A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 182

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.
CAMPAIGN IN EAST PRUSSIA


of country in the frontier district. But Hindenburg had selected it on account of his own special knowledge of the ground. He would fight where he could extend his line by taking into it some of the lakes which he had found by experiment to be com- plete obstacles to any hostile movement. The ground behind his line was easily traversed from right to left, so that he could rapidlyreinforceaflankduringthebattle. Thegroundinfront, though to the ordinary observer it was of much the same charac- ter as that which he held, was really cut up by tracts of soft, marshy land and swampy pools which would make movement difficult ; and behind its right there was a tract of marshy forest, y^ith numerous small lakes, that would make tlie retirement of any large force in that direction exceedingly difficult, and the hurried retreat of guns and transport wagons practically im- possible. Hequicklygothisforcesintopositiononafrontthat reached from Osterode on the north to a point near Soldaii on the south. Thrusting towards the former, the Russians discovered that the Germans had been strengthened, and it was not possible for them to be driven out. It would sc'em that at the outset Hindenburg was* inferior in numbers to tlie invaders, but he was reinforced by railway during the three days' fight. From the outset he was stronger in artillerythanhisopponents. Heavygunshadbeenbroughtup from the Vistula fortresses, and batteries of field artillery had been borrowed from the array corps on the Posen frontier. Tho Germans crowded their guns into the line as if they were rifles/' said a Russian officer. This concentrated fire of artillery proved particularly telling against the Russian frontal attacks during the first two days. Some of these attacks, however, were locally andtemporarilysuccessful. Severalvillagesalongthefrontwere stormed with the bayonet, but it was difficult to hold them under the downpour of high-explosive shells, of which they were at once made the target. On August 26 Hindenburg retook Soldau. When, the next day, Samsonofi tried hard to recapture it, he not only failed, but was swept back east to Neidenburg, thus having his left flank turned, and losing his main line of supply and retreat by the Soldau-Mlava railway. Evacuating Alienstein, the Russians retired on Hohenstein, where they made a determined stand, the fighting lasting from August 26 to August 28, but they were com- pelled to retreat.

← 181   ·   182   ·   183 →
(page index)