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  #1  
Old 06-25-2016, 04:25 PM
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Actual History: 100 Years Ago Today

Something I've been doing for a different website, thought I'd start it up here. Cobbling together things from different websites, comparing sources, and more-or-less liveblogging the First World War. Just 100 years late.

I have chosen today to start because one of the most significant developments of the entire War started today. To whit, the disastrous Battle of the Somme, which, despite much British propaganda to the contrary, did not in fact, result in the attrition of the German Armies in the West to a significantly greater degree than that of the British & French Armies. In fact, quite the opposite happened.

Western Front
Battle of Verdun: German forces at Verdun suspend their attack on Fort Souville due to heavy casualties. Heavy fighting at Fleury and west of Thiaumont. French thwart attempted German advance west of Fort Thiaumont. French gains in Fumin-Chenois Woods. War Minister General Roques visits.

Preliminary British bombardment along Somme front and northwards. British and French forces, stocked with 3 million artillery shells, begin preparatory bombardment of German lines at the Somme. (This much is standard Allied propaganda. What they don’t tell you is that the week-long bombardment was largely a failure, due to several factors:
1. Many, many, many of the British shells were duds, due to poor quality control & manufacturing practices in the British munitions industry.
2. A mistaken belief that shrapnel (actual shrapnel shell, a specific type of shell, unlike the more modern meaning of the word ‘shrapnel’) was effective in cutting barbed wire. In fact, shrapnel is almost useless for this purpose. As a result, roughly 75% of the shells fired by the british were shrapnel. Only about ¼ of the shells were high explosive.
3. Many of the British & French guns were the subset of Artillery known as “Guns” (as opposed to Howitzers or Mortars), which had insufficient elevation to hit a lot of the obstacles & trenches the Germans had installed on reverse slopes.
4. The Germans had partially adopted the idea of “Defense in Depth”: that is, the outermost line of fortifications & defensive positions, which usually (and at the battle did) receive the heaviest bombardment, were only lightly held. Most of the defensive troops were held in the second or third lines (where available), or sometimes even further back, for counterattacks. As a result, many of the German soldiers weren’t touched by the initial bombardment.)

British and French troops at Bray-sur-Somme as the Allied troops prepare to launch its offensive : http://imgur.com/4ioByXX

Royal Flying Corps spots 154 targets (5 German batteries silenced), fights 16 air combats and shoots down 6 German kite-balloons.

Flanders: BEF shell Lens.


Eastern Front
Russian advance from Bukovina; fighting on Dniester.


Southern Front
Trentino: Italians retake Asiago, Posina and Arslero regained (June 27), as Austrians begin silent and orderly general retreat from salient (night June 25) to prepared line holding 2/3 of gains since May 15 (until June 26).
Salonika: Sarrail told he may have to attack soon with French and Serbs alone.
Armenia: Turks after surprise crossing of Pontic Alps overwhelm 19th Turkistanski Regiment. By June 30 within 15 miles of coast road but held at ‘Serpent Rock Hill’.


Political, etc.
Roger Casement trial begins.

President of the German Food Regulations Board admits the rationing of meat is currently being considered for September onwards.

British War Office announces 500 more women have been accepted as army cooks, bringing the total up to 2000.

French Chamber of Deputies appropriates 25 million Francs for propaganda purposes overseas.

Araba Revolt: British in Cairo intercepts Djemal radio message to Fakhri Pasha in Medina allowing £5,000 spending in English gold. In Cyrenaica, Sayyid Idris meets Allied Mission for talks (until September).

Anglo-Italian Agreement not to sign separate deal with Senussi (June 31, France adheres March 1917).


Naval and Overseas Operations:

An Admiralty post-Battle of Jutland inquest with Jellicoe and Beatty agrees to improve armor protection.
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Old 06-25-2016, 06:25 PM
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Old 06-26-2016, 02:51 AM
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BEF shell Lens.

