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1918 Spanish Flu

One of our goals at USA-eVote is to add information about previous pandemics that threatened this world. The 1918 Spanish Flu seems to be the best choice as the first virus to cover. Since that virus infected the world during WWI, it naturally blends into the concept of American History and fits into the category of WWI articles.

After reviewing this entire video it was a perfect fit for This video follows the USA-eVote trend of providing reference material and backs up information with reliable sources. The publisher of this video did a great job of adding references, providing proper credits, and backing up the information with reliable sources.

This video on the 1918 Spanish Flu tells a story about a world epidemic that quickly spread from one country to another. After watching this video you will have a much better idea of what the experts on President Trump’s staff have studied and why drastic measures had to be taken to curve the spread of today’s COVID-19 virus.

USA-eVote hopes you take one concept from this video. The information on this video is unbiased. This video sticks to the facts and backs those facts up with necessary references. This video displays what investigative reporting is all about and shows how important proper study is. This video highlights the mistakes government made in the early stages of the 1918 Spanish Flu, and covers the learning curve government and individual organizations had to live through to finally control the spread of the 1918 Spanish Flu.

How serious was the 1918 Spanish Flu? After viewing this video you can see why I call it the 12 hour flu. That flu was so powerful, people often died within 12 hours of showing the first signs of being infected.

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Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive: An Overview

The Gorlice and Tarnów areas were important in WWI, as was much of Poland. Both the Russians and the Germans desperately wanted this land, mostly to secure it and make sure that their opponents weren’t able to make further invasions. The desire to take over parts of Poland led to battles such as Przemyśl and Tannenberg, and many more.

So, the Chief of the General Staff, General Conrad von Hötzendorf, devised a plan that would combine German and Austro-Hungarian forces all the way from Gorlice to Tarnów. After hearing the plan, General Falkenhayn agreed to move the German Eleventh Army, under the command of General von Mackensen from the Carpathians to Tarnów. In fact, the gas attacks launched during the 2nd Battle of Ypres was actually a diversion to let von Mackensen and his troops move under a cloak of secrecy. Once along the Tarnów, he was given command of even more troops, the Austrian VI Corps, the Austrian Fourth Army, as well as a Hungarian cavalry division. By April 28th, von Mackensen and 170,000 men were ready, along with 702 field guns and 300 heavy guns.

On the other side was the Russian General, Radko-Dmitriev’s Third Army.

Hötzendorf planned for a frontal assault. They planned for heavy bombardment along a 30-mile front. And on May 2nd, at 6 in the morning, this bombardment began. Four hours later, an infantry 30,000 men strong attacked the Russians defenses. Of course, this was pretty easy given that the bombardment (the heaviest yet seen on the Eastern Front) had already completely destroyed Russian defenses.

[Below: Germans watching the smoke rise from Gorlice.]


Two days later, the Russians launched their counterattack. The III Caucasian Corps attacked . . . and failed. So much so that the Germans threatened the entire Carpathian Front. It seemed that the Russians were rapidly loosing ground. Not just ground but men and weapons.

By May 9th, the Russians had lost 140,000 men as POWs along with some 100 guns. By this time, the Russian 3rd Army was totally destroyed. The next day, the Austrians were forcefully taking back Przemyśl on the 1st of June.

As the summer progressed, the Russians retreated from Galicia, Przemyśl, and finally Lemberg on the 22nd, and then all the way into Poland. Once into Poland, the Germans turned their advance northward then eastward, easily pushing towards Warsaw, which they captured by August 5th thanks to the arrival of the German 12th On the 25th, they also took Brest-Litovsk

Although Grand Duke Nicholas had managed to retreat, preserving “a large part of the Russian army,” he lost his control of the Russian army before the offense was even over. On August 21st, Tsar Nicholas II took over command of the army. Though this doesn’t seem to have helped the army much, as the offensive continued on in the same fashion for rest of the summer. In fact, by mid-September, the Russians were pushed all the way back to Lithuania and even on to the Russian boarder. All of Russian Poland had been lost to the Germans and Austrians. All of the land they had gained in bloody battles against the Austrians had been lost.

