Entente II APR 1915 followed the same trajectory as did the previous version. French forces rebuilt a cadre and two engineer regiments. The Canadian heavy cavalry brigade finally, after close to six months, became fully capable – though a 2*-1-7 heavy cavalry brigade is useful on the Western Front only as one point of a non-overrunnable second line.
The French finally made “good” on their massing against Maubeuge, and it was a costly setback. After both observation missions failed, the Entente wasted a resource point bombarding with three fully-stacked hexes of heavy and field artillery to achieve three hits: the Germans lost 13 points of defense strength while the French lost 39.75 points of effective attack strength. The odds thus shifted such that a chance for 3:1 became just barely 2:1, making reserve commitment irrelevant (it would still have been just barely 2:1). The Germans used the ruined fortress as entrenchments while the French enjoyed morale superiority and a successful engineer attack to make the result the usual both exchange. The well stacked Germans thus made mincemeat out of the French combined arms attack.
German forces suffered: 16-18-5 Prussian, 13-15-5 Prussian, 8*-11-4 Prussian, and 7*-10-4 Bavarian XX’s all to cadre for -4 1/3 morale points.
French forces suffered: 2x 10*-13-5 Colonial, 10*-13-5 rifle, 2x 8*-11-5 rifle, and 6*-9-5 rifle XX’s to cadre plus 2x 1-5 eng III’s eliminated for -6 2/3 morale points.
Daunted but resigned, the French continued the offensive versus the now usual target, the east bank of the Maas River just inside Belgium. French forces brought superior morale, elite troops, a successful aerial observation mission, and a successful engineering attack against German defended entrenchments in woodlands. 1st and 2nd Cavalry Corps did their usual good job, rolling 2.5:1 up to 3:1 and achieved the usual both exchange result.
German forces suffered 16-18-5 Prussian XX reduced to cadre plus 7*-8-5 Saxon and 2*-4-4 Prussian cadres eliminated for -2 morale points.
French forces suffered 13*-16-7 alpine and 9*-12-5 rifle XX’s reduced to cadre plus 2-7 Foreign Legion III, 4-5-5 fld arty III, and 1-5 eng III eliminated for -3 morale points.
Cognizant that in May enough ships would sink to reduce the army’s morale, the British high command directed an attack in late April to enjoy their national will superiority in ground combat just this one time. The arrow straight German line in the sector offered little to choose, so the British went straight up the middle. The British brought morale and successful observation but their unpracticed engineering forces failed both attempts and the British lack enough elite troops to make even a non-overrunnable stack let alone to make a real attack. The Germans defended open ground with entrenchments and brought a 3-4-7 light III in reserve movement, but the massed British regular divisions, the best the Entente will see before 1918, pushed a 2.8:1 up to 3:1 and achieved the obligatory both exchange result.
German forces suffered 12*-14-5 Prussian and 12*-14-5 Wurtemburger XX’s reduced to cadre plus a 1-2-5 eng III eliminated for -2 1/3 morale points.
British forces suffered 11*-14-5, 12-15-5, and 7*-10-5 XX’s reduced to cadre for -3 morale points, a clear example of the effect of the combat superiority of German second line divisions over Entente first line stuff.
The Central Powers reaction phase of the Entente II APR 15 turn passed uneventfully. The armies where the Germans might have attacked did not activate. Only two armies did activate and both spent their effort organizing the German Army for a massive divisional reorganization.
Central Powers Turn
During the Central Powers II APR 15 initial phase, the British, French, and Germans all kept themselves busy. The Germans reorganized, converted, and/or withdrew about thirty formations, including removing about ten 16-18-5 and 18-20-5 divisions from their order of battle – replaced by substantial numbers of 13-15-5 and slightly weaker divisions. The Germans also prepared the some forces for transfer to Italy, in expectation that the country would attack Austria soon. British forces rebuilt four imperial cadres to divisions, French forces did the same with five metropolitan and two colonial cadres, and the Germans did the same with one each Prussian, Bavarian, and Wurtemburger cadres.
The major tactical move for the Germans in late April was a shifting of forces to attack a weak spot in the French line in the southern Ardennes Forest. Four divisions of French troops sat on the north-south railway, that otherwise runs along or behind much of the German front line, suddenly facing three corps of Germans where before the constricted terrain had kept the threat minimal. The French used entrenchments, national will, woodlands, and defensive air support to good effect in the battle. The Germans used Falkenhayn’s planning, two engineering exploits – including flamethrowers, and aerial reconnaissance to better effect. German gas engineers failed to alter the battle and French reserve commitment failed too. Five point three to one odds rolled down to 5:1 but could still have achieved a defender loss result; instead the attack went in botched and the roll of “1” resulted in a both exchange. French forces suffered 12-15-6 African and 8-11-5 rifle divisions reduced to cadre: -2 morale German forces suffered 1-2-5 eng III eliminated and 7-10-4 Prussian and 16-18-5 Bavarian rifle divisions reduced to cadre: -2 2/3 morale
The Entente largely failed to react to that affront, but the local French did strike back. Belgian and British headquarters remained quiet, though the British would have attacked had either army been alert. Almost all French armies remained equally quiet, but the staff in the southern Ardennes was already alert due to the give and take battles ongoing and put together another attack against on the same battlefield as had hosted a French attack the previous week: 1219. Two French corps mustered 2.4:1 odds, which rolled up to 3:1. German forces used entrenchments and woods to excellent effect. French forces used national will, elite troops, one of two engineering attempts – including flamethrowers, and aerial reconnaissance to better effect. German forces failed reserve commitment and the French put in a solid effort, rolling a “3” for a both exchange result. French forces suffered 1-5 eng III eliminated and 2x 13-16-7 light mountain divisions (one colonial) reduced to cadre: -2 1/3 morale German forces suffered 2x 3-6-5 mg III’s eliminated and 16-18-5 Prussian division reduced to cadre: -2 morale
The Germans focused their exploitation in late April on the entry of Italy into the war, pulling various forces, including the bulk of the mountain troops, off of the line for railing to the Alps in May. Naturally, the Germans also moved to cover weaknesses created by the latest in the series of punches in the Ardennes.