British Expeditionary Force shells town of Lens.
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:10 AM
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26 June 1916

Western Front
Battle of Verdun: French gain near Thiaumont work, but two-brigade attack fails at Fleury. German attacks west of Hill 304 and near Fleury. French 407th Regiments 1,200 survivors (from 2,800 on June 21) withdrawn.
British patrols active.
Battle Of the Somme: Allied bombardment continues. Royal Flying Corps observers engage 161 targets. 5 F. E. 2bs (1 lost) of No 25 Squadron including Capt A W Tedder (future Air Marshal of RAF) shoot down 2 Fokker Es; 3 German kite-balloons brought down in flames.

Eastern Front
German troops from the Western Front replace Austro-Hungarian troops from Kovel to Brody in order to face the Russians.

Southern Front
Austria-Hungary retreats along a 20-mile front in Trentino, Italy to transfer troops to the Eastern Theater.

Asiatic and Egyptian Theaters
Russians advance west in northern Persia.
Turks prepare to leave Mosul.
Turks driven from Lake Urmia (Persia).

Political, etc.
General demobilisation ordered in Greece.
Germans threaten to stop Swiss coal supply if their cotton purchases are not delivered.
Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia announces it is producing gas bombs, incendiary bombs, and grenades for the U.S. Army.
Serb Prime Minister Pasic visits Paris.
President Wilson rejects a proposal by Latin American diplomats who offered to mediate between the U.S. and Mexico to avoid war.
Funeral of former President and Emperor of China Yuan Shikai takes place in Peking.
Rumania: 9 killed in Galati workers anti-war demo.
Britain: 7,000 Vickers Barrow engineers lose strike against partial call-up (until July 3).
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Old 06-26-2016, 06:18 PM
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:39 AM
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27 June 1916

Western Front
Battle of the Somme: British bombardment continues. Despite Allied bombardment at the Somme, German “dugouts are still good. The [Germans] appear to remain…completely sheltered.” [Allied Intelligence report]
157 active German batteries reported by Royal Flying Corps.
Photo showing gas attacks by the British against German lines at the Somme: http://imgur.com/05227Sk
Battle of Verdun: Further local German attacks repulsed at Fleury.
German attack repulsed at Ypres.
British reconnaissance raids from La Bassee canal to Somme line.


Eastern Front
German troops under von Linsingen capture Russian positions in Volhynia, while German aeroplanes bomb Dvinsk (Daugavpils).
Germans repulsed in Riga and Dvinsk areas. (Note: these were likely ‘raids’, rather than attacks with intent to seize ground, thus, ‘repulsed’ is likely an overstatement).
Russian advance from Kolomea (Bukovina).

Southern Front
Trentino: Italians take Posina and Arsiero; continued advance from the Bernta to the Adige. But otherwise, the Italians resume pursuit too slowly.
Carnia: Italian XII Corps ‘rectification operations’ (until June 29) cost 3,662 casualties.

Asiatic and Egyptian Theaters
Arab Revolt: Fakhri Pasha sorties from Medina, massacres Arab suburb; Feisal blockades at distance.

Naval and Overseas Operations:
East Africa: British Lake Force (2,000 soldiers, Crewe GOC since June 17) advances south from river Kagera and via Lake Victoria. Major-General Gill and part of 3,000-strong Portuguese Expeditionary Force land (until September 6) at Lourenco Marques.

Political, etc.
Austria: A letter from the ambassador in Berlin says ‘Monarchy can no longer survive the war’.
Greece: King signs demobilization decree.
German Hentig enters Chinese Turkestan, escapes Russian cordon.
Recommendations of Allied Economic Conference ratified (see 14th). [http://www.greatwar.co.uk/timeline/...-1916.htm#june]
Chinese navy threatens to revolt.
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Old 06-28-2016, 07:11 AM
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28 June 1916

