M. N. Arkhipov recalled how the 4-I Finnish Infantry Brigade, taking up a position along the river. Malkien was preparing for the crossing: there were no pontoons, and General V. I. Selivachev ordered to assemble boats and knit rafts. The tombs of the Germans marched along the coast, observed day and night - including with the help of rockets. V. I. Selivachev refused to force, fearing large losses, and this decision was right - the offensive of the neighboring units threatened the enemy with a detour, and the Germans left positions on the river without a fight. An eyewitness recalled the heroic deed of lieutenant artillery Zichman. The Finnish people complained about the heavy machine-gun fire of the Germans - and at night Zikhman installed a gun right in the rifle trench. At dawn, the gunners opened direct fire - and broke the German machine-gun nests. The enemy responded with his artillery fire - and the lieutenant died the death of the brave.
14. The commander of the 4 th Finnish Infantry Brigade, Major General V. I. Selivachev.
The night and day of 19, September, Siberians were fighting hard near Rachka. Moreover, the left-flank 8-I Siberian Rifle Division, located in the area of Khodorka-Rudniki-Konetspol, was overtaken by the Germans from the left flank and forced, turning to the west, to fight on the front of the Stokes-Konsbor-Kurianka. The 7-I Siberian Rifle Division and the 2-I Finnish Rifle Brigade fought on the Olshanka-Yurizdyk front, also gradually turning to the west and adjoining its right flank to the 4-F Finnish Rifle Brigade (concentrated in the Plotsichno-Gavrikhruda-Yurizdyk area). 2-th Caucasian Army Corps fought on the line Tartak - Lake. Perth - Kaletnik.
The enemy suffered a heavy defeat and began to retreat along the whole front - from Kaletniki (north-east of Suvalki) to Barglov (east of Raygorod). On September 20, on the 12 watch, the 2 Caucasian Army Corps occupied Suwalki, advancing to Bacalarzhevo. The 3 th Siberian Army and 22 th Army Corps moved to Rachki.
The retreat of the Germans sometimes assumed a disorderly character, Russian troops got trophies and property thrown by the enemy. The Germans left the wounded soldiers, throwing artillery guns and property. V.E. Flug wrote that concerted actions and valor of the Finnish and Siberian shooters were crowned with desired success: the enemy suffered heavy losses, was knocked down from positions everywhere and began to hastily retreat, leaving prisoners, guns and machine guns. The German front south of Suwalki was broken through.
The operational initiative of the German 8 Army was lost. V.E. Flug noted with satisfaction that in less than a week the enemy’s breakthrough to the Neman was completely eliminated. By its maneuver, having entered the enemy’s communications, the 10 Army forced it to clear the 50 kilometer lane east of the city of Augustów and, returning the lost freedom of maneuvering, restored close combat contact with the left flank of the 1 Army.
German counterstrike and the resumption of the Russian offensive. 22. - 30. 09. 1914
The retreating Germans, seeing the threat of a new Russian invasion of East Prussia, decided to fight back before the border. The oncoming battle unfolded.
2 of the Caucasian Army Corps 22 of September reflected the enemy’s counterstrike and fought at Ganch-Khmelyuvka, the Siberians were at Rachka, the Turkestani fought at Graev-Lyk-Raygorod, and the Finnish of 22-rd army corps at Bacalarzhev. The fact that these battles were stubborn is evidenced by the fact that the 13 th Grenadier Life Regiment of the Erivan Regiment during 21 - September 24 lost the 18 officers and before the 500 the Grenadier, and the 16 Grenadier Mingrelian regiment just behind 21 - 23 September officers.
But the enemy’s counterattack was repulsed.
As the Russian commander noted, the Germans who had gone on the defensive fought extremely hard on the whole front - they were pushing everything that was possible to the battlefield and went into violent counterattacks, especially on the front of the 2 of the Caucasian corps, which suffered significant losses. But success leaned toward the Russian weapons - especially in the area of the 22 body. Under the command of his decisive commander von der Brinken, displaying high enthusiasm (and despite the serious fatigue of the troops who were in battle for a week), the corps decided the fate of the battle. Finnish arrows in these battles captured the enemy battery.
