A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 174

The home of the Lonsdale Battalion 1914-1918
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Not Proofread. The contents of this page needs to be proofread. Currently, there are multiple typos / OCR errors that require attention.

Germany with any hope of success she had to secure the flanks of her army in Russian Poland from the possibility of a German attack from East Prussia on the north or an Austrian attaclc through Galicia on the south. To guard against the first danger the Grand Duke Nicholas, the Russian commander-in-chief, planned an advance into East Prussia, under the immediate command of General Rennenkampf, one of the few Russian generals who had emerged from the Russo-Japanese war with anenhancedreputation. Whatevermayhavebeenthepossi- bilities of an advance towards Berlin, there is no doubt that the campaign in East Prussia, though it ended in something very liKe disaster, was of^ immense service to the Allies, who were struggling against superior forces in the west. As has already been pointed out, Germany counted on a considerable delay before she would have to deal seriously with Russia. General Le I^ran^ois, who was charged with the organization o/ the defence of East Prussia, had only at his com- mand a comparatively small force. This included the ist army corps (headquarters, Kdnigsberg), the 20th (headquarters, Allen- stein), the 17th (headquarters, Danzig), and the 2nd (head- quarters, Stettin)—all of them East Prussians and Pomeranians. These were among the best fighting men of the German army. But the four corps united would not number quite two hundred thousandmen. ToholdtheirownagainstRennenkampf’sarmy they would have to be supplemented by second-line, troops reservists and men of the first levy of the Laiidwehr organized in new reserve corps—and these formations would take some time to complete. For local defence of the wilderness of lake, marsh and forest along the frontier, hastily formed detachments of the Landsturm would also be available; but at the outset, in case of invasion, the advantage of numbers would be on the side of the Russians. Rennenkampf's plan of campaign was to advance in two columns, the left column by the line through Lyck and Lotzen ; the right column—the stronger of the two—along the main rail- waylinefromKovno,byGumbinnen,onKdnigsberg. Reimen- kampf had decided to act at tlie earliest possible moment, even before his own concentration was quite complete. In the second week of August, 1914, he began the general movement of his army from the Niemen to the immediate neighbourhood of the frontier. On August 14 the rapid reinforcement of the Cossack

← 173   ·   174   ·   175 →
(page index)