The Gorlice-Tarnów offensive casualty counts were enormously high, on both sides. The Russians some 350,000 men while the Germans lost some 87,000, and the Austria-Hungary some 20,000.

[Below: Russians retreating through Przemyśl.]

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2nd Battle of Ypres

On April 22, 1915, the German 4th Army mounted a surprise attack against the Allies on the Western Front in Ypres, beginning the 2nd Battle at Ypres. They were hoping to divert Allied attention away from the Eastern Front, where it would make it easier on the Germans to fight the Russians.

Not only that, but it is very likely that the Germans were just dying to try out their new secret weapon: Chlorine Gas.

But the battle began as many others do, with a bombardment – in this case, with 17-in howitzers. But as it cleared away, the Germans did not advance as one might expect. Instead, a cloud of chlorine gas wafted down into the trenches. 168 tons of chlorine gas, released from 5,700 canisters, to be exact. This is not what they were expecting.

The gas alone took out two divisions of troops or about 10,000 troops. “The stunned Allied troops fled in panic towards Ypres, the heavy gas settling and clogging the trenches where it gathered” (Source). But it gets worse, because half of those 10,000 men died with 10 minutes, the men dying of asphyxiation. Those who didn’t die almost immediately were temporarily blinded, many of them becoming POWs.

Turned out, the Germans must not have expected the gas attack to work quite as well as it did, because they were so shocked by its effect that they failed to take advantage of their success. As a result, the Allies managed to hold their positions. After a mere three kilometers, the Germans were stopped by the British 2nd Army, under the command of General Smith-Dorrien. The day’s battle was finished, but the Germans were not.

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Two days later, they Germans launched another gas attack, this time against a Canadian division. After further bombardments, the Germans pushed forward, all the way towards Hill 60.

This time, however, the Germans endured heavily losses. The Canadians were backed up by British forces, who arrived on May 3rd. Even with the extra help, though, the Allies were pushed all the way back to Ypres, hence the second battle of Ypres. Actually, General Smith-Dorrien had suggested the withdrawal to Ypres, only to be relieved of his command and sent back to England by Commander-in-Chief of the BEF, Sir John French. Unfortunately for French, Dorrien’s replacement, General Herbert Plumer, pushed through the retreat.

This plan allowed the fighting to temporarily halt. But by May 8th, it had picked up once again. It continued on this way, in an on-and-off fashion, up until May 25, when the Second Battle of Ypres finally drew to a close. This was due to one last major German assault that forced that Allies to cede. Meanwhile, on the German side a serious lack of supplies and men forced the Germans to call off any further offensives.

Losses were heavy at Ypres, especially on the Allied side, thanks to the chlorine gas attacks. The Allies suffered as many as 69,000 deaths (59,000 of which were British), while the Germans suffered the loss of some 35,000 men. What did result, though, was the Allies developing their own chemical weapons. These chemical weapons meant a new form of warfare.


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The Gallipoli Campaign

The Gallipoli Campaign started as one might expect a new campaign to start, with the British First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, bending over maps, searching for a new way around the impasse known as the Dardanelles Strait. This, unfortunately, resulted in utter disaster, both for the campaign and for Churchill’s career.

Well, almost – on both accounts.

Churchill, as we all know, went on to have a long and successful – if not eventful – career. And the Gallipoli Campaign would be long and eventful – if not successful.

The naval demonstrations of Churchill’s creation against the Turks turned into something of a combined naval and ground expedition. Even if the French weren’t 100% on board at the beginning. Under the command of British War Secretary Lord Kitchener’s newest protégé, Sir Ian Hamilton, a force of 75,000 British followed by 18,000 French. Men from New Zealand and Australia joined them. They Marched forward on March 25th. They were up against 84,000 Turks led by the German officer, Liman von Sanders.

