The first onslaught on Kovel did not succeed, but the Russian Stavka decided to once again step on the Kovel direction. On July 23 (August 5) the advance of the southern flank of the South-Western Front — the 11, 7 and 9 armies — was appointed. The 11 and 9 armies were to attack the flanks of the enemy, who held strong positions in front of the 7 army. The Sakharov and Lechitsky armies were supposed to facilitate the advance of Shcherbachev's army. July 25 (August 7) planned to launch an attack on the northern flank of the front — the 8, 3 and Special Army, were to attack Kovel for the second time.
Sakharov's 11 Army went on the offensive on the night of July 23. The left flank of the army went into attack - General Ekka's 7 Corps. The Hungarian 4 Army Corps was almost completely destroyed during the six-day brutal battle. Only the arrival of the 1 of the German corps from France saved the 2 of the Austro-Hungarian army from complete ruin. Our troops in the battle of the Hostage took more than 14 thousand people. However, here too the Russian command missed the opportunity to build on success. Our troops could take Lvov if Sakharov had thrown into the hole punched in the enemy defense with the 7 Corps, strong reinforcements and supported the attack of the army of Shcherbachev's army. But Sakharov fulfilled only the task set by the front headquarters — an auxiliary operation to support a neighbor. The initiative did not show. But General Shcherbachev thought that his neighbors should help him, and not him.
On July 25, after a powerful artillery preparation, the 9 Army of Lechitsky launched an offensive. The 33 and 41 corps, reinforced with the 12 corps, attacked the enemy. The main blow of the 9 Army put their right-flank 33 Corps on the Germans - the group of Kevela, 41-corps - attacked the group Hodfri, 12-corps - 1-th Austro-Hungarian corps. Started the battle of Stanislav. The 33 Corps took Tlumach, an enemy stronghold in Zadnestrovie. Under the fierce strikes of the Russian troops, the 3-I Austro-Hungarian army wavered and retreated. The Germans of Crevel did not survive, giving up position after position. Khodfri and 1 of the Austrian corps had a hard time. 27 July (9 August) the Germans retreated again and 28 July (10 August) the commander of the Austrian army Kevesh ordered a general withdrawal of Bystritsa, on the same day our troops occupied Stanislav. In total, during the battle of Stanislav, Russian troops captured about 20 thousand people, 18 guns.
At the same time, in the Carpathian direction, the left flank of the 9 Army beat off attacks by the army of Pflanzer, to which Austrian and German reinforcements constantly arrived from Italy and France.
The successful offensive of the 11 and 9 armies exposed the flanks of the Southern Army of Bothmer and greatly facilitated the advance of the 7 Army Shcherbachev. 25 July 7-I army launched an offensive. The Russian 22 Corps shot down Hoffmann's group and, together with the 16 Corps, took the Burkanuv Forest, the last section of the May front from Pripyat to Romania, which remained in the hands of the enemy. 31 July (13 August), our troops rejected the enemy for the Golden Lime. The 2 Army Corps forced Lipa and took Zbarazh, the 22 Corps captured Tustobabs. In the battle of Zbarazh 7-I Russian army captured more than 8 thousand people.
Thus, the south wing of the South-Western Front - the army of Sakharov, Shcherbachev and Lechitsky, won victories at Zalozhits, near Zbarazh and Stanislav. Our troops captured about 50 thousand people and made serious tactical successes. However, it was not possible to turn these successes into strategic ones: all the attention of the supreme Russian command was directed to Kovel, and all the forces and means of the Southwestern Front went to the Kovel meat grinder. As a result, the high command missed the opportunity to develop an offensive in other directions.
The second Kovel battle. Further actions of the South-Western Front
The attack on Kovel on the 3, Special and 8 armies, scheduled for July 25, was postponed for a day. The special army did not have time to prepare, and the 3-I army beat off the German strike from Zarechye.
July 26 (August 8) began the Second Kovel battle. The 3 Army finished the training that day. It was reinforced by the 1 Siberian Corps, which approached from the Western Front. The special army Bezobravova attacked without much success and suffered heavy losses. The 33 Corps did not succeed. The 1 Army Corps was thrown back to its original position by strong enemy counterattacks. The guards were bleeding, but also failed to break through the defensive orders of the enemy. So, only 2-I Guards Division lost about 4 thousand people in Kukhar forest. It should be noted that the guards fought bravely, selflessly, but ineptly. For many months in the rear of the guards, they did not teach the new methods of war as if Russia had not fought. Therefore, the guards suffered heavy losses than the army. British General Knox noted this with surprise, and Brusilov - with bitterness.
