— Siberian Arrows in the Battle of East Prussia

The Siberian Rifle in the Battle of Eastern Prussia

Сибирская стрелковая в битве Восточной Пруссии

The Abstract
of The article the contains a review of the Siberian Rifle’s battle the route in the Eastern Prussia. The author uses information from battle journals and remembrance and reveals chronology and geography of the battle operation. In the conclusion statistics of casualties are examined .


The term “Siberian arrows” more correctly applied to the entire staff of the Siberian infantry divisions of the Russian army. These divisions came in 1910, after the renaming of the East-Siberian. Accordingly, the definition of “Siberia” will not characterize the geography of the recruits stay, and the territory of pre-war dislocation of joints. All dates in the article in the old style.

In the years 1910-1914. All Siberian infantry divisions deployed east of the Urals, where three military districts actually had no other infantry formations: In the Amur Military District was located I Siberian Army Corps (1st Siberian and 2nd Siberian Infantry Division, Ussuri Cavalry Brigade) with headquarters in Nikolsk-Ussuri, IV of Siberian army Corps (3rd Siberian and 9 th Siberian rifle division) in Vladivostok, the V Siberian army Corps (6th Siberian and 10th Siberian rifle division) in Khabarovsk, in the Irkutsk military District -II Siberian army Corps (4th Siberian and 5th Siberian rifle division), with its headquarters in Chita, III Siberian army Corps (7th Siberian and 8th Siberian rifle division) in Irkutsk. In the Omsk Military District placed 11th Siberian Rifle Division.

It was also envisaged that the mobilization of the Irkutsk Military District should be developed further VI Siberian Army Corps of the 12 th and 13 th Siberian Rifle Division, in Omsk – 14th Siberian. The shelves of the three divisions of the 2nd turn formed on the basis of hidden frames 7 th, 8 th and 11 th Siberian divisions.

July 18, 1914 declared a general mobilization in Russia. Lieutenant P. Shaposhnikov so remember transportation designed – “chaldonov, dashing future Siberian shooters, strong like the cedars of taiga, heavy-going, but the unrestrained and obstinate, if it went up, often reaching the bayonet in the attacks” [1] . The sequence sent to the front: from the region of Irkutsk, Achinsk in early August 1914 has decreased III Siberian Army Corps, 11 September from the same 12-th and 13-th Siberian Rifle Division;from Omsk region – in the middle of August 11th Siberian Rifle Division, which was included in the I Corps Turkestan.

From the area Sretensk-Verkhneudinsk (now Ulan-Ude) in late August, has been sent to the theater of War II Siberian Army Corps, in early September – Transbaikal Cossack Brigade; Nikolsk Ussuri from the end of August – I Siberian Army Corps.

From the area of Omsk in September acted 14th Siberian Infantry Division, from Irkutsk – control VI Siberian Army Corps, from Vladivostok and Khabarovsk consistently control V Siberian Army Corps, 6th and 3rd Siberian Infantry Division, in October – Ussuri Cavalry Brigade .

After sending the two buildings of the Amur Military District IV Management of the Siberian Army Corps combined have not yet mobilized in the 9th Vladivostok and Blagoveshchensk 10th Siberian Rifle Division. Their mobilization started October 28, 1914, and in November infused replenishment of spare rifle battalions of the Irkutsk Military District. In December 1914 – January 1915 IV Siberian body transported to the army.

General PN Krasnov wrote: “Siberian regiments brought strength and powerful spirit of the vast Siberia.They carried the fortress Siberian peasant, his positiveness and experience Japanese War ” [2] .

In the first battles of the First World War Siberian arrows confirmed excellent reputation, deserved more in the Russian-Japanese war. And not only saved it until the end of the “Second World” War, but also multiply many times over. Why? In our view, four factors should be highlighted: The first – a high quality ranks. Lieutenant AV Turkul stressed: “From the trenches of the other strives Babakhan back often to cheer yourself and where Babakhan and monitors. Siberian same shooter has rarely, aptly, ” [3] .”When a Russian regiment is, the Germans put 2 hours, and once explored that came Siberia, the 20 hours will expose” [4] .

