Military Review

Stormtroopers against drummers

By 1917, the German imperial army had assault units and subunits of various types: corps and army assault battalions, divisional assault companies, assault platoons of infantry companies (temporary units).

The first assault groups arose in 1915, but only after the formation of assault battalions at the army level did the full-fledged assault units appear in the German army. It is the assault battalion (the average number is up to 1,4 thousand people), equipped with machine guns (12 - 25 units), flamethrowers (4 - 8 flamethrowers), trench artillery (4 - 6 76 or 37-mm guns), mortars (8 mortars in mortar company) and became in the hands of the Kaiser command an operational breakthrough tool, comparable in effectiveness to artillery and tanks. And the point is not only that the assault battalion was superior to the infantry regiment in terms of heavy weapons, but also that it became the ancestor of the new - assault - infantry tactics. This was fully confirmed by the operations of the second half of the First World War.

In April 1917, the German army had seventeen assault battalions (the eighteenth appears in August).
Eleven (1-7 and 14-17) operated in French and six (8-13) on the Russian fronts [About the assault units of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies. According to September 1917. Comp. Taneyev, b. city ​​b. m., The current army, the printing house of the headquarters of the 9-th army. C. 2].

Il 1. Kaiser Wilhelm II and the commander of the German 8 Army, General of the Infantry O. von Gutier, inspect the assault unit. 1917

In the summer of 1917, the deployment of the assault battalions on the Russian front looked like this: the 8 battalion was attached to the South German army, the 9 battalion was in the 9 army, the 10 battalion was attached to the 8 army, 11 th army, Bernhardi, the 12 battalion was in the Army group Voirsh, 13-th - in the front reserve (command of the German Eastern Front). In addition, the 1 th Chasseur battalion, which is in the 10 th army, was turned into an assault rifle.

Attached to the combined armies, battalions were to be used as part of an army operation. But from their composition, assault groups were distinguished and distributed between infantry regiments and battalions. A similar situation occurred with parts of the 10 th assault battalion, which had a chance to distinguish themselves during the Riga and Moonsund operations of the 1917 year.

The progress and outcome of the Riga operation 19 - 24 in August 1917 was greatly influenced by the morale of the Russian troops, who were rapidly losing their fighting efficiency during the revolutionary 1917 year.

The decisive role in the Riga operation was played by artillery operating according to the Bruhmüller technique. Chemical artillery bombardment neutralized Russian artillery (20650 shells marking the blue and green cross were fired in two hours), which greatly facilitated the task of the infantry. Actively applied aviation - for example, on August 18, about 40 German bombers and fighters attacked islands in the Gulf of Riga.

Three shock divisions were to cross the Dvina. And on the edge of the offensive, attack aircraft were moving - on pontoons and wooden boats they crossed the river, taking a bridgehead, and then the sappers built three pontoon bridges, along which infantry moved forward.

Il 2. Preparing for the crossing of the Dvina.

Il 3. Assault groups, having forced Dvina, seize a bridgehead.

In these battles, a tactic was born called Guterowski (after the commander of the 8 Army O. von Gutier).

The advantages of the new assault tactics over the usual linear were undoubted. The Russian troops, who used the tactics of positional hostilities, sought at all costs to maintain a solid front line, fearing bare flank. They tried not to lose elbow contact with their neighbors. If such a connection was broken, the troops were worried about the flanks, rumors appeared that a part was bypassed, cut off by the enemy. Conversely, the German attack aircraft used group tactics without fear for their flanks and using all available forces to strike, which provided them with an advantage in any area of ​​the offensive.

The attack aircraft also showed themselves in the battles for the Yakobshtadsky bridgehead. If Russian troops had solid positions, equality of the operating forces of the opponents (although Russian troops were already at the extreme stage of decomposition), success in the most important position point (and this led to the withdrawal of Russian units) was achieved by attack aircraft.

Breaking through the positions of the 736 Infantry Regiment, the assault groups quickly began to penetrate the depths of the Russian defense. Fighters armed with automatic assault tactics weaponsconfidently moving forward. Encountering organized resistance, they retreated, and tried to bypass the defenders from the flank or from the rear. Bravely penetrating into the gaps between the Russian units, striking them in the flanks and rear, the attack aircraft forced them to retreat. Moreover, their efforts were primarily directed at the positions of artillery batteries - and the artillery of the 184 Infantry Division was captured, and the calculations and horses were destroyed by machine-gun and rifle fire.

