After the failure of the plans to quickly defeat the French army and capture Paris, the futility of continuing the war on two fronts became apparent to the German command. In 1915, it decided to focus its main efforts on the Eastern Front, surround and defeat the Russian army on the territory of Poland and, thus, lead Russia out of the war.
In the winter of 1915, Germany and its allies launched an offensive from the north (from East Prussia) and the south (from the region of the Carpathians) in order to encircle the Russian army on the Warsaw salient. Despite the desperate efforts of the German forces advancing from East Prussia, they failed to defeat the 10 Russian army, break through and close their ticks in the rear of the Eastern Front.
In East Prussia, Russian corps suffered heavy losses in heavy defensive battles, retreated, but kept the front. The same picture was repeated during the re-summer German offensive: the heroic defense of the Russian troops again thwarted the plans of the Germans to end the Eastern Front.
As a result, in the 1915 campaign on the Eastern Front, Germany achieved tactical successes, but on the whole the campaign ended with a strategic failure for it.
Germany continued to fight on two fronts, the war took a positional character. There was no chance of winning a protracted war of attrition on the Triple Alliance. Thus, the battles of 1915 of the year predetermined the outcome of the First World War long before its end.
... Before World War I, Mazuria, known as the land of pristine forests and lakes, was the southern part of German East Prussia. The winter battle in Masuria (in Russian literature, the East Prussian operation 1915 or 2, the August operation) began on January 25 (February to the present 7) 1915, with the blow of 8 of the German army in the direction of Verzhbolovo and Suwalki. It turned out to be completely unexpected for the Russian command. The strike force of the 10 of the German army bypassed the right flank of the 10 of the Russian army and forced it to retreat to the east. German troops managed to encircle General P.I.'s 20 Army Corps. Bulgakov, who continued to fight in the encirclement in the forests south-east of the city of Augustow, and for ten days delayed the advance of the main forces of the German 10.
3 th Siberian Army Corps of General N.A. Rodkevich (even before the revolution, the incorrect spelling of his name as Radkevich) became widespread, he defended stubbornly in the cities of Lyk, Graevo, and Raygorod and did not let the Germans break through the front. According to many authors, the actions of the 3 of the Siberian Army Corps saved 10's army of General F.V. Sivers from complete destruction, allowed her to retreat and take up defenses in the area of the Beaver River and the fortress of Osovets.
So, the German command managed to secretly concentrate forces and ensure a surprise offensive in East Prussia. On the eve of his commencement, by order of the highest authorities, a plan was developed at the headquarters of the 8 Siberian Rifle Division for attacking fortified German positions in the area of the Mazury lakes. According to this plan, the 29 th Siberian rifle regiment was to attack in the area of Lake Ruden See. However, the plans of the Russian troops were thwarted by the German offensive.
25 January 1915 (according to Art. Art.) At 3 hour. 15 min. The headquarters of 3 of the Siberian Army Corps received a telegram from General Arkhipov about the attack from Rujan on the enemy's Snonken, whose forces were not identified. The following report spoke about the onset of significant enemy forces from the west and southwest.
On the night of 27 on 28 in January 1915 (according to Art. Art.) The regiment was ordered to begin a retreat, the secrecy of which was provided by the reconnaissance team, who took up the regimental position with a rare chain and continued the rare exchange of fire with the Germans.
On January 29 (according to Art. Art.) At 1 hour of 47 minutes of the day two advancing German columns overtook the regiment, the Siberian arrows opened a cursory rifle and machine-gun fire on them. This did not stop the Germans, their offensive was favored by a strong snowstorm, which did not allow to see a person further than 100 steps. The blizzard was filled up with hastily constructed trenches, rifles and machine guns were covered with an ice crust and refused to act. Soon the Germans pulled the artillery, which began shelling the positions of the Siberian shooters.
The regimental journal of military actions testifies to the fierce nature of the battles, the courage displayed in them and the high fighting spirit of the Russian and German troops: “Using the machine-gun fire, the Germans launched an attack, but the attack was repelled by the fire of the 2 Company. At the same time, the attack was carried out on the 3 company as well, but it was also repelled. Pulling up machine guns, the enemy opened an energetic fire at the location of the 3 company. Having prepared an attack with machine gun fire, the enemy launched a quick attack on the site of the 3 company, the arrows did not stand up and retreated. The only company officer, Second Lieutenant Blokhin, was injured by this time.
The enemy took advantage of this breakthrough to move to the rear of the battle formation of the 1 battalion, but the energetic counterattack of the 4 company was overturned. Recovering, the Germans again went on the attack, which was also repulsed. After the second attack, followed by the third, but was repelled. After the third attack, the Germans played some kind of signal, and the attacks no longer repeated.
