Lyubachev is a city in southeastern Poland (eastern Galicia, on the Lyubachevka river), in the area of which in May – June 1915 two battles took place between the Russian troops of the Southwestern Front and the Austro-German troops.
1) May 19 – 22, 1915 – the offensive of the 3rd and 8th armies of the Southwestern Front at the second stage of the Gorlitsk operation on 19.04 .– 10.06.1915
2) May 30 – June 3, 1915 – defensive battle of the 3rd and 8th armies at the third stage of the Gorlitsk operation.
During the battles on Sana’a on May 1-15, 1915, the front’s troops lost bridgeheads on the left bank of the river, and also largely lost their positions on the right bank of this natural line of defense. (see battles for Yaroslav and Radymno; list at the end of the article). During the battle on the river. The San command of the Southwestern Front made another attempt to turn the tide. The offensive of the Russian 3rd Army was of particular importance in the light of the intensified onslaught of the German 11th and Austrian 2nd armies on the fortress of Przemysl, protected by the troops of the Russian 8th Army. It was required to divert the enemy’s attention from this strategic object.
A promising design
The Russian High Command is concentrating additional forces on the Southwestern Front. As a reserve of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the 2nd Caucasian (concentration point – Khodorov) and 23rd (concentration point – Lvov) army corps were transferred. These formations were to become the nucleus of a new army, the maneuver of which could reverse the unfavorable operational-strategic situation that had developed on the Southwestern Front as a result of the Gorlitsky breakthrough.
The commander-in-chief of the armies of the North-Western Front, General of Infantry M.V. Alekseev, believed that the time required to put the 3rd Army in order should not be missed, and that Italy should also take advantage of Italy’s entry into the war – and start actions not private, but general values. It is necessary to go on the offensive on the left bank of the river. Vistula, having organized the strike in such a way that, having defeated the opposing enemy troops, seriously threaten the flank and rear of the enemy troops operating on the river. San. The 3rd Army must be strengthened at the expense of the extreme left flank of the general strategic front, where it makes no sense to continue the offensive – unless in order for the 3rd Army to be able to maintain its position. Reinforcements must be sent to the Ilzha – Opatov – Sandomir front, forming a new army of 5 corps here. Deployed on the Radom – Sandomierz front (the main forces south of the mountainous and wooded area – in the Ostrovets – Sandomierz sector), this army must strike a decisive blow along the Vistula.
The offensive of the enemy on the river. Sun May 11th (see Radymno) thwarted this plan. And, given that the position of the Russian troops on Sana’a and the Przemysl region was very serious, the Headquarters believed that, first of all, Galicia should be retained on the maximum possible scale. Thus, the strategy of “holding space” prevailed over the strategy of maneuver. All this had far-reaching adverse operational and strategic consequences.
In an effort to wrest the initiative from the hands of the enemy and taking into account the critical position of the Russian troops near the Przemysl fortress, the concentration of significant enemy forces in the Yaroslav area and active enemy actions against the left flank of the 8th Army, the commander of the Southwestern Front, General of Artillery N.I. Ivanov, ordered his armies on the night of May 19 “to attack the enemy, crush and throw it back, trying to reach the main forces on the line Baranuv – Rzheshuv – Dubetsko – Khyrov – Kozyuvka – Vyshkov – Korosmeza – Bystrin – Brodil – Kimpolung.”
N. I. Ivanov
The reserve of the High Command was used – the 2nd Caucasian and 23rd Army Corps (attached to the 8th Army), which was introduced into battle between pp Lyubachevka and Vishnya. During the offensive operation at Lyubachev, this group delivered the main blow – against the enemy grouping, which bypassed the right flank of the 8th Army and surrounded Przemysl.
The 3rd Army, providing itself to the right (from the Vistula), was supposed to assist it – with the right flank to reach the Yaroslav – Rzheshuv line. Accordingly, the main attack on the front of the 3rd Army was carried out by its right-flank corps (9th, 10th and 14th army corps), which, entering with their right shoulder, went to the Rzeszow – Przhevorsk line, and had to act on the flank and rear defensive line of the enemy along the river. San. The 15th Army Corps was supposed to cover the strike group. In fact, with the forces of the 9th, 10th, 14th, 15th army corps, the army struck on the front and on the left flank of the opposing enemy grouping.
The 24th, 29th and 3rd Caucasian Army Corps of the 3rd Army performed a passive mission. With an energetic offensive, they had to pin down the enemy, not allowing him to transfer forces from the Yaroslav-Senyava front.
The 4th Cavalry Corps, as soon as a tactical breakthrough was formed, had to advance between the 9th and 15th Army Corps and rush to the rear of the main enemy grouping. The general direction of the cavalry movement was towards Boyanów – Kolbuszewa.
The main enemy of the troops of the Russian 3rd Army were the formations of the Austro-Hungarian 4th Army: 9th Army Corps (10th Infantry Division and 106th Land Assault Brigade); 14th Army Corps (3rd and 8th Infantry Divisions); Austrian Consolidated, 21st Infantry, 37th and 41st Honored Infantry Divisions; the German 47th Reserve Division; 11th Honored Cavalry Division, units of the 2nd Cavalry Division.
