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Battles Of Luck (Lutsk)
"BATTLES OF, 1916. LUCK (LUTSK) - The battles in the World War which constituted the Russian summer offensive of 1916 are known collectively by the name of Luck (Lutsk), a town in Volhynia, on the river Styr, which before the war formed part of the Russian fortified region of Rovno. The choice of this point as indicative of a series of great battles which extended in space from the river Pripet to the frontier of Rumania and in time from early June to late Aug. - and, with decreasing intensity, into Nov. - is justified by the fact that the break-through of the Austrian front at Luck was the principal factor in determining the course of the whole series.
After the fruitless attacks of the Russians in Cour]and and Lithuania in March 1916, a perceptible lull had set in on the eastern front. It was nevertheless obvious to the Central Powers that Russia was preparing for a new trial of strength. Their artillery, in particular, which had been augmented in comparison with the previous year, was initiated into all the intricacies of the newest fire-tactics, French and Japanese instructors being employed in some cases. A very ample supply of ammunition was accumulated, and air reconnaissance and aeroplane photography were brought to a high pitch. The general attack of the Entente was planned for July 1.
From the disposition of the Russian troops in May 1916, it was assumed that they would repeat their attacks against the former pressure-points on the German front, N. of the Pripet, viz.: at Baranovichi, Smorgon, Lake Naroch and Dvinsk. But the Austro-Hungarian offensive against Italy made it imperative for Russia to go to the relief of her ally, and accordingly General Brussilov was called on to take the offensive against the front S. of the Pripet, which was almost entirely occupied by Austro-Hungarian troops. However, no troops were shifted at first from the area N. of Pinsk to the Russian S.W. front. Brussilov's command included the following: - the IX. Army (Letchitsky), with to - ii inf. divs. and 2-3 ca y. divs., from the Pruth E. of Czernowitz along the Bukovina - Bessarabia frontier and on the N. bank of the Dniester to the N. of Uscieczko; the VII. Army (Shcherbachev), with 6-8 inf. divs. and 22 cay. divs., generally on the E. bank of the Strypa as far as Bohatkowce; the XI. Army (Sakharov), with 8 inf. divs. and i ca y. div., from the upper course of the Strypa across the watershed between Sereth and Horyn (Goryn) to the E. bank of the upper Ikwa as far as the N. of Kremieniec; finally, the VIII. Army (Kaledin), with 12-13 inf. divs. and 3 ca y. divs., on the E. bank of the Ikwa to Mlynow, from there through gently undulating country to the Putilowka, N. of Olyka, thence to the bend of the Styr between Kulikowce and Kolodia, and on through the marshy regions W. of the Styr along the Wiesiolucha to the Pripet.
The Austro-Hungarian Higher Command looked forward with confidence to the next battle on the eastern front. For although the offensive against Italy had meant the removal of five good attack divisions and much heavy artillery to the Tirol, the regiments, excepting those of the VII. Army, had been brought up to full fighting strength again by the march battalions that were drafted to them monthly, some of them being even in a position to form supernumerary companies or battalions. Compared with the previous year the number of guns had also been increased through the development of the general artillery organization. But the allocation of ammunition was meagre. Much time and labour were spent on organizing the positions. The defence system consisted for the most part of three positions, which were supposed to be at such a distance apart that, after the failure of the first position, the battle for the second position would require a new movement of the enemy's artillery. The first position, which again consisted of two or three lines, each behind the other, was in fact very well organized. But for the construction of the rearward positions there was not enough labour, time or wire left over. They were therefore incomplete.
The plan for the defence was conceived to be that the troops were to stand by, during the very violent artillery demolition fire that was expected, in deep dug-outs (so called " fox holes ") either near the front line or actually in it. As soon as the enemy infantry rushed to the attack the defenders, promptly warned by observers, were to hurry into the fighting trenches, while their own artillery by barrage-fire (where possible, oblique) mowed down the storming enemy infantry, or at least prevented the enemy reserves from following up. In this way the troops in the trenches would have only the first rush of the enemy's attack to beat back in hand-to-hand fighting. These tactics were open to serious objections. Timely detection of the moment when the enemy's storming columns should break forth, and consequently the instant alarming of the garrison in its dug-outs, as also the instantaneous putting down of the barrage, could not be counted upon, in view of the destruction of observation and liaison by the hostile drum-fire. Further, the defence was concentrated far too rigidly on the fighting in the front line, the loss of which would mean also the loss of the greater part of the fighting material there, such as machine-guns, trench mortars, flamethrowers, searchlights, flanking guns, etc. The troops' power of resistance was bound up far too closely with the possession of the foremost position.
The calm assurance with which the Russians went about their attack preparations, which were plain to see but impossible to hinder, induced such a state of nervousness in the staffs and troops of the defence that the launching of the Russian attack would have been felt almost as a relief had it not been for the annihilating results of the attacks at various points.
On the part of the front under the Austro-Hungarian Army Higher Command, stretching from the Pruth to the Jasiolada N. of Pinsk, there were: - (I) VII. Army (Pflanzer-Baltin), with the XI. Corps, Benigni's and Hadfy's groups, the XIII. and the VI. Corps (12 inf. divs. and 5 ca y. divs.), from the Pruth E. of Czernowitz to Wisniowczyk on the Strypa; (2) the German South Army (Graf Bothmer), which now contained only 1 German inf. div., the 48th Res. Div. with Hoffmann's Corps and the IX. Corps (6 inf. divs.), along the middle Strypa and as far as Czerniechow on the upper course of the Sereth; (3) the groups of armies of Generaloberst von Bohm-Ermolli, comprising the Austro-Hungarian IV. and V. Corps and Kosak's group (5 inf. divs. and i ca y. div.) forming the II. Austro-Hungarian Army under his own command and holding from E. of Zalosce along the upper reach of the Ikwa up to Bereczy; together with the XVIII. Corps (22 inf. and 12 ca y. divs.), constituting the Austro-Hungarian I. Army (Puhallo), along the lower course of the Ikwa up to Mlynow; (4) the German groups of armies under Linsingen, to which were assigned the Austro-Hungarian IV. Army (Archduke Joseph Ferdinand) with Szurmay's Corps and the X. and II. Corps (8 inf. divs.), from Mlynow to Kolki on the Styr; Fath's Austro-Hungarian Corps (22 inf. divs.) on the Styr up to Kolodia, with, to the N. of it, Hauer's Austro-Hungarian Cay. Corps (3 ca y. divs. and 3 bdes. Polish legions) and Gronau's German groups (3 inf. divs. and 2 ca y. divs.), on the WiesioluchaStrumien - Pinsk - lower course of the Jasiolda and Oginski canal. As regards reserves, Linsingen was given the half of the 45th Schiitzen Div. at Kolki, and the 10th Ca y. Div. engaged in constructional work in the line-of-communications area.
Counting by the number of divisions the Russians had only a slight majority in this particular battle area. But their divisions were larger, and in addition they had a considerable number of drafts placed in readiness behind the attacking front, to make good the losses in the regiments as they occurred.
