Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30th, 1915

- Early this morning a heavy artillery bombardment falls on the German line between Souchez and Roclincourt, the latter a village just north of Arras, which is followed at 5pm by an assault by several French divisions.  After heavy combat and hand-to-hand fighting, 1st Bavarian Reserve Division is able to fend off the French attacks.

- The German X Corps, holding the northern flank of 11th Army along the Lubaczowka River, comes under heavy Russian attack overnight and this morning, but are able to hold the line.  To the south, the Austro-Hungarian X Corps assaults the western face of the Przemysl defences at Pralkowce, and seize the position by sundown.

- Today General Cadorna, chief of staff of the Italian army, moves into the archbishop's palace at Udine, which he makes his permanent headquarters.  Here he receives reports from his commanders on the first operations of the war.  To this point, the Italian advance on Austria-Hungary has been marked mostly by hesitancy.  Along the northern front, a corps of 4th Army occupies the crest of Cortina d'Ampezzo yesterday after the enemy had evacuated it, but afterwards 4th Army commander Lieutenant-General Luigi Nava had halted the advance and asked his subordinates what they thought they could do without undue risk.  On the eastern front Lieutenant-General Luigi Zuccari, commanding 3rd Army, had refused Cadorna's orders to immediately occupy Monte Medea on the basis that his soldiers were not ready.  The Italian chief of staff had replied by firing Zuccari, as he did with Major-General Nicola Pirozzi, whose cavalry division had delayed in seizing bridges over the Isonzo River at Pieris, which allowed the Austro-Hungarians to destroy them.  In Cadorna's mind the dismissal of Zuccari and Pirozzi would, as he wrote his wife today, 'remove all hesitation and give everyone the necessary offensive spirit.'  He strongly believes that character and will are the most important qualities in a commander, and that those who show weakness must be made an example of and purged to encourage the others.  That other aspects of leadership are less important to Cadorna is evidenced in his appointment of Emanuele Filiberot, Duke of Aosta, as Zuccari's replacement; as the duke is ill, this effectively leaves 3rd Army without a commander.

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