Western Front
{Brief repetition, as it's the immediate root}
Onehundredtwo years ago, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated by Serbian nationalist during a motorcade in Sarajevo, sparking World war I.
James Hutchinson VC (9 July 1895 – 22 January 1972) was 20 years old, and a private (Fusilier) in the 2/5th Battalion, The Lancashire Fusiliers on 28 June 1916 when his actions in Ficheux, France earned him the Victoria Cross.
Citation:
For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack on the enemy's position this soldier was the leading man, and, entering their trench, shot two sentries and cleared two of the traverses.
After our object had been gained and retirement ordered, Private Hutchinson, on his own initiative, undertook the dangerous task of covering the retirement, and he did this with such gallantry and determination that the wounded were removed into safety. During all this time this gallant soldier was exposed to fierce fire from machine-guns and rifles at close quarters.
He later achieved the rank of corporal.
Battle of the Somme: Zero day for Allied offensive postponed until 1 July (rain). As a result, the British continue their bombardment, combined with small raids as part of probing attacks.
Royal Garrison Artillery gunners carrying trench mortar ammunition at the Somme: http://imgur.com/l7heySL ©IWM (Q 747)
Heavy rains and low cloud until June 30 restricts aerial operations. 111 Royal Flying Corps personnel casualties since June 1 and 17,000 hours flown.
Verdun: French grenade attacks near Hill 329 and Thiaumont Works. German counter-attacks fail.


Eastern Front

Brusilov offensive, Galicia – Battle of Kolomea (June 24 to July 6): Lechitski shatters Austrian Seventh Army on 25-mile front east of Kolomea, taking 10,421 PoWs and 4 guns; enters Kolomea on June 29, reaches 12 miles south [until June 30].
Despite German use of gas, Russian troops repel German attacks south of Riga and on the Dvina River.
Heavy fighting on Lutsk salient.


Southern Front

Trentino: Italian cavalry reach Pedescala northeast of Arsiero.
Isonzo – First major gas attack on Italian Front (until June 29): with help of hydrocyanide gas shell Austrians inflict 6,600 casualties on sleeping Italian 21st and 22nd Divisions between Mt Cosich and sea in night raid before Regina Brigade and 10th Regiment regain trenches, but Austrians lose 1,988 (416 PoWs) men including gas fatalities from blowback.

Asiatic and Egyptian Theaters
Arab Revolt
: 3 British ships land 8 Egyptian mountain guns, 4 MGs and 3,000 rifles at Jeddah.
Persia: Baratov’s 8,500 men and 14 guns hold Turk 2nd Division at Karind until night retreat on Kermanshah (evacuated on June 30).

Naval and Overseas Operations:

SS Messanabie arrives at Liverpool from Canada with troops including Filip Konowal (Canadian Infantry) who will win the Victoria Cross in August 1917.
A Danish & an Italian ship are lost due to shipping accidents, whereas, the UK dredger Mercurius strucks a mine in the North Sea with the loss of 6 of her 7 crew.
East Africa: British Lake Force (2,000 soldiers, Crewe GOC since June 17) advances south from river Kagera and via Lake Victoria. Major-General Gill and part of 3,000-strong Portuguese Expeditionary Force land (until September 6) at Lourenco Marques.

Political, etc.
Britain and France completely [that is, formally] abandon London Declaration; they had been long ignoring it anyway. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londo..._of_Naval_Wa r
Russia: CoS Alexeiev suggests to Tsar a military dictator for supply. A bill to permanently ban vodka is being discussed in the Russian Duma.
Germany: Karl Liebknecht, a German Socialist in opposition to the war, is given 2 and a half years hard labor (increased to 4 years on August 23) and dismissed from Army; 55,000 workers hold 3-day protest strikes.
Britain: 400 German firms reported still trading.
Report shows that the U.S. trade in May reached record highs due to the war. The favorable trade balance was $243 million.
Mexico deploys 40,000 troops along railways near the U.S. border in order to face a possible U.S. invasion.
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Old 06-29-2016, 09:20 AM
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29 June 1916

Western Front
Battle of the Somme:
British bombardment continues.
Battle of Verdun: German attack on Hill 304 repulsed.
Champagne: German first and second line trenches taken at Tahure.
French 400 mm railway gun firing near Ravin d’Harbonnieres: http://imgur.com/ezCd1gV* © IWM (Q 70036)

Eastern Front
Brusilov Offensive:
Russian troops piece three lines of Austro-Hungarian lines near the city of Kolomea and claims the capture of 10,000 prisoners.
Germans repulsed north-east of Vilna.

Southern Front
Italian advance in Trentino continues, and troops recapture Fort Mattassone and the ridge of Monte Trappola.
Italy forms 78a Squadriglia.