From the methodical pushing forward of the Russian trench system right up to the obstacles of the enemy, it became clear by the end of May that the Russians were proposing to exert their strength especially against the N. wing of Benigni's group at Okna, the XIII. Corps S. of Buczacz, the N. wing of the South Army N.W. of Tarnopol and the IV. Army W. of Olyka. It was accordingly easy for the command on the Austro-Hungarian side to place the reserves behind the parts that were threatened.
In the IV. Army the r3th Schiitzen Div. was pushed in behind the X. Corps (2nd and 37th Inf. Divs.), posted astride the OlykaLuck road, and the 11th Inf. Div. behind the Szurmay Corps (7th and 10th Inf. Divs.) S. of that road, so that each of these corps had a brigade from the reserves placed at its disposal.
The Break-through Battle of Olyka - Luck
On June 4, from 4 A.M., the Russians opened battle on the whole section of the front from the Pruth to the Pripet with drum-fire of a violence hitherto unknown in the East. Their artillery systematically battered the enemy's foremost positions and the locality occupied by the higher staff, which was accurately known. The defence system suffered severely, and communication between command and troops was in many cases destroyed. Owing to the dry weather, high whirling clouds of dust and smoke arose, and even on the first day it became an anxious question whether the breaking loose of the enemy's storming columns could be detected in time. At several points the Russians " felt " the enemy first with infantry detachments, but no infantry attack occurred on that day (June 4). In the evening the Russians ceased fire. After a comparatively quiet night, spent by the defenders in making the most essential preparations in the trenches and restoring the badly damaged obstacles, drum-fire was resumed on June 5, with increased violence. During the morning, attacks were launched by the Russian XL. Corps, with the 2nd and 4th Rifle Divs., against the Austro-Hungarian 2nd Inf. Div. to the W. of Olyka, and by the VIII. Corps, with the 14th and 15th Inf. Divs., against the 10th Honved Inf. Division. The blow of the XL. Corps fell upon the men of the Hungarian 82nd Inf. Regt., who, owing to the destruction by drum-fire of all means of observation and communication, were surprised in their dug-outs and either taken prisoners or killed. The fate of the 40th Inf. Regt., to the S. of them, was no better. For with wonderful rapidity the Russians rolled up all the lines of the 2nd Inf. Div. first position, and only fractions of the garrison could escape.
Towards noon the battalions of the Austrian 13th Schiitzen Div. (25th Schiitzen Bde.), lying in reserve in the second position, suddenly found the Russians upon them without knowing what had happened to the first-position garrison.
The Russians proceeded systematically to the capture of the second position, in which the battalions of the Viennese 1st and 24th Schiitzen Regts. were as islands stemming the Russian tide which poured in from all sides. They were too weak to occupy the position completely, and were surrounded and forced back by the Russians after a gallant defence, who advanced through the gaps and communication trenches before the belated 2nd Bde. of the 13th Schiitzen Div. could come to their aid. By evening the 13th Schiitzen Div., in a state of great exhaustion, and the scanty remainder of the 2nd Inf. Div. had occupied the third position, which was but weakly organized.
South of the XL. Corps, the VIII. Corps had penetrated the first position, held by the Landsturm of the 10th Honved Inf. Div., and here the battle raged backward and forward. As the 10th Div. was too weak to expel its more powerful enemy unassisted, the 4th Inf. Bde. of the r ith Inf. Div. was sent to be placed under it. But these East Galician regiments, the 89th and 90th, advanced but half-heartedly to the counter-attack against their Russian kindred, and the attack was not pushed home. The 10th Div. was still holding the second line of the first position in the evening, but in consideration of its exposed N. flank, already threatened, it also was withdrawn to the third position in the night of June 5-6. This division, too, had suffered heavy losses, having indeed shrunk to one-third of its fighting strength.
Despite the warning of Generaloberst von Linsingen, the commander of the group of armies, not to put in the reserves too soon in case of an enemy break-through, but only to employ them in a uniform, concentric counter-attack, they were at Olyka thrown into the battle, dispersed, and were therefore unable to make any stand against the Russian onslaught. Carried away in the fatal rush of the retreat, they not only lost their fighting power, but, in effect, did practically nothing towards turning the battle. It was also a calamity that the best troops in the section where the attack was awaiting with certainty, the 82nd Inf. Regt. (5 batts.), should have been placed in front. There they could have no chance of developing their own power of attack, but must necessarily sustain heavy losses, while the less-capable regiments, consisting of Ruthenians of the rrth Inf. Div., held in reserve, broke down in the counter-attack.
On June 6 no special effort was required on the Russian side to overcome the troops of the X. Corps and Szurmay Corps who were mixed up in confusion in the third position. The inner wings of the 37th Honved Inf. Div. and the 7th Inf. Div., which lined the N. and S. corners of the pocket respectively, were sucked into the tide of the retreat. The X. Corps made an attempt at resistance, in an intermediate position W. of Romanow, in the hope of covering the stream of transport flowing back in the direction of Luck, but in vain.
The IV. Army Command now decided to withdraw the Szurmay Corps behind the Ikwa and the Styr, the X. Corps to the bridgehead of Luck, and the II. Corps to a position 6-8 km. E. of the Luck - Kolki road, to insure the protection of the Kivercy railway station. Here 5 German batts. of the Gronau group and half of the Austrian 45th Schiitzen Div. had already been detrained, and it was proposed to use them for a counter-blow in a southerly direction. Besides these the 29th Inf. Div. from the II. Army, a guard ca y. bde. from the German group, and 6 batts. with artillery from Prince Leopold's group of armies were being brought up by train to the IV. Army.
On June 7 the Russian VIII. Corps, reinforced by the rorst Inf. Div., pushed forward against the S. side of the Luck bridgehead, and the XL. Corps against the N. side. The bridgehead was - unknown to the troops - to be defended in the southern section by the rrth Inf. Div. and parts of the 10th Ca y. Div., in the northern section by the remnants of the 2nd and 13th Divisions. Towards evening the Russians, advancing from the S.E. and cutting off the southward-facing salient at Krupy, forced their way into the bridgehead, captured part of the 11th Inf. Div., and forced the X. Corps to evacuate it. The counter-attack led by General von Bernhardi, with half the 40th Schiitzen Div. and the 5 German batts., did not get through. This group now retired at Roziszce to the W. bank of the Styr, and was joined there by the II. Corps. The 7th Inf. Div. was handed over to the I. Army for convenience of supply.
In the morning of June 8 the Russians were able again, without appreciable effort, to force the broken-down troops of the X. Corps to relinquish the W. bank of the Styr. The Russians then swept on in broad masses over the fourth, and - so far as the IV. Army was concerned - last line of defence.
The X. Corps retired with the 37th and 13th Divs. behind the Sierna, while the 2nd Inf. Div. and 10th Ca y. Div. to the E. and S.E. of Torczyn established communication with the Szurmay Corps standing on the S. bank of the Polanka, facing north. But this corps, threatened by the Russian attempts to break through, was obliged to wheel back on June 9 behind the Leniewka line, between Korszew and Czarakow, and the bent-back N. wing of the I. Army could only be extended as far as Lawrow. There were no longer sufficient forces for the widening curve.
A dangerous gap yawned between the I. and IV. Armies.
