Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 26th, 1915

- By today the Germans have pushed eight divisions across the Narew River and Gallwitz is preparing to drive on Warsaw.  General Alexeiev of North-West Front, however, has concentrated significant forces here to counter precisely such a move, in order to buy time for an orderly retreat from western Poland.  Reinforced by several corps, the Russian 1st Army launches a counterattack along a sixty mile stretch of the front, and although they are not able to drive the Germans back across the Narew, the latter find themselves fighting to hold their ground instead of continuing their advance.

- Conrad discusses negotiations with Russia today with Foreign Minister Burián, but the latter is doubtful that a negotiated peace can be achieved with the Russians, even given the latter's serious defeats on the Eastern Front, and suggests that the key stumbling block would be the fate of the Ukraine.

- For the past two days the Italian 3rd Army has concentrated on seizing Monte San Michele, already won and lost once in the current offensive.  This morning a massive assault by parts of the 28th, 30th, and 31st Divisions is launched, but the preliminary artillery bombardment has failed to cut the enemy barbed-wire line, which entangles the advancing infantry and a bloodbath ensues.  Compounding the Italian difficulties, the brigadier commanding the assault is killed along with many of the staff officers, resulting in confusion among the attackers.  The Austro-Hungarian defenders, however, have already suffered significant casualties over the course of the Italian offensive, and the few available reserves have already been committed to the battle.  By late morning, sheer numerical superiority begins to tell, and the Italians capture the heights at Monte San Michele at 10am.  Their victory, however, is short-lived: Colonel Prince Felix Schwarzenberg rallies remnants of 12th Mountain Brigade and launches a counterattack that retakes the lost ground at noon.  The Austro-Hungarian infantry fires on the Italians retreating in the open, causing further casualties.  Just under three thousand Italian soldiers are lost today in the back-and-forth over Monte San Michele.

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