July 27 launched an offensive 3-I army. However, she did not achieve much success. In the Special Army 2-th Guards Corps, in vain attacked Vitonezh. For two days the 8 Army fought against Kiselin to no avail. Further attacks by Russian troops were unsuccessful and led only to new losses. The offensive of the three Russian armies on Kovel failed.
July 30 (August 12) The 3 and Special Army were transferred to the Western Front. The headquarters hoped that this would give determination to the command of the Western Front. But Evert again failed to meet expectations. 3 (16) August Evert appointed the 3 and Special Armies offensive on 15 (28) August. However, after a few days, the commander-in-chief of the Western Front postponed the attack on the 23, and then on August 24. When 22 August, our troops had already conducted artillery preparation, General Evert canceled the offensive operation and informed GHQ that “beyond the onset of autumn time” he does not foresee any chances for success.
The troops of Brusilov again went over to the general offensive of August 18 (the Third Kovel battle). The 8 Army was not particularly successful and its movement was stopped by strong German counterattacks. 11-I army advanced slightly. The greatest success was achieved by the 7-I army of Shcherbachev. During the battle on the two Limes (Golden Lina and Rotten Lipa) 10 infantry divisions Shcherbachev defeated 14,5 enemy divisions (German 7, Austrian 5,5 and Turkish 2). Our troops defeated the 6 and 13 of the Austro-Hungarian corps, then repulsed the onslaught of the German group of Kevel, which hastily transferred from behind the Dniester. 25 August Russian forced Rotten Lipa. The German High Command had to redeploy 4 divisions that went to Romania (Bucharest 14 August acted on the side of the Entente), against the 7 army. The remnants of the Austrian corps and the Crevel group were consolidated into the 24 th German corps of General von Gerok, and the reinforcements that came up formed the 10 th German reserve corps. Only the weakness of artillery weapons and the lack of ammunition did not allow the Russian regiments to finally break through the enemy defenses. The shelves of the 33 Corps stopped at the approaches to Galich. In these battles our troops captured 29 thousand people.
The 9 Army of Lechitsky at that time led heavy mountain battles with the enemy in the Carpathian direction, breaking through into Transylvania. On August 9, Pflanzer Baltina’s army launched an offensive and pressed the left flank of our 11 Corps in the Wooded Carpathians. 17 August The 7-I Austro-Hungarian army attacked again, striking the junction of the 11-th and 18-th corps and seized the mountain massif Kukul. 18 August our troops counterattacked on all fronts. The 18 Corps shot down the German Carpathian Corps from the newly captured Kukul. From 18 to 29 in August, our troops, beating off the fierce attacks of the enemy, steadily made their way forward, overcoming not only the fierce resistance of the enemy, but the mountain conditions, taking the top of the top, the pass over the pass.
After these August battles, the South-Western Front again significantly strengthened. In 8, the army from the Special Army handed over the entire guard. In the 11 Army, the 3 Caucasian Corps was allocated from the reserve of the Western Front, the 7 Army from the reserve of the Northern Front was allocated the 7 Siberian Corps, etc.
1 (14) of September, General Brusilov instructed his armies to go on the offensive again: 8 Army - Vladimir-Volynsky, bypassing Kovel from the south, 11 and 7 Army - in Lviv, 9 Army - on Marmaros Sighet. The 3 (13) of September began the Fourth Kovel battle, but it ended without result. The enemy repelled the strike of the 8 Army. 7 (20) September Kaledin repeated attack. 8-th Army Corps took Korytnitsa, 1-th Guards Corps took possession of Svinyuhi. But this modest success cost the army tremendous sacrifices.
The enemy repulsed the attacks of the 11 Army. 7-I army attacked the center (22-th and 33-th corps). The onslaught of our iron regiments was met by the 10-th reserve and 24-th German corps. During the fierce battle, our troops did not achieve much success, although they shook the enemy with the power of their strike. 9-I army continued its selfless offensive in the Carpathians. Our soldiers were advancing in the mountains, in deep snow, fighting an experienced adversary. The Germans considered the battles of Dorn-Vatra, Jacoben, and Kirlibaba to be the worst during the entire war.