Asiatic and Egyptian Theaters
Royal Navy Air Service detachment withdrawn but 4 Royal Navy Air Service kite-balloons arrive in Mesopotamia.

Naval and Overseas Operations:
Turkish steamers sunk by Russians in the Black Sea.
Italy loses two sailing vessels to SMA U-35; the UK loses a steamer to the same source, and a minesweeping trawler strikes a mine and sinks (a not uncommon occurrence).

Political, etc.
Roger Casement, Irish nationalist, is sentenced to death for treason. Roger Casement was sentenced based on reinterpreting the Treason Act of 1351. Casement writes he will be “hanged on a comma.” He is escorted to Pentonville Prison: http://imgur.com/49IVuFH
British Foreign Office send Casement diary homosexual extracts to US; Foreign Minister Grey rules against further copying on June 30.
New York City is experiencing a polio outbreak. 32 cases are identified today, bringing the total up to 206.
Győző Zemplén, Hungarian physicist in the field of hydrodynamics and kinetic theory of gases, is killed in action.
U.S. demands apology from Austria for the sinking of the "Petrolite".
Austria: Vienna Crown Council attacks CoS Conrad for first time, Emperor orders him to give more info.
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Old 06-30-2016, 12:26 AM
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Lots of good info. Thanks guys!
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Old 06-30-2016, 04:05 AM
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The Somme: The battle that France forgot

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Old 06-30-2016, 07:23 AM
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30 June 1916

Western Front
Battle of the Somme
: British bombardment continues. Nelson Victor Carter VC (6 April 1887 – 30 June 1916) was born on 6 April 1887 to Richard Carter, of Hailsham; husband of Kathleen Carter, of 33 Greys Road, Old Town, Eastbourne. His date of birth is often stated as the ninth, but his birth certificate states the sixth.
He was 29 years old, and a company sergeant major in the 12th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. He was awarded the VC for his actions on 30 June 1916 at Boar's Head, Richebourg L’Avoue, France. At 03:15 two battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment, the 12th and 13th, with the 11th in reserve, go over the top at The Boar’s Head salient in the German lines near the small village of Richebourg l’Avoue in northern France. This is a diversionary attack is meant to confuse the enemy as to the extent of attacks on the Somme tomorrow.
Citation:
For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack he was in command of the fourth wave of the assault. Under intense shell and machine gun fire he penetrated, with a few men, into the enemy's second line and inflicted heavy casualties with bombs. When forced to retire to the enemy's first line, he captured a machine gun and shot the gunner with his revolver. Finally, after carrying several wounded men into safety, he was himself mortally wounded and died in a few minutes. His conduct throughout the day was magnificent.
Battle of Verdun: French recapture Fort Thiaumont, but heavy back-and-forth fighting continues. 65 French divisions have engaged against 47 German. June losses: French 67,000, German 51,567 (including 4 divisions which were losing 71-90% of their infantry). [Note: casualty figure for the Germans are highly suspect].
6 R.E. 7s of No 21 Squadron Royal Flying Corps bomb Lille St Saveur station engine sheds (repeated and successfully with 336 lb bomb, first use from 7,000-8,000 ft on July 1). Escort on both raids 2 Martinsyde and 2 Morane planes.
Ruins of a church in the village of Miraumont: http://imgur.com/DpCPrJ3 © IWM (Q 78454)

Eastern Front
Battle of the Strypa ends (see 11th).
Brusilov offensive, Galicia: 2 Austrian divisions from Italian Front begin arriving at Nadworna and Delatyn.

Southern Front
Trentino:
Italian counter-offensive in the Trentino continues

Asiatic and Egyptian Theaters
Armenia:
General Abatsiev’s 10,000 men capture Bitlis after surprise night bayonet charge in blizzard, taking 1,000 PoW and 20 guns. 2 Russian battalions land at Atina to advance on Trebizond, 60 miles in the west, more land at Mapavri (night 6/7). General Lyakhov occupies Rize, port 30 miles from Trebizond (March 8), drives Turks beyond river Kalopotamus on March 9.