The corps strike
On the night of May 19, the corps of the Russian 3rd Army went on the offensive.
The 15th Army Corps occupied the village. Kaimuv, Ocice, Sulikov, but the hurricane artillery fire stopped his advance. The weakness of its own heavy artillery was the most important factor hindering the success of this formation. After a stubborn battle, they managed to seize the northern outskirts of the villages. Vija. Attempts by the Germans to attack the left flank of the corps were repulsed. By the end of the operation – on the night of May 21 – a stubborn battle was fought on the Vidzha – Kravts line.
The 9th Army Corps successfully captured two lines of enemy trenches. But the left flank of the formation met stubborn resistance – and he failed to advance. But the German counterattacks were also repulsed. On May 20, in the Verkhola – Podvolina – Borovin area, during a brilliant attack by the 42nd Infantry Division, the Austrian division was defeated, guns, machine guns and a significant number of prisoners were captured.
The cavalry was introduced into the breakthrough. The military operations log of the 20th Don Cossack Regiment (3rd Don Cossack Division of the 4th Cavalry Corps) reports: “At 2 am, from 20 to 21 May, the regiment set out on alarm from the village. Maltse to Nisko as part of the 1st brigade to develop the successes of the infantry, which shot down the enemy from the position at Nisko. On p. Novoselets was sent out by the patrol cornet Pavel Timoshchenkov, who, having caught up with the rearguard of the retreating enemy, took 20 Austrians prisoner by attack. From Novoselets, the regiment was moved around to Zalesye, but came across a fortified position near Zalesye. Having taken the position of the 1st, 3rd and 4th hundreds, the regiment entered into a fire battle with the enemy and stopped his work to improve his trenches. “
Russian infantry and cavalry pursued the enemy in the direction of Novoselets. On May 21, the 9th Army Corps moved forward along the entire front and occupied the Mazarne-Novoselice-Kosice front.
The 14th Army Corps captured the villages. Struse – and the enemy hastily retreated. The right flank of the formation assisted the left flank of the 9th Corps. Having seized Struza, parts of the corps launched an offensive on the ground. The mine, having also mastered it. The Rudnik – Zarzhiny section was the most promising for the subsequent development of success, but the lack of reserves did not allow expanding the offensive. On the night of the 21st Corps advanced south of the seats. The mine went up to Novoseltsy. The offensive continued – on May 22, the villages were captured. Groble. For May 19 – 20, corps trophies amounted to 32 officers, 2683 lower ranks, 10 machine guns and a searchlight (including the 18th Infantry Division captured 20 officers, 1902 lower ranks and 6 machine guns, and the 70th Infantry Division – 12 officers , 781 lower ranks, 4 machine guns and a searchlight). An order was received – on the night of May 23, the offensive to stop and gain a foothold.
The 10th Army Corps collided with heavily fortified enemy positions with powerful barbed wire. Nevertheless, the advanced parts of the corps crossed over to the left bank of the river. Sun, having captured the farms and the enemy’s forward trenches. On the night of May 21st, Tarnogura and Zarzhins captured. Enemy attacks were repulsed. Then the corps, having met strong resistance, went on the defensive.
The 3rd Caucasian Army Corps, also meeting stubborn resistance from the enemy, crossed over to the left bank of the river. Lyubachevka. The offensive of the compound was hampered by heavy artillery fire. Concentrating on the left bank of the river. Lyubachevki, corps units carried out an unsuccessful attack – and with great losses retreated across the river.
The 24th Army Corps, meeting stubborn resistance from the enemy in a heavily fortified position, was unable to achieve tactical success. Some parts crossed to the left bank of the river. Lyubachevka, but their attempts to go on the offensive were unsuccessful, and the corps remained at its original lines. The artillery officer recalled how the infantry melted like wax candle among the fires of hell. In such a situation, the artillery work became incredibly difficult. The artillerymen occupied the most risky positions all the time. All observation posts were located either directly in the infantry trenches or in front of them. All the time we had to deal with a huge amount of the heaviest and heaviest artillery. All the time the enemy was the Germans. And all the time the team worked with great dedication.
The 29th Army Corps took possession of a heavily fortified position at the places. Cetula (on the right flank of the formation, while the left flank was advancing less successfully). Under the influence of enemy artillery fire, the right flank of the corps had to retreat to its original positions. Parts of the left flank captured the height 204 north of the place. Zapalov. On May 20, the right flank of the formation again occupied height 186 (north of Cetula), but on the night of May 21, they had to leave height 204 and retreat to their original positions.
During the Lyubachev battles in the corps of the 3rd Army, there was a lack of heavy artillery and ammunition. Already on May 18 (that is, even before the offensive), the Supreme Commander-in-Chief categorically demanded to save the ammunition available in the troops.
To be continued…