Note: Errata from game report 14 reveals that the British are in fact at a National Will of 5 – by about two morale points.
The Entente side of the front line during the second half of March 1915 was a seething mass of slow shifts of forces. Pervasive mud prevented any excitement.
Logistical and administrative officers received chief mention during the period. German depots released personnel to rebuild another division from its cadre. French personnel and equipment officers released stocks sufficient to empty the French replacement pool of its lone occupants: one each field artillery regiment and brigade. Petulant Canadian heavy cavalrymen continued to refuse to conduct serious training, thus remaining at reduced effectiveness.
In the trenches, British movements might have overshadowed those of their allies and enemies, but did not for reasons to be revealed later. French forces continued shifting light and mountain infantry and field artillery, any heavy artillery, and most of the especially strong first line regular units toward the sector of the front from Maubeuge through the central Ardennes. Second and third line French forces meanwhile shifted generally southward. Belgian forces joined some French troops to relieve a sector of the British line in front of Lille. Indian and Canadian forces, within the British sector, together with the pre-war British regulars massed from Oostende toward Lille on a fifty mile front. A succession of second line British divisions, all self-supported, correspondingly pulled out of the front line to fill those sectors of the second along major railroads while a couple of British cavalry divisions left the second line and moved southward at best overland speed. One British territorial division, just arrived from England, boarded trains in Caen for a quick trip to Nice, where the troops were issued tourist maps and Italian language primers. The British gunboat flotilla similarly left the misty rivers of northern France for a sojourn in sunny Toulon.
Entente forces deliberately stood sedately on the defensive, avoiding ammunition expenditures in order to retain stocks for operations in better weather.
German reaction to these events might not have been so sedate, had an attempted double-activation not failed, but it did and a plotted second attack against the French salient at 2520 did not go off. Scattered activations did allow some construction units to shift positions preparatory to entrenching further sectors of the German front line.
Central Powers Turn
In keeping with the weather and their continuing plans, German forces roused themselves for some offensive activity during the second half of March 1915.
Logistical and administrative officers once again acted importantly during the period. French depots sent personnel to rebuild one cadre into a division. German staff officers were busier, rebuilding an eliminated cadre together with a field artillery brigade and two mountain jager brigades to clear the German replacement pool.
German engineer officers, suddenly alive to the threat of Entente bombardments of sketchy fieldworks during upcoming clear weather, amplified previous desultory entrenching into a frenzy of widespread, far flying mud.
German forces conducted only minor shifts, retaining confidence in their nigh overwhelming front line strength and being already massed for the continuing attack against the Vosges Mountains in the 2520 region.
Three corps of Germans hurled themselves against the Vosges salient with considerably greater effect in late March than they had earlier in the month. French forces, previously a rifle division and three fortress brigades, were buffed with a further fortress brigade and a field artillery regiment before the German attack, but the battle was severe anyway. Falkenhayn’s previously miscarried plan worked far better this time, offsetting with reconnaissance aircraft the penalty of attacking into mountains. Gas effects failed for the second time running, leaving the mud, fieldworks, and superior French national will to operate against German success, but it was not enough. Odds in this attack, down from 8:1 previously, were only 5.9:1, and they stayed their as both sides opened the ammunition floodgates. The attack rolled up to 6:1 and the die roll, despite the net -3, resulted in a both exchange result. French forces suffered heavily in this, reducing their division to cadre besides eliminating the field artillery regiment: -1 1/3 morale, -4 inf, -3 equip. German forces came better prepared this time too, suffering only a 13*-15-5 rifle division reduced: -1 morale, -6 Prussian inf. The Germans definitely came out ahead in this battle, unlike the previous round where the results were decidedly mixed.
In response to this activity, British forces continued the rearward edging of territorial divisions while scattered French activations continued the shifting of forces preparatory to clear weather. Potentially of some interest, British port engineers arrived in Oostende and the press buzzed that a coastal flotilla might move into that advanced harbor.