It should be noted that the advance of the Russian troops on the Kalvariya-Suwalki-Augustow front was developing at a much slower pace than the first invasion of East Prussia in August. Many tactical errors were taken into account, and special attention was paid to the positioning of the captured terrain and the defense of the flanks of the assault force.
Success could have been more significant if the offensive of the 10 Army had not been hampered by intervention from above. So, on September 10, on the basis of some dubious data, the commander-in-chief of the front ordered it to be suspended. Time has been lost.
The delay and postponement of the 10 Army’s onslaught became the main reason for the failure of the renewed late attack.
But the culprit was found - he became the commander of the winner, V. E. Flug. If the front commander, commander 3 of the Siberian and 22 corps and commandant Osovets were awarded, then the commander of the 10 army and the head of staff of the latter were expelled from their posts and sent “at disposal” (the Supreme Commander - commander and commander-in-chief of the armies of the North -West front - chief of staff).
15. Chief of Staff 10 A Lieutenant-General S. D. Markov.
Commenting on this situation, A. Kersnovsky wrote that the Russian 10 Army defeated the German 8 Army — but, despite the victory, Commander V. Ye. Flug was removed from his post: the offensive directives of the General frightened the craven command of the front. In the actions of the winner, the commander of the front, N. V. Ruzsky, and the head of the front headquarters, M. D. Bonch-Bruyevich, saw “dangerous activity”. Moreover, the front headquarters FORBIDED the armies to use their victory, inflicting a flank blow from Graev and further to the rear of the Germans, ordering them to act by the cordon method, lining the hull shoulder to shoulder. According to the apt expression of A. A. Kersnovsky, “Gofkrygsrat of the North-Western Front” planned to take Suwalki on 22 September, and V. E. Flug, having captured this city on 2 the day before, 20 September, incurred the wrath of N. V Ruzsky - for the lack of "methods".
The officer of the 4 of the Finnish brigade so conveyed the impression of the commanding staff of the army about the dismissal of VE Flugh from the post: “Not much time had passed, and we were saddened to learn that General Flug, who was in command of our 10 army, was removed from the post. For what? Why? What happened? Full bewilderment. Then we learned: "For the late manifestation of the initiative." The general who was the first to inflict great defeat on the presumptuous Germans, lifted the spirit of the troops with this first victory and almost drove the Germans out of the Russian land, was convicted by his boss ... and 150 years ago for the same successful manifestation of the initiative, Empress Catherine II not only condemned the winner, but generously rewarded and said immortal words: "The winner is not judged."
From the tactical and operational points of view, the battles near Avgustov became a Russian victory. The Stavka summary reported: “The battle of Augustus ended in the victory of our troops over the Germans. German troops in disarray hastily retreat to their borders. " The representative of the British command under the Russian Army A. Knox noted: “the newly formed 10 Army (V. E. Fluga, later F. Sivers), defeated the Germans near Avgustov.”
The official description of the 1914 campaign on the Russian front noted: “Our troops ... acting decisively and bravely, shot down the Germans in the most important directions, overturning into the August forest-swamp forest and the lake region north of it. The Germans fought with extreme stubbornness, but in the end we got the upper hand, displacing the enemy gradually lingering at every turn from the borders of the Suwalki and Lomzhinskaya provinces. Especially serious and persistent battles took place in the Suwalki area. The Germans suffered heavy losses here and were forced to give up their positions. ”
All three phases of the operation were won by the Russian army. Considering that the operations of 1914 were characterized, above all, by the struggle for the Russian Polish “balcony”, the preservation of the status quo can be counted in favor of the Russians. Both sides fettered each other - in this context, we should talk about the fulfillment of the objectives of the operation by both sides, although the chilling maneuver, based on the balance of forces, was more successful for the Germans.
V.E. Flug defined the results of his army’s activities in the 2-weekly operation: 1) The Germans were driven back from the Neman and forced to hasty withdrawal; 2) Osovets released; 3) managed to capture Augustov and defeat the Germans in the August forests; 4) almost the entire Russian territory west of the middle reaches of the river. Neman cleared of the enemy; 5) The troops of the 10 Army invaded East Prussia, capturing the years. Lyk and Byala; 6) The Germans have lost the initiative and the ability to: a) do something against the rear of the Russian armies at cf. Vistula; b) to strengthen, at the expense of East Prussia, their troops assigned to deliver the main attack - in Poland.