Initially, von Sanders was incredibly worried about his underprepared contingent of Turks. His men were woefully underprepared and disorganized, not to mention the dreadful ammunition shortage. Little did he know, though, that Hamilton was facing a similar, if not worse, problem. In fact, Hamilton’s men were probably even more disorganized than Sander’s men. On top of this, he set sail with very little idea of how he was supposed to proceed once he arrived and a severe lack of intelligence concerning the Turkish defenses.

In other words, no one was quite prepared for the Gallipoli Campaign. Nevertheless, the Allies landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, establishing two beachheads: Helles at the southern tip, and Gaba Tepe (later renamed Anzac Cove) on the Aegean coast. At the same time, readying for Allied invasion von Sanders began to set up defenses. Two were situated along the neck of the peninsula, by Bulair and the Gulf of Saros. Another was set along the Asian coast, at Besika Bay, and the final was set up at the southernmost tip.

The landing at Cape Helles, under the direction of Aylmer Hunter-Weston was remarkably disastrous. Despite being 35,000-stong, and the Turkish force meeting them being relatively weak, the Allies did not make much progress at Helles. First off, they were met by heavy machine gun fire. So, despite securing the Allied landing site at Helles, no progress was made at all.

[Below: Royal Irish Fusiliers]

Soldiers at Gallipoli

On the Allied side, they found themselves not only surrounded, but also dreadfully lacking in ammunition. But the Turks were fairing no better. They could find no way to drive the Allies back. Thus, a stalemate ensued.

On August 6th, though, Hamilton decided for another try around the Turkish lines. Thus, attacks were made at both Helles and Anzac. From Helles, under Lt. General Sir Frederick Stopford, the men moved slowly forward – too slowly, it turned out, because the Turks were quickly upon them. To the south, however, the ANZACs were much luckier. Despite failure on two accounts at Chunuk Bair and Hill 971, they scored victory on Lone Pine.

But Hamilton was not to be defeated. He made yet another attempt on August 21st. They attacked Scimitar Hill and the infamous Hill 60. This particular battle lasted until the 29th, ending in yet another failure for the Allies. Hamilton, with Churchill’s permission, requested 95,000 more men, but was barely sent a quarter of that. Seeing that Gallipoli was becoming an utter failure, Hamilton called for an evacuation.

Then, because of his many failures at Gallipoli, that October, Hamilton was replaced by Lt. General Sir Charles Monro. By this point, Bulgaria had joined the Central Powers. The Turks were gaining more and more backup troops, making the Allied attacks much harder. Taking all of this into consideration, Monro recommended that the campaign be evacuated. Lord Kitchener accepted Monro’s recommendation, and by December 7th, the Allies were beginning to pull out of Gallipoli. By January 9, 1916, the last pulled out.

To have gained absolutely nothing at Gallipoli, the Allies suffered some 46,000 casualties, with another 204,000 injured. This was surprisingly smaller than what was suffered on the Turkish side, were they lost some 65,000 lives with 185,000 injuries.

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Up Next:

The Garlice-Tarnów Offensive

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The Battle of Neuve-Chapelle

The first major battle of 1915, the battle of Neuve-Chapelle was fought from March 10-13 between the British (with the Canadians and Indians) and the Germans. The idea for the attack came from Sir John French, Commander-in-Chief of the BEF. Initially, the attack was meant to only be part of a wider offensive in the Artois. However, the British troops fighting in Ypres were late, making Neuve-Chapelle a major battle, by it’s own right.

At any rate, French’s plan was to capture Aubers, pressing the Germans into Lille. This would, he hoped, reduce the German salient in Neuve-Chapelle (while severing German rail communications) and allow the British the ease some of the pressure the Germans were putting on the Russians. This would make it the first major attack of the Great War that was launched by the British. And according to the French and Russians, it was about time for the British to start pulling their weight.

At 8:05 on March 10th, the British First Army under the command of Sir Douglas Haig with “342 guns barraged the trenches for 35 minutes, partially directed by 85 reconnaissance aircraft flying overhead. The total number of shells fired during this barrage exceeded the number fired in the whole of the Boer War” (Source).