Meanwhile the Russians had also continued their attacks against all the armies farther to the south. The S. wing of the I. Army near Sapanok had, thanks to the arrival of the 25th Inf. Div., been able to ward off a Russian assault; and the I. and South Armies also repelled all attacks, the South Army being able even to send a brigade of its reserves to the N. wing of the VII. Army. But in the case of Pflanzer-Baltin's Army the Russians gained some important success on. June 7 at Jazlowiec, where the Russian II. Corps of Shcherbachev's Army succeeded by dint of continuous assaults in breaking through the XIII. Corps and forcing it back behind the Strypa. On June 8 even this position became untenable, and the corps had to retire behind the Buczacz - Karopiec line before it could stabilize itself; and on June 9, Buczacz and the Strypa line as far as Bobulince were lost by the VI. Corps, which had now also begun to waver. On the S. wing of Bothmer's Army, both then and after, all the Russian assaults broke down. In the area between the Dniester and the Pruth, Letchitsky directed his efforts principally against Benigni's group on the N. wing, which, though it was able for the moment to ward off a Russian assault at Okna, had to sacrifice the positions on the N. bank of the Dniester to the necessity of forming reserves. The situation of the defenders here was undoubtedly very tense. All the available reserves (4 regts. of 3 divs.) had been given to the XIII. Corps; in Benigni's group there were troops from 8 different divs., already inextricably mixed. In sum, this section of the front was no longer in a condition to withstand a powerful push.
The allied Higher Commands were now confronted with the problem of finding measures to restore the equilibrium of the eastern front, which had been so rudely and abruptly disturbed. On the western front violent battles were raging, and in the Italian theatre all forces were engaged. Yet it seemed inadvisable to consider seriously the idea of leaving the eastern front to its fate, without sending new forces; for the distress already felt by the Central Powers forbade the abandonment of so much territory, with all its grain and other products, and the industries started and re-started in it. It was necessary, besides, for the Central Powers to avoid as far as possible any defeat in Galicia and the Bukovina, lest their neighbour Rumania, once more in a state of indecision, should deem it advisable to join the Entente; and, finally, the German front N. of Polyesie, still faced by numerically superior Russian forces, had to be considered. In short, it was essential immediately to improve the situation. The two Higher Commands therefore decided to proceed at once to a counter-offensive in Volhynia. This was to take the form of an assault on both sides of the Kowet - Rowno railway by a group consisting of 72 divisions. Until this attack-group should have been formed, decisive battle was to be avoided. If pressed by the enemy, the Szurmay Corps, X. Corps, the Bernhardi group and the II. Corps were to fall back in a north-westerly direction - if necessary as far as the Stochod.
Battles on the Styr. - Brussilov made his troops follow up into the bend W. of Luck with great caution, fortifying each section as it was taken. He directed his energies towards breaking through the Styr front, as yet intact, thus widening the breach towards the north. After several vain attempts at crossing on the fronts of Fath's Corps and Hauer's Ca y. Corps, the Russian XXX. Corps finally succeeded, on June 9, in setting foot on the N. bank of the Styr E. of Kolki. But a counter-attack by the 4th Inf. Div. threw the Russians back to the S. bank and cost them 1,500 prisoners. Another later attempt by the Russians to cross at Sokul on June 12 ended likewise in failure.
On the S. wing of Linsingen's group of armies, preparations for the proposed counter-attack were meanwhile going forward systematically, without any serious interruption from the Russians. The IV. Army (loth Ca y. Div., the Szurmay Corps and X. Corps), now commanded by Generaloberst von Tersztyanszky, was shifted to the line Biskupiczy - Chorostow - Siviniarin, to make room for the attack-group (108th Inf. Div., Rusche's combined German Inf. Div., and the German X. Corps consisting of the 19th and 10th Inf. Divs.), under the experienced command of General von der Marwitz, which was deploying in the area Siviniarin - Ozierany.
The Russians also carried out a series of violent attacks against the Stochod and Styr section between the Kowel - Rowno railway and Kolki, but here again the attacks were repulsed with heavy losses except for a passing local success at Kolki.
The result of shifting the IV. Army to the N.W. and forcing back the I. Army, whose N. wing had reached Molatyngorni on the Lipa, was to extend the gap between the two armies by 50 km. Owing to the shortage of fighting troops this gap could, for the moment, only be kept under observation by line-of-communication troops. Had the Russians had more troops, in particular cavalry, or, still more important, sufficient enterprise, this could have been an opportunity for undreamed-of successes. But Kaledin obstinately persisted in his attacks on the Styr front, thereby allowing the allies to close the yawning gap, for the time being, with cavalry. This was achieved by hastily bringing up the Ostermuth Ca y. Corps (4th and 7th Ca y. Divs. and ist Landsturm Hussar Bde.) to the area round Gorochow, in addition to the 10th Ca y. Div. and a German ca y. bde., which were placed in front of the IV. Army to hide its movements. Finally the 61st Inf. Div., which was on its way by train from the Tirol to the VII. Army, was detrained at Stojanow behind the left wing of the I. Army and placed under its command.
It was not until June 14 that the Russians brought forward great cavalry masses against the area between the I. and IV. Armies. As a result, violent battles were fought, first at Lokaczy against the 10th Ca y. Div. and, after Ostermuth's Ca y. Corps had hurried up to assist that division, against the 4th and 7th Ca y. Divs. at Swiniuchy; and the Russians were forced to realize that the gap between the two armies was now closed.
The Break-through at Okna
At the same time, events in the Bukovina and Eastern Galicia had taken a most unfavourable turn for the allies. After many vain attacks on the Bukovina front, Letchitsky eventually succeeded in breaking through Benigni's Corps on June io to the W. of Okna by means of a powerful push between Dobronoutz and Doroschoutz. Although the right portion held its ground, the left was driven back in spite of all the reserves that were put in, and this whole section of the front had to be taken back to the line DobronoutzZastawna. A renewed attack delivered by the Russians, forty deep, on Zastawna, undermined the corps' power of resistance to such a degree that the XI. Corps, immediately to the S. of it, had to be withdrawn behind the Pruth during the following night, while Benigni (who could only with difficulty prevent his corps from being driven away southward) and the Hadfy group tried to take up a position again 12-15 km. to the W. of the original front. The Russians, who at first pursued hotly, forced General Pflanzer-Baltin, whose vigorous leadership was nullified in these critical days by illness, to put back the Bukovina front to a line running from Bojan (on the Rumanian frontier) up the Pruth to Zablotow, then bending northward through Gwozdziec - ObertynNiezwiska. This line was reached on June 14 by the AustroHungarian troops, who were now being but little molested; as the VI. and XIII. Corps had been placed under the South Army, General Pflanzer-Baltin's command area became limited to the troops S. of the Dniester.
These battles in Bukovina and Eastern Galicia, of which the outcome was so unfortunate for the Austro-Hungarian troops, were of very great importance, not only on account of the grievous sacrifice of ground, prisoners and war material, but also because of their repercussion on the attitude of Rumania. The continuous violent attacks by the Russian VII. Army against the twc weakened and confused VI. and XIII. Corps on the South Army's right wing offered no prospect whatever of a stabilization of the fighting front, and the Army Higher Command was therefore compelled to dispatch the two divisions (German 105th from Macedonia and Austro-Hungarian 48th from the Isonzo) originally intended for Marwitz's attack-group to back up the S. wing of Bothmer's Army.
