<– Part 44 – May 23, 1915  | Part 45 – May 30, 1915 |  Part 46 – June 6, 1915 –>

The Western Front, 1915-1916. From Wikipedia.

May 24 opened with a German attack towards Ypres, forcing the British back. The salient is now over 3 miles deep. However, German momentum seems to be waning. The following day saw the fighting near Festubert dying down; it would appear the great offensive at Ypres has ended in stalemate, although the German usage of poison gas indicates a new direction for the war.

The rolling farmland of Italian attack, northwest Italy.


Further south, Italy has begun her attacks against Austria-Hungary, who has fortified and occupied much of the Alps, forcing any thrust by Italy through the Isonzo River. Austrian ships have been shelling Italy’s east coast; flying boats have dropped bombs on Venice. The Austro-Hungarian SMS Helgoland and 2 destroys sunk the Italian DES Turbine.

Example of an Austro-Hungarian fortification in the Alps, forcing Italy to look elsewhere for an offensive. From Wikipedia.

At Gallipoli, a truce has been called to bury casualties, reminiscent of the Christmas truce the previous winter in Europe.

May 25 saw the HMS Triumph sunk by U-21 in the Narrows, south of the Gallipoli peninsula. However, two days later, HMS Majestic avenged the lost by torpedoing U-21 at Cape Helles.
The British setback there was offset by Gibeon, in German South-West Africa (Deutsche Sud-West Afrika) captured by British-South African General Jan Smuts on May 26.

The Ottoman Empire responded on May 27 to the Russian offensive by ordering a forced deportation of all Armenians in the Caucasus, in response to the quasi-alliance the revolting and oppressed Armenians have formed with the invading Imperial Russian Army.

In the seas around Gallipoli, HMS E11 has been sinking many Turkish ships, and has gained a reputation for itself.

On May 29, the Ottomans detonated a mine at “Quinn’s Post”, part of the ANZAC sector. The Australians were forced back, but through counter-attacks were able to retake it by sundown. Skirmishing continues in the region, and there are reports that the Ottomans are running low on artillery.

British soldiers cheering E11. From Wikipedia.



<– Part 43 – May 16, 1915  | Part 44 – May 23, 1915 |  Part 45 – May 30, 1915 –>

On May 17, hearing news of an imminent Russian advance, the Ottomans retreated from Vans, which had been under siege for nearly one month. The Armenians had succeeded in resisted the Turkish genocide targeted against them. Several days later, the Russian army entered, and strengthened the Armenian government in place.

The Ottomans faced another setback on the 19th. An attack on ANZAC cove – the third such – was repelled with heavy losses. It seems that a British aerial reconnaisance plane had spotted the Turkish movements and the defenders had time to dig-in even further. The Ottomans lost nearly 10,000 men, to about 650 on the Australian side.



On May 23, ignoring prior treaty agreements with the Central Powers, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, thereby entering this Great War. Although part of the triple alliance between the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Italy, Italy has long been an opponent of Austria, fueled by standard revanchism to reclaim northern territories. Italy defended its action by declaring that the alliance was defensive in nature, and that due to Austria & Germany’s declarations of war Italy was not obligated to honor it.

<– Part 42 – May 9, 1915  | Part 43 – May 16, 1915 |  Part 44 – May 23, 1915 –>


Earlier this week, on the 10th of May, Hungarian troops defeated the Russian army at Jarosław and returned control of Lviv to Austria. The following day, to the south, an armistice was called at Gallipoli to bury the dead soldiers scattered around the field. The defenders took the opportunity to dig-in and increase their defensive measures. However, the Ottomans did face a setback in the Caucasus, as Manzikert fell to the Russians.

On May 12, Windhoek, the capital of German South-West Africa, was occupied by South African troops under Louis Botha, who rejected a German offer of surrender of the colony, declared martial law, and split his army into several units to hunt the remaining Germans.

May 13 saw the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, part of the larger Second Battle of Ypres, finally halt the German offensive, at the cost of enormous casualties among the Allies – one Canadian company of 700 men saw nearly 80% casualties, with only 150 remaining to hold the line. The Germans suffered another irritation in the form of a sternly-worded letter from US President Wilson, following the sinking of the Lusitania by a German sub at the lost of many American lives. Wilson called for the Germans to cease warfare against commercial ships, regardless of the nationality the ship sailed under, as Americans had a right to travel internationally on merchant ships without fear of death.

The Allied offensive around Artois, in northern France, has largely ground to a halt against the Germans. There are rumors that the German Empire may withdraw troops from Ypres to reinforce Artois. On the 15th, seeing the failure of high-speed tactics – a heavy artillery bombardment, followed by swiftly-advancing infantry without definite objectoves – in Artois, the British troops there have begin a slow march towards Festubert, following the French army doctrine of heavy bombardment – 60 hours of artillery – followed by concise, near territorial gains. The British seem to be making minor progress in the area.

On the 16th, the Polish Legions came under attack by the Russian Army, as the Russians attempted a counter-offensive in the Kingdom of Poland, around Konary.

<– Part 41 – May 2, 1915  | Part 42 – May 9, 1915 |  Part 43 – May 16, 1915 –>

On May 3, the major offensive at Gallipoli continues as minor skirmishes, with each side dug in. Meanwhile, in eastern Europe, the opposite has happened, as the minor skirmish at Gorlice–Tarnów has escalated into a major offensive by the German and Austro-Hungarian armies, pushing Russia farther and farther back.