Following this, they opened up to attack the German trench lines across a 4,000-yard-long front. This one lasting a mere 30 minutes. The Battle of Neuve-Chapelle was significant for another reason, though. “The British employed aerial photography on a large scale for the first time at Neuve-Chapelle, precisely mapping out the enemy trench system to guide the bombardment and infantry advance” (Source).

Lest one think that the British alone did the firing, during this second half hour, in some areas, entire British units were taken out by German fire. Further back, because not one single Brit managed to come back, commanders actually believed their men had been successful. When in fact, just the opposite was true.

The Germans were putting up quite the fight, particularly that of the 11th Jäger Battalion, but the British were persistent. They continued to barrage the Germans to such an extent that it made it nearly impossible for them to advance successfully.

Nearly, that is because after 5 hours of fighting, the British had actually managed a significant advance. However, with no direct order coming from the rear, they were forced to stall.

And that was their downfall.

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Because during their stall, the Germans were busy bringing in reserves. By the time the British were ready to advance, they found more German strong points than they had expected. And this was just the beginning. Because lines had moved, making their previous intelligence useless, the British spent a great deal of time wasting precious shells on empty fields. Worse yet, a thick fog was beginning to roll in. Their progress was, at the least, going to be much slower than the previous day. Information was being poorly communicated, making it even harder for them to advance as a unit.

Because of all this, the 11th was pretty much wasted. But the British planned to attack again the next day. Of course, little did they know that the Germans were planning the same thing. And they beat the British.

As early as 4:30 in the morning, they began with an artillery bombardment, advancing their infantry a half hour later. But their advance was not nearly as successful as the British advance had been two days earlier. The British troops were well dug in and putting up quite the resistance. And then the British responded with their own attack. Though, a fairly uncoordinated one.

In fact, “the 2nd Scots Guard, having taken a German position, had to withdraw after being shelled by their own side” (Source). Nevertheless, the Allied forces made surprising advances.

Although their shelling on the 13th lasted barely two hours, they managed to take some of the land they had lost back in October 1914, “but further progress towards Aubers – which had escaped artillery bombardment, and where the front line wire was thus undamaged – proved impossible; of some 1,000 troops who attacked Aubers, none survived” (Source). Nevertheless, they managed to take some 1,200 German prisoners. The Battle of Neuve-Chappelle was over.

Both Allies and the Germans suffered some 11,2000 casualties on each side.

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Second Battle of Masurian Lakes

Another very short post, but it is the second of two battles.

The Second Battle of Masurian Lakes began during a blizzard. Because of this, it is also known as the Winter Battle of Masurian Lakes. It was, like the first battle, fought between Russia and the Germans (who had Austria-Hungarian aid). The battle was part of Paul von Hindenburg’s plan to push the Russians back and bring about an end to the battle on the Eastern Front. “Specifically, Hindenburg intended to outflank Russian positions in central Poland, pushing them back beyond the Vistula River” (Source). The Germans were still desperate to throw the Russians out of the war, thus closing the eastern front and allowing them to focus on the British and the French in the west. Furthermore, despite their previous defeats, the four Russian divisions still held German land – the III, XX, XXVI, as well as the Siberian III Corps.

Thus, Hindenburg deployed the German 8th and the German 10th armies to East Prussia. There, they would fight against the Russian 10th Army, under the command of General Thadeus von Sievers. While the Russians would attack from East Prussia, the Austro-Hungarians would attack in Galicia, moving towards Lemberg.

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On the 7th of February, during a terrible snowstorm, General Fritz von Below, commanding the German 8th Army, attacked the Russians, “easily advancing against the enemy position from the south” (Source). Despite the German’s easy victory on the first day, the second day saw the German 10th Army, under General Hermann von Eichhorn, joining the fray. Attacking from the north, they easily outnumbered and surrounded the Russians.

