Night time imposed restrictions on pursuing the enemy after a successful fight — it was prescribed to pursue under exceptionally favorable conditions and only for a short distance.
The most important thing for the troops who successfully spent the night offensive battle was to gain a foothold in the captured positions. Counterattack of the enemy in the night battle posed an increased danger.
The defense ordered reserves to be held at closer distances than in a day battle, and to concentrate troop groups (“ledges”) on the flanks to protect them from enemy coverage. Artillery in the night defensive battle must effectively shoot through probable approaches to the position, and the cavalry is located on the flanks and in the rear.
Also of particular importance was attached to the secrets, outposts, field guards and patrols.
It was prescribed to open fire from guns and machine guns according to daytime guidance, and rifle fire to point-blank. Night artillery actions are expressed in night occupation and equipment positions or their replacement under the cover of darkness, as well as in night firing with the light (in advance) occupied and shot positions. Night artillery fire is applicable in a positional war from both the defender and the attacking, and in the maneuverable war from the defender. The fire is carried out mainly in order to form a fire curtain in a certain area of the position - the night barrage should cover the trenches of its infantry from the enemy attack and counteract the enemy’s infantry to approach its position, and to counter the enemy when counterattacking.
The night attack was usually prepared and carried out in the following sequence.
The order about the attack was given a few hours before darkness, reconnaissance of the offensive paths was made, assembly points for movement and initial lines for the attack were appointed. All the excess was left in the rear, especially horses and carts. If it was impossible to do without horses, measures were taken so that they did not snort and laugh. Hooves and wagon wheels were tied with straw and rags. Conditional words (pass) were assigned and white bandages were put on, sometimes impregnated with phosphorus (visibility up to 30 steps). The stock of hand grenades on the fighters increased. Rifles discharged. Were scissors for cutting wire, lighting and signal flares. Signals were set up by rockets and sound signals (the cry of birds, animals, etc.). It was forbidden to talk, smoke, light a fire, knock. Conductors were assigned, and places of stops were designated by conventional signs. The attack was made without shouting "Hurray" and without a shot.
Russian troops were able to effectively operate in a night battle. The night is a reliable ally of the Russian troops.
Thus, during the night battle of 8 December, 1914 near the village of Kleshov-Rembov of the 3 Grenadier Division regained their position at the front, capturing important strongholds. Having lost 70 people killed and 363 wounded, the grenadiers of the 3 division destroyed 950 enemy soldiers and officers, captured 1361 prisoner, 24 machine gun and 4 guns became trophies.
The document, which reported on the actions of Russian troops during the Warsaw-Ivangorod operation 1914, witnessed how one of the Russian corps used night attacks for three nights in a row — despite the specific nature of the bridgehead and heavy losses, the troops fought aggressively and with great enthusiasm [Collection of documents of the world imperialist war on the Russian front (1914 — 1917). Warsaw-Ivangorod operation. M., 1938. C. 207.].
During the January battles 1915, on the river. Bzura's goal for the Russians was to break through the German positions - for which a number of night attacks were undertaken. On the night of January 22, the 5 Company of the 199 Infantry Regiment and the 2 Battalion of the 313 Infantry Regiment took part in the attack. The attack was unexpected - no artillery preparation was made. The night was very dark, in some places the Russian fighters walked on their knees in the water (thaw). The 5 mouth of the 199 regiment crossed Bzuru, and without opening fire, M. Kamion captured the bayonet, having dug in to the south. The wire (1 - 2 series), which surrounded the German positions, was cut with scissors. The offensive was carried out in a column by branches, and a fully deployed formation was partially built for the attack, while partly they were in half-company columns.
23-th artillery preparation was started, but it was conducted in the dark and did not give results. At 20 hours the infantry went on the attack. The battalion of the 199 th regiment moved to village B. Camion, without opening fire, knocked out the enemy and captured the village. The 313 th regiment advanced only to D. M. Kamion.
24 of January The 199 of the regiment, despite the Germans' fire from the 3 sides, held out at the occupied positions until dark. Reserves came - the 13 Grenadier Regiment and the 2 Company 199 Regiment. The attack of the church was to be carried out by life grenadiers with the support of the 199 regiment (one company of the last attacked the grove south of the church, the other ledge to the left, two more in reserve). The attack was launched in 3 hours 40 minutes - parts went in extended formations without a shot - in complete silence. The Germans opened a strong fire, and then rushed to the counterattack, starting a stubborn hand-to-hand fight. From the north, the grenadiers broke into the church and around 4 hours 20 minutes the Germans (in the number of 600 people) surrendered. The losses of the grenadier and infantry of the 199 regiment are over 2000 people.