Counter-Attacks on Luck
As a result of the diversion of these two divisions the allies had no longer forces enough to carry out the flank blow planned on the right of the Kowel - Luck road. It was therefore decided to deliver a concentric attack in the general direction of Luck. The following were to take part: - the N. wing of the I. Army (now also brought under Linsingen's command), with the 7th and 61st Inf. Divs. and Ostermuth's (later Leonhardi's) Ca y. Corps, advancing from the Lipa brook to the N.E.; the IV. Army in an easterly direction; Marwitz's group (German X. Corps, German 108th Inf. Div., and Austro-Hungarian 29th Inf. Div.), and Bernhardi's Corps with the combined infantry division Rusche and half of the 45th Schiitzen Div., in a southeasterly direction; and the II. Corps on both sides of the Styr. This broadly conceived attack was to begin on June 16.
On June 15 the I. Army suffered another reverse. The N. wing of the Russian XI. Army (XXXII. Corps) drove back the 25th and parts of the 46th Div. at Rudnia on the Brody - Dubno railway. As there were no forces available for a counter-attack the N. wing of the Austro-Hungarian II. Army (Kosak's Corps) and the S. wing of the I. Army (XVIII. Corps) had to be withdrawn generally to the frontier between Lopuszno - RadzievilowBeresteczko.
The offensive against Luck, on which the allies had set all their hopes, did not go well. The I. Army's N. wing had indeed succeeded in reaching the N. bank of the Lipa and pushing on to Swiniuchy on June 16-17; the sparsely filled-up divisions of the IV. Army had pushed forward to the E. of Lokaczy and Wojmica; and Marwitz's group had gained ground W. of Kisielin, in spite of fierce Russian opposition. But Bernhardi was forced back to the N. bank of the Stochod by heavy counter-attacks, and, when the Russians again began to press the I. Army's S. wing, the I. Army Command had no choice but to fetch back the 7th Inf. Div. (which had just succeeded in crossing the Lipa) to the S. bank, and place it behind the threatened 46th Division. As regards the II. Corps, there could be no question of crossing the Styr, and it was obliged - like Fath's Corps - to devote its whole strength to warding off the continuous attempts of the Russians to cross at Gruziatyn and Kolki.
Only on June 21 did Linsingen's group of armies resume the attack, after a new attack-group had been formed on its right wing under General von Falkenhayn. This group consisted of the 61st Inf. Div., Leonhardi's Ca y. Corps, the newly arrived German 43 r d Res. Div., and the Austro-Hungarian 48th Inf. Div. brought by train from the South Army. The N. wing had also to be reinforced by the nth Bavarian Inf. Div. on account of the arrival of fresh Russian forces. Falkenhayn's blow gained ground up to the line Zwiniacze - Bubnowa, whereupon the Russians fell back also in front of the IV. Army, so that the latter was able to follow up to the Sadowa height. Marwitz broke through three positions by means of vigorous attacks, though constantly checked by Russian counter-assaults, but found himself confronted, just W. of Zaturcy, with a new Russian line of resistance. Meanwhile Bernhardi had difficulty, in spite of the Bavarian reinforcements, in withstanding the powerful mass-attacks which the Russians repeatedly delivered against the neck of land between the Styr and the Stochod at Sokul.
But although the counter-offensive of Linsingen's group of armies had up till then met with undeniable success, the fruits of which - apart from the ground gained - were 12,000 prisoners, 2 guns and 54 machine-guns, Luck, the objective, was still far from being attained, owing to the growing strength of the Russian resistance which was fed by drafts that were actually taken in part from the front N. of Polyesie.
In the meantime the Russian XXII. and XVI. Corps of Shcherbachev's Army continued their costly attacks against the South Army, in order to shake the southern hinge of the hitherto unchanged Strypa front at Wismiowczyk. Their temporary successes over the 39th Honved Inf. Div. were invariably neutralized by counter-attacks from the Oppeln group, consisting of Austro-Hungarian and German regiments, until finally the Russians after June 21 gave up their fruitless efforts. Equally bold was the stand made by Maj.-Gen. Leide's little group on the South Army's S. wing, which warded off several attempts by the Russians to cross the Dniester N.E. of Olesza.
The Loss of Bukovina. - Pflanzer-Baltin in Bukovina, on the other hand, had met with fresh misfortune. After the bridgehead on the N. bank of the Pruth at Czernowitz had been levelled by Russian artillery-fire on June 16, and its garrison had retired, strong Russian forces of the XI. Corps crossed the Pruth both above and below the town, whereupon General Korda, commander of the Austro-Hungarian XI. Corps, considered it necessary to order the evacuation of Czernowitz and the S. bank of the Pruth. He led his corps behind the Sereth, and Brudermann's Ca y. Corps (3rd and 8th Ca y. Divs.) had also to retreat.
On June 19th Korda and Brudermann were again attacked by the Russian XI. and XII. Corps and III. Ca y. Corps, and forced to relinquish the Sereth line. Korda was now to retire on the line Gwrahumora - Oberwikow - Lukawetz and to hold the defiles by groups, while Brudermann in the Czermos valley was to safeguard the right flank of Benigni's group, in front of which the Russians had so far remained quiet.
In the S. of Bukovina the Russians pursued only with the III. Ca y. Corps, reinforced by one infantry division. Nevertheless, Korda's troops, extended over so wide an area, could not hold the proposed line for fear of being outflanked. Papp's group fell back in sections to the often-contested position N.E. of Jakobeny, and, reinforced by the 79th Honved Bde., occupied it on June 24, while the 202nd Inf. Bde. and the Both Honved Bde. - entirely unmolested by the enemy - reached Moldawa for the purpose of blocking the route leading to Kirlibaba. Meanwhile Brudermann's Ca y. Corps and, N. of it, Habermann's group (parts of the 24th and 30th Inf. Divs.), against which the Russian XI. and XII. Corps had now turned, had to sustain severe fighting at and N. of Kuty. Evidently Letchitsky was preparing the next blow on Kolomea.
Continuation of the Counter-Attack on Luck
In the meantime the allies persisted in their intention to force a change in the situation at Luck - this time by increasing the pressure on the S. flank of the bridge formed by the Russian VIII. Army, which had made over the section N. of Kulikowice (in the bend of the Styr) to the III. Army (Lyesh). General von der Marwitz, giving up his own command to General von Luneburg, now took over, on the S. wing of Linsingen's group of armies, the main attack-group, consisting of the 7th Inf. Div., recently brought to the Lipa, the newly arrived German 22nd Inf. Div., the r08th Inf. Div. brought up from the former Marwitz group, and Falkenhayn's Corps (Austrian 4th and 7th Ca y. Divs. and 48th and first Inf. Divs., German 43rd Res. Div. and 9th Ca y. Div.). After the heavy artillery, needed for the forcing of the powerful Russian position at Bludow, had come up, the attack began on June 29. The IV. Army with a strong N. wing, the Luneburg group and Bernhardi's Corps, were to join in, the last-named having stormed several Russian positions at Sokul since June 24.