“By February 10, the Russians had been forced back most of the way towards [Lyck]” (Source). Nevertheless, they would put up a good fight. It would take four more days for the Germans capture the town. In fact, in a mere week, the Germans had managed to capture 70 miles of land. During this time, the Russian III Corps managed to escape, heading towards fortresses on the Niemen River, Kovno and Olita. Following this, the III Siberian corps also managed to escape. By the 15th, the Russian XXVI Corps also managed to escape to safety. This left the Russian XX Corps. They fought in the Forest of Augustow, where on the 14th, the German XXI Corps attacked. By the 18th, the Russian XX Corps were trapped. On the 21st, 30,000 survivors surrendered.

In all, the Russians lost 200,000 men, half of them prisoners. German losses were relatively low, though many did suffer from exposure to extreme cold as well as from exhaustion.

General Fritz von Below was awarded the Pour le Merite, the highest military medal in Germany. Despite what seemed like a major Germany victory, they did not accomplish much on the Eastern Front; it was still open.

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Battle of Bolimov


Fought between the German Ninth Army led by August von Mackensen and the Russian Second Army led by Smirnov, the Battle of Bolimov began on January 31, 1915 as an attack against Warsaw. However, the battle itself took place in a small town to the west of Warsaw, in Bolimov.

The Germans chose Bolimov because they hoped “to draw Russian attention towards Warsaw and away from East Prussia, where large [German] armies were gathering in preparation for the attack” (Source). Overall, their decision had mixed results.

For starters, part of the German Ninth Army had already moved on to new positions, wanting to protect their right flank from the upcoming offensive. The rest of the army, then, was left to launch the attack against the Polish at Bolimon, on the Rawka River (a tributary of the Vistula).

Bolimov is, clearly, not one of the most remembered battles of WWI. And it certainly was not one of the most successful battles of the war, either. In fact, Bolimov is remembered mainly for the “first extensive use of poison gas” (Source). This, however, was also only partially successful.

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See, the Germans had fired 18,000 gas shells of xylyl bromide (tear gas). Following this, General Hoffman climbed a Bolimov church tower, eager to watch the results of the attack. Admittedly, it was mostly experimental in nature, but the Germans probably didn’t plan on it being quite so unsuccessful.

For one, they hadn’t taken into account the freezing temperatures of Poland in late January. The freezing temperatures didn’t allow the gases to vaporize.

Secondly, the Germans weren’t prepared for the gases to be blown back over their own lines. In this case, they were probably grateful that thanks to the freezing temperatures, the gases fell harmlessly to the ground. It seems that the Russian didn’t even realize the Germans released a new weapon.

Now, the gas attack itself may have been a failure, but their attempt to draw the Russians away from Warsaw wasn’t.

At first, the German attack was called off because of their failure. The Russians, however, “launched a number of heavy frontal counterattacks by some 11 divisions (led by Vasily Gurko)” (Source). The Germans responded with ease, and the Russians, in turn, suffered as many as 40,000 casualties with the return fire.

So, it was a German victory, after all, gas attack or no.

They wouldn’t attempt another gas attack until April, when the weather had a bit of a chance to warm up some. And the Second Battle of Ypres is more wildly remembered. 

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Battle of Dogger Bank

 After their success at Scarborough back in December, German Admiral Franz von Hipper decided to set off on another British attack. Only this time he wasn’t nearly as successful.

On January 24th, he was intercepted by British Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, who was stationed near Dogger Bank. He did this using “a German code book originally captured by the Russians,” allowing him to decode German radio traffic (Source). With this information in hand, he and his fleet set sail early January 24th with five battle cruisers and six light cruisers. At Harwich, Beatty was joined by more cruisers. It was safe to say that he was prepared to meet with the German Navy once again.

Thus, by the time Hipper’s force was setting out, well, so where the British formations. For their part, the British headed towards the intended rendezvous, Dogger Bank.

Not wanting the Germans to intercept their plans as they’d done with the Germans’ plans, all British ships were warned to maintain radio silence. They needed to surprise the Germans.

At about 7:15 that morning, HMS Southampton signaled that gun flashes had been sighted. The HMS Lion confirmed the sighting. It took only minutes for the HMS Aurora to engage the Germans.

The Germans, for their own part, were busy trying to avoid British confrontation. They hoped to do this by trying their boats around and attempting to outrun the British.