Secondly – both before and after the Russian-Japanese War, the young officers tried to serve in Siberia.Before because in the Far East, “the smell of gunpowder,” after – because the Siberian shelf, famous in the recently finished war, were covered with a halo of military glory and get to them was flattering.Third – part of the Siberian corps by 1914 contained on power states, increasing alertness. Finally, in the fourth – the connection of the Asian part of Russia joined the struggle, when the supreme command of the Russian has accumulated some experience and get rid of the generals, not the respective positions.

Of the seven army corps, in which in 1914 consisted of Siberian infantry divisions directly in East Prussia acted only two: I of Turkestan (total of 19 days: 22-29 September and 25 October – 4 November 1914) and III Siberian (more than four months: August 30-31, 1914 September 23, 1914 – February 1, 1915), all of which took place to the south of the territory of modern Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation.

Consider these fighting scenes in proportion to their length:

Acting as part of the 10th Army, I Turkestan Army Corps at the end of September 1914 was advancing from the fortress Osowiec on lyk (today Elk). 22 September of the case passed Russian-German border, and September 24 took lyk [5] . Going further north, they reached the lake Olecko Klein (30 km north of the border). South of 28 September 11th Siberian Infantry Division advancing through inscriptions on Prostki (now Prostki) [6] . However, the commander of the North-Western Front, General of Infantry, NVRuza decides to withdraw the 10th army. On the night of September 29, the main forces of the Turkestan Corps I moved to Russian territory to Grajewo Szczuczyn and, at Luka a few days remained rearguard [7] . The housing is then thrown into the area to give birth – Pultusk.

Secondary Russian-German border of Part I of the Turkestan Corps passed the evening of October 25 acting as part of the 1st Army, and stepping from Mlawa on Soldau. “After two days of preparation for the attack, on 28 October (November 10) attacks the body, throws and pushes the enemy to the city (Soldau). A further advance is stopped opponent received reinforcements. Two days unsuccessfully trying to bring down the body of the enemy ” [8] . 30 October repulsed the German attack. In the future, slowly ousting the enemy, I of Turkestan Corps November 3 seized Soldau. However, the very next day after the fight, left the city and went to Mlawa.

We now turn to the battle in East Prussia III Siberian Army Corps. When the transfer to the front on the 10th day of the trip in Samara officers reported that the case is sent to the Southwestern Front against the Austrians advancing to Lublin. However, in the Kursk learned of the defeat of the 2nd Army, and on disposal of – “to change direction”. Instead Galicia III Siberian Corps were sent to support the broken troops in East Prussia. “Mangled Germans stop them! – Such was the mood of the Siberian marksmen.Brest-Litovsk, Bialystok, and finally landing of the main forces in the fortress of Osowiec and Grajewo station. The case went to the newly formed from the arriving troops from the outskirts of the 10th Army Lieutenant General VE Flug.

The first combat mission Siberian III Corps was the nomination of the two columns in the morning on August 30 to Lyku to cover “offensive XXII Army Corps of Augustow on Markgrabovo continue to Goldap.” 24-km march through enemy country was delayed until the evening, as a hostile population often shelled Russian voyska.Nachataya the morning on August 31, a successful attack Lykabyla interrupted orders to headquarters of the 10th Army “to take the body and Graev Shchuchin for defense p. Beaver “since” the concentration of considerable forces of the Germans in the region of Suwalki and a desire to better cover the area of Grodno-Bialystok. ” In the interrupted attack corps lost 3 officers and 114 soldiers were killed, 13 officers and 456 men wounded, 70 soldiers were missing [9] .

Secondary III Siberian Corps came to East Prussia after the August battle (named for the city of Augustow). During September 23-27, part of the three received the order to attack a fortified position Versboven-Chimohen-Sanin and four order – to stop and dig in front of her. Contradictory orders led to the abandonment of September 23 have taken on. Versboven.

On October 5, at the village. Sable Germans attacked, but reflected with heavy losses. Siberians occupied village Zeesken and Dorsch, capturing the German convoys. At the same time a battalion of the 27th Siberian Regiment took on. Guttet, taking 2 of the German guns. The Germans in the superior forces launched a counterattack and covered the right flank of the battalion, which is why the battalion, leaving the captured guns, retreated to d. Ivashka [10] . 8 October and 13 October followed by German counterattacks in the villages and Dutka Borzhimen.

October 27, III Siberian Corps in conjunction with the XXII Corps was given the task to take the starting position for forcing the Masurian lakes and mastering Letsy fortress (now Gizycko) .Here Germans created “a fortified area with the extensive use of temporary and long-term funds fortification and defense spread to the front 75 km and a depth of a few lines ” [11] .

