The first half of October 1915 passed in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy with half-expected clear weather, a variety of rare events, and violence borne of hapless confusion.
The never ending process of pushing fresh meat into the grinder began the turn, as usual, but a “first time” event led the month nonetheless: the French navy expended one of its plentiful naval repair points to replace a destroyer flotilla, sunk by danger zone contact in September and the first real combat ships to be replaced in this version of World War One. The French air force followed that with an uncommon event becoming commonplace as flak defenses grow and air combat happens occasionally: repairing an aborted air group. A variety of ground force upgrades were more routine:
French: replace 10-4-2 siege III and 2x 1-5 engineer III’s
Prussian: rebuild 13-15-5 rifle XX from cadre
Italy: replace 5-7-5 field artillery [X] and 2-3-5 field artillery III
Britain: replace 1-5 engineer [III]; rebuild 2x 10-15-5* rifle XX and 11-14-5 rifle XX from cadre
Indian: rebuild 10-15-5* rifle XX from cadre
Surely the most interesting aspect of early October was naval as the Entente fleets attempted to use their weight on and near the battlefront more directly than in the past. The bulk of Entente naval transports and landing craft, carrying two unsupported British rifle divisions and their separate divisional artillery, washed up in the Adriatic Sea blockade box, essentially dropping anchor in Brindisi, Italy to wait a favorable opportunity that might develop somewhere nearby. The vast bulk of the French combat fleet, together with most British armored cruisers and some pre-dreadnaughts and destroyers, and some Italian cruisers and destroyers, put to sea from their putrid Venetian anchorage, avoided Austrian light forces repeatedly, laid a minefield near the mouth of the Isonzo River, silenced coastal batteries near the front, and began to pound the Austro-Hungarian Army with heavy guns. The Italian air arm naturally failed to coordinate adequately with French and British admirals too angry about their duty to employ translators (two failed reconnaissance rolls) and the bombardment failed to inspire Italian infantrymen to leave their rifle pits. In practice, after entrenchments modified the rolls and aerial spies failed the same, Entente accuracy displayed itself as usual in bombardments, with only four hits scored on 134 points of gunfire. The Italian ground assault would have been suicide and did not follow.
Elsewhere on the Italian Front, Italian forces continued to thin their lines around Trient in favor of massing toward the Isonzo. Entente leaders hope that the Italians can at least hold that one relatively inactive and forbidding sector of the Western Front, despite their reduced army, criminal equipment, and inept tactics. The British Army in Italy continued to hold the east side of the Trient salient, sixty-five miles of mountain passes extending into the impassable central Alps. A couple of British cavalry divisions continued to assist a crust of Italians to hold the sector between Switzerland and Trient. A few French units wandered toward Lake Garda apparently intent upon replacing Italians on that most important sector of the entire Italian Front.
On the main part of the Western Front, between Switzerland and the North Sea, French and British forces aggressively continued to try to achieve something, really anything, in the face of German resistance that continues to wear thinner yet never grows any weaker. Along the Netherlands border, British forces wistfully considered how much more powerful their attack could be had the Germans taken Oostende and been accessible to the Grand Fleet. Absent so many heavy guns to bombard the defense, the Army having only six regiments of heavy guns at the front and their use being effectively impossible of achieving notable effect (and the British siege and combat engineer arms being gutted), the usual straight-up charge into the machineguns inevitably followed. A German interception mission failed to drive away British reconnaissance aircraft, one of two groups of which achieved their mission, so that after national will and entrenchments the attack went forward with a +1 bonus. A risky 2.4:1 attack rolled downward but decent leadership at the battalion level (roll 5) kept the result a sadly welcome Both Exchange.
British losses: RP eliminated; 3x 10*-13-5 rifle (1 Indian, 2 British) and 9-12-5 rifle divisions to cadre
German losses: RP eliminated; 12-14-5 rifle, 10-13-5 rifle, and 9-12-5 rifle divisions to cadre
French forces, in the midst of redeploying their best forces from the sector east of Maubeuge to the sector west of Metz, cast about for any target they could plausibly hit and rested their gaze upon one of their usual fields: grid 1120. The defenders enjoyed the usual woodlands, entrenchments, and the protection of a river on one of their two hex sides. French forces brought successful aerial reconnaissance, two successful attempts of two brigades of engineers each, and national will to bring the balance to a net +2 modifier. French gas engineers failed their sixteen percent possibility to be a positive influence. Odds of 2.6:1 rolled upward but bad tactics at all levels (roll 2) yielded another sadly welcome BX result.