Two days later, the Battle of St. Julien, part of the offensive around Ypres (the second major battle there), has wound down, with the Germans seemingly unable to press their advantages against rapidly-assembled reinforcements.  The British also face probing attacks at the Suez canal, where the superbly-named German Colonel Kreß von Kressenstein was spotted personally leading a charge. In Mesopotamia, the British have begun an advance up the Tigris river.

Louis Botha, prime minister of the Union of South Africa, has succeeded in taking Windhuk, the capital of German South-West Africa. To the north, the Germans are holding back a combined French & British advance on Jaunde, the capital of German Kamerun. Incidentally, France continues fighting the “Zaian Confederacy” of Berber tribes in Morocco, supported by the Germans, with minor skirmishing across the Oum er Rbia River

A German map of the area around Ypres, across the northern border of France, showing advances in the past few weeks. Note St. Julien near the center. The Frezenberg Ridge nearly due south of St. Julien, approximately halfway between Ypres and Zonnebeke

On May 6, the Allied troops at Gallipoli attacked a second time aimed at Krithia, but again their advance was thwartde by dug-in Ottomans not sighted by aerial reconnaissance, and the attack was called off two days

Entrenched Ottoman machine gunners. They were an unwelcome surprise to the ANZAC troops who stumbled onto them.

later. The Ottomans faced additional (marginal) success to their north-east, as the Imperial Russian forces began an advance through the Tortum Valley towards Erzurum. Although the Ottoman counter-attack was successful in some areas, the southern thrust by the Russians seems to be gaining strength.

On May 7, the British passenger liner Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine (identified as U-20), causing the death of nearly 1,200 civilians. 128 of those were Americans.  World opinion has rapidly turned against Germany; the captain of the sub is being condemned as a war criminal, and many Americans are now loudly clamoring for a declaration of war on Germany. Time will tell if the declared American neutrality will continue.

May 8 saw a renewed German offensive at the Frezenberg Ridge, about one mile south of St. Julien. The Allies are being pushed back, and only a small force of Canadian troops is keeping this from becoming a disastrous rout for the Allies. The Germans also see more success on the Eastern front, as a Russian attempt to hold the line at the Łupków Pass has failed. German forces have crossed the Wisłoka river in south-eastern Poland.

Earlier today, May 9, the Entente launched a massive attack in Artois – quickly dubbed the Second Battle of the same – with an attack by the British at Aubers Ridge. As happened at Krithia, insufficient reconnaissance by the Allies has resulted in a repulse of those forces, although other attacks in the area continue.

<– Part 40 – April 25, 1915  | Part 41 – May 2, 1915 |  Part 42 – May 9, 1915 –>

On the 26th of April, the French cruiser Léon Gambetta was sunk by an Austrian submarine in the Strait of Otranto, just of the “heel” of Italy. There are also reports of some type of secret meeting in London between the Entente powers, and another unsubstantiated report that Italian representatives were present.

On the Gallipoli peninsula, several battles have been fought as the Entente attempts to expand the beachhead against the Ottomans. Most of them, such as the battle of Krithia, have settled into a war of attrition, as has happened on the Western front in Europe. On said front, the offensive at Ypres – now referred to as the Second Battle of Ypres – continues to see heavy fighting as the Germans advance to St. Julian. Reports of Entente troops suffocating, coughing blood, and so on indicates that the Germans are using poison gas.

On the 28th, the British seem to have signed a treaty with the Emirate of Asir, on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, to secure assistance against the Ottoman Turks. Further north, the Entente advance at Krithia was finally halted.

HMAS AE2. From Wikipedia.

In Europe, the German Empire continued her advance into the territory of the Russian Empire and occupied Shavli, in the area of Lithuania, on April 30. Off the Gallipoli peninsula, after forcing her way through the Dardanelles, the HMAS AE2 submarine suffered mechanical troubles, was fired upon after surfacing next to an Ottoman warship, and was scuttled by her captain. However, her mission of showing the power of submarines to disrupt Turkish communications was successful.

The following morning, on May 1, Russia secured a decisive victory against the Turks at Dilman, in northern Persia. Later that evening, the Turks suffered another setback when an attack at Eski Hissarlik failed to drive the Entente off of the Gallipoli peninsula; the British and French troops were dug in and ready for a night attack.

Earlier that afternoon, a US merchant ship, the S.S. Gulflight, was fired upon by a German submarine. Ironically, she was attacked because she was being escorted by two British warships suspicious that she had been refueling the same submarine. The sub captain reported that he saw no markings on the ship, but  broke off his attack after seeing a small US flag. Although damaged, the Gulflight did make it to port, suffering 3 casualties (including her captain, of a heart attack). The are the only US casualties by German submarine (as she is, to date, the only ship attacked).

This morning, May 2, the Germans south-east of Krakow at Gorlice-Tarnów launched a minor skirmish to relieve pressure on the Austrian-Hungarians to their south, but it is reported that the Russian line is evaporating, and it seems that the Austro-German forces may follow-up their success with a general offensive.

Gorlice-Tarnow breakthrough earlier today, and “projected progress through the next few months.” From Wikipedia.