Clearly they’d been wrong.

It only took an hour for the British to catch up with them. HMS Aurora was the first to see the German ships. However, mistaking the ship for another British ship, the HMS Arethusa, she did not fire first. The German light cruiser, SMS Kolberg fired on HMS Aurora, prompting return fire before turning away. Despite more Germans ships showing up in the horizon, the undaunted HMS Aurora followed.

Initially, the German ships began to turn away, seemingly retreating hastily.

Around 8:15 the HMS Meteor was able to close ranks with the German ranks and began firing. After a mere few rounds, however, the Germans again began to retreat. Beatty’s ships continued their pursuit, despite being fired on by the SMS Blucher.

Then, at 9 am, the HMS Lion “opened fire on the Germans from a distance of more than 20,000 yards” (Source). Their first two shots weren’t even accurate. The first fell too short and the second went over. But then, Beatty signaled the British cruisers to engage. The HMS Lion was joined by the HMS Tiger and the HMS Royal.

By 9:15, the HMS Lion had managed to seriously damage the SMS Blucher. After two more hits, two of SMS Blucher’s turrets were destroyed, resulting in 200-300 casualties. “The German cruisers returned fire on the British battle cruisers as they caught up with them. [HMS] Lion shifted her fire to the [SMS] Moltke, while [HMS] Tiger and [HMS] Princess Royal continued to fire on [SMS] Blucher” (Source).

At this point in the battle, the HMS Lion was the only ship in full range of all the Germans ships and was receiving heavy damage. She needed to be relieved. This didn’t stop her, though. At Beatty’s signal, she switched to firing on the SMS Seydlitz, causing significant destruction. Two of SMS Seydlitz’s turrets were put out of action, and the ammunition handling systems of both exploded, causing massive fires to the ship. The crews of both turrets were killed.

Throughout all this, the German ships SMS Seydlitz, SMS Derfflinger, and SMS Moltke were all firing on the HMS Lion.

“In the pursuit, both the British and German forces were sailing flat out, causing thick black smoke to pour from the funnels of some forty ships. The result was that the battle area became obscured, making accurate gunnery at the long range extremely difficult” (Source). On top of this, at least three German ships were on fire, adding to the smoke and haze.

The German destroyers were hanging back to assist the burning ships, but Beatty read this as their planning a counterattack and chose to pull back.

Around 9:40, the HMS Lion’s roof was smashed. The A turret was disabled. At about the same time, a shell to HMS Lion’s armor belt caused the ship to start listing towards port.

With a sudden onslaught from the British, the SMS Blucher began an attack. However, Commodore Goodenough ordered his light cruisers to move out of the way of the German battle cruisers. The German destroyers were smoking so heavily at this point, that they were pretty well covered.

Meanwhile, HMS Lion was still being fired upon. At a little after 10, she was hit just below the water line by the SMS Derfflinger, causing flooding aboard ship. But that wasn’t the worst of it for the HMS Lion. “The German guns had Lion’s range so precisely, firing accurately and rapidly, that shells were falling all around the ship and she was forced to zig-zag” (Source).

But as the smoke was beginning to clear around the German destroyers, Beatty was finally able to make them out, and ordered an attack. By this point all of the German ships were beginning to show considerable amounts of damage – all except SMS Derfflinger.

Yet the only British ship being really fired upon was still the Lion. Before 11 o’clock, she was rapidly flooding. The A turret briefly caught on fire, as well, but was easily put out (likely thanks to the flooding).

Things were beginning to look and look worse for SMS Blucher, as well. Around the same time, it was becoming increasingly clear that everything was out of control on board. Hipper ordered yet another attack, hoping that it might save SMS Blucher from further attack.

As out of control as things were aboard SMS Blucher, it was rapidly getting worse for HMS Lion. By 11, some much damage had been done that the port engine had to be stopped. Smoke billowed out all around her and she was unable to keep in contact with the rest of the British fleet. With Lion was as good as out of commission, Admiral Moore was forced to take control of the British fleet.

