World War One Diary for Saturday, June 15, 1918:
SECOND BATTLE OF THE PIAVE (until June 24): Austrians (codename ‘Radetsky’) pre-empted on Asiago sector by Italian barrage for 4 hours before Austrian guns open at 0300 hours (shell shortage and no phosgene gas given by Germans). Infantry attack at 0700 hours. Austrian Eleventh Army penetrates British (3 frontline battalions surprised) and French lines but stopped by early afternoon, repulsed by counter-attack leaving 1,500 PoWs and 7 guns. In Mt Grappa sector Austrian XXVI Corps captures 5 features and I Corps takes part of Mt Solaroli salient, maximum penetration 3300 yards, but Italian Fourth Army counter-attacks make progress. An agitated Emperor Charles (in imperial train at Merano) rings Field Marshal Boroevic at noon ‘The Army of Tyrol is defeated, the troops have lost all that they had gained and have been driven back to the line of departure’.
Piave: Code name ‘Albrecht’, Austrian Isonzo Army crosses Lower Piave under smokeshell and fog cover on a 20-mile front gaining 3 small bridgeheads and laying one bridge; Sixth Army crosses onto Montello Ridge, securing bridgehead, takes 4,000 PoWs and up to 2 miles but unable to link with Isonzo Army and its bridges and boats hit by RAF planes. More troops cross during night.
Italian Front: Top Italian ace Francesco Baracca scores his last 2 victories (last a two-seater among 25 escorts). 653 Allied aircraft (including 33 Sopwith Camels who break one pontoon bridge) attack and help remove Austrian Piave bridgeheads (until June 22).
Hejaz Railway (Arabia): RAF bomb El Kutrani station, 30 miles east of Dead Sea South end.
France: Clemenceau forms Committee for defence of Paris at Bombon (Foch attends); location of Allied GHQ since June 5.