5 Military Developments of December 1914

Week 20 of the Mediakraft Networks YouTube show The Great War, written and presented by Indiana Neidell.

1. German Victory at Łódź

After Ludendorff’s initial attack failed to secure the city a second attack was launched on Russian controlled Łódź. The Germans were successful this time and secured control the important transport and supply center. The were unable to drive the Russians further back however as they had dug trenches 50km outside the city leading the action in the center of the eastern front to grind to a halt.

2. Serbia Proclaims Victory

Despite taking Belgrade earlier in the month the Austrians were fleeing from Serbian territory by mid-December. The Austrians at Belgrade held out longer than those on open ground but by 15 December the Serbian high command announced victory. In the process close to 100,000 Serbains had died in merely weeks. During the war 60% of Serbian men aged 15-55 were killed. After the Austrian defeat Serbia’s only link to the outside world was a train to neutral Greece and supply shortages became problematic and caused many deaths by hunger and disease.

Austrian General Oskar Potiorek was dismissed for his failure in Serbia a campaign in which he sustained 300,000 casualties out of a total force of 450,000.

3. End to Open Ocean Warfare

On 8 December at the Battle of the Falklands Admiral Maximillian von Spee was killed after his fleet arrived at Port Stanley where British Cruisers Invincible and Inflexible were waiting. Despite having given the British their first naval defeat for a century earlier in the war von Spee was defeated and 2200 Germans perished including the admiral. This marked the end of German Naval presence on the open ocean and during the next four years of war naval warfare was confined to landlocked seas like the Adriatic and the Baltic.

4. Indian Victory at Qurna

Indian soldiers in the service of the British Empire seized the Ottoman town of Qurna. The Ottomans had been retreated to Qurna after defeats at Fao Fortress and Basra. Qurna, however did not provide a good military base as communications were limited to points accessible on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and poor sanitation and high winds made living conditions difficult.

5. Red Cross Report on Prisoners of War

The Red Cross found that German, French and British armies were treating prisoners humanely by this point in the war. In Austria and Russia however this was not the case. The Austrian army particularly was found to have been habitually using brutality and terror to subdue the population in Serbia both military and civilian.

Further Reading

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Alex is a history student at King's College London focusing on Europe and the Near East in the Middle Ages. He currently works writing and editing content for madefromhistory.