Yet Beatty gave two more finally signals, which were unfortunately misread with all of the smoke and chaos. He’d meant for the other ships to attack at the enemy’s rear and to stay in close. Yet it was mistakenly read as ‘Attack the enemy’s rear, bearing north-east’ – meaning that the rest of the British ships took aim on the already suffering SMS Blucher.

[Below: HMS Arethusa saves men from the sinking SMS Blucher.]

The rest of the German fleet fled, leaving Blucher to her fate alone. With only two turrets left in working order, SMS Blucher was left to face what was left of the British. Not willing to give up so easily, Blucher was able to fire back, hitting both HMS Meteor and HMS Arethusa.

At 11:45, SMS Blucher raised her colors. At 12:20 she capsized.

Close by, HMS Arethusa lowered boats, rescuing some 260 men.

However, a German sea plane chose this unfortunate moment to fly over and bombed the Arethusa. The British were able to drive off the plane, but then Arethusa left the remaining SMS Blucher survivors in the sea. In all, some 782 men aboard had been killed.

During all of this, Beatty managed to move from HMS Lion to the HMS Attack, where he retook command. He ordered the British fleet to pursue  the Germans, but once it began clear that the Germans were once again out of range, he ordered his fleet back to the rescue of the Lion.

Around 3:30, as HMS Lion’s speed continued to decrease, Beatty ordered HMS Indomitable to tow her. The British once again chose to pursue the Germans, but firm orders were put into place that the Lion and Indomitable were to be provided cover for their protection. But by 4:30, they were left on their own as the rest of the ships returned for Scapa Flow.

Shortly thereafter, HMS Lion’s engines broke down. They two slowed down to 7 knots. On the 25th, they were able to pump some of the excess water out of Lion’s compartment, allowing them to pick up speed once again. By dawn, they were finally able to dock. The also damaged SMS Meteor was also towed back to dock.

The Lion was saved, but 15 men were lost during the fight. It wasn’t, really, one of the biggest or most important battles of the first world war, but it did give the British a needed moral booster. Afterward, Admiral Moore was transferred to the Canary Islands.

[Below: HMS Indomitable towing the HMS Lion.]

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Debacle at Sarikamish

When the Ottoman empire joined the Central Powers, it was mostly with the hopes that Germany would provide essential protection. It was beneficial to Germany in that it allowed them to close the Turkish straights. At the same time, it opened up a two-front war.

So, Germany urged the Ottomans to take up an offensive against Russia. This would effectively take the pressure off the Germans and Austrians. Enver Pasha accepted quickly and “immediately began planning an ambitious offensive by the Ottoman Third Army against the Russian Caucasus Army” (Source). Pasha would, of course, direct this offensive himself – from safe grounds.

It seemed like a marvelous plan. The land had belonged to the Ottoman Empire until the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, when the Russians annexed it. Also, the Russian failure at the Bergmann Offensive gave the Turks hope that defeating the Russians and winning back their land would be easy.

Though, perhaps Pasha shouldn’t have been quite so overly confident.

Because his offensive did not go as planned.

First off, Enver Pasha sent out Hasan Izzet Pasha with his Turkish Third Army on December 13th, for a week-long journey across Constantinople. However, Izzet Pasha, argued with Enver Pasha, claiming that the troops couldn’t possibly make the journey. After all, They had no winter clothing and they were not trained for a mountain campaign. Enver Pasha didn’t bother to listen. He just fired Izzet Pasha and continued on.

[Below: Turks marching through the snow]

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By the 22nd, the Russians learned of Enver’s location, in the fortress at Erzurum. Later that day, the Russian troops came under Turkish attack, in multiple locations, by the Ottoman IX, X, and XI Corps. By the 23rd, they were driven from Otlu, the border city.

On the 24th, Russian General Nikolai Yudenich and General Myshlayevski arrived in Sarikamish. Yudenich began immediate invasion preparations, while Myshlayevski hastened to General Bergmann’s headquarters. Bergmann, too, was planning an offensive against the Turks.

