Kolomeya battle. Battle of the Stokhod River
12 (25) June 1916, on the South-Western Front, there was some lull. Only in some areas were local actions conducted. The command of the South-Western Front began to prepare a new offensive. A telegram from the front headquarters officer VN Klembovsky, commanding the armies of 12 (25) June, said: “... This break in the offensive should be used to replenish units by people, accumulate firearms, regroup and prepare for the attack. This training should be conducted on the same basis as the 22 May offensive was prepared ... Although the enemy is upset and his positions are weaker than we have already taken, however, carefulness and thoughtfulness in preparing an attack are urgently needed for success and reducing casualties on our part. ”
All four armies of the South-Western Front were to take part in the upcoming offensive. In addition, from 11 (24) in June, the 3 Army (control of the army and one corps) and the 78 Infantry Division were transferred to the front of Brusilov. To restore the 3 Army, the 46 Army and 4 Cavalry Corps were poured into it. The 3 Army was to take the Galuziya, Gorodok area and simultaneously deliver an auxiliary strike at Ozarichi to assist the offensive of the Western Front in the direction of Baranovichi. 8-I army struck two blows: the main - on Kovel, auxiliary - on Vladimir-Volynsky. 11-I army attacked Brody and Poritsk. The 7 Army had to reach the Brezhany line, Pidhaitsy, Monastergiska, and the 9 Army had the line Galich, Stanislav. The 5 corps and the 78 division remained in the front reserve.
As conceived by the command of the South-Western Front, as before, he concentrated his main efforts on the Kovel direction. Kaledin's 8 Army again delivered the main blow. Therefore, the reinforcements received went to reinforce the 8 army. In addition to the previously arrived 5 Siberian and 23 corps, it includes the 1 Turkestan and the 1 Army Corps. Thus, excluding the 4 corps transferred to the 3 army (46 and 4) and the 11 army (8 and 32), the Kaledin army had 8 corps — the 5 Siberian, 1- Turkestan, 30, 1, 39, 23, 40, and 5 cavalry corps, remained the most powerful in the front. Kaledin decided to strike the main blow with the forces of the 1 of the Turkestan Corps, with the support of the cavalry corps; the auxiliary attack was carried out by the 30 corps. The 8 Siberian Corps, exhausted by the previous battles, was in the reserve of the 5 Army. The rest of the corps were to hold down the enemy in their areas, and be ready to go on a decisive offensive. Preparations for the new offensive took place in stopping the attacks of the enemy.
In mid-June, the Austro-German forces carried out a broad regrouping of their forces south of Pripyat. With the 9 (22) of June, the Austro-German troops continued their attacks on the Kovel and Vladimir-Volyn directions. But these attacks were scattered and had no success. In Bukovina, the Austrians hastily retreated to the Carpathians. In the remaining sectors, the Austro-Germans defended themselves.
However, by mid-June, the Austro-German troops regrouped and launched a counteroffensive. Hindenburg, the Commander-in-Chief in the East, who was subordinated to the army group of Linsingen: the troops of Gower, Fat, Berngardi, the 8-I of the Austro-Hungarian Army, and the von Marvitz group deployed on the right wing, had to organize a strike on our 4 army. In total, this group had 23,5 infantry (including German 8) and 7 cavalry divisions. Bohm-Yermolli with the 1 and 2 of the Austro-Hungarian armies had to hold positions against the Russian 11.
The South German and 7 Austrian-Hungarian armies formed a group of troops under the authority of the Archduke Charles, the heir to the Austrian throne, to whom an experienced adviser, General von Zeekt, was assigned. German divisions were transferred here from France 3. Two German divisions were sent to the 7 Army, where they made up the group of General Kevel on the left flank. After the arrival of the Crevel group, the 7-I Austro-Hungarian army was to go on the offensive.
Thus, the troops of Linsingen attacked the right wing of the front of Brusilov - the 8 army, and the archduke was to strike the left wing - the 9 army. There was double-sided coverage, the Germans loved "Cannes". Linsingen was to launch the 17 (30) of June, and the Archduke Karl would attack with the approach of the German divisions - 20 of June.
However, the commander of 9-th Russian army, Platon Lechitsky decided otherwise. 15 (28) June his army launched a swift attack. Lechitsky hid from the southern group of Pflanzer in the Carpathians with the Consolidated and 3 Cavalry Corps and decided to strike the northern group of the enemy. The 33, 41 and 12 army corps were deployed between the Dniester and Prut, and they attacked Kolomei. The 11 Corps was to promote operations in the mountains beyond Prut.
