Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 18th, 1915

- In central Poland the Russians fall back after the German breakthrough at Sienno yesterday, burning the bridges over the Vistula River at Solec and attempting to form a new defensive line along the Ilzanka River.  Before they can entrench, however, the German Landwehr under General Worysch is upon them, and by this evening have crossed the Ilzanka and seized the villages of Ciepielow and Kazanow.  In addition to disrupting the Russian positions west of the Vistula, the advance of Woyrsch's force benefits his eastern neighbour on the other side of the Vistula, the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army.  Their main attack towards Lublin has stalled in the face of staunch Russian resistance, but the retreat of the Russians to the west has uncovered their flank and forced them to fall back northwards as well.

Further east, the advance of the German 11th Army has prompted General Alexeiev of North-West Front to assign his reserves - the Guard and II Siberian Corps - to 3rd Army to halt the enemy offensive.  In particular, II Siberian Corps is deployed to the west of the Wieprz River, but are unable to halt the momentum of the German Guard and XXII Reserve Corps, which gains substantial ground again today and by nightfall have captured the villages of Czestoborowice and Olszanka.  Over the past two days of fighting, these two German corps have taken fifteen thousand prisoners while blasting a hole 32 kilometres wide and 12 kilometres deep in the Russian line.

- This morning the Italian 3rd Army opens the 2nd Battle of the Isonzo with heavy attacks on enemy lines south of Görz.  The Italians have at least learnt the value of coordinating their artillery fire, concentrating on the Austro-Hungarian positions on the Karst plateau before the infantry assaults begin at 11am.  However, the Italians are repulsed all along the line, and the only 'success' they are able to achieve today is to force two companies of 20th Honved Division to fall back two hundred yards.

The Italian offensive on the lower Isonzo River, part of the 2nd Battle of the Isonzo.

- On June 5th, an Italian squadron had shelled the railway between Ragusa and the Austro-Hungarian naval base of Cattaro on the Dalmatian coast.  Learning that repairs have been completed, the Italian navy undertakes a second bombardment raid, but the warships were spotted by an enemy airplane yesterday evening as they departed Brindisi, and the Austro-Hungarian submarine U4 has been sent to intercept.  The Italian squadron sails right past U4, and the latter torpedoes and sinks the armoured cruiser Garibaldi this morning.  The remaining Italian warships promptly depart the scene at high speed, their mission abandoned.  Despite the success, the head of the Austro-Hungarian navy is not pleased; not content with one sinking, he argues U4 had the time to torpedo several enemy warships, a criticism that the head of the submarine service does not take kindly to.

The Italian armoured cruiser Garibaldi, torpedoed and sunk of the Dalmation coast, July 18th, 1915.

- The German light cruiser Breslau stumbles into a minefield laid by the Russians off the Black Sea coast of Anatolia today.  Striking a mine, it is able to limp back to Constantinople, but repairs will take several months.

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