Commander Yudenich ordered the creation of assault detachments. The advanced infantry formations on the main axes were given guns, additional machine guns and combat engineers. Soldiers were trained in assault on the heights in their rear. Russian troops dislodged enemy forces from the surrounding villages, approaching the nearest approaches to the Turkish fortifications.
The 2 Turkestan and 1 Caucasian Corps took part in the storming of the Erzerum fortified area directly, and left Siberian and 2 Orenburg Cossack brigades in reserve. As a result, up to 60, thousands of soldiers, 166 field guns, 29 howitzers and a heavy 16 mortar division of 152 mm caliber took part in the operation. The commander planned to break through the front of the enemy on the northern right flank and, having made a detour of the most powerful frontal enemy fortifications, strike the fortress from the western, rear side. Other enemy defense sectors were also hit, so that the Ottoman command could not reinforce some sectors at the expense of others.
Assault appointed to the end of January 1916 g .:
- The right wing of the army, the 2 th Turkestan Corps (32 battalion, 21 hundred and 75 guns), received the task of attacking the Gurdji-Bogaz passage and the area of Mount Dumlu-Dag with the aim of breaking into the Erzerum plain from the north.
- Army Center, 1-th Caucasian Corps (42 battalion, 12 militia squads, 28 hundreds and 128 guns): the first column received the task to advance between the Taft and Choban-dede fortifications, through the Karga Bazaar; the second column is the forts Choban-dede and Dalan-gez; the third and fourth columns lead a strong demonstration at the front and in the direction of the Palanteken forts.
- A Voloshin-Petrichenko column (2 battalion of the Don foot brigade, 1 hundred and 4 guns) was allocated for communication between the 1-m of Turkestan and the 6 of the Caucasian corps. She had to attack through the ridge of the Haggai Bazaar. On the left wing of the 1 Caucasian Corps, the Chikovani detachment operated. He was supposed to attack through the Palanteken forts.
- The troops of the 4 Caucasian Corps (7 1 / 2 battalions, 6 hundreds and 10 guns) were to attack from the town of Khnyys-Kala in the direction of the village of Altuna, Kara-sheikh and further to the Erzerum plain from the south in order to pull off themselves part of the forces of the Turkish army.
- Army Reserve - 66 Infantry Division (15 battalions, 30 hundreds and 18 guns), located in the city of Hasan-Kala. In total, 100 1 / 2 battalions, 12 militia squads, 86 hundreds and 237 guns were to take part in the operation.
The troops of the 3 Turkish army (81 battalion) were positioned as follows: 1) The 10 Turkish corps occupied the route from the north through Dumlu-dag ridge and the Gurdji-bogaz pass, having the 2 division in the first line and the 1 division - in reserve, near Fort Taft; 2) The 9 Turkish corps defended the front of the Deboya position, having all the 3 divisions in the same echelon from the area of Fort Choban-dede to the Palanteken forts; 3) The 11 th Turkish Corps was located in the second line behind the 9 Corps, having its divisions: 18-th - near the village of Tasmahor, 33-th - at Sivishli and 34-th - in the area of Erzurum. The garrison of Erzerum itself was made up of spare battalions that arrived a few days before the assault from Trapezond and Erzincan, and pivot units formed from the regiments most upset by the battles.
Russian troops launched an assault on Erzurum on 29 in January (February 11) in 1916. As historian A.A. Kersnovsky noted, “a marvelous attack of the Turkish stronghold began, the most glorious deed of the Russian weapons in the World War - a case like that which no army in the world has and will have. The violent attacks of the Caucasian and Turkestan regiments met with fierce resistance. "
At the beginning of the assault, Yudenich decided to deliver the brunt of the night, when the psychological stability of the Turkish soldiers to the battle greatly weakened. Night battle is considered the pinnacle of military art and even more so in the mountains and in such weather. Yudenich believed that the troops were ready for such an operation. But the commanders, when it came to business, hesitated. Already a very difficult task was set. The generals became nervous and asked for a delay of at least a week. Commander Yudenich listened to them and calmly said: “You are asking for a delay — great! I agree with your arguments and give you a delay: instead of the 23 hours, the assault will begin in the 23 hours of the 5 minutes. ” It worked. Yudenich's confidence was transferred to other commanders.
At 2 hours the artillery preparation began. In 23 hours, Russian troops launched an assault on enemy positions. Russian attack aircraft in camouflage, under the cover of a blizzard went on the attack. The surprise factor worked, the Turks fired without seeing the enemy, the Russian soldiers broke into the Turkish front positions and began to crowd it. For two days there was a fierce battle, the Russian soldiers took one position after another.