Steller’s arrows had to “seize and secure the crossing of a” first between lakes Leventina, Wojnowo, Buvelno and Tirklo, and then between Saytesh Yagodner and lakes, north-west of large bodies of water which is no longer bylo.Na two northern lakes fortified isthmus first line moved 8 th Siberian Division, a fortified isthmus between Buvelno and Tirklos d.Chershpinen (now Tseshpenty) – 7th Siberian.

28 oktyabryasibiryaki with the battle took Malinke village and Klepp-Konopka, Oct. 29-30, went on the offensive. It was the fight artillery, and Russian for a rapprochement with the German barbed wire began aproshnye (Sapna) Work: construction zigzag partially covered trench. In the 32 th Siberian Regiment scouts headed by Ensign Kuznetsov established the German forces at the height of 160: at least 6 battalions, with 7 batteries.

November 1st Siberian arrows took part d. Buvelno away and the German entanglements reduced to 50 steps. It began correcting railway lyk-Vidminen, choose the position for the coming Russian siege artillery. Since the German positions were located on the narrow isthmus for their determination requested aeronautic devices. Two aircraft detachment and detachment balloons arrived a week later.

At dawn on November 3, a company of 31-th Siberian Regiment captured redoubt Isthmus Prgrikop (between Wojnowo and Buvelno, named after the nearby village), repelled several counterattacks.German forces against the body assessed as “no more than a brigade with artillery.”

At 7.00 on November 5, the 27th and 28th Siberian regiments attacked the enemy in the trenches on. Chershpinen and after a bayonet attack took redoubt at a height of 158 (obviously in the north-eastern shore Tirklo) and trenches to the south. In this 27 th Siberian Regiment captured 3 guns and six field guns. The Germans retreated on. Dombrovka (6 km west Chershpinena). German counter-attack on the left flank of the battalion repulsed the counter blow of the 28th Siberian Regiment, beating the enemy from the south and captured two guns. Siberians opposed the 76th Landwehr Regiment, 1st, 74th and 71st Landwehr battalions, 3 heavy and 3 light batteries. General E. Ludendorff stressed that “Russian breakthrough single site fortified line Masurian Lakes had only local significance” [12] .

Trophies of the 27th and 28th regiments of the Siberian captivity 1 officer and 87 enlisted men, 8 V-field guns, four heavy guns, one 6-inch mortar sample of 1914, 6 machine guns, including 3 Russian handheld spotlight , phones, a lot of shells [13] . Total housing hostilities magazine mentions the capture of November 5 arrows 7th Siberian Division 21 guns and 9 guns. Publication of the 1914 pointing to the same number of captured guns, according to the capture of 16 guns [14] .

AA Kersnovskaya noted “good deal Siberians III Corps on November 6, at Bakalarzheva where portarturtsami 7th Siberian Division captured 600 prisoners and 19 guns” [15] . In these data, most likely an error in the date or, or, more likely, location. Bakalarzhevo employed Russian October 22, this item is located on 60 km north-east Chershpinena. In Bakalarzhevo acted XXII Army Corps, which in October temporarily was attached to the 1st Brigade of the 7th Siberian Division. In Bakalarzhevo October 9, under the blows of Siberians 2nd Battalion of the 18th Landwehr Regiment burned the flag. But more likely, data AA Kersnovskaya – distorted references to the fight on 5 November at Chershpinena.

At the headquarters of the North-Western Front “expected that until the spring of Valiant III Siberian body … and to give a strong fortress artillery (several dozen guns Osovetskaya fortress, and later, and four 12-inch howitzer), guided by a skilled and energetic general Brzhozovskaya, to break the German resistance and gradually mastered all Lettsenskim area ” [16] . Events denied unwarranted optimism of frontline command, his hope for a “shopping bag” . The reason – the fire is well sheltered artillery and machine guns, to repay the funds which were insufficient, irregular supply of heavy shells.