With rapid onslaught, our troops 17 June broke into Kolomeya (Kolomyia). General Lechitsky planned to stop the regiments on the Kolomei line and wait for reinforcements promised by the command. However, having learned that the Austrians were waiting for the Germans coming to the aid, this decisive commander decided not to wait for either the Germans or reinforcements. June 18 (July 1) delivered a strong blow by the center of the army - the 12 Corps, in the Prut valley. The center of the 7 of the Austro-Hungarian army was broken again.
At this time, the German division arrived and 19 June (2 July), the Germans and the Austrians attacked our right flank - 33 th army corps. However, this counterstrike did not stop Lechitsky. Pulling the 33 and 41 corps back a little, he attacked with his center and left flank, with the 12 and 11 corps on the Rod and behind the Rod. After receiving a new strike in a weak spot, Pflanzer suspended the movement of the Crevel group. The troops of Lechitsky, developing success, occupied 24 June (7 July) Delatin. Thus, the army of Lechitsky won the nine-day battle of Kolomei. Austrian troops lost more than 31 thousand people only by prisoners.
9 Army Commander Platon Alekseevich Lechitsky
Meanwhile, the Russian Western front, instead of a decisive offensive and delivering the main attack, as he was supposed to do according to the basic plan of the summer campaign, everything continued to waver, postponing the strike. It all ended in that 15 June Evert made an attack in the Baranavichy direction only with the 1 grenadier corps. The attack was carried out on a broad front and did not lead to victory. After that, the commander of the Western Front began to make a new regrouping, hoping to strike 8 with corps in the same direction, but this blow could not be made earlier on July 3 (20). Thus, the South-Western Front was again temporarily alone, and the Austro-Germans had already assembled a powerful fist from Kovel and 17 (30) in June attacked the center of the 8 Army. The German command planned to take revenge for the failure on the Dniester.
The front of the 8 Army of Kaledin described a wide arc along three rivers — Stokhod, Bezymyannoy and Lipa. Linsingen planned to cut it off with a strike from the Berngardi group at Stokhod from north to south and the von der Marwitz group on Bezymyannaya from south-west to northeast, to the 8 and 11 armies. Between these two encompassing groups was the 4-I Austro-Hungarian Army, reinforced by the 10-German Corps, which was to break through the center of the Russian army with a frontal attack.
However, the 8 troops of the Russian army repulsed new enemy attacks. The offensive of the Bernhardi group at Stokhod was repulsed by the 5-m Siberian and 39-m army corps. June 19 (July 2) Bernhardi repeated the attack, taking advantage of the change of the 5 Siberian Corps, which suffered heavy losses in the June battles, on the 1 Army Corps. The enemy broke through our positions, but the 24 Infantry Division's counterattacks at Linevka regained their position. The 4 th Austro-Hungarian army, reinforced by German troops, attacked our center - the 33 and 40 corps. Our 4 divisions attacked enemy 9. A particularly bloody battle was fought against Zaturtsev, where the 10 of the German corps attacked our 40. Here, the German Steel 20 Infantry Division was confronted by our Iron 4 Infantry Division of General Denikin. In a fierce battle, the Germans were crushed. The battle was extremely fierce. From 17 to June 21 (June 30 - July 4), the Germans launched a fierce 44 attack. Germans fought hard, in their shelves there were 300-400 bayonets. After testing the strength of our Iron Division of Denikin on the first day, the German soldiers of the Steel Division posted a poster: “Your iron is not worse than our German steel, but we will break it!” Ours answered: “Well, try, German sausage!”
On the left flank of the 8 Army, the fierce resistance of the 8 Corps of General Dragomirov calmed the impulse of the Shurmay and Falkengain corps. But the right-flank 45 Corps of the 11 Army could not repel the offensive of the main forces of Marvitz. The front of our 126 division was broken and the road to Lutsk, to the rear of the 8 army, was opened. The FNKENX German 22 Corps practically broke through the positions of the 8 Corps (15 Division). However, the situation was straightened by a fearless counterattack of the 2 th modlin battalion, who bravely went to the 5 enemy battalions that had already surrounded the 15 division. The battalion of Lieutenant Colonel Russov (the death of the brave) overturned and drove the stunned German brigade.
To close the breach of the Southwestern Front Chief of Staff, Klembovsky threw in two regiments of the 5 Army Corps that fit the 12 and Combined Cavalry Divisions, 7 and 10 artillery brigades. With a swift and unexpected blow for the enemy, these troops crushed the broken Germans of Marvits. In the five-day brutal battles, the attacking enemy divisions were completely drained of blood and, by 21 June (4 July), were thrown back to their original position.
Thus, the “Cannes” of the Austro-Germans failed. The Austro-German troops of Pflanzer and Linsingen were defeated in fierce battles, suffered heavy losses and retreated to their original positions. It was a strong blow to the plans of the supreme Austro-German command. From the northern part of the Russian front and from France, new German divisions quickly began to redeploy. The control of the 3 of the Austro-Hungarian army of General Kevesh was transferred from the Italian front, which included all troops of the 7 army between the Dniester and Prut. Pflanzer left only the Carpathian front.