Thus, the Germans won the Riga operation, breaking the coherence of the Northern Front. In fact, they deprived the Russians of the possibility of conducting serious offensive operations in the future towards Shavli-Kovno-Vilna.

And an important role in achieving the tactical and operational success of the German troops was played by the actions of the 10 th assault battalion fighters.

Moonsund operation 29. 09. - 07. 10. 1917 was the last combat operation of the Russian army and navy during the First World War, and for Germany it was Operation Albion.

It was during the Moonsund operation that an extremely rare picture was observed for the First World War - the confrontation of the elite attack units of the opposing sides that had entered into direct combat contact. On the Russian side, this is the Revel shock battalion (the Revel naval death battalion) under the command of P.O. Shishko, captain of the 2 rank, and from the German part, the part of the 10 assault battalion under the command of Major Sluiter.

In the Russian Army in the 1917, each infantry division was supposed to form a shock battalion as part of the 3's rifle companies and the technical team (machine-gun, mortar, bombing, disruptive and telephone department). But due to the current political situation, the new battalions had to tackle both combat and political tasks - the shock units became not only a tool for breakthrough, but also the basis of order and loyalty to military duty (while the bulk of the armed forces gradually lost their combat capability). In the technical-tactical sense, the shock battalions were not a direct analogue to the German assault battalions, but were also the elite of the Russian army 1917 of the year.

On the night of September 30 1917, the 18-I assault company from the German 10-th assault battalion landed in the bay of Tagalakht on the island of Esel.

Il.4 .; 5. The landing of attack aircraft in the bay Tagalaht.

The company moved to the townships of Ninast and Hundsort, taking possession of two (120-mm and 152-mm) artillery batteries - the calculations of these batteries were captured.

The assault company set up a battle for bridgeheading (bridgehead) at the dam between the islands of Moon and Ösel. In this battle, the Russian fighters of the Revel strike battalion met with German attack aircraft.

The fighters of the Revelsky shock battalion (numbering up to 600 people) from October 1 defended the dam, having arrived at the position already during the battles from Revel. Moreover, the dam's defense rested only on the percussion forces, since the infantry, at the very first shots of the enemy, abandoned their positions [Report on the actions of the Naval Forces of the Gulf of Riga September 29 - October 7, 1917 Marine historical commission. Federal Archival Service of Russia RGAVMF. - SPb., 1998. S. 31].

The fight showed equal fighting qualities of opponents.
Thus, the attack of the German 18 th assault company during the battle of October 1 did not have success: under the machine-gun fire of strikers, it approached only 600 meters and lay down. The attackers failed to advance - and the battle for the dam is considered the most intense episode of the Moonzund operation for the German landing force.

Revel shock battalion even counterattacked, and under heavy artillery fire of the Germans.

The German source especially notes the persistence of the battle and the fact that the Russian fighters sought to break through the dam at any cost. They were getting closer, advancing from Maughan Island - striking the rear of Captain von Winterfeld's squad, which included a machine gun platoon of the 18 th assault company and the 2 th scooter battalion. With the help of hand grenades, the Germans managed to beat off the drummers - but only from very close distances. When the Germans began to experience a shortage of cartridges, Captain Winterfeld was forced to make a difficult decision for the Germans to leave the bridgehead.

Stormtroopers against drummers

Il 6. Fighter Revelskogo shock battalion.

Fighters of the Revel shock battalion successfully crossed the dam and captured the Eselsky bridgehead. But later they were forced to retreat again to Mawn, since they were not supported by the infantry, and they were bombarded from the sea by German destroyers.

German 18-I assault company took part in the final attack on the island of Muon.

At night, on October 5, she began to cross over to the island with the support of the battalion of the 138 Infantry Regiment. The machine-gun platoon and the platoon of the assault company began the crossing, but, being under machine-gun fire, lay down before the dam. Only after the Russians left, the assault company captured the bridge position between Linuet and Nauze (2 guns, a machine gun and a burned armored car became its trophies).

Il 7. German assault company.

