The latest session of the DJ05 grand campaign of Over There began and ended with consecutive Entente combat phases on both sides of the September 1915 production cycle. The session happened in a slightly different tone because in a free moment months before we had actually calculated the effects of many turns worth of steadily trickling morale point losses from dozens of battles and cyclical events – and the sums of the losses in question astounded us in their magnitude and timing. With the most recent battle results included, national will had finally shifted for the French and was just about to for the Germans, while long-term trends continued to become clearer. French Will had just dropped to four, leaving their armies on the field without an accustomed advantage for the moment but meaning that during the annual February check France shall almost certainly rebound permanently to a Will of probably five and certainly perpetual superiority. British Will, meanwhile, still stood solidly within the four band and, after just a few more battles, would surely stand in superiority to that of any Central Power for the remainder of the war. On the debit side, for the Entente, Italian Will stands at such a low level that the annual February checks will surely not help the country and that a steady German pressure can be expected to force surrender, probably before American entry into the war. On the other side of the line, Austria-Hungary is suffering almost its only losses – and they have been huge – in the South and East (out of play) and can expect not to surrender during the war unless the British, French, or Americans conduct serious operations against them or the Austro-Hungarians contribute dramatically to fighting the Italians, through extremely vexing terrain and a temporary morale inferiority. Most dramatically, however, German Will dropped in August to three and after a few more battles both the British and the French should enjoy permanent battlefield moral superiority while even the Italians will for a while enjoy morale equality with their northern opponents.
During the beginning of late August, replacement depots busied themselves on both sides of the front. Italian factories sent a couple of dozen new machines to the ill-starred Caproni-2 bomber group (which immediately took the skies and was again halved, cut to pieces by Austrian Loh L’s over the Pola naval base in our first air-to-air hit). More mundanely, a variety of divisions were refreshed with manpower: 10*-13-5 Colonial, 10*-13-5 and 9*-12-5 metropolitan, 12-14-5 and 12-15-6 Prussian, 13-15-5 Bavarian and 6*-8-5 Saxon. The French also replaced a 4-5 field artillery regiment.
British excitement about a soon-to-drop German Will apparently led to overconfidence in tactical planning in late August as a rare British attack went horribly wrong. The Empire massed is forces in Flanders against grid 0621 and enjoyed the rare success of aerial reconnaissance that is a precondition for Entente attack decisions (effectively countering the entrenchments of the defenders). Thereafter, everything went sideways. High Command neglected to consume supplies using siege engineers and wasted space in the trenches with a gas battalion that could not possibly succeed in influencing the combat (-1 for battalion, -1 for Entente…the battalion then went back to London to stay out of the way until it is upgraded by OB to something big enough to possibly be useful). Less forgivably, the British engineer force did not move into the combat sector because it is small and rebuilding and being saved for more intensive efforts later. Odds of 2.6:1 rolled upward, nicely, but the combat roll resulted in an AX and would have done so even without the uptick. This was not an efficient method of reducing German morale!
British losses: RP consumed; 2x 10*-13-5IND XX to 4*-6-5 cadre (the last time the Indians can suffer losses without reducing the post-rebuild power of their two rifle divisions), 5x 14-17-5 rfl XX to 6*-7-5 cadre (the pre-war BEF finally being reduced to post-fragile state), 13-16-5CAN XX to 6*-7-5 cadre (the first Canadian losses)
German losses: RP consumed; 12-14-5WUR XX to 5*-6-5 cadre, 2x 10-13-5 rfl XX to 4*-6-5 cadre, 9-12-5 XX to 4*-5-5 cadre
French forces further south likewise flailed against the Germans, though with a distant hope of forcing a German withdrawal somewhere in order to strengthen the line in the face of massive and continuing casualties. This time, sector 1219 in the Ardennes Forest again played the battlefield. Shattered woodlands, entrenchments, and aerial reconnaissance influenced the combat, 2.6:1 odds rolled downward and gave the Entente a huge lump in its throat for a likely second AX for the turn, but the troops came through with a roll of 6 and the usual BX result.
French losses: RP and 3-4-4 fld art III eliminated; 10*-13-5, 9*-12-5, 2x 8*-11-5 rfl XX’s reduced to 4*-6, 4*-5, and 2x 3*-5 -5 cadres
German losses: RP, 5*-6-5 cadre, and 3-4-7 jgr III eliminated; 13-15-5 and 12-14-5SAX rfl XX’s reduced to 6*-7-5 and 5*-6-5 cadres
French forces also kicked off another feeble attempt at a surprise offensive just along the Swiss border. French railroad capacity is less of a limit to operational mobility than it has been in the recent past, but Entente heavy artillery disrupts when moving, which gives advance notice of everything, so that the Germans were hardly surprised. A French AX could have taken the position, a pyrrhic victory at best, and reconnaissance hardly came close to counterbalancing severe penalties from the defending fort and wooded rough terrain (net -3), so that a DL was virtually impossible to achieve. The severe weakness of the Germans was a reasonable result of the severity of the problem for the French attacking across the Rhine River into such terrain and 6.1:1 odds reflected the thin German force, but the odds rolled downward and another BX came to pass in what was effectively a small French victory.
French losses: RP consumed; 6*-9-5 rfl XX to 2*-4-5 cadre
German losses: RP and 3*-4-4 rfl X eliminated
The Germans had been bloodied, not quite to National Will Three, while the Entente offensive bolt was nearly shot at the end of probably the last fair weather production cycle of the year.
Facing the Italians, no Central Powers armies reacted in late August, while most army headquarters in Belgium and Germany did react, merely to pull a great many units out of the line for conversion during the upcoming initial phase.
Entente forces exploited a few specialist units out of the line, shifted to cover weaknesses revealed by casualties suffered, and to mass French ‘quality’ in the vicinity of and west of Luxembourg.
Central Powers Turn
Aside from the usual array of German conversions and reorganizations, neither side in the Central Powers initial phase of II August 1915 acted notably. None of the powers held much in the way of reserves of replacement points and neither side expected Germanic attacks, so both sides held tight and waited for developments to spur actions.
Germanic forces did move during their turn, but not so as to spur any particular action or even annotation. Three zeppelins flew against Italian cities, two reached their targets, and neither scored a hit.
The Entente reaction phase at the very end of August proved somewhat more interesting than did the movement and absence of combat during the Central Powers portion of the turn. Two of three Italian army headquarters activated, along with British 2nd Army in Italy, and the British expanded east and northeast of Trient to a front of 50 miles of mountains and the passes leading there through. Eight of nine French armies failed to activate; 3rd Army west of Jarny succeeded in withdrawing many specialist and high quality units from the line in its sector, to prepare for possible attacks along a wide front in September. 1st British and the Belgian Army failed to activate in the north, but British 2nd Army did activate and furiously shifted units across the British sector after their hideous AX. British and French aircraft attempted to bomb several German resource points and did destroy one, nicely but not sufficient to cause any near-term effect.