The attack brought encouraging initial results to all groups engaged. Bernhardi followed up his successes at Sokul, and was also able to force the Russians to evacuate the bridgehead lying on both sides of the railway on the N. bank of the Stochod. Luneburg advanced his line 2-3 km., and the Austro-Hungarian X. Corps stormed the often-contested position of Zatwicy. The greatest success was, however, won by Marwitz, who, on July 1, undeterred by the rainy weather which hampered both the artillery fire and the mobility of the troops, penetrated the enemy position between Boremel and Ugrinow on a front 20 km. wide and 5 km. deep, and was able to hold his ground in spite of violent counter-attacks, some of which were delivered by cavalry. But Bludow could not be captured and the IV. Army was accordingly extended southward while the three divisions standing before Bludow were sent to reinforce the main attack-group to the E. of it. In spite of this, no further success was achieved in the attack.
The Russian resistance, which manifested itself in violent counterblows, was not to be overcome. Farther N., too, neither the Luneburg group, which had been forced to give up a brigade to Woyrsch's army group (attacked by superior numbers at Baranovichi), nor Bernhardi's Corps (which had sent the ifth Bavarian Inf. Div. from Sokul to the seriously menaced position in the Styr salient) could make any further progress.
Loss of the Styr Bend
The increasing exhaustion of the troops of the II. Corps and Fath's Corps in the Styr bend, due to incessant fighting, was not lost upon the Russians, and Brussilov turned his attention more and more to the wing of the Russian VIII. and III. Armies. On the S. flank of the Styr bend, the I. Turkestan and V. Ca y. Corps were brought up to join the XXX. Corps in the attack, while the Russian Xlvi. Corps, with 42 inf. and 2 ca y. divs., pressed against the N. flank. The Russians won the first success on July 4 at Kopyli, when they established themselves on the N. bank, and were not to be driven away even by the iith Bavarian Inf. Div. which was hurriedly brought up. On July 5, at Kolki, the 2nd Polish Bde. and half of the 45th Schutzen Div. had also to yield ground; and as on the same day Fath's left wing and the 1st and 3rd Polish Bdes. posted at Kolodia on Hauer's S. wing were broken through in spite of a brave defence, the risk of Fath's doubly outflanked corps being cut off could now only be averted by ordering his seriously exhausted troops back to behind the Stochod. Hauer's Ca y. Corps, whose position had now become untenable owing to its exposed S. flank, had also to retire behind the Stochod, whereby the nth th Honved Ca y. Div. on its flank was involved in further fighting which cost it heavy losses. To strengthen the new Stochod front the 37th Inf. Bde., which had been sent northward by train, to join Woyrsch, was now diverted to Fath's Corps, while in the new area of Hauer's Ca y. Corps the German 9th Cay. Div. from Marwitz's group, the Bavarian Ca y. Div. sent up by train from Hindenburg's group, and the combined Clausius Div., were assembled. Fath's Corps was placed under General Bernhardi, to assure unity of command. In connexion with these events, the centre and right wing of Bernhardi's Corps from Sokul, and the S. wing of the Gronau group (82nd Res. Div.) from the Wiesiloncha, had to be withdrawn behind the Stochod. The Russians pursued hotly, and tried to push across the Stochod, attacking at different points up to the middle of July, but were everywhere, in some cases after the defence had put in its now adequate reserves, repulsed with bloody losses.
In view of the changed situation and the shifting of forces that had become essential, a renewal of Linsingen's offensive could no longer be considered. His troops received orders to establish themselves in a permanent position on the line reached.
At the end of June the Austro-Hungarian Supreme Command saw itself forced to close down the offensive against Italy, and shorten the front on the Sette Communi plateau, in order to release troops for the difficult fighting on the eastern front. The first forces available (the VIII. Corps staff with the 45th Schutzen Div. and 59th Inf. Div.) were dispatched at once by train to Pflanzer-Baltin's Army which was now, at the turn of the month, once more the focus of the fighting.
Battle of Kolomea
After the Russian XI. Corps, in the fighting at Kuty and Wiznitz, had pushed back Habermann's group to the heights W. of Kuty, Letchitsky massed his XII. and XLI. Corps astride the Pruth, and advanced against Benigni's weak divisions on June 28. On. the N. wing the attack was repulsed with the aid of reserves, but in the centre and on the S. wing the Russians broke through, and Benigni's troops had to retire to the bridgehead at Kolomea and behind the Pistyanka. To conform to this, Pflanzer-Baltin brought back also those parts of his army that were farther north.
On June 29 the Russians renewed the attack with the XI. Corps against Benigni's S. wing at Pistyn, and forced it back westwards. The course that the battle was taking, and the danger of Brudermann's Ca y. Corps, farther to the S., being driven southward, led the Austrian Supreme Command to order the withdrawal of the army to the prepared position BerenzowSadzowka - Ottynia. Brudermann's Ca y. Corps, with its right still echeloned forward for the time being, held its ground until July I, when new attacks drove it to retire to the line Kosmacz - Zabie. Kolomea was thus given up by the Austro-Hungarian troops. Maj.-Gen. Leide's group, belonging to the South Army, which on the S. bank had been maintaining the liaison with the VII. Army, had meanwhile had to ward off mounted attacks by the 6th Don Cossack Div. on June 29. On June 30 this division again attacked on both sides of the Olesza - Tlumacz road, with a mass 6 lines deep and 3 km. wide, but once more the attack spent itself in vain, suffering exceptionally heavy losses, and providing yet another example of the uselessness of this type of cavalry attack on infantry, under modern conditions. Meanwhile reinforcements had come up from the Italian theatre, and were detrained at Nadworna and Delatyn. Their 9th Inf. Div. was sent by the German Command to Tysmienica for the VII. Army.
Pflanzer-Baltin now intended, in conjunction with the South Army, to give the movement of battle a new character by attacks directed from the N. and S. wings of his Galician front. From the area S. of Delatyn the 44th Schutzen Div., reinforced by a regiment of the German r05th Inf. Div., attacked northwestward, covered on its E. flank by Habermann's group; and from the area E. of Tlumacz, General Kraewell's group (German z19th and main body 105th Inf. Div., Maj.-Gen. Leide's group and io companies of the XIII. Corps) pushed southward. Both attacks met with success on July 2 and 3. In particular, Kraewell's group, to which Hadfy's group attached itself, gained ground up to the line running from the Dniester bend at Piotrow to Chocimierz and Molodylow, after once more repelling Russian cavalry attacks. But Brussilov had already taken his countermeasures. While the Russian IX. Army sent forward its powerful cavalry against Brudermann's N. wing, pressing him back to Tatarow at the northern exit of the Jablonica (Tartaren) Pass, Shcherbachev attacked the XIII. Corps of the South Army at Barysz and pushed it in. After some temporary successes in counter-attack by the reserves, the corps had to be taken back to the Koropiec brook in consequence of renewed Russian attacks. Violent attacks were also made on Benigni's group, N. of Sadzawka, Leide's group on the Dniester and the VI. Corps E. of Monasterzyska. But whereas Benigni, by the aid of II batts. of his own reserves, and the VI. Corps, with parts of the German rst Res. Div. which had just reached the South Army, was able to restore the situation, Kraewell's attack had to close down on account of the successes obtained by the Russians against Leide's group. All attempts to drive the Russians out of the region of the Jablonica Pass failed.