At the final stage of the Moonzund operation, the Revel shock battalion led a stubborn defensive battle - in the absence of communication with the higher command. Since the main burden of these battles fell on him, he suffered heavy losses.

To rescue the strike battalion, an evacuation operation was carried out. Moreover, the battalion stubbornly kept at the Moona pier, surrounded by rifle chains of the enemy. Combat P. O. Shishko, deciding to leave the island last, refused to take a boat. As a result, he was wounded and captured. It was possible to evacuate 20 officers and before 400 drummers.

Elite enemy battalions played a key role during the land phase of the Morund operation. The German attack aircraft were at the forefront of the attack, and the Russian drummers became the backbone of the defense - when the island garrison, consisting of secondary infantry units, mostly surrendered to the Germans, only the companies of the shock battalion were held.

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  1. Same lech
    Same lech 5 January 2017 08: 25
    Conversely, the German attack aircraft used group tactics, not fearing for their flanks and using all available forces to strike, which provided them with an advantage in any area of ​​the offensive.

    ISIL militants are using something similar now ... in Palmyra, assault groups were classically used, which ensured them success.
    Although the Germans in the photo and in our old films looked funny, in fact they were very strong and skilled fighters ... when you read in detail the history of the battles of the first and second MVs, it is clear how strong the Germans were in the conduct of hostilities.
    1. bandabas
      bandabas 5 January 2017 15: 27
      The Germans are normal warriors and historically push us against them. But in September, the Bolsheviks in Russia did not particularly smell. The army was destroyed by the liberals of whom the Provisional Government was composed. Reluctance to go into disputes, but I think. If it had not been for October 1917, everything would have become much more deplorable. Like now in the former Ukraine.
        ALEA IACTA EST 5 January 2017 18: 27
        It would not be so sour if August were instead of October.
        1. Caretaker
          Caretaker 6 January 2017 18: 21
          I mean - would you drop the temporary in August?
          1. ALEA IACTA EST
            ALEA IACTA EST 6 January 2017 22: 27
            Something like that.
          2. bandabas
            bandabas 7 January 2017 07: 22
            The meaning of ALEA IACTA EST meant a little different. Allegory however.
  2. moskowit
    moskowit 5 January 2017 09: 15
    "... If such a connection was torn, the troops became concerned about the flanks, there were rumors that the unit had been bypassed, cut off by the enemy ...."
    I wonder if in those days there were orders similar to the order "Not a step back" ???
    1. Same lech
      Same lech 5 January 2017 09: 21
      I wonder if in those days there were orders similar to the order "Not a step back" ???

      I didn’t hear ... but there were detachments to catch deserters.
      1. Cat
        Cat 5 January 2017 10: 38
        These functions were performed by detachments of Cossacks to which the gendarmerie was attached.
        1. moskowit
          moskowit 5 January 2017 11: 03
          Rather, in its functions, the gendarmerie with the units of Cossacks attached to it ....
      2. moskowit
        moskowit 5 January 2017 11: 02
        I'm completely different ...
        The topic of WWI detachments is well covered in the material on the site "The Great Slandered War".
        For those interested in the address ... http: //
        dy / 306-bit-i-strelyat-begletsov-zagradotryady-vr
        1. Cat
          Cat 5 January 2017 13: 37
          Thanks for the link!
          1. moskowit
            moskowit 5 January 2017 14: 52
            I am always happy to share information and my knowledge with interested readers ...
      3. bug_1
        bug_1 5 January 2017 14: 25
        it’s all the damned Red-bellied people who did business ... they corrupted the army of the Empire throughout the war and went on to the point that they had to sign the damned Brest peace that was shameful which probably never happened and I hope it won’t .. red camarilla, this German prstttuk and agentes broke the Empire and all sunk into oblivion .... red damned forever !!!! we must quickly forget this smelly period of history and spit in his direction !!!!!!!!!!
        1. moskowit
          moskowit 5 January 2017 18: 00
          I recommend that you read an excerpt from A. Gaidar's story "School". Have you heard of such a piece? Very objectively it is written about "red-bellied", "black-bellied" and other colored "belly" ...