Before the night attack on the 384 heights at Bobulinz during the December operation on the Stryp 1915, the night attack was prepared very carefully. The commanders (with company commanders) of the attacking 3 of the Turkestan rifle brigade personally conducted reconnaissance - from the forward trenches. So that during the attack heights the advancing units did not stray from the desired direction - the main point of attack was illuminated by a searchlight. The passages in the wire obstacles were punched by artillery in advance, the artillery was shot at enemy firing points and trenches. Moreover, the artillery was targeted at targets on the second line of defense and in neighboring combat areas. With the help of colored rockets between the infantry and artillery interaction was established. On the eve of the attack, the sappers and scouts made additional passes in the enemy’s wire barriers with scissors and explosive charges. In order to support the attack on the flanks of the 3 brigade, machine guns were shot in advance, both by brigades and by the 43 division.
The order of battle was echeloned — the regiments of the first wave were to capture the position of the Austrians, advancing to enemy artillery positions and gain a foothold, and the regiments of the second wave were supposed to leverage and secure the flanks of the first line.
Due to the lack of artillery ammunition, artillery preparation was minimized - and, since the artillery was not able to adequately prepare the attack of the shooters (heavy artillery fired only 900 shells - a tiny amount), the calculation was based on the tactical surprise factor.
The main enemy defense line was a wire fence with a depth from 8 to 10 stakes, the 2-I forward 4-5 stakes strip - with festoons (not solid) (where the outposts were located). Hand grenades and empty cans of canned food hung on the front page, and pits were dug around the barriers.
25 December 1915, around 5, the crew prepared for a night attack on the 1-km distance from 384 altitude. The spotlight at Dobropolis should have highlighted the target of the attack. Two brigade regiments turned around in the 1 line on the 2-3-km front, they got the 2 regiment of the second line at a distance of 500 m from the first echelon regiments. Each regiment of the first echelon on its kilometer front had two battalions in the first line and two in the second. The regiments of the second echelon also echeloned battalions in depth. The companies formed three assault waves: the first wave of attack, the second wave of trench sweepers, the third wave of supports.
The organization of the movement was such that only by the 7-mi hours, when the hands approached the enemy wire barriers, they were noticed - and the enemy opened fire. The Austrians did not expect this - that is, a tactical surprise was achieved.
Gunners and machine-gunners opened fire on the gun emplacement points and trenches, silencing the enemy. The arrows cleared and widened the aisles in the dilapidated fences.
By the 8 minutes of 30 minutes, the Turkestans had crossed all the 3 defensive lines - and the resistance of the Austrians who had begun to surrender with whole companies had ceased. Some avant-garde companies reached artillery positions, capturing 12 guns. Tactical breakthrough success. According to Russian data, 21 officer, 1056 lower ranks and 2 machine guns have become trophies.
But those who broke through fell under gunfire and artillery fire from the 3-s sides - because of the Strypy (the enemy's rear line of defense) and from the flanks - from the heights of 382 and 380. Formed fire bag. The attackers also could not penetrate deeply - stumbling on the rear line of the enemy’s defense, and so on. “Cutoff positions” (braided with wire barriers) on the flanks.
By focusing their reserves on commanding heights, the Austrians struck a counterstroke about 10 hours after powerful artillery preparation. And the support of the Turkestani and the development success rate (3 regiment of the 43 th infantry division) could not overcome the enemy barrage. As a result, the Austrian artillery cut off the broken arrows from the reserves.
The offensive units of the 26 and 43 divisions, which inflicted an auxiliary strike, stumbled upon an unbroken wire fence, choked.
The attack site (about 2-x km along the front), was subjected to the crossfire of the enemy’s light and heavy artillery — not being able to advance, caught in the artillery and machine-gun fire bag from the 3-nd side, the arrows suffered losses. The matter was complicated by the fact that, without adjusting the fire, the Russian artillery covered its own soldiers in the captured enemy trenches.
Not having time to dig in under heavy fire, shot from almost all directions, counterattack by enemy infantry, after 10 hours 30 minutes, the Turkestans began to retreat from the height they had captured; having lost up to 1 thousands of people prisoners and leaving captured 12 guns. The Austrians declared 700 Russian prisoners.
The secondary attack of the Turkestans did not succeed - the arrows began to consolidate among the wire obstacles - in direct contact with the Austrians.