The 10 (23) of September was again included in the South-Western Front by the Special Army (6 Corps), headed by the decisive Gurko. The headquarters was disillusioned with the Kovel direction and Alekseev advised Brusilov to shift the center of gravity of the attack to the south - in the 7 and 9 armies. Moreover, the performance of Romania on the side of the Entente demanded an increase in the activity of the southern flank of the Southwestern Front. However, Brusilov ignored the “advice” of the Stavka, which, as usual, “offered” rather than ordered, and decided to continue the attack on Kovel. Thus, the fifth battle for Kovel began.
September 17 (30) attacked the 7-I and 11-th army. Sakharov's army achieved little success only on the left flank. The troops of the 7 Army in the wild slaughter under Wild Lann literally cut out the Gallipoli 15 Turkish corps, they did not take prisoners. But in general, the attack on Lviv failed.
September 19 attacked the 8-I army of Kaledin and Special Gurko. The decisive Gurko struck blow after blow, but by September 22 the offensive had stalled. The artillery ran out of shells. The shortage of heavy artillery and ammunition still failed our troops. The powerful defense of the enemy (de facto, the enemy created a whole Kovel fortified area) could not be destroyed without the support of strong artillery. If at the beginning of the Lutsk (Brusilovsky) breakthrough here such a decisive commander as Gurko commanded, our troops would immediately take Kovel and Vladimir-Volynsky, since the enemy would not expect a strong attack here. But in September, all attacks became meaningless and only led to vain sacrifices.
The strike of the 8 Army also ended in failure. Our troops suffered heavy losses in fruitless attacks. In total, in the Fifth Kovel battle, our 14 divisions attacked enemy 12 (German Beckmann group, German Marvitsa 6, and 4 Austrian-Hungarian army corps), which, in fact, occupied a fortified area and had a widow with superior artillery. The Russian Guard heroically attacked 17 once, but only bled to death.
After this massacre, Supreme Commander Nikolai II and Alekseev demanded to stop fruitless and bloody attacks on the Kovel direction and transfer the center of action of the South-Western Front to Bukovina and the Wooded Carpathians. The 8 army was transferred there. However, the Stakes once again did not have enough firmness to insist on their decision. Brusilov and Gurko decided to continue the attack on Kovel. In late September and early October, a new attack on Kovel began. Our troops tried to "gnaw" the enemy defense: heavy engineering work alternated with bloody and unsuccessful assaults.
Results of the Kovel battle
The fighting at the turn of the river Stokhod took a protracted and bloody character. The enemy had a strong defense and forces here that were almost as good as the Russians, and were superior to artillery. The troops of the South-Western Front had success in the center and on the left flank, where a number of cities were liberated, including Brody and Stanislav. Austro-Hungarian troops suffered a series of heavy defeats and left Bukovina. Austria-Hungary held the front only at the expense of supporting the German divisions. Germany and Austria-Hungary had to constantly withdraw their divisions from the Italian and French fronts in order to hold back the Russians. In September, the front stabilized on the line of the river Stokhod, Kiselin, Zlochev, Brezzhany, Galich, Stanislav, Delatyn, Vorokhta, Seletin. On this offensive army Brusilov was completed. Further attacks did not bring success and only caused great losses.
As the military historian A. A. Kersnovsky wrote: “The victories of May-June were drowned in the blood of July-October. ... The superior personnel of the southwestern armies were knocked out entirely. The swamps of Stokhod were absorbed by regiments of guard restored with such difficulty, with which the rest of the color of the imperial infantry lay down — the heroes of the eighth corps, the iron regiments of the XL, the Amurites, the Turkestan arrows ... There was no one to replace them.
The stake was waiting for a breakthrough from the South-Western Front - and the South-Western Front gave it that breakthrough, and even as many as four at once. Russia was expecting a victory from the Stavka, and the Stavka failed to give it that victory.
The last opportunity to end the war with the disruption of Austria-Hungary was missed, thereby warning the impending great internal turmoil. The enemy shuddered at the terrible blow received. He was given time to recover, and then began to strike at his strongest place, instead of hitting the weakest. And the Lutsk laurels were replaced by the Kovel crown of thorns ... ”.
At the same time, Brusilov cannot be considered the main culprit of this tragedy, when the front broke through the defenses of the enemy, but failed to use this success. To use the success of the front was to bet. The stakes turned out to be completely incapable of using the opened opportunities and missed the chance to change the course of the war and intercept the strategic initiative.