          "... In the early days of the February Revolution, the school looked like an ant heap into which a burning firebrand was thrown. After praying for victory, part of the student choir began, as always, the hymn" God Save the Tsar ", but the other half screamed" Down with a whistle, screeched. ”There was a noise, the ranks of students mixed, someone threw a roll at the portrait of the queen, and the first graders, delighted with the opportunity to make a noise with impunity, howled wildly with cats and bleated with goats.
          The confused inspector tried in vain to shout down the crowd. The screech and screams did not stop until the watchman Semyon removed the royal portraits. With a squeal and stomp, the excited guys scattered about the classes. Red bows appeared from somewhere. High school students ostentatiously tucked trousers in boots (which was not previously allowed) and, having gathered near the restroom, deliberately, in front of cool tutors, lit a cigarette. They were approached by a teacher of gymnastics officer Balagushin. He was also treated to a cigarette. He did not refuse. At the sight of such a hitherto unprecedented association of bosses with students, those around them cried out loudly “cheers”.
          However, from all that was happening, at first they understood only one thing: the tsar was overthrown and the revolution begins. But why it was necessary to rejoice at the revolution, what is good is that they overthrew the tsar, before whose portrait only a few days ago the choir sang hymns with enthusiasm - this was not understood by most of the children, especially from the lower grades.
          There were almost no lessons in the early days. High school students enrolled in the police. They were given rifles, red armbands, and they proudly paced the streets, observing order. However, nobody thought to break the order. The bells of thirty churches were buzzing with Easter chimes. Priests in brilliant robes took an oath to the Provisional Government. There were people in red shirts. The son of Jonah the priest, the seminarian Arkhangelsk, two rural teachers and three others unfamiliar to me called themselves Socialist Revolutionaries. People appeared in black shirts, most of them from high school teachers and theological seminaries, who called themselves anarchists.
          Most in the city immediately sided with the Social Revolutionaries. This was facilitated by the fact that during a nationwide preaching after many years to the Provisional Government, the collegiate priest Father Paul announced that Jesus Christ was also a socialist and revolutionary. And since pious people lived in the city, mainly merchants, artisans, monks and God's wanderers, when they heard such interesting news about Jesus, they immediately felt sympathy for the Socialist-Revolutionaries, especially since the Socialist-Revolutionaries did not spread much about religion, but said more about freedom and about the need to renew the war with renewed vigor. Although the anarchists said the same thing about war, they spoke badly of God.
          So, for example, the seminary seminar Velikanov directly stated from the rostrum that there is no god, and if there is a god, then let him accept him, Velikanov, a challenge and show his power. At these words, Giantov lifted his head and spat right into the sky. The crowd gasped, expecting that heaven was about to open and thunder would strike the head of the wicked. But since the heavens didn’t open, voices were heard from the crowd that it’s better not to fill the face of the anarchist with your own strength without waiting for the heavenly cars? Upon hearing such conversations, Velikanov quickly disappeared from the rostrum and prudently disappeared, receiving only one poke from the praying mantis Maremyana Sergeevna, a malicious old woman who sold healing oil from the icon lamps of the Sarov Mother of God and dried crackers, which the blessed saint Serafim Sarovsky personally fed .
          In general, I was amazed at how surprisingly many revolutionaries turned out to be in Arzamas. Well, positively all were revolutionaries. Even the former zemstvo chief Zakharov put on a huge red bow made of silk. At least there were battles in Petrograd and Moscow, the policemen fired at the people from the rooftops, while our policemen voluntarily gave up their weapons and, dressed in civilian clothes, walked peacefully through the streets ... "
          1. Gerard Roussillon
            Gerard Roussillon 10 January 2017 00: 08
            I recommend that you read an excerpt from A. Gaidar's story "School".
            Is it Golikov, the commander of the tangent detachment of the Reds? Of course, people are extremely objective
        2. Partisan Kramaha
          Partisan Kramaha 5 January 2017 20: 21
          In fact, the army of the empire was corrupted by the liberals! And they coped with this so successfully that if it were not for the "red camarilla", as you put it, then in general nothing would be left of Russia and other parts of the empire. And the Brest Treaty had to be concluded so that buy time and fix the jambs of the interim government at least a little
