture Gorizia. The Austrians are hard pressed here but hold on. On the Western Front, Haig orders an attack on Lens after closing down the Yser - Lys operations. This is another costly failure. The French do not maintain operations at the same intensity as before as their own losses have been a matter of concern. They concentrate on eliminating German positions south of the Aisne with the aim of reaching the line of the river along its whole length.

The AP are running short of ideas. They cannot take ground and heavy attrition is playing into the CPs hands because when they are finished with Russia they will certainly turn back to the West and it will be all over if the AP is too weak to hold back a Stosstruppen offensive.

24 September 1916 - VPs 15 - CP Gain: Riga.

The war at sea briefly attracts attention but the Dreadnought clash at Jutland is a draw. The major victory of the month is the capture of Riga by the Germans. The Germans also help the Turks take Sabitabad in the Caucasus as they close in on Baku. The British finally enjoy some significant successes in the Near East. Townsend attacks Kut defended by Kemal and von der Goltz and despite a costly battle induces the Turks to withdraw. The British and ANZAC forces in Sinai also overrun the Turkish and German defences at the Pipeline Station. In the Balkans, the Central Powers' offensive has run its course and the Serbians have counter-attacked. The Italians give up the attack on Gorizia in favour of a new effort in the direction of Plezzo but they gain nothing. Haig keeps the British attacking towards Lens in Artois but the rationale is increasingly attritioning the enemy with little certainty this is going to work. In fact, the German strength in the West is rising as less is needed in the East and the Germans have made local attack in Lorraine and Picardy threatening Sarrebourg and Albert.

The AP badly needed a VP for Jutland and didn't get it. Finally the deadlock in Sinai is broken.

25 October 1916 - VPs 15.

Kovno surrendered to the Germans as bit by bit Russian strength disintegrates. The advance on Odessa is a combined effort by an Austrian and German Army. In an ill timed move, the Romanians declare war on the Central Powers as the Austrians advance past Jassy on the opposite bank of the Pruth. In the Near East, the Russians prepare for a final defence of Baku. The British follow up their successes in Iraq and Sinai making uncontested advances. The Italians make a last effort to advance towards Plezzo before winter but are kept back by a firm Austrian defence. Haig transfers the main point of his effort back to the Arras salient. The Germans are immovable here. The French make some gains on the Aisne where they eliminate the last German bridgehead south of the river. The Germans are gearing up for a new effort in Lorraine and make a preliminary advance up the Moselle from near Metz.

In case it should be wondered why the British continue their campaign in Flanders and Artois rather than redeploy it should be noted that there are three VP cities on the German front line, Arras, Lille and Dunkirk, plus Lens a resource hex. Recapturing any of these VP cites would help hugely in a Sudden Death situation. The only other vulnerable VP location elsewhere is Mulhouse which is going to be no easier to take than Arras.

26 November - December 1916 - VPs 16 - CP Gain Baku.

The Russians have almost lost the will to fight. The German 9th Army is at the gates of Odessa and the Turks captured Baku. There is a feeble Russian offensive in Belorussia but Dvinsk has been given up and the Germans are hardly discomforted. The main difficulty of the Central Powers is Romania and a two pronged invasion of that country begins. First, German forces cross the Pruth and push on to the Sereth. Meanwhile the Sud Amee crosses the Danube north of Rustchuk. Both attacks misfire. In the north an attack on Jassy fails allowing Romanian units "retreating" towards Odessa to get mixed up in the rear of the Austrian 3rd Army causing it to disintegrate into disorder. The Sud Armee advances prematurely without protecting its flanks and meets a Romanian counter-offensive which ends with the Romanians in Rustchuk and three German divisions surrounded on the wrong side of the Danube. Thanks to the influence of the Corps commander Schafer-Boyadel, these units maintain cohesion but another German and Turkish division fall apart when their supplies are cut. In Albania, the Italians recapture Durazzo in part because of the diversion of Central Powers units to Romania. The Italians are defeated on their own Front, losing Montfalcone to an unexpected Austrian attack and also suffering reverses in the Trentino. On the Western Front, the British undertake minor actions around the Arras salient. The main offensive is German in Lorraine. The French are obliged to give up Sarrebourg and the Germans continue to advance agressively in the Moselle valley supported by strong air forces. A threat to Nancy is developing.

The Romanians are easy to underestimate when the CP has had such a long run of success. The CP eliminated one Romanian unit by cutting supply. The Romanians eliminated 5 including three Austrian divisions lost in southern Russia after their HQ was overrun by a Romanian escaping from Jassy. The complete collapse of the Caucasus Front is significant. The Turks will be able to redeploy units to other Fronts.

1916 has been a disaster for the AP and there is a good chance they will not survive 1917. CP unit losses were 210 (German 138, A-H 42, Turkey 27) AP unit losses were 300 (France 86, Britain 38, Russia 134, Italy 27). Unreplaced losses are CP 72 (Germany 56, A-H 8, Turkey 7) and AP 202 (France 38, Russia 157, Britain nil). The British thus are still in good health and France is not yet beaten. The Americans will not stay out of this forever and they offer a slither of hope for the AP.

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