Armored cars conducted reconnaissance, acted in conjunction with cavalry, supported infantry with fire, made raids, defended the flanks, used to seize the lines, strike the rear, and pursued the enemy. In many battles, it was the actions of armored cars that turned out to be decisive.
Ambush - what you need
In the Tomash operation 13 – 16 on June 1915, the 14 auto-bullet platoon distinguished itself - one of the most valiant armor units of the Russian army during the First World War.
In that operation of the army group of V.A. Olohova and the 3 Army of the North-Western Front, our troops performed the most important task - they needed to stop the German offensive, which was developing in the most dangerous operational direction. The situation in which the Russian armies found themselves in the summer of 1915 in general and in the Tomashov battle in particular, was extremely unfavorable. Shackling, stopping the enemy in any way, disrupting his “summer strategic Cannes” by encircling the Russian armies in Poland is the most important task at that stage.
15 June a platoon (two Austin machine-gun armored vehicles of the first type — English-made, but with the armor of the Izhora plant) arrived in Tomashov (Poland), where he received the task of covering the waste of the Volynsky Life Guards Regiment.
By evening, the subunit was stationed in ambush - the front to its retreating units. The platoon commander made a tactically intelligent decision - trying on the terrain, he decided to cover the retreating units from the opposing enemy. When the first German patrols appeared, the autobunker platoon, letting the enemy take 40 steps, opened fire and completely destroyed the forward detachment. The enemy stopped the pursuit and, deploying the guns, opened fire on the armored cars. Successfully maneuvering under heavy artillery fire, the platoon retired a kilometer to the north and re-ambushed.
Acting on a new position, armored cars with accurate fire scattered the enemy cavalry unit. In order not to risk cars, leaving them in a position at night, the commander led the platoon out of the battlefield and took it north.
The next day, he decided to re-apply the well-established tactic of ambush battle.
On June 16 north of the village of Krinitsa, armored cars stood in ambush on the highway, covering the withdrawal of parts of the 2 Caucasian Army Corps. Officer 13 of the Grenadier Leib Erivan Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich of the regiment of the Caucasian Grenadier Division K. Popov later recalled: “Walking along the highway, we passed by two armored vehicles disguised with branches. Their presence here was very appropriate, but I never once saw the work of armored cars for the entire German war. ” When the enemy, numbering up to the battalion, launched an offensive along the highway, he was shot by well-aimed machine-gun fire from Russian armored vehicles.
Leading a rearguard battle, the platoon acted initiatively and independently, using the necessary tactics. Proper assessment of the situation and a good choice of positions for ambushes made it possible to fully perform the task entrusted to the unit. The tactical effect of the platoon's actions, its combat stability and fire power were remarkable - the advancing enemy units were almost completely destroyed.
Himself die ...
The 14 squad platoon took an active part in the Tanev 18 – 25 battle of June 1915 - operations 3 and the 4 armies of the Russian North-Western Front against the 4 of the Austro-Hungarian and 11 Germans.
The 18 June auto-piston platoon supported the actions of the 279 Infantry Regiment of the Lokhvitsky 70 Infantry Division of the 14 Army Corps. The unit received the following combat mission from the regiment commander: “Move forward in the direction of d. Bzhanitsa - Deserts and fire at an enemy unfolding in front of the village of Pustyn and gathering around the church ”.
The artillery fire of the Austrians was disordered and weak, there was a lack of observation points. The platoon armored vehicles launched an attack in reverse, and from the 100 – 150 distance, the Austrians were thrown into the forest, but stopped, spending all the water needed to cool the machine guns. Typing water, the platoon again went on the attack. During the second attack, armored cars penetrated deeper into the enemy's position - a reserve of Austrian infantry of up to three battalions was fired.
