Sunday, July 05, 2015

July 5th, 1915

- General Alexeiev of North-West Front meets with Grand Duke Nicholas, the Russian chief of staff, today at Siedlec to discuss the situation on the Eastern Front.  Both recognize the very real danger that a continued German thrust northwards between the Vistula and Bug Rivers poses to the Russian position in central Poland.  Alexeiev requests, and is given, permission to withdraw the armies still west of the Vistula to the east at his discretion.  He intends, however, to hold off retreating until it is necessary, in order to slow any potential German advance and make them fight for any territory they are able to capture.

- In southern Poland the Russian 3rd Grenadier and Ural Cossack Divisions launch a counterattack early this morning against the lines of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army near Urzedow.  Though X Corps is initially forced back, reinforcements are sent to the threatened sector, and the Russian advance is contained.  The apparent failure of the Russian attack today, combined with a further advance of the right wing of 4th Army, convinces its commander that the Russians opposite remain a beaten force, and orders are issued to continue the pursuit tomorrow.

- Today the Italian army introduces a new cipher for encoding radio transmissions.  Intended to enhance signal security, it has the opposite effect: even before it is introduced the code had already been acquired by Austro-Hungarian intelligence and broken, meaning the Austro-Hungarians can read Italian signals as soon as the cipher is implemented.

- Meanwhile, at the front today sees the crescendo of the Italian offensive along the Isonzo River, as VI Corps launches what is intended to be an overwhelming attack between Mt. Sabotino and Lucinico towards the city of Görz.  Despite being outnumbered six to one, the Austro-Hungarian defenders hold, in no small part due to the disorganization of the Italian assaults, and the latter suffer several thousand casualties.  To the south the Italian X Corps, reinforced be half of 22nd Division from XI Corps, advances against the Karst plateau, though after heavy fighting the attack is defeated.  Though the Austro-Hungarians have held, they have suffered significant losses as well, most battalions on the Karst plateau have now lost over half their strength.  General Borevic of the Austro-Hungarian 5th Army rushes reinforcements to the front to reinforce the hard-pressed defenders.

- For the past week Ottoman forces at Cape Helles have been counterattacking the British positions seized on Gully Spur on June 28th.  Despite thousands of casualties, the Ottomans have been unsuccessful, and today the assaults are called off.  The operation is an undoubted British victory, but one barren of strategic consequence; advancing the front line several hundred yards is insufficient to give the Entente control of Gallipoli and allow the fleet to pass through the Dardanelles.

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