German losses: (not an RP, using the same one as in the earlier battle); 12-14-5 Prussian rifle and 16-18-5 Bavarian rifle divisions to cadre
French losses: RP and 1-5 eng III eliminated; 2x 10*-13-5 and 9*-12-5 rifle divisions to cadre
In reaction, the Central Powers actually moved to attack despite missing, as usual, the vast bulk of their army activation rolls. German forces massed against the stout Belgian force defending the tip of the Entente salient east of Maubeuge but decided not to actually pull the trigger in view of limited stockpiles of ammunition (the Germans are nearly out of resource points after a long summer of heavy combat) and the failure of their one aerial reconnaissance mission. Elsewhere in the air, three zeppelin groups missed Milan and one missed London, after a British fighter conducted the first patrol attack of the war, but another Zeppelin group successfully bombed the headquarters of The Times, causing a noticeable drop in British morale. In the south, one of two Germanic bombing missions against Italian ammunition stockpiles torched a resource point.
The only interesting aspect of Entente exploitation was a visit by three reconnaissance groups of the French air forces to the zeppelin base at Koln. Flak sent one group scurrying and the other two missed their chances, but it is noteworthy that the French now have enough air units to both support a ground attack and try bombing something significant on the ground. As if to point that out further, a couple of groups of French bombers missed German ammunition dumps in Belgium.
Central Powers Turn
The Central Powers turn of the first half of October 1915 passed with a bang and an attempted bang, both in reaction. First, however, replacements flowed in relative rivers for several countries.
Prussia rebuilt 9-12-5 rifle, 2x 12-14-5 rifle, and 10-13-5 rifle divisions from cadre
Bavaria rebuilt 16-18-5 rifle division from cadre
Italy rebuild 6*-9-5 rifle division from cadre and 2x 4*-5-7 mountain brigades from remnants
British generals dictated an Indian division be rebuilt to 10*-13-5 from cadre
French troops replentished 2x 10*-13-5 and 9*-12-5 rifle divisions from cadre
Austria-Hungary rebuilt 2x 0*-1-2 fort [III] and placed them on coast defense duty
On the main front, German forces adjusted to their continuing losses and tried to keep up with their endless conversions, but found time and assets to render the bulk of the Ardennes Forest almost unassailable, bumping defense values by something like 25-percent thanks to an array of reinforcements from elsewhere.
Austria-Hungary likewise strengthened its own position, moving units to protect the coast, but especially the seaward flank of the main line on the Isonzo River. Austrian units also began to move to threaten the inland flank of the Italian line extending from the Isonzo into the previously impassable Alps that Germanic high mountain units are suddenly rendering less protective.
In the air, the Central Powers did not enjoy early October. Three groups of zeppelins missed Milan and two missed London. Two reconnaissance groups attempting a counter-air mission against the French suffered 25-percent losses to flak while a French counter-air mission in reaction destroyed half a group of Alb C1’s on the ground (the Germans will enter the next air cycle without a maximum savings in ARPs, another first for this game). Various Italian, Austro-Hungarian, and German aircraft missed targets or were rendered harmless by flak.
On the ground, in reaction, three notable things happened. Italian forces shifted considerable force away from the Lake Garda sector, though still leaving what they expect to be enough to hold the ground briefly until the French come up or the Italians come rushing back. The French headquarters in Belfort activated and tried to put together an attack across the Rhine River near the Swiss border. The attack would have gone forward had both air groups not failed their spotting missions. In a bloodier event, the British again assailed the German front on the Dutch border. National will and air reconnaissance more than countered entrenchments and 2.3:1 odds rolled upward so that a competent combat roll resulted in the usual BX result.
British losses: RP eliminated; 3x 10*-13-5 rifle XX (1 Indian) and 9-12-5 rifle XX to cadre
German losses: RP eliminated; 12-14-5 rifle, 10-13-5 rifle, and 9-12-5 rifle XX’s to cadre