Friday, June 26, 2015

June 26th, 1915

- After elements of the French II and VI Corps attacked the German 9th Division on the western face of the St.-Mihiel salient six days ago and seized a stretch of the first trench line, the German 10th Division just to the north undertakes its own attack today to relieve the French pressure, and succeeds in occupying most of the high ground at Les Éparges, which had been one of the key positions seized by the French during the Battle of the Woevre in April.

- In Russia the disaster in Galicia has inevitably led to witch hunts for those deemed responsible, and the mantle has fallen on War Minister General Vladimir Sukhomlinov.  The generals at the front, unwilling to accept responsibility for their own mistakes, instead focus on the shortage of munitions, the production of which is the responsibility of the Sukhomlinov.  While the war minister has jealously guarded his powers, the problem of munitions is as much about distribution as it is about production, and stockpiles of hundreds of thousands of shells continue to sit in obsolete fortresses.  Moreover, Sukhomlinov has alienated many in the aristocratic officer corps, who have deeply resented some of his halting efforts to modernize the more antiquated aspects of the Russian army, and his long-standing personal rivals eagerly seize the moment to condemn him.  Sukhomlinov thus makes the perfect scapegoat and the Tsar is prevailed upon to dismiss him today, his replacement being General A. A. Polivanov.

- In Galicia the German 11th Army begins the next stage of its offensive, driving north from Rawa Ruska towards the pre-war frontier between Austria-Hungary and Russian Poland.  The advance of the left wing heavily contested, and only after hard fighting is it able to reach Miasteczko, its objective for today, by this evening.  To the east, however, the Russian XII and XXVIII Corps of 8th Army have already retreated, allowing the German XXII Reserve and Guard Corps, plus the Austro-Hungarian VI Corps, to advance uncontested.  On the right wing of 11th Army, XLI Reserve Corps plus the Beskid Corps (the latter reassigned from the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Army) largely remain in place to preserve the connection between 11th Army and 2nd Army to the south.

The advance of the German 11th Army in southern Poland, June 26th to 30th, 1915.

- In the six months since the abject failure of the 3rd Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia, the front between the two countries has been generally inactive.  This has suited the Serbs, given that over the winter and spring the country has been ravaged by a typhus epidemic.  On the Austro-Hungarian side, however much Conrad might have wished to crush the Serbs, the crisis in Galicia meant that there was a steady transfer of units from the Serbian front to the Eastern Front.  Moreover, by the time German intervention at Gorlice-Tarnow saved the Austro-Hungarian position in Galicia, Italian entry into the war had become apparent, which necessitated a further drawdown of forces facing the Serbs to man the Italian Front.  The result has been that the Austro-Hungarian units in the Balkans are actually outnumbered, and moreover are composed primarily of reservists and Landsturm militia.

To deter the Serbs from undertaking an offensive, the Austro-Hungarians begin a campaign of deception today to convince the Serbs that a more powerful force opposes them than is actually the case.  Infantry march regularly between camps, rail traffic is increased, and artillery batteries maintain a steady barrage across the Danube River into Serbian territory, while the small number of German detachments sent to support the Austro-Hungarians in the Balkans make themselves particularly visible among the Serbian population of southern Hungary, knowing that word of their presence will inevitably travel across the border.  The expectation is that the Serbian army, while it may relish an opportunity to fight an Austro-Hungarian army it has already defeated three times, would certainly refrain from attacking if they believe a sizeable German contingent is present

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