But, then, as he was leaving Bergmann’s headquarters, Myshlayevski was fired at. Panicking, he called for a general retreat of the Russian forces to Kars. Fortunately, not all of the Russian troops retreated. 2,000 Russians held their ground. Meanwhile, the Turks continued advancing on Sarikamish. That night, though, the temperature plummeted. That night, the Turks lost over 10,000 men.

But the Russians continued advancing towards Karikamish, mostly by rail, “blocking the advance of the Ottoman X Corps on the left wing” (Source). As 1914 drew to a close and the new year dawned, Turkish casualties continued to grow, many of them due to frostbite.

Then, on January 2nd, the Russians finally launched an attack. Enver Pasha’s plan of encirclement had failed. For instead, it was the Turks that were encircled. That certainly didn’t stop the Turkish X Corps from fighting bravely. It lasted for several days.

By January 6, everything really began to fall apart. They continued fighting for another 11 days, though, despite growing casualties. Pasha’s plan had failed completely. And the price was awfully heavy. An estimated 90,000 men had died, 53,000 of which froze to death. Even more from disease. Now, typhoid was running rampant through the ranks. Meanwhile, the Russians lost some 16,000 men.

Pasha didn’t seem overly devastated by the outcome. But his decision did result in “helping persuade Britain and France to attempt to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war by forcing the Turkish straits and capturing Constantinople – setting the stage for Gallipoli” (Source). Pasha’s offensive had very dire consequences, indeed.

[Below: Russian trenches in Sarikahmish]


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First Battle of Champagne

The first Battle of Champagne began on December 20, 1914. This was “effectively the first significant attack by the Allies against the Germans since the construction of trenches” (Source).

French commander Joseph Joffre (it’s been awhile since we’ve heard from him!) was determined to win a victory against the Germans. Thus, he began planning a major offensive stretching all throughout the Artois and Champagne regions of France, stretching from Nieuport in the north to Verdun in the south.

Initially, the ‘battle’ began with a series of small skirmishes, starting as early as December 10th. But then, these battles grew into heavy fighting, which “occurred simultaneously at Givenchy, Perthes, and Noyon, where the numerical advantage enjoyed by the French resulted in few gains in territory” (Source). That being said, Joffre focused his assault on the Sayon salient, which had been forced back into central France from Reims to Verdun by the Germans. Other salients also existed, such as in St. Mihiel. Currently, Here, the French Fourth Army, under Fernand de Langle de Cary would attack German Third Army, which was under the command of Bavarian Crown Prince Rupprecht. And after capturing Sayon, Joffre intended to advance through the Ardennes, wanting to cut off any potential German retreat or reinforcements.

[Below: Ruins of a church in Champagne]

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Unfortunately, Joffre’s plan was a bit unrealistic. The French Fourth started out well enough, but quickly ran out of steam, especially as the German machine gun crews hurried to cover gaps in the French barbed wire (Source). As December wore on, de Cary attempted to probe the Germans’ weak spots, but wasn’t as lucky. The Germans continued to recapture land.

Not only was the war not overly successful, it was dragged on and on and on . . . As of early January, well, conditions were terrible. The trenches were flooding with freezing rain and the bitter cold weather caused frostbite. Furthermore, “guns became clogged with mud and refused to fire, and heavy rainfall often made the trenches practically unusable” (Source).

Then, on January 12, the Germans counterattacked at Soissons. At this point, the fighting continued until mid-February, when the French broke off to reorganize. Then, in mid-March, fighting picked up again.”Perthes had in particular seen much action, with an additional three battles being fought for its possession” (Source).

Throughout all of this, the French only made minor territorial gains The French Fourth made some gains in Champagne. Meanwhile, they suffered causalities into the 90,000s. The Germans lost just as many.

Despite all of this, Joffre did not get discouraged. He was still convinced that the German lines were “vulnerable to massed infantry assault” (Source). Therefore, he was determined to continue his wider assault along the Sayon salient. Champagne had not seen it’s last of war. Joffre would see to that.

[Below: Trench warfare in Champagne]

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