During the day of fierce fighting, the Russian troops captured the northern part of the Gurdji-Bogaz passage (Fort Kara-gübek) and the fort Dalan-gez. The sappers stepped up to the fort of Kara-gübek, blew up the wall and the fort fell. The Turkish fort Dalan-goz captured an assault detachment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Pirumov. Elisavetpolsky regiment broke into the Turkish trenches. So, two regiments of the 39 Infantry Division of Ryabinkin managed to climb the mountains and wedged into the enemy defense. Meanwhile, the columns of Voloshin-Petrichenko (Donskaya foot brigade) and Vorobyov (4-I Caucasian Rifle Division) were stuck. In the mountains of Karga Bazar, they fell into very deep snow. The valley of the Kechk-su river was covered with a lot of snow. Punched the aisles with great difficulty, in a blizzard and frost. Hundreds of fighters froze.
The Turkish command correctly estimated the value of the Dalan-goz fort, which covered the approach to the key form of Choban-dede and organized a counterattack. A bloody battle began for the fort Dalan-gez. At dawn 1 February, Turkish troops launched a counterattack, concentrating on this sector to 100 guns. The defenders of the fort were cut off from their own, and they began to run out of ammunition. Five Turkish attacks beat off rifle-machine-gun fire. The sixth attack was repelled in hand-to-hand combat, bayonets and butts. Even the wounded stood before the seventh attack of the Ottoman troops, and the enemy was again repelled in a bayonet battle. By the beginning of the eighth Turkish attack, which could be the last, the situation was saved by an unknown hero - under enemy fire, in the evening twilight, he was able to ride ammunition on donkeys. Turkish attack repulsed. Of the 1400 soldiers and commanders of the heroic 153 Infantry Regiment of Baku, defending the fort, only about 300 fighters remained in the ranks, and most of them were injured. The nearby Elysavetpoltsy led by the regiment Fenenko also barely kept. At night, the fort garrison was strengthened, the wounded were taken out.
On the same day - February 1, there was a radical change in the battle for Erzerum. For two days, the fighters of the assault groups of the 1 of the Turkestan Corps took one stronghold of the enemy after another, seizing one position after another. Russian infantry went to the most powerful and last bastion of the enemy on the northern flank - Fort Taft. Kuban plasters and arrows of the Turkestan Corps took the fort and opened access to the Erzerum valley from the north. Parts of Voloshin-Petrichenko and Vorobyov, which broke through the defenses of the Turks north of Fort Choban-grandfather and overcame snow and mountains, went there. The entire northern flank of the Ottoman system of fortifications was hacked and Russian troops began to go out to the rear of the 3 Army.
The air reconnaissance reported on the withdrawal of troops from Erzerum. At the same time, the Ottoman command threw all its forces to defend the Deboya position. In addition, in order to close the gap on the right flank, the 34 Infantry Division began moving to the north. Then Yudenich gave the order to hand over to the commander of the Przhevalsky Turkestan Corps, the column of generals Voloshin-Petrichenko and Vorobyov, as well as the Cossack cavalry of Radac. At the same time, the 1 Caucasus Corps Kalitina increased pressure in the center.
Developing success, the Russian troops overthrew the enemy and rushed from the north to the communications of the Turkish army. The Turkish resistance was finally broken, the Russian troops rushed into the deep rear, still defended forts turned into traps. The Turkish units began to hurry to throw the forts and fortifications, and ran. Did not begin to protect and Erzerum. The remains of the 3 Army rushed to flight.
At 5 in the morning hours of February 4 (16) advanced units entered Erzerum. Parts of the enemy garrison, those who did not have time to escape, capitulated. 137 officers and about 8 Thousands of soldiers surrendered. Russian trophies are more 300 guns. Yudenich issued an order for the army, in which he expressed heartfelt thanks to all the fighters for the courageous execution of their military duty to the Fatherland. The commander personally presented awards to the heroes of the storming of Erzerum.
The pursuit of the Turkish army
Without stopping, Yudenich drove further into the depths of Anatolia, a frustrated and demoralized Turkish army. Avant-gardes and cavalry launched an offensive on the Bayburt and Erzincan axes. The pursuit, in very difficult weather conditions - in frost, blizzard and off-road, lasted for 5 days and 9 was stopped in February of 1916. Several thousand people were captured in our hands. Russian troops advanced 70-100 km west of Erzerum, reaching the Khibonsi line, Memahatun. Further advancement was stopped not because of the resistance of the enemy, but because of the impossibility of supplying troops in the winter along unprepared mountain roads. The regiments of the Turkish divisions, even after receiving reinforcements, numbered only 500-700 soldiers.
At the same time, the flanks of the Russian Caucasian army were advancing. On the left wing, in the end of January, parts of the 4 of the Caucasian Corps launched an offensive: a detachment of General Nazarbekov was sent to the city of Mush and a detachment of General Abatsiyev - along the western shore of Van Lake to Bitlis. 3 February, our cavalry occupied Mush. On the eve of the same part of the detachment Abatsiez without a fight occupied the city of Ahlat. After receiving the news that significant Turkish reinforcements were coming to Bitlis, Abaciyev’s 12 group in February joined up with. Tadwan with a detachment from the Van-Azerbaijan Group of Forces, and began an offensive on the city of Bitlis in three columns.
