A scattering of “firsts” might almost have led future historians to find the second half of June 1916 to be a period worth recording in the history of the First World War.
Replacements and Reinforcements:
The Portuguese expeditionary force arrived in France at full strength and assembled at Lens because the Entente committed to their strength and arrival being as early as possible long ago through conditional reinforcements and recently through emptying and sending transport ships ahead of time.
The French Air Force regrouped two each groups of observation balloons and bombers, heedless of the morale cost in their heightened state and desperate for “free ARPs.” This was another “first.” The French Army replaced an engineer regimental group and the French Navy replaced their lost destroyer flotilla.
The final brigade of Irish rebels surrendered due to being out of supply and isolated, so that the British immediately intensified their effort at reorganizing the garrison of Ireland and moving troops to France as they could be spared in the country.
The first move of the continuing, grand Entente slump eastward came near the coast. British forces massed to attack 0521. The Dutch Air Force managed to abort the British observation balloon unit and German flak sent the fixed-wing spies scurrying, so that in this case the air battle really did determine the outcome of a ground battle: the British attack did not go forward.
In the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, French forces sought to nibble their Austro-Hungarian opponents at grid 2419, in hopes of hitting the expeditionary force hard enough to force it to shorten or weaken its position and thus discomfort the Germans who would have to cover the weakness. Aerial reconnaissance, national will, and a single engineer attempt with two brigades exactly counterbalanced wooded rough terrain and entrenchments. The attack might have been good, therefore 3.4:1 odds rolled downward, irrelevantly however as a combat roll of 2 indicated Entente bungling and a usual BX result.
French: RP and 0-1-4 eng [III] eliminated; 3x 8*-11-5 rifle XX to cadre
Prussian: 9-12-5 rifle XX to cadre
Austro-Hungarian: RP eliminated, 10-13-5 rifle XX to cadre
The semi-usual, much more intensive, French effort against the iron mining complex of grid 1719 continued in late June, as a sort-of reverse, less successful version of the historical Battle of Verdun. One French reconnaissance group lost half its strength to German fighters, but other spies did their jobs and the bombardment went forward. Increasing French artillery fired 14 shots of 16 points each, achieving a quite good 17 bombardment hits, reducing the defense strength of the hex from 151 to 89.75. Two maximized engineer attempts scored one success, national will offset entrenchments, Petain negated the influence of Falkenhayn, and an unbelievable (1-in-6, but much less often in practice) French gas engineer success offset the formidable resource center defense bonus. Odds of 2.8:1 rolled upward and the result was practically foregone: a BX.
French: 0-1-4 eng [III] and 3x RP eliminated; 10*-13-7 light, 2x 10-13-5* rifle, 13-13-6* African light, 8-11-5* rifle, and 3x 9-12-5* rifle XX’s to cadre
German: 6-9-4* naval rifle, 7-10-4* Bavarian rifle, 12-14-5 Saxon rifle, 9-12-4 rifle, and 2x 13-15-5 rifle XX’s to cadre; RP and 1*-2-2 fort X eliminated
German flak aborted an Italian air group over Koln; the other Italians missed with their bombs.
South of the Alps, Italian forces continued to flounder about in the mountains north of the Isonzo River, unable to attack with any prospect of success, unable to draw supply to their spearheads, and unwilling to retreat from what should somehow be a worthwhile position.
Central Powers Turn
During the Germanic half of the second half of June 1916, repair of units provided exceptional activity.
France: 4x 8-11-5* rifle, 3x 9-12-5* rifle, and 2x 10-13-5* rifle XX’s from cadre
Austro-Hungarian: 10-13-5 rifle XX from cadre
Bavarian: 7-10-4* rifle XX from cadre
Saxon: 12-14-5 rifle XX from cadre
Prussian: 9-12-5 rifle, 2x 13-15-5 rifle, 9-12-4 rifle, and 6-9-4* naval rifle XX’s from cadre; air unit repaired
As is common, the only Central Powers offensive action came from zeppelins in late July. In the air over London, the Southeast England Air Defense Garrison self-aborted, another 1-in-6 event that happens 1-in-3 times. The Entente flak arm is busy protecting Italian cities and an Italian airbase in France, where the only realistic Entente bomber hangs-out before and after, and usually during, its missions.
In reaction of the Central Powers half of the turn, that Italian Ca-2 group provided a very rare bit of bright news for the Entente by actually braving German flak and actually hitting Stuttgart in a terror bombing raid. The beast’s statistical outlook says that flak should drive it away approximately 25% of the time and it should miss its target 50% of the time; it has achieved half that much.
A few French armies reacted, but even in the one attack where they massed for combat, a subsequent count revealed 3:2 odds, a good chance of getting a pyrrhic AX result, and no real chance of achieving a DX result. In so massing, however, the French provoked a serious air battle in which they managed to lose four air replacements of units as against two points of German losses.
While the French attack aborted entirely, the British finally got lucky nearer the North Sea. British forces massed against grid 0521 and things went well for a change. The British escort fighter killed an intercepting group of German F33h’s and the escort’s charges did their job very well, so that the battle went forward. Siege engineers cancelled entrenchments, in a nice change of pace, while two single brigades of combat engineers made their risky attempts to uniform success. Only in gas engineering were the British unsuccessful, so that while odds of 2.2:1 rolled downward it seemed certain that another BX was on offer. The result was a DX and one of the very rare Entente battlefield successes made big headlines in the Western world.
German: RP eliminated; 16-18-5 Wurtemburg rifle and 2x 9-12-5 Prussian rifle XX’s to cadre
French: 2x RP, 1-5 eng [III], and 1-4-5 siege eng [X] eliminated; 2x 10-13-5 rifle XX’s to cadre