During the First World War, the Russian fortress Osovets became famous, successfully holding out against the German troops in 1914 - 1915. For almost a year, the fortress performed the most important tasks. And in February - August, 1915, the city of Osovets, withstood the advance of the German troops, resisting for more than half a year the superior forces and means of the enemy. The fortress did not fall under the onslaught of the enemy, but was evacuated due to the implementation of the strategic rollback of the Russian army in the field (the Great Retreat). The heroic Osovets (after the explosion of the fortifications) was abandoned by the August 9 garrison, and the Germans occupied its 12 ruins in August 1915.
The reflection of the gas attack of the 24 Germans on July 1915 by the Germans became especially famous. These events were connected with the following facts.
1) Perhaps the first time in a world war, the enemy failed to assault the fortress, using his famous 420-mm mortars. It was under the impression of this failure that the Germans decided to take the fortress by storm, using chemical weapon.
420-mm Krupp howitzer.
Hit a 420-mm projectile into a brick shed. Khmelkov S. Fight for Osovets. M., 1939.
Types of shells German siege artillery. Ibid.
2) The Germans had an overwhelming superiority in manpower. By the time of the attack in question, the forward position of the fortress on the front of Bialogronda-Sosnya was occupied by 8 Russian companies, including 3 militia companies; in the general reserve of positions there was a company of militias. Against our two battalions, the Germans had about 12-ti battalions.
Chronicle of the war 1914-15 No. 23.
3) Chemical reinforcement was unprecedented: more than 30 gas batteries with several thousand cylinders were installed to prepare for the assault.
German gas battery.
4) Measures to combat chemical weapons, used by Russian troops, did not produce any special results. So, in 4 hours of July 24, the gas attack was carried out on the 20-kilometer front — and a thick cloud, 10-12 meters in height, was overflowing Russian trenches in 5 minutes — 10 minutes. Antigas dressings did not perform well; burning straw and tow in front of the trenches, pouring and spraying lime mortar also did not give a noticeable result. The first victims fell intelligence groups and secrets. Almost all the defenders of the 1, 2, 4, and partially 3 sections of the Sosnenskaya position were fatally poisoned, as well as much of the reserve company. The vegetation was burned within a radius of more than 12 kilometers, and the poisonous gas struck the garrison of the fortress itself, penetrating even into tightly closed rooms.
5) But the effect of gases partially reduced local soil conditions and air condition: the morning was foggy, cold and damp, and the gas, partially passing over the river, marsh and water ditches, was largely neutralized, which saved the garrison from catastrophic losses. The enemy attempted to compensate for this by using chemical projectiles — under his cover, the advance of his infantry began. Ahead went the scouts in the number of 200 people from each regiment; followed by two thick lines of chains, the assault units were moving.
6) Russian shooters and machine gunners played an important role in successfully repelling the German attack. On the 1 site, only the 2 machine gunner remained alive - but they were so weak from gas that they did not have the strength to open fire and died right there in the machine gun nest. When the Germans, quickly cutting passages in three lanes of a wire fence, occupied the positions of the 1 section and penetrated from the flank to the 2 section, which also lost almost all defenders, the only surviving machine gunner managed to release two ribbons at an emphasis and fell on the machine gun, not having time to put the 3 tape into it.
Chronicle of the war 1914-15 No. 65.
But at the position south of der. Leonov, in the 3 area, surrounded by Russian fighters from all sides, continued to fight back. The advance units of the Germans, advancing along the railway, appeared already in front of the reserve trenches. The area of Bialogronda, where 20 people survived with 2 machine guns, repelled all enemy attacks, and the Germans attempted to cover Russian positions from the north, were parried by a team of scouts sent from a neighboring regiment.
24 July. Attack the advanced positions of Bialogronda-Sosnya. Khmelkov S. Decree. cit.
Fort No. 1 (central). Ibid.
7) German infantry seriously suffered from its own gases. So, taking der. Pine, she lost for this reason about 1 thousand people.
8) The serf artillery played a more than significant role - it opened a strong barrage, which dispersed the rearguard lines of the attackers and cut off enemy units that broke into the Russian position from support from the rear.
Armored battery on Skobel's mountain. Ibid.
9) Throughout the war, the active Russian infantry showed its impulse: using the success of the barrage fire, the bloodless 13, 14 and 8 companies of the 226 Zemlyansky Infantry Regiment carried out their immortal counterattack - so on. "Attack of the Dead". The first of them, having arisen from the clubs of the chemical cloud, attacked along the railway, knocked the Germans with a bayonet and, with the support of the 8-th company, captured the lost 1-m and 2-m combat sections. In the hands of the enemy, Leonov remained the stronghold, whose counterattack was hampered by his own wire obstacles. I had to attack in the course of the message, resorting to trench combat with hand grenades. In order to speed things up, the fire of nine heavy and two light batteries was concentrated in the yard of Leonov, and from the Bialogrond position and from the 1 section, machine-gun fire was opened in the rear of the enemy. As a result, the Germans who occupied the trenches were killed and the entire position again passed into the hands of the Russians. At the same time, the 14 Company took possession of the der. Pine.
T. o. by 11 hours, 7 hours after the start of the gas attack, the assault was repulsed, and the position was restored.
10. "Attack of the Dead". Artist E. Ponomarev.
10) It is a fact that, in addition to the courage of the garrison, the main reasons for a successful reflection of the assault were: 1) the hardness of the defenders of the 3 battlefield, continuing defense, despite being surrounded by the enemy, cutting the front of the attackers into two isolated groups, easing the counterattack; 2) reflected attacks on Bialogronda, which was largely due to the support of a neighboring regiment from Buda, which paralyzed the coverage of the position; 3) timely opening of barrage of artillery fire, which deprived the enemy of the support of reserves per minute of the Russian counterattack; 4) skillful use of artillery fire to capture the stronghold at the yard of Leonov.
24 July 1915 - the apogee of the heroic defense of Osovets - “Brest Fortress of the First World War”, is an example not only of courage and heroism, but also the effectiveness of the actions of the Russian Imperial Army.
Chronicle of the war 1914-15 No. 23.