A brief offensive movement by the Austro-Hungarian XI. Corps from the S. corner of Bukovina did in fact gain ground up to Moldawa, but it had to be cut short and the troops withdrawn to their starting-point as soon as the object of drawing down the enemy's forces upon them was attained; and a brigade had had to be given up to guard the threatened Jablonica Pass.
If, however, the numerous counter-offensive actions which arose out of Pflanzer-Baltin's initiative were insufficient to bring about a change in the situation of his army, they had at least had the effect of forcing Letchitsky to remain passive for the moment between the Dniester and the Pruth, in order to give his exhausted troops a respite after the heavy losses they had suffered in consequence of his ruthless mass-attacks. The Russians opposing Linsingen's group of armies, on the contrary, displayed much activity after the middle of July; and, moreover, by their repeated advances against the Carpathian front between the Jablonica and Prislop Passes they obliged the allies to give closer attention to this part of the front, not so much on account of the strategical importance of these operations, as in consideration of public opinion in Hungary, and of the extent to which a fresh misfortune in this quarter might be expected to react upon Rumania's attitude.
Organization of Command
The command of the front from the Jablonica Pass to the Rumanian frontier was accordingly given to General von Pflanzer-Baltin on account of his long experience in the minor operations in this mountainous country; and on the N. of the Carpathian front a reorganization of the command was to take place. The German Command, which since the beginning of June had sent 16 divs. and numerous higher staffs to the support of the front S. of the Pripet, urgently demanded an increased influence on the conduct of operations on that front, controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Supreme Command. Already German troops were fighting on all parts of the front, except with the II. Army; and German groups and corps commands were now systematically pushed in where German troops were placed, the intermediate and adjacent AustroHungarian formations being put under their command. It is undeniable that, by interspersing German troops and commands in this manner on the Austrian eastern front, which was at that time badly battered, no mean increase in the power of resistance was obtained. But these measures also produced an increase of the influence which the German General Staff arrogated to itself in the conduct of the war.
In order to bring about a fundamental improvement in the position S. of the Dniester, which was going from bad to worse, the two Supreme Commands proposed to deliver a counterattack on a grand scale on both sides of the river in a southeasterly direction. For this purpose a new army - the AustroHungarian XII. - was to be formed from the troops of the inner wings of the VII. and South Armies and the new divisions now being brought up by train. It was to be under the command of the Archduke Karl Franz Josef to whom General von Seecket was appointed chief-of-staff. But since the incoming troops had always to be thrown into the battle as soon as they detrained, the formation of this army never took effect. On the other hand, the section of the former VII. Army lying between the Jablonica Pass and the Dniester was handed over, as the " III. Army," to the III. Army Command (Generaloberst von Kovess), which was on the way by train from Tirol. Archduke Karl was made commander of an " Army Front " consisting of the VII., III. and South Armies. This new distribution came into effect on July 20. Another result of the agreement reached by the two general staffs was the appointment of Gen. Field-Marshal von Hindenburg to the supreme command of all the remainder of the eastern front, i.e. from Riga up to and inclusive of the II. Austro-Hungarian Army. He took over the command on Aug. 30, with Brest Litovsk as headquarters. The German Command decided further to give the 2nd Jager Bde., now brought up to divisional strength and known as the " Carpathian Corps " (later as the tooth Inf. Div.), to the VII. Army, so as to enable this army to take the offensive, believing that the anticipated success would in the end dissuade Rumania from abandoning her neutrality. The Austro-Hungarian Higher Command on the other hand transferred the Austro-Hungarian 6rst Inf. Div. (worn out as it was) from Marwitz's group, and the firth Honved Ca y. Div. from Hauer's Ca y. Corps, to northern Transylvania, since, from reliable information received, it appeared that Rumania's intervention on the side of the Entente would have to be reckoned with before August was out.
Battles at Monasterzyska and in the Carpathians
In the meantime Brussilov had persisted in his mass attacks, regardless of enormous losses. Undeterred by the reverse suffered on July 7, Shcherbachev again attacked the inner wings of the XIII. and VI. Corps between the Koropiec brook and the Strypa with his II. and XVI. Corps, on July 12-13. He succeeded on the two days in breaking through the Austro-Hungarian 12th Inf. Div. and German fist Res. Div. in turn, but the two divisions, each supporting the other with its own reserves, succeeded in ejecting the Russians from their positions again. Against emergencies, however, the main body of the German f105th Inf. Div. was transferred from the area S. of the Dniester to the South Army.
The Russians now brought up fresh forces (I th and 82nd Inf. Divs.) to the Carpathian front, and by dogged mountain fighting forced the 8th Ca y. Div. - which had to give up the commanding Chomiak height - back on to the wall of the Jablonica Pass, and defeated the 3rd Ca y. Div. in the battle of the Ludowa massif, driving it back also to the frontier heights. About the headwaters of the White Czeremos, Russian detachments had already advanced over the crest line in the direction of the Visso valley, but were stopped in front of Borsa by the newly arrived 34th Inf. Div. which with one of its brigades pushed the Russians back on to the N. slope of the mountains, while the other brigade relieved the exhausted 8th Ca y. Div. at the Jablonica Pass. Farther E. the Russians strove to wrest the pass at Kilibaba, which commanded the Caput height, from the left wing of the XI. Corps, but without success.
Battles on the Lipa and at Beresteczko
The first attacks executed by von der Marwitz's group on July io and II, which were designed to screen the shifting of troops to the Stochod front, attracted the attention of the XI. Russian Army (Sakharov). This army had been comparatively inactive since the middle of June, and was now selected by Brussilov to deliver fresh blows against the centre of the battle-front.
In the night of July 15-16 a powerful assault by the V. Siberian Corps and the VIII. Corps threw back the centre of Marwitz's group to Zwiniacze. Since a counter-attack made by 9 German battalions failed to restore the situation, Marwitz was obliged to bring back his far-advanced right wing behind the Lipa also. For the same reason the bridgehead at Werben, on the E. bank of the Styr, which was still held, had to be evacuated, for though all attacks against it on July 16 were repulsed, no operation E. of the Styr could be contemplated in view of the general situation. As Marwitz considered his right wing, now behind the Lipa and the Styr, to be adequately secured, he shifted two divisions - the 22nd and 43rd Inf. Divs. - which seemed to him not there indispensable, to his left wing at Gorochow, where he feared the Russians would launch fresh attacks. The Russians now extended the violent artillery fire which they had maintained against Marwitz's group for some days as far as to the S.E. of Beresteczko. On July 18 they undertook a demonstrative attack against the 25th Austro-Hungarian Div.
