FEBRUARY 1916

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                          FEBRUARY 1916

 

The deployment on 7th Feb 1916 of 24 Squadron Royal Flying Corps brought the first single seater DH2 fighters to the Western Front.

 

Japan is requested by the British Government, on the 8th Feb 1916, to provide naval assistance in the war against the Central Powers.

 

On the 9th Feb 1916, South African Lieutenant-General Jan Smuts was appointed African Supreme Allied Commander, to replace Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien who had been invalided home. After the war Germany and her African possessions were taken over by the League of Nations mandate.

 

On the 9th Feb 1916 British boats secure control of Lake Tanganyika.

 

On the 11th Feb 1916 German submarines are given permission by Kaiser Wilhelm II to attack armed merchant ships but not to torpedo passenger liners.

 

Britain and France agreed on the 14th Feb 1916 that any peace with Germany must be dependent upon Belgium neutrality being guaranteed.

 

On the 15th Feb 1916 the Fifth Battle of Isonzo begins. The Italians make minor advances against Austrian forces in the Italian Alps. The battle ends on the 17th March 1916.

 

On the 18th Feb 1916 the last German garrison of Mora in the Cameroons surrendered to the British. The war on Africa’s West Coast was over. The only remaining colony was in German East Africa. German Military commander General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck was able to operate guerrilla tactics to elude the British. By expert use of mountains, bush and forest, he remained un-defeated throughout the war despite having inferior numbers of troops.          .

 

On the 18th Feb 1916 heavy bombing raids by Italian Caproni bombers on Laibach was made in retaliation for an earlier Austrian raid on Milan.

 

On the 21st Feb 1916 the German government informed the United States of America that armed merchant ships will be treated as cruisers.

 

On the 22nd Feb 1916 a memorandum by Colonel Edward M. House, aide to U.S. President Wilson, states Wilson’s readiness to propose peace terms when Britain and France are ready.

 

The Portuguese government agrees, on the 23rd Feb 1916, to a British request to intern more than 70 German vessels.

 

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THE CAUCASUS AND MIDDLE EAST

 

On the 5th Feb 1916, the Trebizond (Trabzon) Campaign began with a successful invasion by Russian naval and land forces launched against the Ottoman Empire.

 

The 7th Feb 1916, saw the Russian forces take the Turkish town of Mus and the Russian offensive of Erzerum began on the 11th Feb 1916. The Turkish 3rd Army begins to abandon Erzerum on the 15th Feb 1916, withdrawing towards Erzincan and on the 16th Feb 1916 the Russian Army of the Caucasus captured the fortress of Erzerum.

 

The strategic goal of the Ottoman empire of 1914, was to cut out Russian access to the oil resources around the Caspian Sea. Enver Pasha, the Ottoman Minister of War believed if Russia could be beaten in the key cities of Persia, it could open the way to Central Asia and India.

In 1915 Russian General Yudenitch dispatched two columns into Persia. General Nikoli Baratov was to push South West through Hamadan to Kermanshah en-route to Bagdad. The second column was to advance through Kum and Kashan to Ispahan and march on Tehran. Baratov’s forces captured Hamadan late Dec 1915, and on the 26th Feb 1916 Baratov’s forces captured Kermanshah.

 

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                                                     VERDUN

 

France and Germany were the principle protagonists when war broke out in August 1914. Everyone thought the war would be over by Christmas 1914. The Germans were reliant on the Schlieffen Plan to allow them to out-flank and over-run Paris, thereby forcing France out of the war. The French had their own Plan XVII to enable them to re-take the lost provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. Neither side succeeded. The French were forced to retreat to Verdun, whilst the Germans were halted on the Marne. The static warfare began with the establishment of trench warfare.

General Erich von Falkenhayn, Chief of the German General Staff, was aware the French had a larger army than Germany on the Western Front. He reasoned the French would defend Verdun to the last man and it was the intention of Falkenhayn to ‘bleed France white’

The huge forts above Verdun were the selected killing ground. On the 21st Feb 1916, 1,400 German guns opened fire. The Battle of Verdun had begun.

Most of the French defensive guns had been removed from the forts and they left the forts only lightly manned. Fort Douaumont was captured on the 25th Feb 1916 by nine German troops of the 24th Brandenburg Regiment. They had gained access through an un-defended opening and overwhelmed the aging fifty-seven French defenders.

 

On the 25th Feb 1916, General Philippe Petain, The French Second Army commander, was appointed to organize Verdun’s defences and set about keeping the city out of German occupation. French troops, guns and aircraft were rapidly pouring into the area and by the 28th Feb 1916, the French had halted the original assault on Verdun.

 

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