Mesopotamia: Gertrude Bell arrives at Basra to be Arab Bureau representative.

Naval and Overseas Operations:
Baltic:
Indecisive small British naval action.
North Sea: First Royal Navy minelaying submarine E24 lays minefield close to Elbe, but lost on next sortie.
First German 15 inch-gun battleship Bayern joins Fleet (sister Baden likewise February 1917).
British loose another cargo steamer to German submarines, another minesweeping trawler to mines (told you it was common), whereas the Germans loose U-10 to mines, as well.
During June German U-boats sink 43 merchant ships or 67,125t out of total (all seas) 87,293 t. French Marine Ministry rebukes Bizerta Prefet Maritime for suggesting convoy answer to U-boats.


Political, etc.
Germany:
Chancellor Bethmann again informs Admiral Scheer of his opposition to unrestricted U¬-boat operations.
USA: Krupp representative Captain Tauscher acquitted of conspiracy charges. US Commissioner of Navigation reports 125,000t of shipping building for foreign owners (mainly British).
Gore-Mclemore Senate Resolution against American sailing in belligerent ships and denying passports, but defeated on March 7.
France: Alcohol duties increased.
Britain: Army Council takes over 1916 hay and straw crops.
Trades Union Congress, representing 3 million workers, meets in London to ask the British government to set food prices.
D H Lawrence rejected for military service at Bodmin.
British Government conclude further agreement with the Netherlands Overseas Trust for rationing of Holland.
Portugal: Portuguese seize 4 German ships at Madeira.
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Old 06-30-2016, 05:29 PM
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Battle of the Somme centenary

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Old 07-01-2016, 06:47 AM
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Western Front
ANGLO-FRENCH OFFENSIVE, BATTLE OF THE SOMME BEGINS
(until November 18).
First phase: Battle of Albert: (until July 13). After 224,221 shells in 65 mins and explosion of 10 mines (0728 hours) Allied attack begins at 0730 hours. Combined Franco-British attack (19 divisions) on 25-mile front north and south of Somme. Despite the mines and heavy Allied bombardment, most German positions have survived intact: http://imgur.com/RsKArWD © IWM (Q 27637)
Aftermath of the Lochnagar mine explosion underneath German lines: http://imgur.com/iI6qIIZ
66,000 (later 100,000). British soldiers capture Montauban (early creeping barrage) and Mametz. French XX and I Colonial Corps strike for Peronne reach Hardecourt and Curlu outskirts taking c.80 guns and 3,000 PoWs. Northwest of Albert-Bapaume road British make little progress against strong German defences; small gain at Leipzig Redoubt south of Thiepval. British attacks at Gommecourt, Serre, Beaumont Hamel, Thiepval and La Boiselle all fail.
At 1900 hours Rawlinson’s casualties estimate 16,000, but in fact British casualties total 57,470 (incl. 19,240 killed and 2,152 missing (585 PoWs) largely to c. 100 German MG teams).*HEAVIEST LOSS EVER SUFFERED BY THE BRITISH ARMY IN ONE DAY: 32 battalions lose an average of 500 casualties. German casualties estimate 8,000.
French attack towards Peronne; reach outskirts of Hardecourt and Curlu; take Dompierre, Becquincourt, Bussus, and Fay.
Anglo-French aerial supremacy continues. 185 British (out of 421 RFC with 14 balloons) and 201 French against 129 German aircraft. Verdun and commitments elsewhere (plus Immelmann’s death) mean Germans have only 19 fighters against up to 66 British (Nos 24, 29, 32 and 60 Squadrons) and c. 72 French Nieuport 11s; DH2s andFE2s play havoc with reconnaissance planes and balloons and brush aside German fighters. BE2s and RE7s hit railways, trains, roads, headquarters, dumps; RFC drop 39t bombs (July 1-16), Farmans and Caudrons often at night; RFC reconnaissance and artillery observation units fly virtually unhindered while German aircraft are forced to defend within their own lines or over their own bases. But, from mid-July German reinforcements reach the Somme. Contact patrol, or liaison with infantry, first instituted in the Royal Flying Corps.
Battle of Verdun: 132nd day of battle.
During July Germans form 2nd Storm Battalion, 14 in all by December 31.
German combatant strength in West 2,260,000 soldiers. French Army 1,447,000 infantry; 93,500 cavalry; 495.000 artillery; 125.000 engineers; 24,000 air service in 4,677,000 mobilized strength.
Major Rees commander of No 32 Squadron Royal Flying Corps single-handedly disperses 10 two-seaters near Festubert and forces down 2 (Rees wounded, wins Victoria Cross. 7 RFC aircraft missing (14 aircrew casualties) including 4 who cause 170 casualties to 22nd Reserve Division at St Quentin station.
Citation
On 1 July 1916 at Double Crassieurs, France, Major Rees, whilst on flying duties, sighted what he thought was a bombing party of our machines returning home, but were in fact enemy aircraft. Major Rees was attacked by one of them, but after a short encounter it disappeared, damaged. The others then attacked him at long range, but he dispersed them, seriously damaging two of the machines. He chased two others but was wounded in the thigh, temporarily losing control of his aircraft. He righted it and closed with the enemy, using up all his ammunition, firing at very close range. He then returned home, landing his aircraft safely.
It should also be noted that there were several other Victoria Crosses awarded as a result of the generally disastrous day for the British. I have chosen to highlight Major Rees’, not to slight the others, but because his was unusual, being the result of aerial combat. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_...ross_recipients


