Diary for Friday, June 23, 1916:
Verdun – FINAL CRISIS: 30,000 Germans attack at 0600 hours, capture Hills 320 and 321, Thiaumont and Fleury (stormed by Bavarians, French 129th Division destroyed), enter Froideterres Work’s ditches, but Alpenkorps and 103rd Divisions fought to a standstill and French 407th Regiment covers vital Fort Souville. Nivelle Order of the Day ‘On ne passe pas’ (‘They shall not pass’), Petain telephones GQG (Grand Quartier General, French GHQ) at 1200 hours and 1500 hours that Eastern bank evacuation may be necessary (3 days required to save c.400 guns), but Joffre gives him 4 more divisions.
Champagne: German trench raids.
Adriatic: In Straits of Otranto Austrian U15 sinks French destroyer Fourche and Italian AMC (armed merchant ship) Citta di Messina. Daytime cruiser protection for Otranto Barrage withdrawn.
North Sea: SS Brussels (Fryatt) bound from Holland to Tilbury stopped by German torpedo boats. Captain Fryatt taken to Zeebrugge and thence to Ruhleben internment camp; courtmartialled at Bruges for his ramming exploit of March 28, 1915, shot as franc-tireur on July 27.
Atlantic: World’s first mercantile submarine Deutschland (Koenig) makes 17-day transatlantic crossing Kiel-Baltimore with dyes, chemicals, precious stones and mail. Returns to Bremen (August 2-24) carrying assorted non-ferrous metals, rubber, nickel and tin (subs max range is 25,000 miles).
Many MI1c reports captured in SS Brussels. Collapse of over 40 train-watching posts in occupied France and Belgium.