At 16.30 on November 9 Russian battery repulsed the attack on the German battalion on. Martsinovolya (western shore Wojnowo), and the first to have discovered the enemy observers with zmeekovogo balloon. November 10 with him also found a few redoubts. Evening of 11 November the 30th Siberian Regiment with the support of the 26th Siberian Regiment captured redoubt and two circular trench at an altitude of 148 Martsinovolya west, coming to a small lake Paprotki. The Germans responded shelling lost trenches, and at 17.30 on November 13 two regiments counterattacked weakened five-day battles of the 30th Siberian Regiment. The soldiers “not slept at night became extremely nervous. Head of the 8th Division of the Siberian feared the worst. The corps commander ordered to stay “at any cost”, highlighted the 27th Siberian Regiment. By 21.00. repulsed the attack. ”

Russian advancing slowly and were aproshnye work. On November 19, the captive German soldiers of the 33rd Regiment fuzilernogo reported on the forced transfer of 3-9 November 1st Army Corps of Gumbinnen 70 km to the south in Rustenburg. The information caused additional strengthening Russian positions. November 20 III Siberian and XXVI Army Corps attacked the German positions east Letsy “in the morning was a thick fog, at 12 o’clock opened artillery fire. Using the fog of the slowly moving forward, abandoning the decisive attack. Attack decided could not move at night, seize the redoubts. Part dug 50-100 meters from the enemy. Produced attack failed, the 30th Siberian Regiment suffered heavy losses and put in reserve. ” Corps ordered to move to a gradual attack.

November 29 from 8.00. artillery fire along the entire front of the 7th Siberian Division, with 9.00. – The enemy’s chain, and from 11.00. – The enemy’s advance. 29th Siberian Regiment near the village. Martsinovolya with 3 companies of counterattacked, but under heavy machine-gun fire moved. By 19.00. offensive repulsed the Germans.

1 December – laying land mines, barbed wire device, aproshnye work. On December 10, at the village. Kortsevena patrol mounted scouts of the 30th Siberian Regiment 32 people suddenly attacked by three German companies, he caused them heavy losses and fled.

III Siberian Corps, reinforced the 5th Infantry Brigade on 12 December ordered to seize Paprodkenskimi heights and positions at heights of 167 and 160 near the village. Ruden. In the initial position of the came to 7.00, 8.00 to open artillery fire. On the right site of the battle against the height of 160 Siberian 30th and 20th infantry regiments have done one pass. Someone shouted “Hurrah.” The Germans were alarmed, they opened fire. The attack was repelled, departure. By the height of 167 could not make passes.

The middle section of the 26-th Siberian shelf had to pass before the attack Nitlitskoe swamp (south Paprodkenskih heights). The regiment moved to 3.00. In many places, furnaces, people sank to their knees and above. In the dark, in silence Regiment knocked outpost on their shoulders and burst into the advanced trenches in the east courtyard of the mill. Further, the 1st Battalion moved to Tsu-Paprotki and trenches on both sides of it. Coming under fire from the height of the side 140, the battalion commander sent to attack the 4th company of that and captured it. 1st company, passing east of Tsu Paprotki, captured the second line of trenches, rushed to the forest and moved to its eastern edge. Along the way, he captured the light battery of 6 guns, then north a heavy battery of 4 guns. At 8.30 I went to the edge of the woods to the rear of the trenches against the 18th Infantry Regiment. Other companies moving ledge, captured 160 prisoners. 4th and 3rd Battalions moved north. Provisions clipped swamp.During the attack the 26th Regiment of the Siberian neighboring 18 th and 19 th Infantry Regiment lay in front of the German part of the wire part of the retreat. At 9.00. Their efforts Battalion of the 29th Regiment of the Siberian, but repulsed the attack. AT 14:00. added another battalion and given a categorical order to attack. AT 18:00. I moved a battalion of the 19th Infantry Regiment. At 19.30. he took Tsu Martsinovolyu, but too late for the 26th Siberian Regiment.

Two battalions of the 27th Siberian Regiment under the command of Colonel Afanasyev with a mountain battery awaited passage of the 26th Siberian Regiment. The result was the dawn, and heavy artillery fire from a height of 165 forced to go in chains. Only 10.00. Afanasyeva squad reached the reserves of the 26th Siberian Regiment at the northern edge of the swamp. Focused shelling German section between the battalions of the 26th and 27th regiments of the Siberian forest and did not stop until the evening, lost connection to get ahead battalions [17] . Rescued captain Bejnar reported when battalions came to the eastern edge of the forest, then fired from the trenches against the 18th and 19th infantry regiments. At the same time the Germans were advancing on the village Tsu Martsinovolya, Truhsen and Paprodken. They managed to surround the broken through battalions of Siberians, the remains of which “have suffered great losses surrendered” [18] . A handful escaped the fire helped to take refuge in the morning on the southern edge of the mountain forest Paprodkenskogo battery. By 24.00.part returned to their original positions.