Team brigade losses - 52 officer and 3642 lower ranks (over half of the compound). Tactically unsuccessful offensive in Bobulinze is a model of competent implementation of the surprise factor and successful night attack. It was possible to realize a full-fledged tactical breakthrough of the enemy positional front - and with minimal ammunition consumption. The gunners were able, on the one hand, to provide the necessary number of passes in the wire obstacles, but on the other hand, the fact of fire in their units greatly contributed to the curtailment of a successful offensive. The fact that the artillery was unable to accompany its advancing infantry with fire and to effectively carry out the counter battery battle had a serious impact on the outcome of the battle.
24 December 1916, during the Mitava operation, Russian troops captured a German position during the night attack, known as the “German machine-gun slide”. "Hill" was fortified by the Germans very strongly and skillfully. It was surrounded by deep trenches, dressed with solid logs, there were numerous strips of wire barriers, partly hidden in the moats; powerful dugouts could withstand heavy artillery fire; along the line of the trenches went electric narrow gauge. Numerous, perfectly hidden machine guns and strong artillery contributed to the fact that the "Hill" was considered impregnable.
But in the course of a sudden night attack, the Latvian rifle units broke through the front of the German trenches to the left of the Gorki and went out to its rear. According to a previously elaborated and carefully thought-out plan, the Russian artillery placed a fire curtain in the rear and on the flanks of the machine-gun hill. The reserves of the Germans could not come to the rescue - the “Gorka” was cut off and fell into the hands of the Russians.
Successfully operated the Russian part and a number of other large and small nightly battles.
Without fire training, sudden and night attacks were possible. Darkness deprived the enemy of the opportunity to use all their resources and technical means of warfare. In combination with surprise, such a maneuver led to the necessary tactical result. Especially effective night battles on its territory. So, in August 1915 g. with. Piotrokovo, Wyshki (near Belsk), Russian troops, leading a rearguard battle, attacked units of the German 125 Infantry Regiment. The German front-line soldier recalled: “... it was possible to discern in the dark, above the horizon line, a wide black mass that was silently approaching. It was a Russian battalion, which, like the entire regiment, received an order to detain us, in order to ensure the loading of units in nearby Belsk. Despite the strong fire, the enemy, without a shot and without a sound, moving forward with a close mass with guns on his arm, went forward until he crashed into our ranks ... Attackingly attacked with terrible calmness, and heavy losses. "
The forest battle was of particular concern for the attacker — it was enough to imagine the whole difficulty of the attack through the forest. The defender could persevere against superior enemy forces, whose artillery would be constrained by terrain conditions. The close interaction of the advancing shooters with machine guns, mortars, and tracking artillery is necessary.
In defense of the forest, the use of machine guns and the successful use of hand grenades had a decisive influence. Like fighting in populated areas, forestry combat required the presence of independent initiative actions by junior commanders and individual fighters, and numerical superiority was of secondary importance in comparison with the bravery of a fighter in melee combat.
9. German scouts.
The terrain of the Russian front contributed to the presence of a large number of forest battles, in which the Russian army felt very confident.
Thus, during the East Prussian 1914 operation on 16, the August Goltz Landver Division fought in the Kemmerey Forest, and von der Goltz himself had to take part in it - his headquarters was dispersed by the onslaught of the Russian infantry, which overturned its units.
The first August 1914 operation was won primarily due to the ability of the Russian troops to operate in the forest. The eyewitness noted the specifics of forestry at a distance of 20-100 steps. The fighters moved among the trunks of old pines in 2 girth, running across the meadows, dug trenches, knocking out the Germans with bayonets. In the forest it was “freer” from artillery - only the roads were showered with hail of grenades and shrapnel, and under the trees it was easy [Fights on the Neman and in the August forests. Odessa, 1914. C. 13.].
Russian units took bayonets position by position. The enemy hit the fighters from above, behind, in the back - but could not stop the Russian regiments.
10. German defense in the forest.
11. After the forest battle. Fallen Russian fighters.
Russian units skillfully maneuvered. So, 19 September 1914, in the course of the First August operation 3, the Finnish rifle brigade in a forest battle near der. Gavrikhruda, knocked over the Germans, and, seizing 3 guns, captured the forest.
12. Forest trenches with a bunk defense.
The Carpathian battle, the battles of Krasnnostav 1915, and others. Fights in the area, complicated by the presence of forests - a vivid example of the tactical skills of soldiers and officers of the Russian Imperial Army.
13. In the Carpathians.