Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28th, 1915

- In southern Poland the German force under General Woyrsch arrives at the mouth of the Radomka River on the west bank of the Vistula, downriver from Ivangorod, having redeployed over the past four days from a position upriver of the Russian fortress.  Here the Landwehr Corps will attempt a crossing of the Vistula tonight to outflank the Russian defensive line running east-southeast from Ivangorod.  In the meantime, Ivangorod itself will be screened to the west by an Austro-Hungarian force under General Kövess consisting of XII Corps plus 7th and 9th Cavalry Divisions.

- In the two months since Italy entered the war, the performance of its armed forces has been a significant disappointment.  On land, the Italy army is bogged down in brutal trench warfare along the Isonzo River in conditions that could hardly be more unfavourable to attackers.  At sea the Italian navy has not only failed to bring the Austro-Hungarian fleet to battle but has suffered losses of its own while being unable to prevent regular enemy naval bombardments along the Adriatic coast of central Italy.  Prime Minister Salandra has demanded an accounting of the fleet's performance from the naval minister, and the latter submits a lengthy defence today.  He argues that the navy has nowhere near enough mines or submarines to prevent bombardments by Austro-Hungarian warships, and that the narrowness of the Adriatic makes it possible for the enemy to cross and escape before the Italian fleet can arrive from its naval bases at Venice or in the south.  As he points out, the far stronger Royal Navy has been unable to stop German raids on the British coast, and the distance across the Adriatic is much shorter than that across the North Sea.  As for the loss of warships, the sinking of Amalfi in particular is blamed on the admiral commanding the operation, but that removing him from command is a political decision best reserved for Salandra and the government, a suggestion that deftly shares responsibility for personnel decisions.

- In the central Adriatic, the Austro-Hungarian navy launches an effort to retake the tiny island of Pelagosa.  A flottila of two light cruisers, six destroyers, and a number of torpedo-boats lands 108 men on the island, but the Austro-Hungarians had underestimated the size of the Italian garrison, and reembark after a brief firefight that results in two Italian and twelve Austro-Hungarian casualties.  It is a small victory, but given the Italian performance in the war to date they need every one they can trumpet.

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