On June 20, the auto-piston platoon was ordered to support the 70 Infantry Regiment of the Ryazan Regiment of the 18 Infantry Division. The element of tactical surprise was lost, but the platoon went on the attack, as the situation required helping extremely weary infantry. At the first attack, one armored car was defeated by a direct hit, and the second was hit by a tower. The documents witnessed the heroic death of the crews of Russian armored vehicles: “After the driver was wounded and his assistant was killed, wanting to save the rest of the crew, the junior noncommissioned officer Vasily Skrypnik selflessly fired a machine gun until the car itself was killed and the vehicle was blown up. The corporal Sergei Antipin selflessly handed the cartridges to the machine gunner until he was killed by a bullet in the forehead and burned in an exploding car. ”
Under the current tactical situation, the appearance of armored cars in the area where they had previously acted could not have been unexpected for the enemy. As a result, the armored 14-th platoon died. But the situation required the presence of armored vehicles on the battlefield, and they went on the attack, despite the fact that they expected a certain death.
One of the most important battles of the 1914 campaign of the year on the Russian front was the Battle of Lodz on October 29 - December 6. Starting with an attempt to surround the troops of the 2 of the Russian army, it led to the enemy having to think about saving his surrounded corps - the shock group of the 9 of the German army. This is the only successful World War I operation for the Russian army to encircle a large group of enemy troops. In the “cauldron,” the Germans lost 42 to thousands of people or about 90 percent of the composition of the strike group, but its remnants managed to escape from the environment.
During the battle of Lodz, the actions of the so-called емогоowicz detachment were of key importance - it was he who closed the encirclement around the German assault group R. von Scheffer-Boyadel. Eight armored vehicles of the 1 th vehicle-gun company took an active part in the operations of the detachment.
9 and 10 November six machine-gun armored vehicles broke through the occupied by enemy troops Strykov, while two cannon armored vehicles with artillery fire and maneuver supported the offensive 9 and 12 th Turkestan rifle regiments 3 th Turkestan rifle brigade XNUMX th Turkestan rifle squadron brigade The Germans, being in the grip of two armored groups, were not only driven out of the city, but also suffered very heavy losses.
On November 20, at the final stage of the Lodz battle, the 1-I auto-pistol company in full force ambushed along the roads at the junction between the 5-th army and the left flank of the 19-th army corps - at Pabianice. As a result, at dawn 21 November two Russian armored vehicles destroyed two regiments of German infantry, trying to begin to surround the left flank of the 19-second army corps. The cannon armored car of the company effectively shot down the German battery that was being pushed into position.
In the battle of Lodz, the commander of the 4 of the automatic-piston platoon, captain Gurdov, accomplished the feat. The document testifies: “The cars rolled up at the moment when the left flank of the Butyrsky regiment faltered and leaned back. The Germans stepped close to the highway. At this time, the captain Gurdov crashed into the advancing dense chains and opened fire on two faces of four machine guns from a distance of 100 – 150 steps. The Germans could not stand it, stopped the offensive and lay down. From such a close distance the bullets cracked the armor. All people and staff captain Gurdov injured. Both cars are disabled. Four machine guns hit. Firing off the remaining two machine guns, the staff captain Gurdov, with the help of wounded machine gunners in his arms, rolled both cars to our chains, from where they were already towed. ”
The second Prasnysh battle of February 7 - March 17 1915 of the year is significant in that the strategic situation in the north-west direction was stabilized. Russian troops won a decisive victory over an equivalent enemy. The consequences of the tactically unsuccessful August battle were largely eliminated: the initial military successes of the Germans in the winter operation in Masuria were replaced by their defeat from the 12 and 1 armies. This success of ours, along with other factors, upset the entire German plan for the spring campaign of 1915.
During the Second Battle of Prasnysh in February 1915, three German attacks in the area of Prasnysh, the Russian infantry fought off with the support of armored vehicles. They broke into the battle formations of the advancing German infantry and shot it point-blank, and when the Germans retreated from Prasnysh, they promoted success without giving the enemy the opportunity to stop and clean up: “On the night of February 12, one the day having spread from Starozeb through Pultusk under Prasnysh, having marched 13 versts, the 1915 squad of the auto-bullet company of four machine guns and one cannon car broke into the fortified position of the Germans in the village. Dobrzhankovo. Having lost three cars with all servants, shot with 120 steps, took two bridges, cutting off the Germans' retreat. ” As a result, the 1 and 30 of the Siberian rifle regiments of the 2 of the Siberian rifle division surrendered to the brigade of the German infantry.
Russian armored cars solved complex combat missions, positively influencing the most important operations of the maneuverable period of world war on the Russian front.
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