The Entente movement phase of II January 1915 was a response to the preceding German withdrawal from their salient at 0923 and strong attack against British forces south of Oostende. Sixty defense strength points of Belgians massed from several non-overrunnable positions in the second line into fifteen miles of fieldworks on the front line while other Belgians still retained the second line position on the coast. British forces also compacted, moving into only sixty-five miles of front and barely ten miles of second line positions while enthusiastically welcoming three divisions of fresh forces into their sector. French forces, as always, took up the slack on both the main and second lines. In many frontline sectors, the French grew usefully stronger while almost the entire front now enjoys a second line of French forces to backstop against any German attack.
German reaction to these moves came in several successful reaction rolls but no attacks. Odds of 2.5:1 seemed unwise against Belgians, British, and French in several places. Numerous forces did pull off the line to accept additional artillery fresh from the factories in the upcoming week and other forces moved to prepare attacks against the French between Metz and Epinal.
The German initial phase of did not pass uneventfully. British forces rebuilt one of two Indian cadres to full strength, not even taking advantage of the opportunity to rebuild the formation to a weaker strength at lesser cost. German forces rebuilt four 7*-8-5 cadres from the replacement pool besides conducting about fifteen upgrades and conversions.
In keeping with their pattern in recent months, German forces in late January 1915 massed for and conducted one attack. In this pattern, our Germans are semi-consciously imitating Falkenhayn’s attrition strategy of 1915-1916. In our case, especially before February 1915, every Entente morale point loss will be matched by a corresponding point not gained as a bonus during the morale check; German points are simply a 1:1 loss. Falkenhayn was – and our Germans are – striking against the long-term will of the French to sustain the war effort.
This time the attrition fell at hex 2219. Defending French forces of 60 points enjoyed the protection of woods, entrenchments, and the -2 penalty for positional attacks in winter weather. The French also gathered in .5 points of defensive air support in a rare situation where that tiny amount actually mattered.
German forces in this battle did not enjoy so much support as had their colleagues further north in recent months. Falkenhayn’s headquarters lay too far away to allow his influence to be felt and the flame engineers likewise could not shift southward fast enough to participate. Several groups of reconnaissance planes surveyed the battlefield for the Germans, one group with great success, but the Taube group ran into a thunderstorm while staging at long range and self-aborted – no loss as the Germans held several ARPs in previously useless reserve. In an exceptional twist, four German engineer regiments in two attempts failed both to influence the battle and to get slaughtered.
As both sides expended a prodigious amount of ammunition, the attack went in. 3.8:1, rolled up to 4:1, and a solid 3 was rolled; with -3 in penalties that left the Germans more than slightly frustrated to have scored yet another AX.
29 regiments of Germans and 16 of French entered convalescence after this battle. Germans forces suffered four 12-14-5, two 13-15-5, and one each 16-18-5 and 10-14-5 rifle divisions reduced to cadre. German forces further suffered three 7-8-5 cadres and one 3-4-7 mountain regiment destroyed. French forces had 8*-11-5 and 6*-9-5 rifle divisions, 4-5-5 field artillery regiment, and 2-3-5 field artillery regiment destroyed besides 7*-10-5 rifle and 12-15-6 African divisions reduced to cadre. 5 1/3 French morale points of losses effectively exceeded 9 2/3 morale points of German losses.
Entente reaction to this bloodbath was limited: two French armies activated to adjust forces with a view to a possible February offensive in the vicinity of Nancy.
German exploitation saw the usual variety of cadres and divisions being pulled off of the line for rebuilding and upgrading.