Our soldiers made their way into deep snow near Lake Van and February 17 night storming in a blizzard of ours seized a position in the mountain pass at Bitlis on the roads to Mesopotamia. Approved as the first reinforcements to the city of Bitlis, the 5-I Turkish Infantry Division, considering itself not strong enough for an offensive, stopped on its way to that city. At the same time, our troops began to clear the area of the town of Khnys-Kala - in the north and the Mush - Bitlis line - in the south, from the Kurdish formations. As a result of the success of the Russians at the front of the 4 of the Caucasian Corps, statements from the Kurds began daily to be received with an expression of humility. As a result, the left wing of the Caucasian army reliably covered the flank and rear of the main forces of the Caucasian army operating in the Erzurum-Erzincan direction. The shortest wheel track that linked the 3 Turkish army to the 6 army in Iraq was also interrupted. The Turks could not send troops over Bitlis.
On the right wing of the front, Lyakhov’s Primorsky detachment, from January 23 to February 6, 1916, with the support of the Batumi Black Sea ships detachment fleet, consistently took possession of the strong defensive lines of the Turks along the rivers Arhave and Vitsa. On February 24, our troops captured the city of Rize, which was the coastal base of the 3rd Turkish army and left the town of Of on the outskirts of Trapezon. That is, the prerequisites for the Trapezond operation were created.
The Van-Azerbaijan group of General Chernozubov singled out on the right flank two detachments advancing from January 18: the first along the northern and second along the southern shores of Lake Van. Both groups gradually joined the left flank of the 4 Caucasian Corps and then took part in the seizure of Bitlis. The left wing of the group of Chernozubov, crowding ahead of Kurdish troops reinforced by several Turkish battalions, also advanced south of Lake Urmia. Thus, the detachment of Chernozubov firmly provided the operations of the 4 of the Caucasian corps in the Bitlis direction with the actions of its right-flank units, and with its left flank it kept the Urmiisky district important for the Caucasian army.
In Persia, the expeditionary corps of Baratov, who received the task of forcing the enemy forces, fought Kermanshah area and was only 80 km from the Persian-Turkish border, threatening to move the fighting to the flank and rear of the 6 Turkish army, which blocked significant forces of the British forces in the area of Kut al-Amara.
Results of the operation
Our troops advanced 150 km. The Turkish army suffered great human and material losses. 327 guns were captured, i.e., all of the serfs and a large part of the Turks' field artillery, 6 banners of regular regiments and 3 banners of Kurdish cavalry regiments, large stocks of food and all kinds of artillery, quartermaster and engineering property in warehouses like Erzerum and in regions with. Kepri-Kay and the city of Hasan-Kala. In the harsh winter period, Turkish troops were knocked out of their carefully equipped positions and good shelters not only in the border zone, but also from the fortifications of Erzerum prepared for a stubborn defense.
According to the testimony of the chief of staff of 3 of the Turkish army of the German major Guze, "she was morally as shocked as she was after the failure under Sarykamysh." Turkey was saved from decisive defeat only by the fact that the British and French, who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, were defeated and evacuated. As a result, the Turkish command could transfer troops to the Caucasus and restore the broken front.
The total damage of the 3 of the Turkish army during the defense of Erzerum and the retreat amounted to thousands of people up to 60-65. Our assault losses are 8500 killed and wounded, 6000 frostbitten. The total losses of the Caucasian army reached 17 thousand people and 10% of the composition, while the 3 th Turkish army lost to 66% composition. That is, the 3-I Turkish army was actually destroyed, again (for the first time during the Sarykamysh battle in December 1914 - January 1915).
The Erzerum operation, carried out in difficult winter conditions of the mountainous terrain, consisted of several stages and led to the defeat of the Turkish army 3. The command of the Russian army correctly chose the direction of the main attack both in the Battle of Keprikei and in the storming of Erzerum, when our troops advanced through difficult mountain areas not sufficiently occupied by the Turks, where they did not organize a strong defense and could not be quickly transferred due to poor communications. operational reserves. The Russian plan was not unraveled by the enemy thanks to a good disguise and active demonstration in other directions.
The German-Turkish command was shocked, all plans for the 1916 campaign in the Middle East collapsed. The loss of the strategic fortress of Erzurum by the Turks, which was the main base of the Turkish army for operations in the Transcaucasus, demanded that the Ottoman supreme command send strong reinforcements and a mass of reinforcements to restore the 3 army. In the middle of 1916, the Turks on the Caucasian front, in addition to the 3 army that remained there, also concentrated the 2 army, which was transferred via the Baghdad railway. This eased the position of the British in the Suez region and in Iraq. Constantinople was forced to direct all its attention to the Caucasian Front in order to conduct an offensive operation in order to force the Russians to clear the Erzurum district and retreat to their border.
The seizure of the Erzurum area opened the gates to the Russian troops through the city of Erzincan to the city of Sivas, that is, to Anatolia, and demanded that the Russian command seize the Black Sea coast and the city of Trapezond. Thus, new strategic opportunities opened up before the Russian Caucasian army.
As a result of the brilliant success of the Russian army in the Caucasus, England and France were quick to conclude an agreement with Russia and partition the Ottoman Empire.
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