Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18th, 1915

- In line with Joffre's instructions of yesterday, Foch orders d'Urbal of 10th Army to halt major attacks along the front in Artois, and concentrate solely on capturing the village of Souchez.

- In Galicia the German 11th Army spends the day preparing to assault the Russian line south of Rawa Ruska.  Mackensen's orders call for a breakthrough along a twenty kilometre length of the front west of Magierow, followed by a drive to the northeast towards the Lemberg-Rawa Ruska road.  This would disrupt the Russian defence of Lemberg, allowing the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army to seize the city.  The attack is to be launched tomorrow, and today German artillery bombards the Russian lines while the infantry work their way forward to establish jumping-off points as close as possible to the enemy trenches.

Meanwhile, on the southern flank of 11th Army, the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army continues to assault the Russian line along the Wereszyca River.  Though a number of attacks fail, elements of 33rd division are able to cross at Komarno and cover the construction of a military bridge over the river.  To the north, this afternoon a Russian counterattack led by 3rd Guard Division hits the junction between 11th Army and the 4th Austro-Hungarian Army to the west.  Here a new formation under General Hermann von Stein, commanding 8th Bavarian Reserve and 56th Divisions, had been created to maintain a link between the two armies.  With the assistance of the Austro-Hungarian XVII Corps, the Russian advance is checked after hand-to-hand fighting, and the area north of the village of Horyniec is secured by Stein's forces this evening.

- A joint meeting is held today by the cabinets of the Austrian and Hungarian portions of the Dual Monarchy to discuss the economic burdens of the war.  In the face of the demands of Conrad for vastly increased munitions production, Prime Minister Tisza of Hungary can only reply that while he is sympathetic, even military output at the current rate will cause growing financial difficulties, and he estimates that, economically, Austria-Hungary can continue the war with present levels of production for eight months.

- Given that Italian hopes for a rapid advance after entering the war have been dashed by both the realities of modern combat and the mountainous terrain, Cadorna and his subordinates are planning the first major deliberate Italian offensive along the Isonzo River, to be undertaken by 2nd and 3rd Army.  The preparations, however, are not concerned with minimizing casualties; indeed, the extent to which Italian generals actually care about the welfare of the soldiers under their command is illustrated today when the commander of 2nd Army issues a circular ordering that units must continue to fight and not be withdrawn from the front until they have suffered 75% casualties.

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