23/9/1918 Allenby decides to have another crack at Amman #1918Live

Allenby‘s offensive has shattered Turkish forces in Palestine. Haifa and Acre fall to Indian cavalry today and thousands of Turkish troops are surrendering to the British, their escape routes cut off by the rapid Allied advance.

Success in western Palestine means that Allenby is free to have another crack at Amman in the Transjordan region, where success has thus far eluded him. Now his men cross the Jordan once more and reoccupy the town of Salt, in preparation for another march on Amman. With Turkish forces in complete disarray Allenby hopes that this time Amman will fall to his men without difficulty.

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Indian lancers in Haifa (100 Years Ago Today, @CenturyAgoToday on Twitter)

23/9/1918 Bulgaria’s Balkan disaster #1918Live

Germany’s allies are receiving a battering. Allenby‘s Megiddo offensive in Palestine looks like it will destroy the Turks’ ability to mount effective resistance there. The Bulgarians too are now facing an Allied battering ram in the southern Balkans. After the initial French and Serbian attacks on the Vardar broke through Bulgarian lines, British and Greek troops attacked near Lake Doiran. These attacks were less successful, as the Bulgarians had deployed higher quality formations to this sector. This engendered some hope on the part of Bulgarian commanders that the Balkan situation remained salvageable. Bulgarian troops near Lake Doiran were ordered to break contact with the Allies there and move to launch a counter-attack against the advancing Serbs and French. But the counter-attack is stillborn. Allied control of the air means that the Bulgarian columns are subjected to relentless aerial bombardment as they attempt to move through the Kosturino Pass. Their morale and cohesion is shattered and they are unable to strike back against the Allies.

The Serb and French advance into Macedonia now appears unstoppable. Many of the local people welcome the Serbs as returning liberators, while others who had initially welcomed the Bulgarians fear the victors’ retribution. In Bulgaria itself meanwhile the combination of defeat on the battlefield and the privations of war mean that increasing numbers of people are calling for an immediate peace at any price.


map and Bulgarian prisoners (Wikipedia: Vardar Offensive)

21/9/1918 Turkish collapse in Palestine

Allenby‘s offensive in Palestine is starting to look like a decisive victory. After the initial infantry assault smashed through the Turkish lines, Australian and Indian cavalry have exploited the victory and are pushing northwards at speed while the infantry wheels to the right to roll up the Turkish line. Many of the Turkish units in the path of the juggernaut have disintegrated. Retreating units are being relentlessly attacked by British and Australian aeroplanes.

Germany’s Liman von Sanders commands Turkish forces in Palestine. From his headquarters in Nazareth he is struggling to organise an effective resistance to the enemy. His efforts are hampered by a lack of accurate information as to the location of enemy and even his own forces, as his telephone lines have been cut.

Liman von Sanders’ confusion is underscored by the sudden arrival of enemy forces in Nazareth today. Liman von Sanders has to flee in great haste and is lucky to escape. The Allied advance is so rapid that Indian cavalrymen overrun a Turkish aerodrome at Nazareth, capturing both aeroplanes and their crews. By the end of the day the Allies have secured Nazareth as well as Nablus, with Jenin, Tulkaram and Megiddo already in their hands.

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Map & Turkish prisoners (Wikipedia: Battle of Nablus (1918))

19/9/1918 Megiddo: Allenby’s breakthrough in Palestine #1918Live

Turkish forces are expanding into the Caucasus, taking advantage of the collapse of Russian power there. This worries their German allies. The Germans have their own plans for the Caucasus and favour the establishment of pro-German client states in the region, not its absorption into the Ottoman Empire. They also fear that the Turks are putting too much resources into the Caucasus when the real danger is Allenby‘s British Empire and Commonwealth army in Palestine.

Allenby has launched a series of diversionary operations towards Deraa in Syria, with the assistance of the ever-growing regular forces of the Arab Revolt. Together with guerrilla operations by Arab raiders (assisted by British liaison officer T.E. Lawrence), these have convinced Liman von Sanders, commander of Turkish forces in Palestine, that Allenby is planning an attack in the Transjordan or Syrian regions. He transfers troops from coastal Palestine to reinforce Deraa.
The worst fear of the Germans are confirmed today. Allenby has in conditions of total secrecy concentrated a mighty strike force north of Jaffa. After a devastating artillery bombardment, the infantry attacks, forcing their way through the Turkish defensive lines on the coastal plain. The outnumbered Turks fight as best they can but are soon put to flight. And once the infantry is through the Turkish defensive positions Allenby is able to release his Australian and Indian cavalry to exploit the victory. As the cavalry surge forward towards the town of Megiddo, the cohesion of the Turkish army begins to collapse. Isolated units put up staunch resistance but others take to their heels, surrender, or exchange their uniforms for civilian clothes and abandon the army life.