On the left combat area, the battle developed as follows: the enemy opened heavy artillery fire, shells hit the trenches directly. Despite this terrible artillery fire and the fact that the enemy engulfed our left flank (there was no connection with the 31 regiment), the companies kept their positions. To counter the grip, the front of the position was changed by folding the left flank. In the evening, the enemy led the attack, but she was repelled by fire.
The 2 Battalion, located in the village of Ballamutoven, received an order to move to the village of Kroleven and further into the forest, west of this village near the railway line and attack the enemy in the flank, which was done. The result of the attack: prisoners 1 officer and 28 of the lower ranks, the enemy rejected behind Lake Zavind-Zee ".
In the 29 Siberian Rifle Regiment, my maternal great-grandfather's brother, Fyodor Lukyanovich Skvortsov, fought, to whom my article “St. George's Crosses of St. George” in the Internet newspaper “Centenary” was devoted. At the time of its writing, there was no exact information about the circumstances of his awarding the St. George cross of the 1 degree. In the course of further archival search, it was possible to find a list of the lower ranks of the 6 of the company, presented for rewarding with St. George's crosses. Among them:
“1. Under the warrant officer Alexei Grigorievich Ilyushin 29.01.1915, during the battle near the village of Chervonkin, after being wounded he returned to service after the bandaging with full armament and ammunition made in the field and again took part in the battle, remained in the chain until the end of the battle, and was again wounded. It seems to be awarded GK 3 Art. Has GK 4 Art., Is wounded.
2. Sub-ensign Fedor Lukyanovich Skvortsov 29.01.1915, during the attack of the enemy, located near the village of Chervonkin, set an example to the lower ranks by personal fearlessness and inspiring them, he first attacked the bayonets. It seems to be awarded GK 1 Art.
Has GK 4 Art., Submitted to 3 and 2 Art., Composed of wounded.
3. S.o.o. Ilya Kharlamovich Voronov 29.01.1915, during the battle near the village of Chervonkin, commanding a platoon and being on the front line with personal courage and bravery contributed to repulsing the enemy's attack with excellent forces, and, despite strong enemy gun and machine-gun fire, he kept the area entrusted to him and, going to the counter attack knocked out the enemy. It seems to be awarded GK 4 Art. It consists on the face (that is, it is not in the hospital, but in part - AK).
4. S.o.o. Mikhail Makarovich Vasilchonok 29.01.1915, during the battle near the village of Chervonkin, commanding a platoon and being on the front line with personal courage and bravery contributed to repulsing the enemy's attack with excellent forces, and despite strong enemy gun and machine-gun fire, he retained the area entrusted to him and, going to the counter attack knocked out the enemy. It seems to be awarded GK 4 Art., Consists of the wounded. "
Lieutenant F.L. Skvortsov, like his brother-soldier from the neighboring 5 of the company, the second-ensign P.Ye. Shchetinkin (the future commander of the Red Siberian partisans during the Civil War) was awarded for distinctions in the 29 battle of January 1915 (according to Art. Art.) Degree 1 crosses of St. George (No. 363 and No. 295, respectively). Half a year after the start of the war, they are among the first Russian soldiers who fought on the German front to become full George cavaliers.
Having repulsed the first German attacks, the regiment continued its retreat. The enemy attacked, subjecting the regiment to shelling from different sides, not only with dismounted cavalry, but also with infantry units and artillery driven by cars. Siberian shooters retreated from shoals, from one temporary defensive position to another.
The Germans pressed 2 February 1915 (according to Art. Art.) During the defense of one of the intermediate defensive lines in the village of Hrabovo, almost all of the 3-i company of the regiment was killed.
The exhausting transitions and heavy losses did not undermine the combat capability of the regiment. In the regimental magazine of military actions it is written: “3 February 1915, despite the great fatigue as a result of increased movement and work to strengthen the position, malnutrition, bad weather, strong cold wind, snow, rain, arrows with dawn came to life and with great energetically began to set up new trenches and rectify old ones. By the 10 hours of the morning, standing trenches were already ready in the entire position. All were waiting for the enemy to advance, but he did not appear. ”
In the evening of February 3, 1915 (according to art. Art.) Was ordered to continue the retreat to Augustów and Shtabin. By the evening of February 5 1915 (according to Art. Art.) The regiment occupied new defensive lines on the southern bank of the Beaver River.
February 8 1915 (according to Art. Art.) The order was received by the army: for the proceeds of the surrounded parts of the 20 corps, the 3 Siberian corps promote the offensive of the 26 corps, tying down German troops in front of its front. The 8 th Siberian rifle division was tasked to advance, to seize the North and South Yastrzhembnoy and the village of Ostrovo (Island) and pull off the enemy forces. On the same day, the regiment crossed over to the north bank of the Beaver River. The arrows went along a viscous swamp covered with a thin ice crust, which at every step broke under the feet, waist-deep in water. By two o'clock in the afternoon, the 3 and 4 battalions crossed over and concentrated near the village of Ostrovo, then began to move forward in order to support the offensive of the neighboring 31 regiment with enemy coverage in the flank and rear.