Eastern Front
German combatant strength only 590,000 soldiers.
River Pruth: Russians advance north-west of Kolomea.
Pripet: Austro-Germans progress north-west of Tarnopol. Austro-Germans regain 3 miles southwest of Lutsk (until July 2).
Brusilov Offensive: Carpathians: Lechitski advances northwest of Kolomea, cuts railway at Mikolichin (July 4), despite Austro-German counter-attacks (July 2-3). Russian troops attack Austro-Hungarian lines along the Carpathians, capturing 14,574 prisoners.

Southern Front
Italian Front:
Italian losses 524,760 men since January 1, including 275,190 sick, but 800,000 called to colors in same period.
Isonzo: Italian VII Corps launches diversion at Sell (Carso, south of Gorizia), some gains and PoWs (until July 3).
Salonika: In July 6 Royal Navy Air Service aircraft and French flight on Thasos island drop incendiary bombs on ripening crops in south Bulgaria.

Asiatic and Egyptian Theaters
Royal Flying Corps Middle East Brigade (total 8 squadrons) formed under Brigade-General W Salmond to administer Salonika, Mesopotamia and East Africa units as well.
Persia: c.16,000 Turks (Ali Ihsan Pasha) reoccupy Kermanshah, defeat Russians to north (until July 19).
Arab Revolt – Yemen: Idrisi’s tribe captures Qunfidah on coast.

Naval and Overseas Operations:
Adriatic:
Austrian raid on Straits of Otranto.
Mediterranean: During July U-boat ace Arnauld de la Periere perfects technique of destroying ships by long-range (8,000 yards) gunfire with new 4.1-inch deck gun (replaces 3.5-inch/88 mm), saving torpedoes and lessening risks to U-boats, who also, through signals intelligence and captured documents learn which Allied routes are patrolled, sink 33 ships (86,432 t) in July.
Baltic: In July Russian submarines and destroyers sink or capture 4 German steamers.

Political, etc.
Britain:
Retail Food Price 61%, now 766,000 women in industry and commerce. Record low union unemployment of 0.4%. Somme barrage heard on Hampstead Heath.
France: In July Le Canard enchaine satirical journal first published. Heavier excess profit taxes. French Ministry of Interior reports that 46,263 houses, 331 churches, and 900 public buildings have been wrecked due to war.
Germany: In July radical anti-war art weekly Kampf founded at Duisburg.
Santo Domingo: US Marines defeat rebels.
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Old 07-01-2016, 06:48 AM
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BTW, I would like to thank Jseal for his addenda to my posts. Quite relevant supplements, they are.
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Old 07-02-2016, 02:30 AM
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I'll again thank both of you guys for this historical commentary on WWI. Fascinating information presented in a great, clear-cut way. Thanks.
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