Thursday, July 16, 2015

July 16th, 1915

- The main German offensive in southern Poland opens today under the direction of General Mackensen, who in addition to directly commanding the German 11th Army has operational control over the Army of the Bug and the Austro-Hungarian 4th and 1st Armies.  Once again it will be the Germans making the primary advance, spearheaded by 11th Army, driving north on both sides of the Wieprz River and breaking the Russian defensive line between the Vistula and the Bug Rivers.  To teh east, the Army of the Bug will attack towards Cholm, while to the west 4th Army has as its objective the high ground west of Lublin. Simultaneously, General Woyrsch's command will attack on the west bank of the Vistula towards the fortress of Ivangorod while the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army covers the eastern flank along the Bug River.  Overall, Mackensen's powerful force comprises 41 1/2 infantry and 5 cavalry divisions.

Opposite the German and Austro-Hungarians, the Russian defensive positions are held by 4th Army to the west straddling the Vistula, 3rd Army in the centre, and 13th Army to the east, with the Guard and II Siberian Corps, recently pulled from northwestern Poland, in reserve.  Overall the Russians number 33 1/2 infantry and 6 1/2 cavalry divisions, most of which are deployed between the Vistula and the Bug Rivers.  Here it is vital that the Russian forces hold, as losing control of the Ivangorod-Lublin-Cholm rail line in particular would inhibit the evacuation of Russian forces still west of the Vistula.

After a preliminary artillery bombardment made marginally less effective by morning haze preventing accurate targetting, the Guard and XXII Reserve Corps launch the primary assault west of the Wieprz River near Krasnostaw.  Here the entirely of the first Russian line is captured along with six thousand prisoners, and by nightfall the Germans have penetrated to the reserve Russian trenches.  East of the Wieprz, parts of the Austro-Hungarian VI Corps cross the swamps of the Wolica river and come up against the main Russian positions.  To the west, the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army attacks at 11am, but are largely held up in bitter fighting.

The German offensive in southern Poland, July 16th to 31st, 1915.

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