Interestingly, in the Journal of hostilities III Siberian body cut several sheets. Battle Description is not consistent. Probably, the fact that the environment has caused erasures. The causes of failure identified: lack of communication due to the fire of the German guns from the village Šimonka (now Šimonka) through the swamp.. Total losses of the housing for December 12 – 28 officers and 2706 enlisted men.Fighting confirmed the composition of the enemy: 33th and 45th active regiments of the 1st Army Corps, 33 th and 70 th Brigade Landwehr divisions Einem, 135th and 139th individual Landwehr regiments, battalions landshturmennyh 6.

December 13 ordered to continue the rapprochement with the enemy, scouts bother him strong parties, making the passages where it is possible to conduct mine galleries. It began construction of the rear position at the village. Her-Juha (20 km east of the front line). 22, 28-31, on December 31 th and 32 th Siberian regiments fought at the village. Stasvinen that on the northern tip of Wojnowo. It has been observed conducting kontraposhey Germans.

25-26 yanvarya1915 of 8th and 10th German armies attacked the flanks of the 10th Russian Army. Chief of Staff of the German eastern front, General E. Ludendorff wrote: “The commanders and troops tried his best to move forward soon. But for a broad strategic cooperative movement took place it is still too slow. Lyk that perfectly protects III Siberian Corps, fell only in the morning (1 February). This corps escaped destruction and departed (sample) through Augustow for top Beaver Marsh ” [19] .

Since January 27 of its main forces of the Siberian III Corps retreated to the rear position. Meanwhile, the side vanguards, hastily thrown up to Aris and Drigalenu detained German offensive, having shown amazing and tireless endurance and stamina, along with the courage and persistence [20] . It is possible to carry out the task of a complete evacuation of the siege batteries, operating against Letsy.

On the night of January 31, the rearguard III Siberian Corps gave battle to the line-Bartossen Neyndorf, 5 km ahead of Luka. Although Voshellen the north was ceded to Russian, all the attempts of the German 80th Reserve Division on the right bank of the river. Lyk lyk to break into the city were repelled.Crumbled German plans to cut Siberians. Only on February 1, the Germans entered the lyk where Kaiser Wilhelm arrived. Defensive action III Siberian Corps, according to the Germans, were perfectly organized and conducted with remarkable tenacity. They also contributed to the prosperous departure XXVI Corps.

The afternoon of January 31 on the left flank forest bypass Germans captured Russian battery. After 2 hours the battery repulsed except 1 of the weapon that the Germans managed to take away [21] . February 2 Russian Raygorod cleared. Gradually leaving the rear positions they occupied last rearguard position on the northern shore of Lake Zelment east of Luka, covering a planned retreat to Augustow. A February 3, Russian retreated to the left bank of the Beaver, keeping the crossing.

Front-line Trek III Siberian Army Corps in World War I amounted to 80 km on the German territory and 280 km on the lands of the Russian Empire. The distance in a straight line between the points of beginning and end of combat operation – 250 km. Thus the body was one of the smallest areas of combat activities among Russian connections.

Total for the First World War from the 7th Siberian and 8th Siberian divisions in killed, wounded, missing two retired personnel. The most complete name lists of losses remained at 28 th, 29 th and 31 th Siberian Rifle Regiment. In East Prussia, the 28th Siberian Infantry Regiment murdered lost from September 24, 1914 to February 1, 1915 211 soldiers, wounded 900, contused 104 missing 1203. Killed 29 th Siberian Rifle Regiment lost 34 people 9-20 October at the village. Borzhimen, 84 people 21-29 November at the fortified line of the Masurian lakes, 37 December 6-18 at the village. Martsinovolya. 31-th Siberian Rifle Regiment lost 40 soldiers were killed on September 27 at the city Markgrabovo, 12 soldiers on 20 October at the lake Skomentner, 88 soldiers in November, 49 soldiers near the village. Przhikop [22] .

Author: Pavel Novikov

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Siberian Rifles – Battle of Eastern Prussia – you can download the article in its original Russian HERE.