New offensive Brusilov troops
22 June (5 July) 1916 of the year, the day after repelling the attack of Linsingen's troops, General Brusilov launched an offensive with the armies of the right wing - 3 and 8 armies against Kovel. 21 infantry and 10 cavalry divisions Lesch and Kaledin attacked the enemy 26,5 infantry and 7 cavalry divisions.
In the 3 Army Lesha, the right-flank 31 Corps of General Mishchenko somewhat pressed the German Gronau group on the Oginsky channel. To the south of Pripyat, the 4 Cavalry Corps of General Gillenschmidt, Bulatov Consolidated Corps, and General Istomin's 46 Corps crushed the Gower group. However, the command of the 3 Army did not use this success to develop the offensive, which allowed the enemy to stay on the Stokhod River.
Kaledin attacked 5 corps - 1-m of Turkestan, 30-m, 1-m and 39-m army, 5-m cavalry corps. The remaining corps of the 8 Army should have reflected the possible attacks of the 4 of the Austro-Hungarian Army and the Marwitz group. 11-I army received the task to keep the defense. Her left-flank 6 and 18 corps were relegated to the 7 army. The most successful in the army of Kaledin were the right-flank corps: the 1 of Turkestan, General Scheidemann and the 30 of Corps of Zayonchkovsky. The right flank of the army defeated the group Fata and threw the 2 th Austro-Hungarian corps into the Stockpile. 25 June (8 July) Linsingen took his broken troops to Stokhod. 26 June (9 July), our troops with a fight forced this river. Our troops once again showed heroism. So, the 7 and 8 Turkestan rifle regiments ford under the heavy fire of the enemy forced the swampy arms of Stokhod.
According to Ludendorff, this was “one of the most serious crises on the Eastern Front. Hopes that the Austro-Hungarian troops would keep the unfortified line of Stokhod were few. The days were very worrisome. We gave everything we could and knew that if the enemy attacks us, then we have nowhere to wait for help. ” In the battle on the Stokhod River from 22 to 26 June, the 3 and 8 army only captured more than 22 thousand people by prisoners, their trophies were 55 guns, 16 mortars and 93 machine guns. The total damage of the enemy exceeded 40 thousand people. Particularly affected was Fata’s corps, which lost more than half of 34 thousand people.
However, the victory at Stokhod, as it was before, was not developed and used for a decisive break at the front. Brusilov did not have free forces and reserves, which reinforce the offensive impulse of the 3 and 8 armies. Moreover, part of the forces of the 8 Army and the troops of the 11 Army were forced to hold defenses, since the situation on their front lines was tense. This did not make it possible to consolidate success at Stokhod.
The Austro-German command strained forces on the defense of Kovel, transferred new troops. Fata and Berngardi groups were reinforced by German troops. Already on June 27-28 (July 10-11), the troops of Linsingen attacked again and forced the Turkestani and 30 Corps fighters to withdraw to the right bank of Stokhod. 29-30 June (12-13 July), our troops counterattacked, trying to force the river again, but without success. It required strong artillery preparation and fresh forces to break through the enemy defenses. However, the enemy was not successful in further attacks.
Thus, bleeding profusely, our regiments broke through enemy positions, smashed the enemy and repelled his powerful counterattacks. In fact, these were the last victories of the imperial Russian army, its forces were running out. However, the brilliant opportunities that Russian soldiers and commanders created were not used by the high command. The front commander did not have additional troops and reserves to develop success. The reinforcements provided by the Stavka came in parts and were very late due to the lack of communication lines. They were used to reinforce existing troops, exhausted by previous battles. There were no fresh serious forces that could be thrown into the gaps in the enemy defenses. The Russian Stavka, which had piled up enormous forces and means on the Northern and Western fronts, which were idle at that time, did not dare to immediately direct considerable forces to the southern strategic direction in order to crush the Austro-Hungarian army with powerful blows. Only by the directive 26 of June (9 of July), seeing that Evert did not decide on a decisive offensive, the Headquarters transferred the main blow to the South-Western Front. Late in a whole month!
Under the circumstances, Brusilov could resume the offensive no earlier than the end of July 1916. Opponent gave three more weeks. During this time, the Austro-German command transferred new forces, regrouped and restored the broken corps, pulled up reserves. The valley of Stokhod and the Kovel district, which are so difficult to pass by nature, were turned by the Germans into an impregnable fortress. As a result, the decision of the Supreme Russian command to transfer the gravity of the main strike to the southern strategic direction was late. The effect of surprise was lost, the breakthrough of the enemy front was liquidated, the enemy was able to prepare for new battles.
- Alexander Samsonov
- 1916 Campaign
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