As a result of the Brusilov breakthrough, the South-Western Front defeated the Austro-Hungarian army, Russian troops advanced from 80 to 120 km into the territory of the enemy. Russian armies occupied almost all of Volyn, almost all of Bukovina and part of Galicia.
The enemy lost in May - August to 1,5 million people, including more than 400 thousand prisoners (according to German data, Austro-Hungarians lost more than 600 thousand people, Germans - about 150 thousand people). The Russians seized 581 guns, 1795 machine guns, 448 bombers and mortars. Russian troops lost about 500 thousand people (according to German data - about 800 thousand people). As a result of the Brusilov breakthrough, the forces of the Austro-Hungarian army were so undermined that until the end of the war it could no longer take active actions without the support of the German divisions.
The offensive had a great help to the Allies, since the Austro-German high command, by transferring 30,5 infantry and 3,5 cavalry divisions to the Eastern front from the Western, Italian and Thessaloniki fronts (more than 400 thousand bayonets and sabers), was finally forced to stop the offensive in Trenti, more than XNUMX thousand bayonets and sabers, was finally forced to stop the offensive in Trenti, more than XNUMX thousand bayonets and sabers, was finally forced to stop the offensive in Trenti, more than XNUMX thousand bayonets and sabers, was finally forced to stop the offensive in Trenti, more than XNUMX thousand bayonets and sabers, was finally forced to stop the offensive in Trenti, more than XNUMX thousand bayonets and sabers, was finally forced to stop the offensive in Trenti, more than XNUMX thousand bayonets and sabers, was finally forced to stop the offensive in Trenti, more than XNUMX thousand bayonets and sabers, finally forced to stop the offensive in Trenti and ease the pressure on Verdun in France. Also, the actions of the Russian troops eased the Allies offensive on the Somme. Under the influence of the Brusilov breakthrough, Romania decided to enter the war on the side of the Entente. In military-strategic terms, along with the battles on the Somme River, the offensive of the South-Western Front marked the beginning of a general change in the course of the First World War in favor of the Entente countries.
Militarily, the offensive of the Russian troops under the leadership of A. A. Brusilov was a new form of breakthrough of front-line positions - simultaneously in several sectors, and was developed in the last years of the First World War, especially in the 1918 campaign of the year at the Western European theater of operations.
As a result, the strategic benefits of the most successful Russian operation came mainly from the allies. For Russia, the strike of the South-Western Front became an operation of missed opportunities. Thus, A. A. Brusilov himself assessed the results of the operation as follows from the point of view of solving strategic tasks by the Russian Imperial Army: “This operation did not give, and could not, because the decision of the military council of April 1 was not implemented It was. The western front did not deliver the main attack, and the Northern Front had “patience, patience and patience” familiar to us from the Japanese war with its motto. The bet, in my opinion, did not in any way fulfill its purpose of controlling the entire Russian armed force. The grandiose, victorious operation, which could have been accomplished with the proper course of action of our supreme commander in 1916, was unforgivably overlooked. ”
Errors of the Stavka, the commands of the Northern and Western fronts, as well as the headquarters of Brusilov and his commanders, saved Austria-Hungary from complete defeat and postponed the fall of the Central Powers block. At first, the Headquarters was unable to organize the interaction of the fronts, did not timely transfer the direction of the main attack to the southern strategic direction (Brusilov had no second-tier troops and strategic reserves for the development of the first successes). Then, the Stavka was unable to shift the gravity of the main strike of the South-Western Front from the north (Kovel) to the south wing. The northern and western fronts did not support the offensive of the Brusilov front with successful auxiliary operations. The South-Western Front was unable to best manage the available forces (in particular, launching an offensive on the Kovel axis several times). Brusilov was unable to use numerous excellent front cavalry (13 divisions) to pursue a defeated enemy and advance the offensive, when the infantry broke through the enemy defenses. Although the future experience of the Civil War (and even the Great Patriotic War) showed that the century of cavalry had not yet passed. The Russian army was drained of blood, losing most of its personnel, and partially demoralized, which accelerated the arrival of the revolution and its victory. The Russian autocracy lost the main support in these bloody battles - the army. Society was finally disappointed with the tsarist government, which strengthened the "fifth column" and the revolutionary forces.
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