Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20th, 1915

- Vice-Admiral Gustav Bachmann appeals directly to the Kaiser today to lift the remaining restrictions on bombing the City of London left in place by Bethmann-Hollweg.  The Chief of the German Naval Staff argues that limiting raids to the weekend is impractical, given how dependent Zeppelins are on good weather, and raises the French bombing of Karlsruhe as showing prior Entente attacks on civilians.  Under pressure the Kaiser relents, asking only that royal palaces be spared.  German Zeppelins now have free reign to attack London and other British targets as they see fit.

- Today the German force under General Gallwitz arrives at the Narew River north and northwest of Warsaw, only to encounter a strong Russian counterattack between Pultusk and Rozan.  Though the German line holds, it delays the crossing of the Narew for several days.  Meanwhile, on Gallwitz's southern flank a force of Landwehr and Landsturm is assembled to beiege the major Russian fortress of Novogeorgievsk, and command is given to General Beseler, famous for the rapid capture of Antwerp in October 1914.

- On the southern face of the Polish salient, the German 11th and Austro-Hungarian 4th Armies have reached the new Russian defensive line just south of the vital Lublin-Cholm railway, and launch energetic today.  Though the Russians lose ground in some sectors, and 4th Army in particular takes six thousand prisoners, neither the Germans nor the Austro-Hungarians are able to break through.

- The Italian 3rd Army today concentrates its offensive power on Monte San Michelle on the northern shoulder of the Karst plateau.  An intensive artillery bombardment blankets not only the main enemy defensive positions but also area to the east of San Michelle, preventing the Austro-Hungarian 93rd Division from reinforcing 17th Honved and 20th Honved Divisions on the mountain itself.  After several hours of heavy fighting, elements of the Italian XI Corps capture the heights at 530pm.  The local Austro-Hungarian commander immediately prepares a counteroffensive to launched in the pre-dawn hours of tomorrow.

Monte San Michelle on the Italian Front.

- In the months leading up to the entry of Italy into the war, Austria-Hungary had feared that Romania would join the ranks of their enemies as well.  Such concern was not without foundation: Romania and Italy had held diplomatic discussions prior to May 1915, and Russia had also applied great pressure on the Romanian government to enter the war.  However, the dramatic victories won by the Germans on the Eastern Front over the past two months has greatly dampened the enthusiasim of the Romanian government for war, and today Prime Minister Bratianu decides that Romania will remain neutral, at least in the foreseeable future.

- After sinking the French steamer Carthage on the 4th, the German submarine U21 spent two weeks evading Entente countermeasures, and after striking a mine limped back to Constantinople on the 16th.  As U21 will be out of action for two weeks, the German admiralty decides today to dispatch two more ocean-going submarines to the Mediterranean, drawn by the opportunity not only to strike at Entente warships off the Dardanelles but also against merchant shipping.

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