A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 192

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RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE IN GALICIA


swe^ a path for their infantry?- and smashed the hostile batteries destroyed the forts. The Russians advanced in open order at ’first, creeping up and firing in thin, prone lines ; then getting nearer in a spurt, and again holding the ground by rifle fire till their supports could come up. Then they rose up to prove the truth of their old saying, handed down from the days ot Suvarov : The bullet is a fool and the bayonet a hero." The Austrians and Hungarians fought well. They faced the bayonet courageously and used it themselves, but their riflu fire was not sufficiently well-aimed to stop the rushes. Tin- battle opened on August 31 and went on for twenty-four hours, Jtill the Austrian line was pierced, and 20,000 of the defenders were either killed or wounded. The hand-to-hand fighting at the battle of Halicz was fierce and dreadful, but the drive and steadiness of the Russian troops made them at last irresistible. Many days of hard marcjiing had not tired them, and they’ bore the main pii.rt in the struggle for Lemberg which was their next effort. After the victory they closed in on the capital from th(^ south, driving the fragments of the broken Austrian .wing before them. Meanwhile, Russian aeroplanes were flying over the doomed city, and General Russky's army, rapidly covering the forty miles between Zloczow and Lemberg, captured somn forti- fied positions close to the city. On the north and the north- east the Russians deployed, and then the heights on the south- east were also taken. For six days the battle raged—froju August 29 to September 3, The Russians at first fought from dawn to darkness, their big guns thundering over them as they attacked or threw back counter-attacks; finally they fought night and day. The Austrians battled on with great energy in a good position. The progress of the Russians was impeded by the hilly nature of the ground, and especially by the great number of extinct volcano craters, that formed admirable natural forts, all held by strong bodies of the enemy. Out of these craters the Austrians had to be shrapnelled and bayoneted at heavy cost. Their artificial defences were only trifling obstacles compared with these natural fortifications. The country was stony and devoid of v/ater, and the overworked, struggling Russian troops suffered badly from thirst in the hot, wearying summer weather that prevailed at the time.

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