The November 1914 initial phases did not pass without significant impact on the conduct of the war. Neither Germany nor Britain suffered morale losses at sea. German economists pressured their government into buying four points of food; the General Staff agreed with the decision because their armies had signally failed to seize expected Belgian granaries. Belgian forces continued their trend of disbanding low quality formations and rebuilding some of the best rifle divisions in the Entente arsenal. French generals started to get ahead of French casualty rosters, stopped their frantic scrapping of numerous lousy units, and started to make steady progress at emptying the replacement pool and maximizing the army in the field. British forces continued their retrieval of regular forces from overseas. Of some importance, the German rail net did not deteriorate in November but the already feeble French net did become even less efficient.
On the ground, in a trend to last until mid-December, the French constricted their sectors of the front while British and Belgian forces expanded their holdings. In the next six weeks, Belgian forces grew to backstop all or part of five hexes of the line. British forces, continually expanding with divisions from India and Canada and with imperial forces returning from across the globe, eventually grew to hold sixty-five miles of the front in strength unchallengeable before January. French forces, freed from thirty miles of front and forty miles of second line and swollen with a trickle of reinforcing units and rebuilt formations, steadily thickened their defense to the point that in some sectors a second line was deemed unnecessary.
Offensively, the only serious Entente efforts were French. French forces spent November massing ever more strongly near the Swiss border. Newly released heavy artillery formations and a concentration of elite units seemed to offer the prospect of an offensive either across the Rhine River along the Swiss border or along the Rhine toward Neu Breisach. Unfortunately for the Entente player, Entente heavy artillery could not move into position without becoming disrupted and every incremental increase in Entente strength could be, and was, met by a similar increase in German forces. No attack went forward and in December the French high command began to shuffle the massed forces toward other sectors of the line.
On the German side of the war, events followed a very similar course. The November crop of manpower rebuilt numerous formations previously destroyed in the assaults on Maubeuge and other Entente positions. German forces occasionally massed to conduct attacks that a sober appraisal of chances then forbade. The High Seas Fleet stayed quietly in port and the air forces continually scrambled away from Entente bombing missions. Perhaps the only decision of real note was another negative: even in the face of unspent ARPs going to waste, the Germans decided not to attempt to repair their aborted Zeppelin. It seems that the possible cost in morale for losing the unit greatly outweighs the tiny utility that such a useless aircraft could ever have if intact.
Leave a Reply