N. of Brody, and on July 20, after crossing the Styr at Werben, directed a powerful blow by their XXXII. Corps S. of the Lipa against the 46th and 7th Divs. This blow so strongly affected these divisions that, in spite of a counter-attack undertaken by 6 batts. of the army reserve, they were unable to hold their ground on the new line Beresteczko - Smolaiva, as was intended by the Army Command. The whole front of the I. Army had to be withdrawn to the line Beresteczko - Leszniow - Siestratyn. But Marwitz had again to surrender his reserves - the 48th AustroHungarian Div. and 3 batts. each of the German 22nd and 43rd Res. Divs. - to the I. Army in the area S. of the Lipa. The II. Army also transferred half of the 33rd Austro-Hungarian Div. to Radziechow behind Puhallo's Army. This part of the front was now thought to have sufficient support, and it was hoped that there would be quiet for a time.
Battle of Brody. - Brussilov, however, continued his assaults against the centre of the allied front opposite him without intermittance. His immediate objective was Brody. On July 24th the Russian XXXII. Corps, which had been shifted to the S., attacked the 25th Austro-Hungarian Div. at Leszniow, and pressed it back several kilometres, together with the adjacent 33 rd Austro-Hungarian Div. N. of it. In the following night the Russian XVI. Corps, next in line to the XXXII. Corps on the S., attacked the N. wing of the II. Army and forced it back to a prepared position on the frontier of the Dual Monarchy.
To ensure unity of command in the Brody area, the AustroHungarian XVIII. Corps was placed under the II. Army Command, but the troops of the I. Army standing W. of the Styr were put under the command of Linsingen's group of armies, as Lt.- Gen. von Dieffenbach's group, and the I. Army Command was dissolved. The Austrian 106th Landsturm Inf. Div. arrived in the Brody area from the Italian theatre of war, while the German 10th Landwehr Div. was coming up by train by way of Lemberg, the latter, however, being short of one regiment left in the zone of the IV. Army, where comprehensive Russian attack preparations had been discerned.
On July 26 Sakharov renewed his violent attacks between the Styr and Radziwilow with directions towards Brody. Difficult and changeful fighting ensued, in which portions of the 106th Landsturm Inf. Div., just detrained, took part with success.
On July 27 the battle still raged with undiminished fury. Up to 4 P.M. all the Russian assaults had been repulsed, but a new massed blow, delivered by the V. Siberian Corps to the E. of the Leszniow - Brody road, proved decisive. Brody had to be relinquished, and positions occupied immediately S. and N. of it. Then, as it seemed impossible without appreciable reinforcements to hold the new positions, the 10th Landwehr Div., intended for the II. Army, having been diverted en route to Linsingen's group, the troops of the II. Army were withdrawn to a prepared position behind the ponds of the upper reaches of the Sereth and the Styr, on the line Zalosce - Jasionow - Boldury. This line was occupied during the night of July 28-29 without serious molestation.
During the battle of Brody the Russians had also delivered mass-assaults N. of the Pripet at Baranovichi and Gorodishche but they were repulsed with very heavy losses. Immediately afterward, on July 28, a fresh Russian attack on a large scale was launched against the front S. of the Pripet, and particularly against the III. and South Armies, parts of the IV. Army and the Stochod front. The allies, still condemmed to play the thankless role of defenders, were in a most difficult position. With their few available reserves they could send fresh forces only to the most sorely pressed parts of the front, while at the remaining points, which could no longer be held, salvation could be sought only in shaking off the enemy without - so far as could be seen - any hope of winning back the lost positions.
Battle of Kovel
In his scheme for the general attack launched in the end of July, Brussilov had selected Kovel as the objective for the N. wing of his group of armies, and to this end had brought up the 23rd Inf. Div. and 8th Ca y. Div. as far as Tobol, N. of the Lipa. To facilitate the transmission of orders the N. wing of the VIII. Army - to which had been added the I. and II. Guard Corps and the Guard Ca y. Corps - was formed into a separate group under General Bezobrazov.
On the morning of July 28 Szurmay's Corps of the IV. Army, after being heavily bombarded with gas-shell, were attacked by the Russian XL. and VIII. Corps at Sadowa and thrown back on Szelwow, where a part of the artillery, after holding out until the last, was sacrificed to the pursuing Cossacks and Circassians. But the Russian cavalry, wheeling S., was held up by some intervening reserves, and in the counter-attack some of the lost ground was regained.
At the same time the N. wing of the VIII. Army (XXIII. and XXXIX. Corps) and Bezobrazow's Guard attacked the reinforced Luneburg Corps, standing E. of the Stochod, and forced it, in spite of the intervention of the 1 2 1st Inf. Div., to retire behind the Stochod. The attacks launched on the same day by the S. wing of the Russian III. Army against Bernhardi's group and Hauer's Ca y. Corps at several crossing-places on the middle Stochod broke down with unusually heavy losses to the Russians. The next day the Russians repeated their costly attacks with equal vehemence, but were everywhere repulsed. Only at Kaszowka did a successful break-through force the II. Corps to retire from their pronounced salient in the Styr bend to a shorter line running farther W. and long since prepared. Unencouraging, too, were the Russian assaults against Linsingen's group of armies, the most hotly contested points being Szelwow, Kisielin and the railway crossing on the Stochod. But their efforts were all in vain. At Stobychowa, again, the Russians, after a hard struggle, succeeded in establishing themselves on the W. bank, but were thrown back to the E. bank after several days of counterattacks. Thus Brussilov, in spite of his tremendous output of force, failed to reach his objective, Kovel.
Battle of Tlumacz
From July 28 onward the attacks directed against the South Army N.W. of Buczacz were all completely repulsed; but Bothmer's Army, as the result partly of the constant bending-back and extension of its own S. wing, and partly of the retreat of the II. Army N. of it, became exposed to envelopment on both sides, and its position was soon untenable.
Letchitsky directed his attacks, renewed likewise on July 28, against the sector immediately S. of the Dniester, and drove in Kraewell's group with the first assault. This group, after vainly putting in its reserves, had to fall back - carrying with it Hadfy's N. wing - to the line from Molodylow along the eastern edge of Tlumacz to the Dniester loop S.W. of Koropiec. On Aug. 7 Letchitsky repeated his assaults against the Kraewell group and pushed it back, inflicting heavy losses, through Tlumacz towards the west. The Kraewell and Hadfy groups, and the adjacent I. Corps on the S., were now reestablished several kilometres away from the enemy, while the VIII. Corps (Benigni's) repulsed all Russian attacks. But when, on Aug. 10, yet another of Letchitsky's mass assaults fell on the Kraewell group, the III. Army could no longer hold its ground; after giving up Stanislau, it had to be withdrawn to the line Zielona - Nadworna - Bohorodczanyheights W. of Stanislau - Jezupol.
Thus another way into Hungary - that over the Pantyr Pass - now lay exposed to Russian attacks, for it was only possible temporarily to block it by a weak detachment. Conforming to this retreat of the III. Army the right wing of the South Army had again been bent back, having been fiercely attacked by the Russians at Monasterzyska. Farther in the N., that part of the front of the South Army which still projected E. of the Strypa was also taken back.
Battles at Zalozce and on the Zlota Lipa
In the beginning of August there was also fierce fighting in progress on the II. Army's front at Zalozce, in the course of which Lt.-Gen. Eben's newly formed German Corps (195th and 197th Inf. Divs.) came to the assistance of the Austro-Hungarian V. Corps, hard pressed by the Russian VII. and XVII. Corps. Although the Russian break-through was stopped, the counter-attack was not able to win back the former positions completely, and it was suspended on Aug. To.