        3. Monarchist
          Monarchist 5 January 2017 20: 41
          Bug. 1. in fact, the Bolsheviks only skillfully took advantage of the emperor’s lack of will. They were also helped by the Masons, and the Jews and Masons always did not tolerate RI.
          1. antivirus
            antivirus 7 January 2017 20: 05
            always blame "someone" and "someone". Keep your pants with your belt.
  3. moskowit
    moskowit 5 January 2017 09: 28
    The attack aircraft were equipped and armed perfectly ...
  4. Knizhnik
    Knizhnik 5 January 2017 09: 32
    Interesting. I searched, on the wiki I came across a mention that amnestied criminals were part of the drummers. Is this true, and how did they fight?
  5. soldier
    soldier 5 January 2017 09: 41
    Thanks to the author for the interesting information.
    By the way
    "I wonder if in those days there were orders like" Not one step back "???"
    There were such orders. During the Battle of Galicia in 1914, the commander of the 5th Army, General of the Cavalry P.A.Pleve, issued an order: "On August 17th, the 25th Army Corps capture the city of Zamosc, the 19th, 5th and 17th army corps to vigorously carry out the assigned task and “not a step back.” So they could not then surround him with the 5th Army.
    Well, in 1917, especially in summer and autumn, what kind of resistance there was. E. Ludendorff wrote that "these were no longer the former Russian soldiers," but Hindenburg: "Kerensky's troops are not Brusilov's troops."
    Order No. 1, the soldiers' committees, the killings and the election of officers, fraternities snapped all that is possible.
    Everything was held on the shock parts
    1. moskowit
      moskowit 5 January 2017 10: 56
      I meant such powerful documents that affect the state of all armed forces, such as the orders 270 of 16 of August 1941 of the year and 227 of 28 of July 1942 of the year ...
      1. soldier
        soldier 5 January 2017 18: 49
        Something like the directive of the Headquarters of August 26, 1915 on the cessation of the Great Retreat. But there were no direct analogues of the orders you mentioned above.
  6. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 5 January 2017 09: 54
    The author failed to disclose how the assault group acted.
    The reader may get the impression that her attack is a brave blow.
    "with bayonets", hand-to-hand combat of desperate guys. Nothing close.
    The assault groups acted by probing the enemy’s defense weaknesses
    and subsequent seepage into a weak spot.
    The Wehrmacht also acted in the same way.
    1. soldier
      soldier 5 January 2017 09: 59
      So it is written: "seeping into the gaps between the Russian units, striking them in the flanks and rear"
      This is what you are talking about. And about group tactics said. For one article, the basis of which is all the more not the tactics of attack aircraft, but a unique combat meeting of two battalions - in my opinion more than
      1. voyaka uh
        voyaka uh 5 January 2017 13: 07
        Thanks for the criticism. I do not find fault with the article as a whole, I wanted to emphasize
        a matter of group tactics.
  7. parusnik
    parusnik 5 January 2017 10: 13
    To decompose the army to begin with, and then call upon it to fight to the victorious end ... Hurry to form shock battalions for this ..
  8. soldier
    soldier 5 January 2017 10: 20
    Yes, the Provisional Government did everything to destroy the army. When God wants to punish, he takes away the mind
  9. midshipman
    midshipman 5 January 2017 11: 10
    In the Red Army, assault groups operated on December 7, 1941 during the liberation of Tikhvin. Success was impressive. I have the honor.
  10. Lieutenant Teterin
    Lieutenant Teterin 5 January 2017 11: 19
    Article plus. Little has been written about the actions of both German assault groups and Russian strike battalions, although it should be noted that theorists, as well as practitioners of the future, World War II, will largely rely on their experience when developing new tactics. To the author - my gratitude for the work done! hi
  11. Monarchist
    Monarchist 5 January 2017 21: 02
    People say about these stormtroopers: "the good fellow is against the sheep, but the sheep is against the good fellow." In essence, Guderian repeated the technique of these battalions: flank attacks. The trick is not new, but effective
  12. Caretaker
    Caretaker 6 January 2017 18: 35
    Thanks to the author for an interesting article, special thanks for the photos.
    It would be interesting to read an equally thoroughly illustrated article about drummers, perhaps several articles.
    1. OAV09081974
      6 January 2017 19: 02
      Good evening! In the near future I will try)
  13. OAV09081974
    6 January 2017 19: 06
    And thanks to all the forum participants for their appreciation!