Friday, July 24, 2015

July 24th, 1915

- In Poland the German forces under General Gallwitz launch their offensive along the Narew River today, and seize the towns of Pultusk and Rozan.

To the south, while General Woyrsch's command had been instructed to cross the Vistula upriver from Ivangorod to attack the rear of the eastern wing of the Russian 4th Army.  However, the latter has been retreating northwards as a result of the success of the German 11th Army further east, and thus the intended crossing at Novo Alexandriya would no longer serve its intended purpose.  Conrad and Falkenhayn instead issue orders for Woyrsch's force to move north to cross the Vistula downriver from Ivangorod, leaving an Austro-Hungarian detachment to cover the fortress at Ivangorod itself.

For his part, Mackensen issues orders today for the next step in his offensive.  As has been his tactic to date, he issues instructions for several days of rest to bring up adequate munitions for another major artillery bombardment prior to the infantry going forward on the 29th.  On this occasion, the primary assault will be undertaken by XXII Reserve, X Reserve, and X Corps plus 119th Division and the Guard cavalry, concentrated west of the Wieprz River and directed towards Biskupice.

- On the Italian Front the focal point of the fighting is now on the southwest face of the Karst plateau, which sees continual attacks and counterattacks.  Yesterday the Italian VII Corps seized a stretch of the enemy line between Selz and Vermegliano, but this morning a counterattack by the Austro-Hungarian 61st Division retakes the lost ground.  The victory is short-lived; the fresh Italian 27th Division is brought up and launches a successful assault on the depleted 61st Division, which is forced back.  In the two days of fighting in this sector, the Austro-Hungarian VII Corps has suffered almost three thousand casualties.

- In Mesopotamia a second attack is launched by 12th Indian Division on the Ottoman defensive position east of Nasiriyeh on the Euphrates River.  As with the first attempt on the 14th, the Ottomans put up heavy defensive fire, but unlike the prior effort an entire brigade is sent towards the 'Thornycroft Point' position, and after a charge by the West Kents battalion the British are able to break into the Ottoman lines.  In order to cross the nearby Majinina canal, the steamer Sumana is run aground to provide cover for engineers to erect a temporary bridge, but they find the conditions impossible.  By a stroke of luck, however, Sumana has come to rest where it blocks the mouth of the canal, which blocks the flow of water and the level drops to the point where the British infantry can walk across the canal bottom.  Reaching the opposite bank, a bayonet charge by the Gurkhas drives the Ottomans from their positions and their defences collapse.  They are able to make their escape, however, as having discarded their equipment they can retreat faster than the British can pursue.

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