When the advanced companies entered the forest, they were met with strong rifle and machine-gun fire from the German trenches. Despite the heavy losses, the companies were moving forward in unison and rapidly. The Germans put up stubborn resistance, at times they rushed to counterattacks, but the Siberian shooters captured all new lines of trenches. The companies passed the village of South Yastrzhembna and occupied German trenches on the northern outskirts of this village. After that, the enemy heavy artillery opened heavy crossfire on them from three sides and continued it until it was completely dark.
From regimental orders:
"8 February this year. at the attack on the village. Ostrovo and South Khastrembna, the regimental commander ordered the 4 battalion to advance and keep in touch with the 31 regiment; sent with this order could not find the battalion commander, after which he was sent to deliver an order consisting in attaching to the team of equestrian scouts the corporal 14 of the company Zakhar Chernov, who crossed the river to the belt in the water and under enemy gunfire reached the battalion commander and transferred order For the said feat of corporal Chernov, I renamed him junior non-commissioned officers and, on behalf of the service, declare him “thank you”. ”
Despite the strong fire of German artillery, Siberians held their positions. At night, the Germans tried to attack, but were met with volleys and, after suffering heavy losses in killed and wounded, began to dig in. In some places the distance between the Russian and German trenches did not exceed ten steps. Further events are described in the regimental journal of hostilities as follows:
“In the morning before dawn, an order was received from the 3 battalion and other units to dislodge the enemy from the edge of the forest. By dawn, it turned out that the Germans strongly pressed 10, 11 and 12 companies, and therefore, in order to avoid a breakthrough here, we had to hurry with the attack. Approaching the rushes to the enemy at the closest possible distance, ours rushed swiftly to the attack and knocked the Germans off the edge of the forest, occupying ready-made trenches going through the whole forest towards the village of Ostrovo. In the trenches were taken prisoners.
After the attack, a strong gunfight lasted a few more hours, then the Germans finally withdrew, starting by this time shelling all of our position with their artillery, which lasted several hours in a row.
We have, fortunately, no loss from it.
During the general attack of the Germans at the edge of the 1 forest, the battalion broke into the village of Ostrovo, from where the Germans fled hastily, leaving prisoners in our hands. But, threatened to be cut off from their own, because the Germans began to accumulate at this time in the forest located near the village of Ostrovo, they retreated and occupied trenches in the forest east of the village of Ostrovo. When the order was received to take us der. Ostrovo, then intelligence was sent there, which found that there was no enemy in the village itself or in the adjacent forest, after which the village was occupied without battles by the 4 battalion.
Hours on 12 overnight, orders were received for all of our units to retreat back to the banks of the Beaver River. February 11 captured: 2 officer, 98 lower ranks and 57 perfectly serviceable rifles.
From regimental orders:
The corporals of the machine-gun team Kirill Tsekhmeister, Iosif Gusarov and Pyotr Chebanenko during the attack of our 11 trenches in February of this year. for the loss of non-commissioned officers led the fire control of their machine guns, organized the delivery of ammunition and packing tapes, their skilful disposition brought significant benefits in repulsing the attack. For this feat, I renamed them junior non-commissioned officers and, on behalf of the service, declare “thanks” to them.
After receiving information about the death of 20 Corps General Bulgakov, the regiment was ordered to stop the offensive and go on the defensive. The regimental order No. 16 of 14 in February 1915 (according to Art.) Listed the officers killed in February 11 in the battle with the Germans: Second Lieutenant Kakhiani and Ensign Bogdan, wounded Lieutenant Colonel Lachinov, Second Lieutenant Siletsky and Ensign Pankratov and Barsov. lower ranks, missing from January 1439 to February 18 and 12 n.ch. wounded from January 423 to February 28.
After that, the order contained the following telegrams from the high command:
“I am happy to announce the following telegram of the Supreme Commander:
“THE STATE IMPERATOR commanded the most gracious to convey to HIM the warmest thanks to the heroic breaches of the 29 Infantry Division, as well as thanks with honor to the divisions 3 of the Siberian Corps and 64 that had come out of a difficult battle. Adjutant-General Nikolay »
I am deeply convinced that in the future the troops of the temporarily commanded army will be worthy of such high appreciation of our beloved SUPREME LEADER and will continue to bring all the number of victims that the situation will require from them to the altar of the service to KING and OTHERWHET. Temporarily army commander General of Infantry Rodkevich ".