Saturday, August 08, 2015

August 8th, 1915

- In Poland the German advance continues.  To the north, the Germans have closed up to the major fortress at Kovno on the Niemen River, and heavy artillery begins to bombard the western defences.  East of the lower Narew the German offensive brings 12th Army to the town of Wyszkow, which it captures today, while to the southwest Novogeorgievsk is completely surrounded by German forces.  This fortress, the most substantial in Russian Poland, is the one the Russians have decided to hold indefinitely, but the preparation for a siege has been singularly inept.  The garrison of the fortress is composed of two second divisions with perhaps the worst combat record in the entire Russian army - no small accomplishment - and the remnants of 11th Siberian Division which has already been shattered by the Germans.  The fortifications, meanwhile, appear impressive at first glance, with 1600 artillery pieces and over a million shells, but in practice they are fatally flawed: the forts themselves are not distant enough from the main citadel to keep German heavy artillery from firing on it, while a new belt of modern forts has been left unfinished.  Finally, as the siege begins today, the chief engineer of Novogeorgievsk, touring the defences, is captured by the Germans with a complete map of the fortifications on his person.  General Beseler, commanding the siege, could hardly have hoped for more auspicious circumstances in which to begin.

In central Poland, Russian forces pull back over the Vistula River, preempting an offensive by Prince Leopold's army group scheduled for tomorrow.  Instead, the Germans set off in pursuit, and elements of 9th Army are themselves across the Vistula by this evening.  Linked with the Russian withdrawal, the remaining Russian forces at Ivangorod demolish the remaining fortifications on the east bank of the Vistula and retreat, allowing the Austro-Hungarian 16th Division to occupy the ruins.

Along the southern face of the remaining Russian salient in Poland, Russian forces west of Lupartow pull back overnight to the north bank of the Wieprz River, leaving only rear guards to contest the advance of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army.  East of Lupartow the Russians have also pulled back this morning, but only by several kilometres to a prepared defensive line running through Ostrow and Kolacze.  Aerial reconnaissance has indicated that this is the main Russian defensive position and where they intend to hold the Germans while the retreat from central Poland continues.  As the Germans close up to these new positions today, Mackensen intends to break through the new Russian line via an advance on Parczew by the German 11th Army and a move on Wlodawa by the Army of the Bug.

- To support the Entente landings at Sulva Bay, the submarines E11 and E14 had passed through the Dardanelles to intercept Ottoman shipping to Gallipoli.  The former achieves a notable success today when it torpedoes and sinks the Ottoman pre-dreadnought Barbaros Hayreddin in the Sea of Marmara today.

The Ottoman pre-dreadnought Barbaros Hayreddin.

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