Russian total losses (killed, wounded and missing) - to 20 thousand people. German casualties by all participants in these battles are characterized as very high: "The Neman was red with blood."
An eyewitness, describing the loss of the Germans under the Suwalki, noted that the whole way of their retreat was littered with German corpses. According to the testimony of prisoners, in the companies left on 20 people. The Finnish shooter recalled: “On the battlefield, during the harvesting and burial of the murdered Germans, which took place on September 20, as well as during the evacuation of the wounded Germans ... it turned out that they belonged to 18 in different regiments after the interrogation. ... The killed Germans and Russians were buried in the forest at the battle site in two mass graves. The number of those killed, indicated on the crosses, was almost the same: Germans, I remember, 294, Russians - 287. But, taking into account that the Germans themselves had buried their dead men who had been taken out of the battle in the village of Gavrikhud, the losses of the Germans were greater than ours, they were enormous. ”
But V. Ye. Flug authoritatively noted that “the loss of Germans is not less than ours,” that is, also no less than 20 of thousands of fighters. Opponent on the pages of the Reichsarkhiv (Reichsarchiv. Der Weltkrieg 1914 – 1918. Bd 5. Berlin, 1929. S. 548) estimated the total losses of the 8 Army in September and the 1 half of October in 20 thousand people - that is, for a period longer than the first August operation.
16. Niva. 1915. No. 4.
The Russians captured up to 3 thousands of prisoners (2,5 thousands were taken by the 10 army - including 1 thousands under Suwalki - Augustus 20 of September), 22 guns, at least 16 machine guns, cars, several dozen charging boxes, carrying vehicles and other property (only during 20 September 2 guns and 7 vehicles were seized). Reichsarkhiv materials confirm this data.
During the fierce battles, the sides suffered heavy losses, up to 20% of the number of German and up to 17% of the number of Russian groups.
17. Russian grave at the Augustus Forest. Chronicle of the war 1914 of the year. - 1914. - No. 14.
The specificity and degree of intensity of the August battles were remembered by their participants for a long time. Thus, the front-line soldier recalled that "All forests were dug over by trenches." The Germans bombarded the Russians with heavy projectiles, inflicting heavy losses on them, but they themselves were also hard hit. They could not stand the Russian onslaught, and retreated. Russian troops reached Rachki - where 23 - September 25 was a continuous artillery battle. The picture was terrifying: the continuous lines of the forest trenches were filled to the top with corpses.
An eyewitness recalled how the gunners, letting the Germans at close range, fired at their column in direct fire. Evaluating the enemy’s losses, he noted that it’s difficult to estimate how many Germans were killed here, but this number is enormous - for example, a German mass grave was found during the attack, to which was attached a note listing the 452 buried, then the same grave with 42 names, and There were a lot of such graves around.
The tactics of V.E. Flug allowed the Russian infantry to display their excellent qualities in the August forests, where bayonet and hand-to-hand fighting were actively used. An eyewitness recalled how, on one of the 11 hours, a forest battle was fought - at the 20-100 meter distance. The soldiers slowly moved among the trunks of huge thick trees, ran across the clearing dug in the trenches, knocking the Germans with bayonets. The soldiers liked it in the woods - it was harder there because they lost contact with their neighbors, but it was easier because they were “freer” from artillery.
A war correspondent wrote about a fight between Caucasians and Germans: how Germans bypassed Russians bypassed, but the latter, jumping out of their trench, broke into the enemy, seized it with a bayonet strike - and then, on the backs of the escaping Germans, broke into the 2 tier of enemy trenches . The correspondent called the continuous web of these forest trenches an eternal monument to the valor of Russian soldiers and officers. After all, someone else would backslide in front of such an irresistible position. And Russian soldiers, dotting the moats and trenches with corpses, took bayonets one position after another. The Germans beat them from failures, shot them from trees, ran from trench to trench, hit broken fighters in the back - from disguised dugouts. But they did not manage to stop the valiant Russian troops.
Later in the wilds of August there were many bodies, as if embraced - people died, clutching, and even death did not unclench their hands. 8000 Germans, the correspondent noted, buried only in the August forests. But there are no buried ones either - and only you will depart from the road, as from stumps you see wide open eyes looking at you.
And, as the eyewitness noted, “the German army will remember the August forests”!
18. German trench in the woods.
To be continued