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Positions at start of the battle & at midnight on 19th/20th September (Wikipedia: Battle of Nablus (1918))

17/9/1918 US victory at St. Mihiel see the Germans shaken and Pershing disappointed at missed opportunities #1918Live

The Americans have successfully eliminated the St. Mihiel salient, capturing more than 8,000 German prisoners and some 400 artillery pieces. The defeat at St. Mihiel has shaken the Germans. Hindenburg, the German commander-in-chief, is normally imperturbable but now he sends a furious telegram to Gallwitz, the local German commander. Hindenburg refuses to see the Americans as constituting a serious military force and rails against Gallwitz for allowing himself to be defeated by what he sees as a half-trained rabble.

Pershing had wanted his troops to exploit the success of St. Mihiel by pressing on towards Metz. Foch however has insisted that they be redeployed further to the west to take part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, scheduled to start later in the month. Pershing is angry, feeling that an opportunity is being squandered and that his men will not have enough time to prepare adequately for the new offensive. Foch insists because fears that a further advance towards Metz would see the American advancing on a divergent axis from the rest of the Allies. The Meuse-Argonne offensive is to be one of several converging assaults, intended to break the Germans on the Western Front.

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(WW1HA — Fightin’ Friday: Mon Plaisir Farm)

16/9/1918 The more deadly return of the influenza pandemic #1918Live

After its mysterious emergence earlier this year, the influenza epidemic had appeared to abate as the summer wore on, so much so that some thought that it was effectively over. This belief was unfortunately premature. A second wave of the influenza has now erupted, emerging simultaneously in Brest, Baltimore and the West African port of Freetown, all ports playing a vital role in the Allied war effort. From these three centres it has spread rapidly across the globe, crossing the lines and affecting the malnourished Central Powers as much if not more so than the Allies.

The first wave of the influenza pandemic was more infectious than an ordinary flu but not noticeably more lethal to those who contracted it, with mortality rates remaining at around 1% of those infected. Since then however the influenza has undergone some kind of mutation and it is now killing some 2.5% of those who fall ill. The symptoms of those who die can be pretty gruesome, with haemorrhaged blood flooding lungs and the skin around the face shrinking and turning black through loss of oxygen (which may be why some refer to the disease as the Black Flu).

The influenza is also different from an ordinary flu in who it takes down. Young adults appear to be its preferred targets (with roughly half of those killed by it being between the ages of 20 and 40 years). The more usual victims of influenza (the old and children) are proportionately less affected. In the USA it is also noted that Black Americans are far less likely to be struck down than their White compatriots.

The influenza spreads quickly through the cramped conditions prevailing in army camps and troopships. Overcrowded tenements hasten its spread among the civilian populations of urban centres. Because people are infectious before they have any obvious symptoms, people now dread the sound of a neighbour coughing or sneezing, as it means that in a day or two they too will fall ill and perhaps suffer a terrible death.

Public health notice (Crozet Gazette —1918: War and Influenza, Battling on the Home Front)

15/9/1918 Massacres in Baku as the city falls to the Turks

Turkish forces are advancing in the Caucasus, hoping to recover territories lost to Russia in previous wars. They are also seeking to assist their ethnic kinfolk in Azerbaijan, where fighting is taking place between Azeri nationalists on the one hand and a motley alliance of socialists, Armenians and a British intervention force on the other.

A Turkish attempt to capture Baku in August was repulsed with the aid of a British formation led by Lionel Dunsterville, but now the reinforced Turks have another go. Under the command of Nuri Pasha, brother of war minister Enver Pasha, the Turks rout the defenders and storm the city.

Disorder in Baku in March saw atrocities committed against Azeris living in the city. Now it is the turn of the city’s Christian population, with Armenians in particular being subjected to massacres by the victors. In some respect the slaughter is revenge for events of earlier in the year, but it is also a continuation of the extermination of the Armenians that the Turkish authorities have been implementing over the last number of years.

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Turkish troops on the move (Wikipedia)