Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 19th, 1915

- On the outbreak of the war, 19-year-old Georges Guynemer, given his love of flight, attempted to enlist in the French air force.  Rejected three times, he is finally accepted as a mechanic at Pau airfield in November.  He convinces his superiors to allow him to enrol in pilot training, where he earns a reputation for recklessness for insisting on flying the more advanced Parasol, usually reserved for experienced pilots, during his training.  Assigned to MS3, he makes a poor initial impression by crash-landing his first aircraft, and his CO threatens to ship him out if he hasn't demonstrated he can make the grade.  Fortunately not only for Guynemer but also the French air force, he soon shows his skill - flying his two-seat Morane aircraft today, he and his gunner Private Charles Guerder intercept and shoot down a German Aviatik aircraft near Soissons, Guynemer's first kill.  When the German crashes behind French lines, Guynemer lands beside it and promptly breaks his propellor.  Success, however, allows such mistakes to be overlooked; Guynemer and Guerder are awarded the Military Medal, and today's kill will be just the first of many for Guynemer.

- Grand Duke Nicholas, chief of staff of the Russian army, visits the headquarters of General Alexeiev of North-West Front today and, given the continued setbacks, gives the latter the authority to order a retreat eastward from the Vistula and to abandon Warsaw, if the situation warrants.  In southern Poland, 3rd Army disengages overnight from the Germans opposite and retreat to a prepared defensive line just south of the vital Lublin-Cholm railway.  The Germans undertake an energetic pursuit, and by nightfall have come up against the new Russian positions.  To the west, on the other side of the Vistula River, the German forces under General Woyrsch continue their advance, reaching the line Przylek-Zwolen-Podgora and taking five thousand prisoners by evening.

- Along the Isonzo River Italian infantry attacks expand to include actions against the Austro-Hungarian bridgehead on the west bank of the river at Görz.  Despite heavy fighting, however, all of these assaults are thrown back, and after the first two days of the offensive nothing of any significance has been gained.  In holding off the Italians, however, the Austro-Hungarians have suffered heavy casualties - VII Corps on the Karst plateau has already lost 5500 men, and 20th Honved Division in particular is down to one-third strength.  To reinforce VII Corps, 93rd Division is transferred from reserve to reinforce the front.

- In the Italian colony of Libya, the garrison continues to be under pressure from the uprising of the Senussi of the interior.  Lacking sufficient numbers to hold the entire colony, the Italians have been abandoning posts to the south, and today retire from Ghadames in western Libya on the border with French Tunis.  Most of the colony is essentially under the control of the Senussi, with the Italians only able to cling to the coast.

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