In spite of all previous failures, the Russian Guard to the N. of the Kovel - Rovno railway, and, N. again of the Guard up to Stobychwa, the I. Turkestan and I. Siberian Corps, driven on with ferocious energy, persisted in their attacks against the Stochod line. Extraordinarily heavy losses, no longer to be replaced from those great reservoirs of men that had hitherto seemed inexhaustible, forced Brussilov after Aug. 10 to suspend the attacks on Kovel.
This relieved the difficulties of the now unavoidable withdrawal of the South Army, which with its N. wing was still holding the last section of the original front line on the Strypa between Wisniowczyk and Kozlow. On the evening of Aug. i 1 it began a two-night movement of retreat, which was to take it to the line Horozanka - Zawalown - heights E. of Brzezany - Koniuchy - Zborow. Conforming to this movement, Eben's Corps, forming the S. wing of the II. Army, swung back. The retreat was not accomplished without several sharp rearguard actions, but the pursuing Russians could not prevent the retreating army from duly occupying the new position that had been chosen. The Turkish XV. Corps, intended for the Linsingen group of armies but now no longer needed in view of the improved situation there, was sent to the South Army, and intervened with its 19th Div. on Aug. 13th at Brzezany with success. The attacks led by the Russians against the South Army's S. wing on the two following days ended in failure.
With Kovess's Army a comparatively peaceful interval had set in, and, in consequence, the gist Honved Inf. Div. was able to go to Transylvania, where from day to day an inroad by the Rumanians was expected, while the 44th Schutzen Div. was handed over to the Isonzo front. To replace these the German XXIV. Res. Corps with 12 inf. divs. was sent to the III. Army, the German commander, General von Gerok, taking over the command of the III. Army's N. wing from General Kraewell.
The Counter-Offensive in the Wooded Carpathians
On the S. wing of Archduke Karl's Army front the allies had so many troops available in the beginning of Aug. that they were able at last to proceed to a counter-offensive. Lt.-Gen. Conta was to attack from the centre of the VII. Army with the Carpathian Corps and the 68th Inf. Bde. in the Czeremos valley. The two neighbouring groups were to join in with this attack: FieldMarshal-Lt. Rudolf Krauss (67th and 202nd Inf. Bdes. and 8th Ca y. Div.) from the Jablonica Pass into the Pruth valley; and the 40th Honved Inf. Div., which was later placed under the command of Conta, from Kirlibaba toward the N. into the Suczawa valley. In this operation, which did not follow the old army road Jakobeny - Gurahumora, but took the main forces into impassable country without a through line of communications, the risk of failure was inherent. On Aug. 3 Conta's attack was launched. An initial success was recorded in the capture of the Ludowa massif. But the rest of the advance, which culminated in the taking of Jablonica in the Bilyj Czeremos valley, was made with great difficulty; for the Russians, who were now at home in the hill country, fought with a religious fanaticism such as they had not yet been known to display. The Krauss group began their attack on Aug. 5, and advanced as far as Worochta. The 40th Honved Div. could only with difficulty overcome the Russian resistance, in spite of gallant efforts, and only won a few heights N. of Mt. Capul. As the struggles for these mountain positions, so skilfully defended by the Russians, necessitated long preparation, the Russians had always time to bring up new forces. Above all, bad weather began in the middle of Aug., making artillery operations difficult.
On Aug. 10 the German 1st Inf. Div. arrived at Kirlibaba, to reinforce the 40th Honved Division. The 3rd Ca y. Div. was then transferred from Dornawatra to Krauss's group, to increase that group's power of attack. But already the Russians were launching their counter-attacks, having brought up 4 new inf. divs. against the Carpathian front. On Aug. 14 Krauss's group was overthrown at Worochta, and was forced to retire to the heights of the pass. An attack begun by their right wing, which was to have been assisted by the German 2nd Cyclist Bde., with the object of recapturing the Kukul height, was never carried out. For the cyclist brigade had to be hurriedly dispatched to Borsa, to hold a crossing momentarily threatened in consequence of a Russian inroad S. of the Tomnatik height. Meanwhile the Russians were also pushing forward against the Pantyr Pass, and half of the 3rd Ca y. Div. was accordingly sent there. To ensure unity of command in the Pantyr - Jablonica Pass section, the I. Corps headquarters was transferred from the III. to the VII. Army. Further, the German 117th Inf. Div., which had now arrived just in time to ward off the violent Russian attacks on the Jablonica Pass, was placed under the I. Corps command. The 2nd Cyclist Bde. was finally transferred to the 3rd Cay. Div. at the Pantyr Pass where the Russians had pushed through up to the Hungarian frontier. At the end of Aug., in order to enable reserves to be formed, the Carpathian Corps also was withdrawn to a shorter line near the Hungarian frontier.
Pflanzer-Baltin's offensive had not got beyond the initial stages though from no fault of this experienced commander, for his well-considered counter-proposals had been ignored. The threat of Rumania's entry into the war made it necessary at the end of Aug. to put in the 11 th Honved Ca y. Div. on the right army wing at the junction point of three frontiers. The 10th Bavarian Inf. Div. and 5th Honved Ca y. Div. were also brought up into this area.
On the Galician-Volhynian fronts no fighting actions of more than local importance took place during the second half of August. The Russians succeeded in penetrating the IV. and V. Corps of Bohm-Ermolli's Army, N.W. of Zalozce, but, after several days of counter-attack, everything, down to the last bit of trench, was recovered. On the Stochod, all that remained to the Russians as the prize of their persistent efforts and costly attacks was one small bridgehead S. of Tobol on the W. bank. From this they could not be dislodged, owing to the impossibility of bringing up heavy artillery.
In the second half of Aug. it became obvious that the Russians' summer offensive had lost its driving power. Brussilov had, it is true, recaptured nearly the whole of Bukovina and large portions of Eastern Galicia and Volhynia, at the cost of heavy sacrifices and of practically doubling the number of his divisions between the beginning of June and the end of Aug. But his main object, the total destruction of the Austro-Hungarian eastern front, had not been achieved. The structure of the Dual Monarchy's army had, however, shown dangerous signs of disruption. The difficulties that arose in fighting with an army that was full of Slays, against the Russians, their brothers, were plain to all the world, being most clearly shown by the fact that more than 200,000 prisoners were taken from the Austro-Hungarian eastern front in the months of June, July and August.
The allies, in particular the Germans, had been obliged to take strong forces from the other fronts, where they could ill be spared, and put them into the battle S. of Polyesie without coming a step nearer to their war-aim, the final overthrow of the enemy. On the contrary a new enemy, the one-time ally, Rumania, had been enticed on to the stage by the Russian successes. On the evening of Aug. 27, simultaneously with the declaration of war, Rumanian troops crossed the Hungarian-Rumanian frontier. Gladly did exhausted Russia resign the role of attacker to her new ally, in the vain hope that this ally would succeed where the utmost efforts of the Russian Empire had failed.
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